On Tuesday June 24 I competed in the Tim Horton’s Peachbud 10km race in Grimsby Ontario. The following is an excerpt from a (fictional!) sportscast televising the race. Any resemblance of the characters portrayed here to anyone else, aside from myself of course, is accidental and unintended.
Coming to you live from Grimsby in beautiful Southern Ontario, I’m Malcolm McPhee and with me is 3 time world marathon champion Mary Flanagan-O’Sullivan, a 4 time winner at the Tim Horton’s Peachbud 10k. Mary what can you tell us about this race?
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: Thank you Malcolm. And Good Sweltering Evening Everyone! I can tell you that the runners are in for a scenic course with rolling hills that will challenge everyone today. Especially under these hot humid conditions. The runners will need to be aggressive but also must bear in mind that they will need to respect the elements and perhaps modify their pace accordingly.
McPhee: You’re right Mary and earlier today I had a chance to speak with ultramarathon runner, Rod Lowe of Toronto Canada about his hopes and expectations as he enters just his third 10km race.
Lowe: Well Malcolm I’ve gotta say there’s a very strong reason why I’m not as experienced at this [shorter] distance. It scares the crap out of me! Having to go all out right from the get go as there really isn’t any time to make up any lost ground. I’m also not an evening runner. Normally I would be starting to get ready for bed by the time I finish this race. You just don’t get the really muggy conditions that we’ve got now on morning training runs. And today is really hot! It’s the first time really that any of us have faced these conditions after a long cold winter. But I’m hopeful to start well and hold on to a top 100 finish.
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: Thanks Malcolm. Rod obviously alluding there to his goal of claiming an illustrious gold medal awarded to all who finish in the top 100 of this field.
McPhee: At the start of the race we’ve just been told that there are 4 last minute entrants of note. All elite athletes who have sparked awe as a distinct hush of deference has settled over the field. Our cameras have just picked up Rod nervously pacing back and forth near the front of the pack as the runners take their place at the start of the race.
The siren blows and the racers excitedly jockey for position. The action in the first 2 kilometres is fast-paced and frantic.
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: Uh oh uh oh Malcolm. Trouble over here as one of the last minute elite athletes has walked off the course.
McPhee: The elements are truly debilitating today Mary and obviously even the elite amongst us are still human after all.
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: As we rejoin Rod approaching the first water station we can see that the early pace is starting to take its toll as Rod has already started pouring water over his head in an attempt to fight off the heat. His speed has dropped by 20 seconds in this second kilometre. That is a HUGE slowdown. But having established himself early, he remains firmly entrenched within the top 100. If he can hold off the challengers behind him, a gold medal will be his.
The course is circuitous, weaving around the Grimsby downtown core. Picturesque and modestly hilly, the race is certainly challenging. But after my pace dropped off in the second kilometre I managed to hold my own. Except for a few exceptions I wasn’t being passed but I wasn’t passing anyone either. A firehall offering overhead showers to run through as well as spectators armed with water guns are welcome reprieves from the broiling temperatures. Water and gatorade stations roughly every 1.8 kilometres seemed exceedingly generous in frequency pre-race, but I now see clearly the wisdom behind this decision. Apparently each year the weather is absolutely stifling for this event.
McPhee: Now as we approach the 9th kilometre Rod continues to maintain his gold medal standing. But he’s beginning to labour Mary.
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: Yes just as he looked like he was about to make a move on the runners ahead of him Rod grimaced and began clutching his right side as if a stitch had just started. His pace has now begun to slow as a few of the runners he led from the start begin to pass the great athlete.
The interesting thing here Malcolm will be to see just how Rod responds in this final kilometre. The rest of the race is flat and he is still in gold medal territory, but does he know this? Will he settle in and hope the cramping subsides or will he panic and try to pick up his stride in attempt to solidify his standing.
McPhee: I think we’re getting a good indication here as we approach the final 500 metres Mary. Rod has allowed 3 runners to pass him but he remained perched on their shoulders the entire time and he is now beginning to mount an attack along the outside of this final straightaway.
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: Yes he is looking very determined. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Rod. A man who completed his last marathon while fending off an asthma attack of all things! Rod’s just surged passed the 3 runners who had overtaken him a short time ago and is now quickly closing in on 3 more runners who are valiantly holding on for the finish!!!
McPhee: ROD IS REALLY POURING ON THE PACE NOW!!! He seems to have found an extra gear. This is truly where his experience in the longer distances is paying off. He has the endurance and he’s been working hard on his final kick; we’re seeing the fruits of his efforts here.
THE CROWD IS ERUPTING MARY!!!!! They are absolutely screaming in excitement as Rod pushes to the finish!
Flanagan-O’Sullivan: AND IT’S OFFICIAL!!!!! The crew at Sportstats has just given me word. In a time of 47:47.2, 42 year old Rod Lowe has secured 65th spot and has earned a gold medal.
McPhee: WOW!!! THAT’S ALL I CAN SAY! W O W ! ! ! THAT HAD TO BE ONE OF THE MOST VIBRANT FINISHES I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!
Rod Lowe of Toronto Canada, a gold medalist here in Grimsby tonight.