Hamilton Road2Hope Half Marathon Race Review

3 years ago when I began my running journey my sister Adriana was by my side. We began running together on a cold February morning along the Lisgar Trail in Mississauga. I can’t remember exactly what inspired us to go from walking to running, but I needed to get a grip on my health and my sister was there as a my running partner and motivator. When we lived together last year, we would go for runs every week, but Adriana recently moved to Niagara to begin her nursing career and we haven’t run together all summer. We chose the Hamilton Road2Hope Half Marathon as our end of season run that we would complete together. Adriana’s boyfriend Pat came along for the ride and we ended up having a really great day.

With Adriana before the race.

With Adriana before the race.

Registration and Race-Kit Pick Up: Adriana and Pat picked up our kits on Saturday afternoon and were a bit disappointed at the build-your-own-racekit format. We didn’t get tops in the sizes we wanted and the only item besides the t-shirt in our bags was a very tiny Cliff Bar. If there’s one thing I’ve learned working and racing this year, it’s that not all races are made the same. Being a smaller race, Hamilton Road2Hope obviously didn’t have the feel of a big-city marathon, or enough volunteers to put together the race kits, but that’s not to say that the race wasn’t enjoyable.

Digital Hype: The race does have a Facebook and Twitter account, but there was minimal digital hype around the race. The Facebook page had your standard pre-race updates and info on the Twitter page was minimal at best. Nothing to write home about.

Course: Race day, Sunday November 3rd, was COLD. I was dressed in full-length Brooks tights, a long-sleeve tech shirt, a running pullover, Lululemon headband and gloves. Even with all those layers, I could still feel the wind, especially as we were running along the highway during the first half of the race. The course was pretty low-key for the first few kilometres along country roads with no cars. It was actually nice to have a bit of calm and quiet as we settled into our pace. Around the 2 kilometre mark I got an awesome surprise from my friend Mike who was at the race to cheer us on. I obviously stopped for a picture because it was incredibly sweet of Mike to stand out in the cold on a Sunday to motivate his friends. Thanks Mike!

Mike's awesome sign!

Mike’s awesome sign!

Kilometres 6-12 were along the Red Hill Valley Parkway. I have to say it was kind of cool to run on the highway, but this is where it got really cold. After the highway portion we made our way down to the Lakeshore for a out and back section from 14k to the finish. This part of the course was quite scenic and beautiful and the nice view certainly made the time pass. Here’s a PDF version of the half-marathon route.

Finish Line and Medals: The finish line was great. There were tons of people lining the course for the last 2 kilometres and this definitely gave us a big boost as we made our way to the end. The finishing area was well-organized, lots of volunteers and medics on hand if needed, and the medals were quite nice.  This race scores BIG points from me for having pizza at the food tent! I crossed the finish line feeling hungry and cold and it was such a treat to walk into the food tent where there was fruit, Voortman Gingerboy cookies, and tons of pizza! I loved it. There was also soup, but I didn’t know if it was vegetarian so I didn’t try it.

Adriana and Pat running.

Adriana and Pat running.

Would I Run This Race Again? Yes. I was actually thinking of how a smaller race like this one might be nice for a marathon. Although this race was pretty low key, it had everything required for a positive half-marathon experience (good volunteers, frequent water stations, clear course markings, great food), and I really don’t have anything to complain about. I could definitely see myself running this race again next year if I don’t have another fall race planned too close to it’s date.