Monday, 24 September 2012

World Alzheimer's Day Run for Heroes - Amherstburg

Amherstburg is a lovely little river town with lots of history in the extreme south of Ontario. This year it is celebrating (in a big way) the bicentenary of the War of 1812, in which it played a very large part. In keeping with this, the marathon for this year, while still keeping its focus on Alzheimer's awareness, took the bicentennial as its theme (we even had the choice to participate as red-coats or blue-coats). While the race has been staged in other years, this is the first time I've taken part as they were not only going to welcome walkers, they were going to post results separately ( this may not seem like a big deal to runners, but it means a lot to us). By the time I had found this out, I had already committed to the half in Cincinnati less than a month away, so I opted for the 10K as a training race, not being one of those who likes doing largish races so close together. It's a good thing that I registered when I did, though, because the 10K sold out a little later.
It was very unusually cold yesterday morning when I got up (47F!), so I opted for tights and arm warmers. Earlier that morning, in the wee hours, I heard the cone trucks laying out the full marathon course as their route would take them right by my house! Once in town, it became apparent that they had organised the parking quite well - the full and half marathoners who would be starting 45 minutes earlier than us would park at the new luxurious arena complex (where the start and finish would be) while we 10Kers would park at the old arena (about 2K away) and be bused to the start. This worked quite well, with lots of buses and really no hassle (at least I didn't encounter any). There were real bathrooms in the arena, as well as a good bank of the ubiquitous port-a-potties, with others scattered about the parking area, etc. No wait!!!!!
The full and half (over 1,000 strong) were a bit late in starting, but the cannon fired (yes, an actual cannon - 1812, remember?) and off they went. We tenners had about a half hour to warm up before our start. Warm up, do some pickups, do some drills, keep moving...tear off lovely warm fashionable garbage bag and...cannon fire!!!!...we were off in the light of a gorgeous sunrise!
The course was very scenic and well-designed because the marathoners and halfers joined up with us eventually, after their field had thinned out some, and that worked quite well, I thought; it's nice to race with a lot of others. We passed some lovely wetlands, then turned to follow the Detroit River (this is where we joined up with the others). After passing the Legion where we were saluted by a cadet colour guard and where several veterans assembled to cheer us on, we continued on to Fort Malden National Historic Site. This is a great park where the original 1812 fort stood. Our course went right through the park! Very cool. There were a couple of patches of cobbled road and gravel here which are pretty difficult when trying to maintain strict racewalking technique, but they weren't very long.  Leaving the fort and passing through the end of town, we went up a long road cornering around a cemetery (lovely in the early-autumn morning light with some leaves starting to change) and then into the (long) home stretch. Finishing where we started (our 10K course was a rough square), names were announced over the loudspeaker as we came through the chute and they said I was the first walker in! (For those of you unfamiliar with the author of this blog, I'm a racewalker). Cool! Throughout the course, people were very supportive and several runners, volunteers and officials complimented me on my pace and form (blush). Someone at the beginning and end (same person, I think) yelled, "Go, Racewalker!" as I passed by. It's not always this way for us racewalkers. We often don't get no respect, but not here! I was happily surprised.

It was now warm enough to
push down my arm warmers.

The mayor, race director and several other dignitaries were there to give out the medals, and what medals they were!!! Absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful ribbons:

They were individualized for the different races, with the distance embossed on them and different metallic backgrounds. The 10K one was a really nice bronzey colour. The medal has references to the US, Britain (In 1812, Canada was British) and the First Nations; the major players in the War of 1812. Very classy, indeed! The tenners also got short-sleeved shirts:

Although the half and full marathoners got incredible long-sleeved shirts, it was very nice indeed for us tenners to get a shirt and a medal. This definitely isn't the case in many races. Besides, the long-sleeved shirts were offered for sale afterwards.

I had stupidly forgotten to start my Garmin until a bit into the race...duh. Results came in later, and I came in first female walker out of 33 and 2nd 10K walker out of 41 with a time of 1:12:36 (7:16/km pace)! I even beat 65 of the 10K runners! Sorry for bragging, but I'm pretty happy with that! :)

I stood and watched a lot of other participants come in, munched on a banana and some orange slices and cheered on complete strangers. There were showers in the arena for those who needed them; talk about being pampered! Eventually the buses took us back to our parking area and I started the long journey home (usually only a 7 minute drive, but with the road closures it took "a tad" longer). Luckily the full marathon field had thinned out quite a bit by the time I reached my house and I was able to get in the driveway! I stood out and cheered some of them on, but then got too cold and went in to change. The full course did an out-and-back from town past some very pretty waterfront, creeks and bridges. On the Facebook page of the race, someone mentioned that up near the turnaround point a guy's pet turkey came out to the corner to "cheer" on the runners!

All-in-all, a really well-organised, wonderful race and I highly recommend it. There were complaints on FB about traffic, and I can see how that might pan out, but honestly I wasn't too hampered by it and I had to go right through town and out along the full course. It was slow, and a long line of traffic, but seriously, folks - it's a marathon! You have to expect that once a year.

Cudos to the race director and all of the volunteers. I had a blast! might just see me next year!


  1. Fun you had! Sounds like a good race, like the historical aspect of it too. Racewalking is an odd looking activity, but it's one heck of workout! Good job.

  2. Hello Deborah,

    My first ever 1/2 marathon, first-ever anything with walking or running. As I made my way to the finish I remember someone congratulating me and asking if I had walked the entire way. Reading about your encouraging perfect strangers, I was wondering if that was you uttering those words of encouragement, as there were only a dozen officially registered walkers in the 1/2 marathon that day. Regardless, it was fun!

    my modest recollections of that event are here: