Sunday, April 7th was the day of the Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run, a point to point half marathon starting in Gibsons and ending in Sechelt.
I arrived at the Gibsons & Area Community Centre about 20 minutes before the 9:30 AM race start. I went in and ran into Rob Daniel, who still had his shiner from last week's race but otherwise was good as new again. He asked why I was so late getting there, and I told him that I'd been in no hurry this morning because for a half marathon I didn't need much of a warmup. With that we wished each other good luck and before we knew it we were at the starting line, about 300 meters up the road from the community centre. I joined Larry Doan a few rows from the front, and we'd barely exchanged pleasantries before the race marshal gave the countdown and we were off just past 9:30 AM.
After running on level ground for about 100 meters we hit an incline for 300 meters or so, slowing me up a bit but not too badly. We turned left down another road and things were fairly level until we got past the 1K marker, hitting a nice downhill that lasted for a few hundred meters before the course became flat again. A fellow who looked to be in his 30s came up and ran beside me just before the 2K point. We talked a bit and found out that it was the 2nd year doing this race for both of us. He said he was shotting for 1:35, about a 4:30/K pace, and I told him I was doing the same, but anything under 1:40 would be just fine. We wished each other a good race and he surged ahead.
A couple of minutes later I heard "Go Flett go! Go Flett go!" from behind me, and a guy wearing a Gingerbread Man costume came running by me. He said "It's Tilman!", and I said "Hey Tilman, way to go!", and he ran up ahead. The fellow who I'd been talking to was about 10 meters in front of me, and I watched as Tilman slowly overtook him. It was amusing to see his surprised face as the Gingerbread Man went by him, but after recovering from his shock he smiled and yelled some words of encouragement.
Photo by http://www.suncoastphotography.ca/
A kilometer later we were directed to turn right, and I caught a surge of energy, speeding up to pass the guy still in front of me and then Tilman. We hit another hill just before the 5K marker, and then things leveled out for the most part, and we even had a couple of nice downhills as we continued to run along the road. Spectators lined the route in places, yelling encouragement, clanging cowbells, and holding up signs. Many of them were families that lived along the course, and some children were dressed up in costumes and had their faces painted like it was Halloween.
Near the 14K mark there was a junction with lots of cheering spectators which picked everyone's spirits up. After we ran by them and turned the corner, however, there was an uphill about 800 meters long greeting us, and I wasn't halfway up it before my legs felt like they were made of lead.
It took me almost another kilometer after cresting the hill before I was able to get some speed going again, but thankfully for the rest of the race there were only a couple of minor inclines, and a few nice downhill portions to help me toward the finish line. There were about 6 Ks to go when Robin from the Holiday Hustle came up alongside me, and we chatted for a bit. Then he picked up the pace, said he'd see me later, and ran ahead.
With 5K to go I pulled out one of my tricks I use to help get me to the finish line sometimes, singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in my head. I ran out of beers with 2K to go, switched to counting every 4 paces in my head, and reached 200 with about 1K left. I stopped counting and sped up as well as I could, anxiously awaiting the sight of the sign I remembered from last year. Suddenly there it was: "400 METERS TO GO!". I raced past it, and soon could hear cheering and saw a small bridge directly ahead. A fellow standing on the other side of the street yelled "Way to go! After you cross the bridge turn left and you're there!" I yelled thanks and crossed the bridge, turned into a park, and headed down the finishers' chute and across the line!
A volunteer congratulated me and placed a finisher's medal around my neck. I stayed near the line cheering runners in, and only a few minutes later Tilman came in wearing his Gingerbread Man costume! A guy handing out Muscle Milk took our picture, and then I went to the bag check. I got my bag, put on my jacket as I was now cooling down, and saw that they had some results posted already. I finished in 1:39:37, under 1:40 so happy with that all things considered. Robin finished in 1:37:22 and 2nd in his age group, and I told him that was awesome! Tilman finished in 1:43:20, also awesome, and he said it was a personal best in that costume!
Dan and Judy Cumming, who I rode over on the ferry with me the day before, just like last year, were volunteering at the race again. Dan came over and congratulated me, and then I headed for the food tables where Judy was serving delicious burritos. They also had small fruit yogurts and I grabbed one of these and a couple of cookies, and later went back for a cup of tasty fresh made tomato soup.
They presented the awards, and Nicholas Browne was the overall winner, with VFAC clubmate David Palermo, last year's champion, still managing an impressive second place finish. Lisa Brooking won the women's race, and was 11th overall out of everyone!
Next up was the top costume award, and Tilman won, collecting a $100 gift certificate. I can't recall what it was for, I just remember him saying "Hey, a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks!" I wandered about mingling with the other runners, and finally ran into Rob Daniel, who finished the race with no problems in spite of getting banged up pretty good when he took a spill at the MEC race the week before.
It was a great event again, exceptionally well organized by Teresa and Larry Nightingale, with a fantastic job done by the army of volunteers that made it all possible.
Having to work that night, it was time for me to make the short walk to the beach and take the shuttle bus back to my car, then heading to the ferry terminal to catch the 3 PM to Horseshoe Bay.
From the website race report:
"Donations to the Sunshine Coast Food Bank were accepted during registration and package pickup, with $370 in cash and a large box of food generously provided by participants. In addition, several boxes of leftover fresh food were collected by food bank volunteers at the conclusion of the event, after runners and volunteers enjoyed a feast of soup & scones from Ty's Bistro, burritos from Today's Entree, coffee, tea & cookies from Wheatberries, and fruit, yogourt and bagels from MarketPlace IGA.
A large box of ladies' shoes and some handbags were donated for the Ruby Slipper Fund, which raises money for local palliative care programs. Their annual auction evening was the night before the race, so this year's Fool's Run donations will kick off the collection for the 2014 auction evening."
For videos, results, photos, reports, etc., it's all here:
My next race was the Oliver 10K on April 14, but before that on April 12 I ran part of the Terry Fox Tribute with Linda Wong and friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/358390490936239/
And lastly, here's some more photos from the March 30th MEC race: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photos_at_mec/sets/72157633218634731/