The 15th Annual Run for the Toad was held on October 1 in Paris, Ontario. All week we kept our eyes on the weather and no matter how many times we checked, it didn’t change! Rain was in the forecast for the entire morning. The temperature looked pretty good but we were going to get wet. Well, as much as I wanted a nice cool, sunny day, I was ready to run and get wet and muddy if need be.
Well, Mother Nature was pretty forgiving after all. The day was misty, cloudy and maybe a few drops of rain but for the most part, we escaped any down pours and the trails were superb.
There is something about this race that just keeps people coming back. The great atmosphere and organizers are second to none. The food after the race is awesome and we are never disappointed.
The Tent city they set up was ready for any rain that may fall and it housed vendors, free coffee and donuts or cookies as well as the race kit pick up area. As we walked through the vendors we noticed the merch tent for The Toad. Rayanne has a nice jacket she got on her first of the 6 times she has done the course but I have yet to purchase anything…until this year. We gravitated to a shirt that we knew was going to be coming home with both of us and raced back to the car to get our bank cards as they were quickly running out. Maybe it was that warm up run to shop that helped our race!
Rayanne and I have ran The Toad in many different conditions ranging from sunny and warm to cold and pouring rain. We have slipped through the muddy trails and felt the scorching hot sun in the meadow. We mentally prepared ourselves for the rain but were relieved that the day turned out as ‘nice’ as it did.
Rayanne and I have our pre race picture tradition. We have yet to post a post-race pic…lol
The race begins with ‘Opening Ceremonies’. Race organizers make sure to thank the people at Pinehurst Conservation Area for their work at preserving the trails and then introduce any elite athletes that are there competing that day. Both the US and Canadian national anthems are played by a live military band. The first to line up are the kids. There is a one mile Toad Junior run for the little ones. They even receive a medal for their efforts. Really great to see this run grow as people are getting their kids into the joys of trail running.
Next to line up are the 50km and the relay runners. Some of these 50km runners will finish before we finish 25km …let that sink in. They can run twice as far faster than we do. It is truly unbelievable when you see them pass you like you’re standing still even though you may feel like you are running at a blistering speed!
Race time for the 25km runners (and walkers too). The cannon (yep, I said cannon) signifies the start and we are off. The runners tend to bunch up here but it won’t be long before things spread out. They have installed new wood stairs to a portion of an up hill on the trail which I have to admit was really nice to go up. I am sure it is not just for aesthetic reasons, but also for erosion control. Either way, thumbs up on those. Rayanne and I are used to talking throughout our runs. It is amusing though to look back afterward at the conversation over the course of 25 km. We talk about movies, music, kids, family and of course running and runners. We are never without admiration for some of the older runners that blow by us with ease. Inevitably we say, “Ok, I want to be like that”. As we discussed movies, the topic of Vietnam war movies came up. Things really go on a tangent sometimes so let’s just say trying to think of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ took up about 8 km.
Over the course of the race, which is a 12.5km double loop, the volunteers are well placed and water or Gatorade stops every 3 km. Second loop also includes candies, cookies, and fruit at the water stops too. That cookies came in handy for sure.
We weren’t really sure how our time was going to be. We knew we were running at a pretty steady pace. We both felt really good throughout and didn’t have any pressing problems while we made our way around the second loop. The chip timing now is great because it is linked to your email and you can get your results immediately after finishing.
We finished in 2:59 and were super happy with it. I am forever a mid pack runner and totally fine with that. To anyone who hasn’t run a trail race before, and believe me, this one is very hilly, to equate your road times to trails just doesn’t work. We learned that long ago.
All in all very happy with the results:
First 12.5 loop – 1:27
Second 12.5 loop – 2:59 That means only 5 min difference between first and second loop!
Overall finish: 312/578
Age group: 34/91
Our training this year was consistent and strong. We mixed road and trail well and made sure those long runs were logged. Really can’t say enough good things about this race and if you have never done it, I would recommend giving it a go.
So that leads us to the next question. We felt good about this race. We feel good after the race and without any issues for either one of us. So…what’s next? Maybe Around the Bay number 10 for me in March. I may need to watch the Barkelys again to get the motivation.