On Saturday morning Anita and I are doing something we pretty much never do: a local half marathon. It’s the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) race series race #3 out of Pottersburg Park in London’s east end.
Why don’t we do local half marathons? One of the main reasons is that if you live and train in London, Ontario, you are more than likely going to be running your half on the same path (or at least part of it) that you run all the time. One of our greatest assets is a long network of multi-use pathways along the river. They’re excellent for training. They’re also excellent for races. So it can get boring. Out of town races are more of an event. Careful packing. Road trip. Pre-race dinner at an Italian restaurant for the (apparently not recommended for women) traditional carb load. Unpredictable sleep in an unfamiliar bed. It’s all part of it.
You don’t get any of that in a local race. Well, it’s possible to do the carb load dinner out, but since we’re in town and the night before is a Friday, we didn’t even think of that until we both already had other plans with other people.
So why are we doing this race? It’s all about scheduling and wanting to squeeze in one more event together before Anita leaves for her sabbatical in the UK on July 31st. She’s going to be gone for a whole year. And then when she gets back, my leave begins and I’ll be gone for a whole year. That’s TWO YEARS without Anita. It’s almost unfathomable. We have been training partners for a few years now. We pace about the same as each other for all types of runs, from tempos to intervals to slow, long runs.
Because of our respective travel schedules, an out of town trip was not going to happen. So we decided to look locally and landed on race #3 in the local MEC series. We jumped on it right away after our Around the Bay relay, as a way of giving us a training goal and a swan song event together.
Yes, about half the course is in the familiar territory of the multi-use path from The Forks of the Thames into Springbank Park. But it starts and ends further east than we usually go, so there will be some new scenery even if no pasta dinner.
The MEC series is great and deserves support for a few reasons. First off, lest you think you can’t take advantage because you don’t live in London, there are MEC series all over Canada. Check out the website here. For our London events, you can find them by clicking here.
If you check out the website, you’re likely to notice how incredibly cheap it is to sign on to the races in this series. Whereas we’re used to paying $75 or more for a race–where you get an official time, a t-shirt, and a medal–MEC is more like $15-20, depending on your distance. You can do a Boston qualifier in the MEC series for a mere $25! They have trail runs, road races, and ultra-marathons.
You don’t get a t-shirt or a medal. But your registration does include:
- A fun family friendly time
- Certified route, timed and posted
- Post race massage (first come first serve)
- Post race freshly brewed coffee, bagels and spreads, bananas, NUUN and CLIF bars
- Special in store discount (invitation is included in race kit)
- Aid Stations along the course
- Medals for the top 3 Men and Women finishers in each distance.
And really, what more do you need from a local race? For all these reasons, I’ve always admired the MEC series and believed it should be supported. Despite that, I’ve not taken part in many of their events in the past. But I’m keen to try their trail running clinic and experiment with trail races at some point.
Meanwhile, I’m excited about this half with Anita on Saturday. We have trained well for the race, both of us working with our coach, Linda (from Master the Moments). The training plans have been amazing and, at least in my case, have helped me achieve advances in my running that I had not thought I was capable of. These have all been over shorter distances, so we’ll really put our training to the test on Saturday.
Here’s the route in case you’re interested:
Are you a supporter of local race series’ in your area?