For many the New Balance Chilly Half Marathon marks the start of spring race season. It’s a goal race to train for after the holiday season has faded and runners find themselves in the depths of winter running. Sunday marked the 25th anniversary for the even which has grown to include the Frigid 10K and Frosty 5K. Race day was all sunshine and blue skies for all runners—including Canadian elites Reid Coolsaet (1:04:34) who placed first in the half marathon and Krista DuChene (1:16:20) who place first in the women’s race.
For me, this race means something different each time I’ve run it. My first race was six months after my second daughter was born, and I’d held to it as a personal post-baby goal race. Other years, it’s been the race that gave me the kick I needed to get back into the longer outdoor runs that are necessary for spring training. This year, the Chilly Half was my first long run of 2020. I decided I’d treat it as that, a long run. No time goal. No pace to hit. Just get out there, find my stride and run with it. No matter why you run, there are so many reasons you should put this event on your race calendar for next year. If you haven’t signed up already— you should because all three events have been known to sell out early.
ONE: Running with Elites Is Awesome
Each time I race, I think about how I’m running the same course as the pros, crossing the same start and finish line. Sure these highly trained athletes are competing at an entirely different level, but still, it’s very cool to see Canadian Olympians including Reid and Krista, running along the course. And because the Chilly Half Marathon is an out-and-back course with two main turn arounds, you’ll catch sight of the elite field at least twice as you run. Motivation, and inspiration that carries you a little further and might spark a little kick when you need it most.
TWO: All the Warm Vibes
While you can’t guarantee sunshine, you can bring it in the warmth of the people. From staff to the runners, the Chilly Half seems to attract some of the warmest, happiest and kindest of runners around. Maybe it’s something in the air, or the fact that we all know spring Is on its way, regardless, you’ll feel the warmth from start to finish. There’s no doubt in 25 years of running the event, this race has seen its share of winter weather conditions, but in recent years, and certainly this year it was blue skies and sunshine all around.
THREE: Lake Views for Days
Running along Lake Ontario, the sunshine beating off the sparkling water, you almost forget you’re there to run 21K, almost. If you’re not racing for time, and using this as your long run, this course provides plenty of photo ops, along with the perfect lake views for posting later on your Insta. Also, because this race course is out and back, you already know what you’re in store for when you’re running on tired legs. In short, you’re more likely be better mentally prepared when you know what you’re headed for earlier on, and can checkmark it for later.
FOUR: You Won’t Leave Hungry
That’s right, the Chilly Half Marathon actually serves chili, which is a pretty awesome way to warm up, when you do feel the post-race chill starting to set in. Wth Longo’s Market, Stag Chili and Steam Whistle Brewery sponsoring this race, if you walk away post-race hangry or thirsty, it’s your own fault. Even if chili is not your first pick, there are fresh fruit, juices and other market offerings abound. Not to mention, you’re already in the heart of historic downtown Burlington with multiple brunch and pub eateries to choose from, all within easy walking distance.
FIVE: Follow Your Favourite Athletes
Even if you’re friends and family can’t be at the finish line, they can download the Sportstats Tracker app and follow along with you on the race course. As someone who doesn’t bring her own cheer squad, it’s nice to know that you’ve got your people watching and sending positive vibes no matter where they may be. While this may seem like a small thing, not every race is, and the Sportstats app is one that’s very user-friendly, so even the lower-tech savvy people in your life will be able to easily navigate it.
SIX: Medal Moments
Can we have a moment for these medals though? Each year the design changes, and in celebration of 25 years running, this year’s medal was adorned with a centre jewel stone, the signature chili pepper mascot served as a brilliant backdrop, on this silver medal. Whether you’re running the 10K, 5K or the half marathon, you’ll appreciate the unique creativity in each customized medal, which often brings runners back again the following year.
SEVEN: Feel the Love
Burlington Ontario is not a small town, but this race brings out a community vibe that’s is somewhere between urban energy and a close-knit hometown feeling and it works. From the crowds cheering along the streets to the runners on course, everyone has a happy, joyful energy that translates to an overall joy you that’s palpable as you weave along each kilometer. Feeling that sense of community spirit, especially in the dead of winter, is a sure sign that spring is on its way. And it gives you all the more energy to keep on running.