2015 Race #1: Robbie Burns 8K Road Race, Burlington, Ontario

Date: January 25, 2015
Gun Time: 35:38
Chip Time: 35:33
Placing Overall: 151st out of 1047
Placing in Age Group: 20th out of 67 (M40-44)
Theme Song: Modest Mouse, “Florida

“Are you really gonna park there, in front of my driveway?” said the dude who had just popped out of his front door, like a Morlock from his hole.

I eyed the 3 inch sliver of bumper that was currently technically the obstruction in question and looked at him a little incredulously. Shrugging, I sauntered back over to my car’s driver side door, half expecting him to make the “I’m watching you” gesture of pointing to his eyes and then to me. I moved a comfortable distance down the street; it never pays to antagonize the Morlocks, I’ve learned.

Welcome to Burlington, apparently.

It was definitely one of those genital nip sort of days. Burlington in January tends to be about as charming a place as the wilds of Siberia. The mercury read -11C an hour before the race, and it wasn’t looking to get a whole lot warmer. A cutting wind from the northwest wasn’t helping matters.

Safely inside the gym at Burlington Central High School, I picked up my race kit (basically consisting of a short sleeved shirt with a grinning Scotsman in a kilt and running shoes adorning the front) and surveyed the other runners, who wore an eye watering assortment of plaid over their cold weather running gear. A group aptly named the “Tartan Tarts” went chattering past as I wondered idly what the immortal bard would have made of them.

Sadly, “Ode to a Haggis” was not part of the opening salvo of ceremonies, though of course the requisite skirling bagpipes were evident. A couple of too long announcements were made as we stood shivering behind the start line.


The gun went eventually, and unfortunately the cold led to me going out a bit too fast in an effort to warm up. I did the first mile in 6:30 and though I was feeling pretty good, I felt I had better slow things down a bit. A funny thing happened as the race progressed – I didn’t think it was possible for me to overdress for the conditions, but I did. About halfway through the race, I felt like I was overheating. I was wearing a poly/spandex full zip as my top layer, which I partly undid, but the layers underneath still seemed to be too warm.

Things got a little worse when I turned the corner into the last straightaway at the 6K mark and ran smack into that north-west wind. Worse still, this part of the course hadn’t really been properly salted or cleared, and I was having a hell of a lot of trouble finding my footing, which is a real pain in the ass when you’re at the end of a race and trying to maintain your pace while increasingly fatigued.

Nevertheless, in spite of the challenging conditions I managed to cross the line in 35:33, which was a PR, although I had done the distance faster in training. I was relatively happy with this, and it was fun hanging around the start line for a bit and watching some of the rather whimsically costumed participants reach the finish.


No haggis post-race either, but hot oatmeal (as I suppose befits a Scottish themed race) and the usual assortment of bananas and bagels. As a local band belted out vaguely Celtic songs (Great Big Sea, anyone?) and the medalists climbed the stage post-race to receive their due, I resisted (somehow) the urge to proclaim,

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face
Great chieftain of the puddin’ race!”

Because, of course, no one wants to be compared to a haggis, really.

As I drove home, my iPod shuffle rather shrewdly coughed up Modest Mouse’s Florida: “Even as I left Florida/Far enough, far enough, wasn’t far enough.” Appropriate given the location of my next races – but with my first half-marathon coming up I was left to hope that far enough would indeed be far enough.

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