Saturday, September 5, 2009
Fall Race Schedule, 5k, 10k, half-marathons, trail, XC
Halloween decorations are in the stores, the kids are back in school, so it must be time to plan your fall race schedule. Let's break those races down by both distance and running surface. The best place to run a race is debatable, but most people find it luxurious to run on a road that has been closed to cars. Road racing offers wider starts, better surfaces (sometimes), and usually bigger crowds. Closing down a public road isn't cheap so there are fewer of these to go around. The next most popular running courses are on the pathway systems by the river or around Glenmore. These are cheaper to manage and they're good for smaller races, but they never close the pathways to the public and the starts and finishes can be pretty tight. If you have to pick between a race that starts at Eau Claire Market and a race that starts in the middle of an intersection, pick the road race. If you have something against flat courses, if you think running up a hill is where you have the most fun, then cross country trail racing is for you. These courses vary a lot from a couple laps around Confederation Park to running up and down the slope of a river bank on an icy goat trail. Whether it's road, pathway, or cross country, you should try some of each.
Another strike against pathway races is they tend to be out-and-back courses. This means you run out to some distant point, then turn around and run back the same route. This is somewhat interesting because you get to see the leaders (especially if you never get to see the leaders), but the preferred course is either the point-to-point (like the Boston Marathon) or the loop (New York City Marathon).
Most of the 5k races also offer a 10k version, and the Dino Dash (Sept 6) and the Sheep River Road Race (Sept 7) have both distances. These are both great road races. Do both if you can, or alternate and do one each year. They're both well-organized and offer chip timing and have a good post-race vibe.
On Saturday, Sept 12 you could run the Stepper Homes Step to Fitness, which is the only local 5k that day. On Sunday Sept 13 you have to pick from the Bow River Run (a loop pathway run starting in Bowness Park), the 5k version of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Half Marathon in Canmore (road, paths), the Mayor's Recreation for Life Run in Airdrie (paths), the Terry Fox Run (Eau Claire), or the new Tuscany Race in NW Calgary.
On Wednesday evening, September 16, the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists has their 21st annual CSPG / CSEG Fun Run along the Eau Claire Pathway.
Sept 20 has the 5k Allies for Autism Family Fun Run/Walk (a loop in the NW along the river pathway). On Friday evening, October 2, the Ambulance Chaser's Charity Run starts at 7pm for a twilight river pathway run out-and-back.
Sunday October 4 : The justifiably massive CIBC Run for the Cure starts from Southcentre Mall. On October 11 you can run the Thanksgiving Memory Walk & Run on the Eau Claire pathways, and run in costume on Saturday October 24th at the Halloween Howl.
In November there is the kid-friendly Miles for Moms on Nov. 14 and the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis on Nov. 15th.
The last 5k of 2009 is the Santa Shuffle Fun Run & Elf Walk on December 5 at 10am on the Eau Claire pathways.
Most of the 10ks are part of the same races as the 5ks. The loops are bigger or doubled, or the turnaround point is farther down the pathway system. All the September 5k races above also have a 10k version. The Dino Dash Road Race (double loop, Sept 6) and Sheep River Road Race (longer loop, Sept 7) are both on roads. The Step to Fitness 10k runs Sept 12, and there are 5 local 10ks to pick from on Sept 13: the Canadian Rocky Mountain Half Marathon 10k in Canmore, the Bow River Run (longer loop on pathway), the Terry Fox Run (pathway loop from Eau Claire), the Mayor's Recreation for Life Run in Airdrie (out and back on pathway), and the inaugural Tuscany Race.
The Calgary Corporate Challenge 10k Run is a road race looped course on Sept 20 at 9am and starts at the Red and White Club near McMahon Stadium. The Allies for Autism 10k is also Sept 20. Melissa's Road Race is Sept 26, and you can probably find runners dropping out of the 10k or half marathon distances if you look at some online boards and forums.
Most of the October 5k races also have a 10k distance. The Ambulance Chaser's 10k on Oct 2, the Thanksgiving Memory Walk/ Run on Oct 11, and the Halloween Howl Howl Oct 24.
There is one 10k in November and none confirmed for December. The Miles for Moms 10k is Nov 14.
Nothing says fall running like a great half marathon through parks and streets when the leaves are changing colours. One of the prettiest has to be the Canadian Rocky Mountain Half Marathon in Canmore on Sept 13. It's more than a little hilly, and a mix of non-descript streets and stunning pathways. On the same day you could drive to Edmonton for the Rotary Run for Life half marathon in Stony Plain. There are two half marathons on the same day near Edmonton on Sept 20. The St. Albert Fall Challenge is a course along the Sturgeon River pathway system, and the Edmonton 21 is on park roads and trails by the river. In Banff, Melissa's Road Race is on Sept 26.
There are three fall half marathons in Calgary and area, why not run them all. The Canadian Rocky Mountain Half (Sept 13), the Harvest Half Marathon (Oct 3), and the Last Chance Half Marathon (Nov 15) are all very different races. The Harvest Half is a road and river pathway course that has a few hills and some very nice scenery in the Fish Creek area. The Last Chance Half is a smaller race from Eau Claire with a pathway route all around the downtown pathways on both sides of the river. These are very good races.
On October 4 you can visit BC for the Fernie Half Marathon. It looks like a nice scenic out-and-back looping course that follows the river.
There are no nearby marathon distances until the spring. There are some fall / winter ultra marathons, though.
trail and cross country (XC) races
You might need to invest in some cross-country shoes or running spikes for some of the hillier or icier races listed below. There is a lot of variety in terrain and elevation change for cross-country racing, so adjust your time expectations downward.
The first open (ie. not just high school or college athletes) XC race in Calgary is the SAIT/CALTAF Open XC Meet on Sept 12. Entry is only $6 or $10. Although these races are open to anyone, they are split by gender and distance. Women traditionally will run the 5k XC at 12:30pm and the men run 8K at 1:30pm. This is the beginning of the XC season for high school and college students, so expect some high drama as these young athletes try to impress their coaches or gauge their fitness levels. This race is open, so you're welcome to run with them. The race is at Hawk Ridge Centre, so I imagine it will be an open park course with some trails.
There is one race left in the 5 Peaks Alberta Series, which takes place Sept 12 in Canmore at the Nordic Centre. There are four distances: 1km children's challenge, 6.8 k, 11.5k and 21k. Expect some challenging hills and rocky bits.
Head to Radium Hot Springs for the 10.8k Headbanger Trail Challenge on Sept 26. Or try a local trail race in the Canada Olympic Park hillside, the 1k, 3k, and 5k Waldorf School XC.
The Calgary Roadrunners has a 10-race cross country series that starts on Oct 3 with the River Park Classic XC. Like most of the CRR XC races, this one has a 4k and 8k distance, with a 1k kids run. There is a river crossing, which might get to be waist deep in places, so expect to get your shoes wet.
On October 10 you could try the much more sedate U of C Open XC Meet, which takes place at Canmore Park in the NW. This is very much a speed event, so while the hills will be rolling and the trails not too technical you will get mowed down by a Dino or two. The 5km women's race is 12:30 and the 8k men's at 1:30pm.
Head to Camrose the next weekend for the Augustana Open XC on Oct 17. This will be a hillier course on the ski trails with a 5k and 8k version.
Every year the Stewart Cup moves between Edmonton and Calgary, and this year the Stewart Cup Memorial XC Race is Oct 31 at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton. The college kids will be looking to shine on this wide looping course near the river, but you can also run in any age group.
It should be late fall still when the CRR Edworthy XC Race takes place November 7 in Edworthy Park. There is a huge hill to climb, and a 4k loop that you run twice if you run the 8k version.
Athletics Alberta has a Saucony Run Alberta XC Series which concludes at Goldstick Park in Edmonton with the Series Champ XC. 12:30 5k, 1:30 8k, and awards at 2:30pm. The full 6-race series is SAIT/CALTAF, Macewan, UofC, Augustana, Stewart Cup, and the Saucony Series Champs.
The last CRR XC of 2009 is the Silver Springs XC on Dec 12 at noon. 1k kids race, 4k and 8k loops. This is a pretty course beside the river, with some very thin trails in usually snowy conditions.
For more information and schedule updates, visit the Calgary Roadrunners Race Schedule page, which is often updated and check out the fall issue of Impact Magazine, or the Athletics Alberta website and calendars.