Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis de Montreal Half Marathon 2012
Did you see this cutie hanging around the Parc Lafontaine finish line? I am terribly sorry if he hitched a ride on someone else’s back, but I had to terminate our relationship. I needed to run the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis de Montreal Half Marathon for my sanity. Bye, bye monkey…
My Journey, My Run, My Celebration
I will never pass up an opportunity to visit Montreal. No matter how frustrating those rehab exercises got, I kept my focus on one target: Run Montreal.
Thanks to the expensive parking ($25/day at Delta Centre Ville) and cost of gas, I took advantage of the Via Rail promotion for a $58.32 return ticket. The downfall was the torrential rain on Friday afternoon meant lengthy delays on the rails, and I didn’t check into the hotel until after 9pm. I was starving, and actually ate a Subway Veggie Sub. Considering I avoid “fast food” at all costs, I have never been so thankful for some carbs and preserved veggies!
Saturday morning, I walked across the road from the Delta (host hotel) to the Expo. It was being held at Place Bonaventure, a facility easily accessible by walking if staying in a downtown hotel, via the Metro, or by vehicle. I must say the volunteers manning kit pick up were very efficient. They did verify the confirmation paperwork and asked for identification. Not sure this helped reduced the “illegal” bib sales, but at least they tried.
Then there was the tech tee. After weeks of seeing this design on Facebook…
they handed out this…
I should note Derek pointed out the neon colour is from the title sponsor, Oasis, and their green leaves logo. Alas, I guess the colour selection makes sense. It’s just not terribly flattering on my fading tan, almost pasty white, colouring.
Given the let down on the shirt front, the Expo itself provided redemption. Plenty of vendors on hand, some good deals, some bad. If nothing else, the Brooks Run Happy® Cavalcade of Curiosities Tour was brilliant. I got a shout out for wearing my Brooks PureFlow shoes, and loved my free t-shirt. Royal blue is a great colour for me… hint, hint Oasis de Montreal!
From the Expo, I went to meet up with Sonia. Let me tell you, this is why I love destination races: runners who don’t often get to see each other can easily chat for hours! Sonia had scoped out a couple vegetarian/vegan restaurants for us, and we opted for Crudessence. I can say with certainty, this was the best Raw Vegetarian food I’ve ever eaten. Having even greater company to share the meal with made my weekend perfect. Merci Sonia, I can’t thank you enough!!
After our lunch, I spent the afternoon shopping along Rue St-Catherine. For me, no trip to Montreal is complete without blowing an hour or two in Simons. On the return walk to the hotel, I stopped by a little cafe I’ve enjoyed on previous trips. They created a lovely grilled vegetarian sandwich, along with a pasta salad and lentil salad, for my evening meal. Delicious!
Race morning. The alarm was set for 5:30am, but the hotel came alive around 5:00am. I jumped in the shower, geared up, made myself a cup of tea, had a bowl of instant oatmeal and a banana. By 6:45am, I was among the masses pouring into the Square Victoria Metro station. At this stage, I need to give a shout out to the STM staff – they had employees at the entrance, on the staircases, and on the platform. Goal: get runners to the Jean-Drapeau station efficiently.
During the ten minute walk from Jean-Drapeau Station to the Pont Jacques-Cartier, I regretted not bringing a throw away. The mercury was sitting at 11C, and I later learned the wind gusts ranged from 37 to 48 kilometres an hour. Thankfully Rock ‘n’ Roll had plenty to keep the mind off being cold. The walk featured a band, a gaggle of porta potties, and the Brooks VIP Porta Potty spectacle could not be missed.
The Marathon and Half Marathon was set to start at 8:30am. The police asked for a slight delay, and the first corral was off at 8:35am. During the delay, we learned 27,000 runners were taking to the streets of Montreal. Represented among the professional and amateur athletes was an astounding 40 countries.
Rock ‘n’ Roll delivered on its live band promise – 26 in total on course. The music was varied, just like the rich heritage of the city. We went around Ile Ste-Helene, in the back stage zones of La Ronde. We then proceeded to Ile Notre-Dame, around the Formula 1 “Circuit Gilles Villeneuve”. We crossed over the Pont de le Concorde, through an industrial park, and then headed to the Vieux Port. This is when the race started to get enjoyable. The residents of Montreal lined the streets and their balconies, cheering runners in both French and English. I lost count of the high fives from the kids and adults. I heard the word “chocolat”, and could have kissed the elderly woman handing out truffles after Plessis. Only thing to note is the “hill” I thought was at 16K, and proceeded to laugh at during the jaunt, was not the hill. I learned 19K on this course features Rue Berri, with a wonderful 1K worth of incline, which brought many runners to a walk.
The half marathon (and marathon) wrapped up in Lafontaine Park. While a small park for the volume of participants, the carnival meets rock concert atmosphere was brilliant. I was happy to receive my bottle of water and a goodie bag, but had to turn back to collect a medal. This race did not have medal presenters in the traditional sense. Just a couple of volunteers holding boxes of baggies… which upon closer inspection contained finishers medals. Very bizarre setup.
I can’t speak as to the efficiency of the bag check (didn’t use it), the shower trailer (didn’t use them), the bouncy castles (apparently I’m too old), the headliner concert (didn’t care to wait) or the merchandise corner (too far a walk). I will say the free cold Michelob beer was a great perk, the Liberte Yogurt team let me pick my flavour, and the Oasis Smoothie was much better than the Oasis Sport Beverage (think 1980’s McDonald’s orange drink) served on course. Oh, and a huge thank you to Marie-France. She was an 84 year old woman who barely spoke English, but managed to hand hold a group of us to the Metro station. Signage would have been nice, just saying…
All told, the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Half Marathon was the perfect way to ease back into races. My goal, acknowledging limited run training since May, was a slow, steady 6:30mpk -OR- 2:30 overall finish. I crossed the line with a 2:26 gun/2:15 chip.
Half Marathon Results
Chip Time: 2:15:34.4
Overall Place: 5974/8700
Gender Place: 2637/4562
Women 35-39 Place: 491/790