The Longest Day/Anthony Davey Memorial Ekiden Race, a 42.2K relay on the Leslie Spit, has always had a bit of an elite vibe to me. A gathering of the Toronto run crews, it seemed like a celebration of fitness and speed, with a little bit of competition thrown in. In previous years, I sort of felt like I was a little too slow (and too run crew-agnostic) to get to take part.
But this year, a friend asked if I’d be interested in forming a rag-tag crew to join in. I figured, why not?
So last Thursday, more than forty of the city’s fastest run crews plus our merry band of runners, dubbed The Six Pack, hit the start line. I didn’t have high hopes for a PB – it was hot, I needed a snack and I had spent all day at gentleman friend’s graduation – but my dream was to not come dead last.
The race has an unusual format. Each team has six runners, with two people running 5K, two people tackling 6.1K and two people hitting the 10K distance. But it’s not a relay in the traditional sense, because everyone starts all at once. So, for the first 2.5K, it’s the full field of runners, slowly dwindling until it’s just the 10K crew out on the path.
This makes for a pretty jumbled start, but because this race tends to attract experienced runners, it spread out pretty quickly. I started off way too fast, but then settled in for a more comfortable pace. It was amazing to see the 5K winner come blazing past, followed by a steady stream of very, very speedy runners. I was feeling pretty OK until the turnaround, but heading back into a headwind started to take its toll on the final stretch. I suspect it was primarily a fuelling problem, as I didn’t have my normal afternoon snack or dinner before the 7 p.m. start (thanks to the grad ceremony running long) but it’s a good lesson for me to learn. Next time, I’ll pack some more granola bars in my gear bag!
I finished my relay leg in 46 minutes and change. It wasn’t a PB, but it was wonderful to cross the finish line and see my team, all dressed in matching black, equally winded and cheering me on. I had a blast, saw some friends and got to run a beautiful 10K. And after all, isn’t that really what these community events should be?