- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, 50K
- Road Race
- Event Website
I'll start off by saying it wasn't the best race experience I've had, but overall my weekend was very fun!
Before race weekend that had me a little skeptical was when I emailed to have my predicted finish time updated slightly, (I was registered over 6 months in advance) and the reply informed me that the start chute is self-seeding so I'd be lining up wherever I wanted. Um, the half marathoners, full marathoners AND the 50k ultra runners all start at the same time in this race. No corrals? Hmm...it's not a huge race by any means, but it's not tiny! I think this year they said there were twelve thousand participants over the course of the weekend.
Anyways, my travel to Calgary was painless (thank you, West Jet!) and I arrived at the host hotel, the Westin, to find it was FANTASTIC. Great hotel, a Starbucks and a Keg attached, plus another hotel restaurant and bar area, super clean and even kinda fancy. Most importantly, they had a race shuttle that got us right to the start area with no waits or stress.
The Westin is in a great location and my 3 mile run on Saturday morning was around the Prince's Island Park area and so beautiful!
Later I took a nice slow walk to the expo at the Big 4 Building, but it was further than I thought and I'd Uber next time. As for the expo, it was pretty basic but very quick and easy to get bibs and shirts.
I am not a fan of the race shirt, as many other people I talked to weren't. There is gorgeous artwork on it, it just looks dumb on a shirt! Also, the shirts are identical for all six different events (5k, 10k, half, full, 50k ultra and 150k relay/solo) with the only difference being the distance on the back. It's too bad, because it's fun when you're super proud of the distance you're tackling and get to wear your race top with your chest puffed out haha.
A complaint I have about the expo was there was nowhere at all within or nearby (that I could find) to get anything to eat or drink! Obviously I brought a bottle of Nuun with me but when I ran out I couldn't believe there was no water. Didn't even see a drinking fountain to refill my bottle, though I'm a bit blind. Being hungry/thirsty isn't something I'm into ever, especially not the day before a marathon. I know a race expo isn't a food fair, but they can be fun to hang out at for a while and people spend a fair amount of time at them in some cases.From there we easily took the C-Train back to the downtown core and walked the two or three blocks back to the Westin.
Come race morning, Crystal and I arrived at the start around six via our hotel's school bus shuttle, very easily checked out gear bags, and had no long waits for toilets inside the building or for porto-potties either. At this point, the porto-potties were still super clean and non-stinky. Bonus.
It wasn't actually that bad getting into the start chute where I wanted to be, but I was in there by 6:45 and wouldn't have wanted to try to squeeze in closer to the 7 am start. There was a massive line of runners shuffling in through one of the chute gate openings around the 3:45 marathon a ways up in front of me, and they all just slowly merged in as the race began. I don't actually know how anyone but the full marathoners were supposed to know where to go, unless they could find a pace bunny for their pace and distance. I only saw big red flags for certain marathon times. Not much order, but I didn't encounter any problems with it at all. Like YogiCrystal told me, just get there early and get into the chute where you want to be before it becomes a sardine can. This would have been a big problem if I'd needed one more bathroom visit before starting...
This race course has so many turns. I thought it was a nice course, pretty good scenery-wise and less residential than Victoria, if I'm remembering correctly. There were lots of excellent aid stations with water, Ultima, some with Honey Stinger gels (not my jam, but still awesome) and cold sponges! The course description said thirteen aid stations I believe but I felt like there were more. Maybe both sides of the out-and-back portion counted as one. It was very well-aided!
If I had know the course was this difficult, I think I would have have still registered, but I most definitely would not have been coming with a huge goal! I have to say I think it's lame the scale Calgary uses in the depiction of their course's profile. Extremely misleading! Here's another version of it on findmymarathon.com that I came across as well.
Combining this course with late-May hot weather (at least for me, coming from the mild north coast of BC) and my race plan was out the window. The fun of the Canada 150 theme, the spectator support (especially Lululemon YYC!) and my newfound love for the city of Calgary, and I managed to let go of the fact that this was nothing at all what I was expecting. I'm so happy I was able to finish the race with a good attitude, aside from a few hiccups. It was a serious struggle in the sun and knowing that a PR was out of reach, but I didn't go to the dark place.
The post-finish line area was AWESOME! There were some showers to wash off the salt all over us, lots of photographers to take our pics with the SWEET gigantic toonie-like medals that are also BELT BUCKLES hahaha, and there were lots of bananas, water and Ultima. I honestly don't remember if I was given any other snacks because of post-marathon brain, but I know there was a tear-off strip on the bibs that could get you food somewhere after exiting the immediate finish area.
Overall, I am glad that I went to the 2017 Calgary Marathon Weekend. I enjoyed the city, the event theme and the spectator support, and the host hotel was great. Personally, I think they should update the scale of their race course profile, and re-think the organization of the starting chute, and I think they should consider making the race shirts unique to the various distances. I had a fun weekend, but not outstanding enough to return since it was a ways for me to go. If I lived in Alberta and it was closer to me, I would definitely participate again, but not with any goal aside from possibly a course-PR.