Mar 04 2012

Chilly Half Marathon 2012 – Race Report

Originally, I didn’t plan on participating in this race because I wasn’t prepared to give it my all, with my goal marathon fast approaching. However, the Running Room group at Square One had already figured out I have a hard time saying no to anything, so I ended up agreeing to take over the bib of an injured runner.

The plan was to try to maintain a steady marathon race pace (maybe a tad quicker), and if I still feel fresh at the end, mission accomplished.

Square One Running Room group in Burlington (Thanks for sharing the photo Paul!)Our group met up at the store and carpooled to Burlington. My chauffeur parked at Mapleview Mall, where a school bus shuttled us to the brightly lit and heated Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

I stayed warm inside until 10 minutes before start time, then finally proceeded to the corrals.

Race Start

I only heard the last two words of the anthem singing, and last 2 seconds of the countdown. The start was very crowded as everyone was funnelled through the narrow gates. It was slow moving going south on Brant St., then west on to Lakeshore Drive.

Km 2

Focus, focusThis short out and back section on a two lane street was probably the worst part of the race. I can’t get any kind of rhythm going here. As I approached the turnaround, the elites were already a good 2km ahead.

Km 6

I was glad to finally turn on to Lakeshore Boulevard, where by this point, the crowd had started to string out, so there was a bit more breathing room.
At this point, I focused on staying comfortable, checking my pace often to make sure I stick to the plan.

Km 10

I used to try keeping up the pace while awkwardly sipping at the cups from the drink station, but most liquid usually ended up spilling anyway.
This time, I slowed right down, took my first gel, and drank the entire cup of eLoad. It took no more tha 20 seconds, and I was away again. This seemed like a better strategy!

Km 13

Turn around just east from Burloak Drive. Only 8km to go!
This was also the time to up my pace.
For the rest of the race, I moved from pack to pack – staying with one for a while to shield from the wind, then bridged up to the next one ahead.

Km 15

I slowed down to take my second gel and another cup of eLoad. I must say this eLoad stuff is pretty good, much much better than the crappy washed down coloured water in previous Mississauga and Toronto races.

Km 17

Area around the tibia or fibula started to have this inflammation kind of pain. I dialed back the pace a little to nurse it home. I only caught up to the 1h45m pace bunny right about now – he must be way too fast on the way out.

At this point, we directed to move out of the way while an ambulance was loading a guy who apparently collapsed. I hope he turned out fine!

Km 20

The pain wasn’t getting any worse, so I pushed hard up the final incline and back into downtown Burlington. I was only thinking about the free beer and chili and nothing else!


Pipping the older runner at the finish!I started the sprint as I rounded the corner on to Brant St. It was a full out sprint to the yellow banner ahead, but when i got through, I realized the finish line was a red banner some 300m ahead. I tried to keep up the tempo, while passing a dozen or so people.

At about 100m to go, there was a guy beside me. I looked at him and he looked at me, and we both had the same thing in mind! We both started sprinting, going toe to toe all the way until I nipped him right at the line. This has got to be the greatest moment of the race! (I later found out on Sportstats that I officially beat him by 0.2 seconds. Boo yeah!!)

Here’s a really cool stop-motion sequence of me racing the older dude to the finish. Click on the leftmost photo and scroll one notch at a time. Enjoy!
Finish line sequence #1 Finish line sequence #2 Finish line sequence #3 Finish line sequence #4 Finish line sequence #5 Finish line sequence #6 Finish line sequence #7 Finish line sequence #8 Finish line sequence #9

Final Thoughts

After collecting the medal and some refreshments, I made my way back to the Performing Arts Centre to get warmed up. Then, it was finally time to free Carlsberg beer and Stagg chili before heading home.

As it turned out, I beat my old record by 1:47, finishing in just over 1 hour 42 minutes. Aside from the inflammation pain mentioned earlier, I was still feeling fresh, which made me feel more confident about longer races to come.

The race itself was well organized, bag check was painless (though the line did get quite long after I got my bag). The only minor complaint is some parts of the route were not quite wide enough to support two directional runner traffic. That’s nature of the out-and-back course, I guess.


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  1. Hong

    Great report Henry! Congrats on the PB of course! full marathon should be a breeze for ya! I wish I could run that speed hehehe.

    1. Henry Lo

      Thanks, but we’ll see what happens at Around the Bay first!

  2. Cherry

    Isn’t Stagg chili from a can? 😉 Good race & time. Next time, pull a bit more, draft a bit less. Apparently, you lose friends from drafting too much. 😉

    1. Henry Lo

      Probably, but it was served from a buffet tray.
      And those are targets to chase down, not friends!

  3. Paul Radcliffe

    Glad you could make good use of the photo.

    Great race and report!

    1. Paul Radcliffe

      And love the stop motion at the end!

      1. Henry Lo

        Yeah, I guess I was lucky there was no one around me and the older guy; we had the photographer’s complete attention!

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