Once again, I turn over my blog to my sister, Rachael, to do a race report. This time, Rachael ran the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of Breast Cancer Month. Take it away, Rae!
I had a lot of reasons to run on October 6. I have friends, co-workers, neighbours, and family who have been affected by breast cancer. I’m a lady, and so am naturally going to be concerned about women’s health issues. I work at CIBC, and “The Run” as it’s known around the office is kind of a big deal for us. So, yeah. Of course I was going to do it.
This run is a different kind of race. It’s a community event, a celebration of survival and hope. There are no bibs, no corrals (more on that later), no finisher medals. The prizes awarded are for the most funds raised, not for the fastest finish. People run or walk in groups, with their families, friends, babies, and dogs. It says “Run” in the name, but there are definitely more walkers than runners.
I wasn’t sure at first whether I would use it as the first 5K of my long run, or run on my rest day. I decided on the second, because I didn’t want to just run and then bail on the rest of the event. So I did my training run on Saturday. All 30km of it. I wasn’t sure what I’d have left in the tank the next day, but by golly, there are ladies (and men – they get breast cancer too) fighting cancer. I can at least lace up and run.
The New Balance 860s I’ve been running in for the past year, which I love, but which are not as cushiony and supportive as they once were, and which and had planned to retire after the Disneyland half marathon, were Pink Ribbon edition. I figured they had one more 5K in them, and it seemed appropriate to have the Run for the Cure be their last race.
Oct 6 dawned drizzly and not especially warm. I layered up, strapped on my Garmin, put on my rain gear, and packed my bank card and coffee card, and a backup token for the streetcar just in case I needed a ride home. I live a couple of miles from the run site, so I slow jogged to the run site, to give my legs a chance to warm up. They were a little disgruntled at first, but surprisingly accommodating after the first half block or so. And by the time I got to the run site, the rain had stopped.
The opening ceremony was inspirational. They had a survivor come and talk about her own battle with the disease. They had guest speakers talk about just a few of the things that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has been able to accomplish because of the funds raised at events like this. And then it was time to run, with a group of university cheerleaders to lead us in some warm-up stretches and send us on our way.
I mentioned before there were no corrals. There were about 15,000 participants at the Toronto event. The start line was a little more crowded than the Disney races I’ve done. And there were large groups of people walking together – which is fantastic, and absolutely appropriate for this event.
Runners gonna run.
I’ve heard the organizers are looking into a more structured system for next year, and in fact there were a few sites this year that had corrals and chip timing. I look forward to seeing this come to Toronto. Just for everyone’s safety and enjoyment, it would mean a lot less confusion and congestion at the start line, and a lot less runners stepping on the heels of the walkers ahead of them.
After that though, it was clear sailing, and lots of community support. Enthusiastic volunteers braved the damp, overcast day to cheer all the participants along the route. And every time I saw a pink “Survivor” shirt, it inspired me to run just a little faster. At the halfway point, local radio hosts in pink wigs and with pink inflatable toy guitars rocked us along our way. There were volunteers offering their encouragement to everyone and water to those who needed it.
Before I knew it, I got to the 4K marker. And I thought about all the people I was running for. And I thought about all the people who had made donations to my own fundraising page. And I decided to run the last kilometre with no walk breaks. One of my friends had posted on my wall that morning “Kick cancer’s ass,” and that became my mantra every time I felt like slowing down.
Then I hit the finish line. Almost literally – the 5K run/walk and the 1K walk shared the finish line, and there are a lot of people who can walk 1K faster than I can run 5. Despite the best efforts of the very vocal volunteers encouraging everyone to keep moving forward for everyone’s safety, some people were stopping, and looking for their families, or looking for the finish line water station. Or generally just stopping and causing a bottleneck. There was a solid wall of people in front of me. I had nowhere to go, and there were still thousands of people coming in behind me. It got a little scary for a minute. Then I spotted an opening, and dodged around. I assume the bottleneck-causing team eventually moved on, because traffic started moving a little more freely again around me after that.
The post-run event was set up in a (slightly muddy) field at University of Toronto and hosted by local morning radio personalities. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation pink bus was there. http://www.thepinktourontario.com/ There was a band playing whose members were off-duty firemen, which was fun. There were presentations to the top fundraisers, greetings and thank you messages from the sponsors. There were tents set up with a mini-expo.
One of the tents was New Balance. And they had this year’s pink ribbon edition 860s in my size. Hello, new shoes.
Oh, and according to my Garmin, I set a new PR for five kilometres. (35:17)
So new shoes, new PR, and funds raised for a good cause. I’d call that a success.