Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Around the Bay 30K race -- hills, strategy and is it hard? Yes

There's a good chance that if you're going long in these winter months in Southern Ontario, Around the Bay is probably on your race schedule. Mine as well as I'm running my sixth Around the Bay in a few weeks. Posts I've written in the past on the Around the Bay 30K Race gets a lot of search interest this time of year. You want to know how hard Around the Bay hills;  Strategies to race it; What the elevation profile looks like

Before I tackle some of the frequent questions, you may want to read a few posts I've written, including last year's strategy guide.

Other posts on Around the Bay:

On to the questions:

Is the Around the Bay hard? How difficult is Around the Bay?
Well, yes, I guess, cause it's 30K. Which is a pretty long distance for those used to doing half marathons. Seriously, the distance is actually perfect, the hard part the last third of the race that is made up of a series of major hills (both up and down). Those unprepared to tackle such elevations can find themselves out of gas. (More on the hills and course.) I suppose if you're 'running' the race that it's totally doable in a comfortable pace. Racing, however, is another thing.

What's with the Around the Bay bronze, silver and gold medals?
The graduated medal system is pretty neat and strict. All racers will earn at least a bronze, but men can earn silvers (2 hours to 2:15) or golds (under 2 hours) while women who do 2:15 to 2:30 can get a silver and under 2:15 with a gold. They go by the clock (not chip) so if you're aiming for one of these medals, you should line up properly and start your watch when the gun goes off.

Around the Bay finish.

Are there Around the Bay pacers?
Yes, and they have enough of them targetting the various levels (for medals). Do pay attention to them, I once followed a 2:20 pacer who was going way too fast one year. I let him go by the 3K mark and caught him 22 kilometres later. I've been a pacer at a few half marathons and I know that a few years ago the organizers were looking for pacers for these time slots: 2:00, 2:15, 2:30 continuous, 2:45, 2:45 continuous, 3:00, 3:15

How hilly is Around the Bay?
In truth, it's as hilly only as the kilometres 21 to 27, so really not that hilly overall. I like to think of Around the Bay as essentially three big uphills, a few medium sized rises, and it has it share of downhill as well. You are deep in hill territory (North Shore Blvd) 21K in. Read my strategy guide from last year on the race for more details.

What's with the Around the Bay last hill?
Yep, it's a killer. Spring Garden Road. BIG downhill. Big uphill. My advice is to coast down the hill and regain your breath, then attack the upside purposefully. There are several rises so you just have to concentrate, don't use up all your energy, bump up your stride at the top, and get ready to hammer it home at the end..

View Larger Map

Reader Paul sent a link to a video he took of the hill. Illustrates quite nicely the three-stage rise.

Does Around the Bay do pace bands? 
No they don't make 30K pace bands but you have a few options. I use a pace calculator to figure out my splits. Once you know the pace you're going for (say, 5 minute kilometres for a 30K), just find the closest equivalent marathon pace band. The Running Room guys usually stock them at the expo. Of course you can just print out your own pace, or memorize the milestones you want to hit.

Around the bay is older than Boston?
Yep, it's the oldest running road race in North America.

What's with the Around the Bay shirts and what colour is it in 2013?
First, I have no clue what colour it is, so if you know, let me know. And yes, they're pretty awesome shirts. Read here for why

First time running tips for the Around the Bay (food, rest and don't change anything!)

Overview of the 2012 race

You have any questions or any answers to share, by all means leave them here. Happy racing!


pyrad said...

I'm going to be the 3:30 pacer this year!

And here's a video I took of Valley Inn Road last year

yumke said...

Hey cool Paul on pacing and the video!

Anne said...

This has always been on my "dream sheet." Love the way your organized the post and still managed to put a lot of personality into it.

Ririnette said...

Great post, it sums it up very well! This will be my 3rd ATB and the first full 30k, but I am excited and can't wait to see how it unfolds. Hope that Paul Radcliffe doesn't pass me.

Patrick said...

Thanks for posting. I am running it for the first time this year. This is helpful.

Sam said...

The TDRR Marathon clinic is using your ATB posts as required reading, dontcha know? See you Sunday!

yumke said...

Thanks guys, my pleasure. And Sam, hope to see ya on race day!

Victor said...

This is cool!

Emma said...

Hey Kenny, my spies report that with the course change this year the first 10k are no longer flat - there are several overpasses on Burlington St. that will create some elevation change. And the bridge on Bay St is under construction so they are going to have to re-route on James or John. Planning to drive it myself soon to see!

Sriram said...

For the race, In Paul i Trust !!!