H&H at the Canton Maple Run

Event Name, Date, Location: Canton Maple Run /April 15, 2023 / Canton, NY, USA

Briefly describe the overall venue & course:
With a glorious spring, wanted to sneak in a local 21.1 race after ATB, so headed off to nearby village of Canton, NY for a small local event. With only around 120 folks registered for the 21.1K and 5K, was not going to have huge logistics, so this was a great choice. The run started in the Village park, wound along quiet village streets, and then out and back along ‘old HWY 11’, with three advertised water stops.

My Race Experience:
Finishing Around The Bay a few weeks ago, I was now on my hunt for races I needed for my RunK2J award this year. With Judy’s help and the excellent RunK2J Race Calendrer, found this event in nearby Canton that was just over an hour away from home. With a $55US entry fee, reasonably priced – and you get a super comfortable race sweatshirt as well! Mentioned this to a few folks, and Heather Lewis seemed keen at the Thursday night workouts, so we had a tentative plan!

After we both registered, exchanged phone numbers and then made arrangements carpool to the start on race day – great to have a driving buddy! There was an early morning race kit pickup on Saturday, so we left Ottawa a bit after 5:30AM (with coffee in hand), casually drove down to USA, and arrived in Canton shortly after 7:00AM. Greeted by small race crew, we got our Race Bibs and great SWAG (decal, race sweatshirts, and a mini-bottle of maple syrup) in the parking lot by the Canton Pavilion Ice Rink, in Bend Park along peaceful Grass River. We got changed in the skating rink, strolled around the park and got prepped for the 8:30 start with plenty of time to spare!

The chip timing was done by Underdogtiming.com, and chatting with the owner/operator it turned out he’s a former instructor running the Whitewater Kayak program at Wilderness Tours! Small world, as he was probably there when I got my basic training, and we still have common friends! Heather as well was getting psyched to start, and also found her two Quebec friends, (Greg and Darlene), also attending the race. The 4 of us were the full Canadian representation for the venue! With the warmer temperatures forecast (it was +8C at the start, and heading to +24C by noon!), we both carried extra water in our belts as there were only 3 advertised water stations. Looking around, we were definitely in the minority!

At around 8:25, there were some announcements on the course layout, as a true out-and-back, as there was some last minute changes made. The course was also not closed to vehicles, so we were asked to ensure we kept safe and were cautious along the way. No problem!

Lining up behind the starting mat, there was a loud horn, and we were all off! The first 2-3 km had three or four turns along the quiet village streets, well marked with orange arrows on the roadway. No problems with vehicles, as there may have been 2-3 locals at some of the intersections that briefly waited for a break in the stream of runners, and then proceeded through a 4-way stop sign. The course was a bit hillier than I was expecting, with steady rolling hills for the first 5km. Was grateful for my extra water already! Turning onto the Old Hwy-11, volunteer there mentioned it’s a steady 1-mile climb – but will be great coming back! Hit first water/gator aid stop at 5 miles, and took extra fluids here too! Jogging along the country roadway was enjoyable, with farms dotting the landscape. At one point, there were young horses galloping around in a field having fun in the nice weather.

As I was approaching the 1/2 way point water station, the faster runners were coming my way, and was greeted by Greg, Darlene, and Heather who were heading back, so could see where everyone was stacking up. At this station, they also had maple syrup avail in a small cup, so you could take a boost of energy to make it back! There’s always something great once you’re coming back from the 1/2 point: every step gets you closer to the finish line then. Oddly enough, the folks there asked us to run to to the end of the roadway, and come back, which added a few hundred meters. At this point as well, I started to notice people in front of me slowing down on hills, and walking. The heat was upon us, and folks without their own water supply were starting to struggle. I continued on, and started to pass a few folks at this point, providing encouragement to continue along the way.

It sure was great to have that downhill mile of the course at this point, and the 5 mile water station stayed open to provide extra fluids to people, along with another station 3 miles from the finish. I was not shy and took extra fluids here to supplement water I was carrying. At this point, there were a few more folks struggling in the heat, and I did manage to run past a few more people along the way: none of them carrying water. With the warm temps today, I think my extra fluids helped keep me moving.

Watching the orange painted lines on the roadway, we weaved back to the finishing park, did a sweeping circuit of the area, and then came into the finish line. Fantastic, run was over for me: and with only one pervious run, was a PB at 2:18.01 for the course. Glancing down at my Garmin, we did seem to have a few extra hundred meters, mostly attributed to the bonus running at the 1/2 point is my guess.

Delighted anyway, we chatted with Heather, Darlene and Greg: was a nice event, and got a spiffy wooden medal as we finished the run. Post race snacks were plentiful, spread out on a sunny picnic table: pretzels, bananas, oranges, apples, along with cold beverages(water & Gatorade). As a bonus, there were also USA girl guide cookies: Salty Caramel, as well as Lemon flavored. How cool is that!

Chatting away, we race awards started and we did not pay much attention to them until we heard the announcer call out ‘Heather Lewis’ as the 2nd place overall woman finisher! She was pleasantly surprised, and strode up to get her award! Well done Heather! As the remaining runners came in, we cheered them on, swapped stories, and enjoyed the warm sun. Unseasonably hot today for April, and was probably +22C in a sunny blue sky when we finished!

At this point, we started to stroll back to our car in the parking lot. Getting changed in the Pavilion again, we headed into town for a snack before driving home. Not overly hungry, Heather was keen for a coffee shop with baking: and as fate would have it, there was a bakery food truck in the Canton Village park square as we drove out in the center of town. Pulling over, she grabbed a date square and a nice Latte, and treated me to an icy fresh lemonade, as I was still feeling extra fluids would do me good. Sitting in the sun on the warm bench, was nice to see this small town put on a race like this, and there seemed to be more to offer as we enjoyed the morning.

We needed to keep alert, so as we were heading back, Heather expressed here keen appreciation of music, and we agreed to toss on something from her phone…. the ‘Barak Obama Playlist’ seemed appropriate. Looks like she had some energy to spare, and was bopping along to these presidential tunes. Canadian customs was simple: nothing to declare, and we both proudly wore and showed the Canadian Customs Agent our “Wooden Hardware” to explain the 6 hour trip we just made into the USA.

Another short 50 minute drive up the 416, and back home safe and sound. Big thanks to Heather for joining me on this quick outing, and was fun to have a running buddy to share the experience with!

Would you do this event again?
Sure – timing this year seemed to be the same as Boston, so good nearby event to participate in. Sweatshirt is a nice SWAG!

Would you recommend this event?
Sure thing! Small venue in a nearby village of Canton. Could spend the night and do a bit of shopping if you wanted to, but we zipped there and back in the same morning. Roads not closed to traffic, but the only cars we saw were for people cheering the runners!

Closing thoughts. Any hints for others planning to do this race? Where to stay? Things to bring? What to wear? :
Super fortunate with the weather this year: warm and sunny, bordering on too hot, but brining extra water is fine. No need to spend the night in Canton, as there was race kit pickup between 7-8AM, with an 8:30 start. It’s only a 1:20 hour drive, and crossing the boarder was simple at 6:30AM when we arrived, with no line. Hey, there were cash prizes for top 3 Male, Female, and Non-Binary entrants. Small venue race, with only 75 participants overall in the 1/2 Marathon. I think the 5K had about 50-60 runners too.

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