Neither wind, nor sleet, nor snow, or for that matter, severe cold can stop the runners training for the 120th annual Around the Bay road race. Despite the nasty winter weather we've had in Canada this year, the 30 km race in North America has already sold out with 9,000 runners eager to take part.
"This year's been a little bit harder because of the ice. You have to really be careful. But most of the hardcore runners are going to run all year and it won't have that much of an effect," Mike Zajczenko said at the media launch for the race Tuesday. As for the weather on the actual race day — March 30 — Zajczenjo said he isn't worried.
"I don't worry about things I don't have any control over," he laughed. "As long as it's sunny, the cold doesn't really matter as long as you're dry."
The relay runs have also sold out, but there's still time to sign up for the 5km run.
This year, organizers have made changes to the 30 km race route after a train crossing slowed down runners last year. This year, the route will tuck up to Burlington Street through overpasses to avoid long CN trains.
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Last year, Lanni Marchant of London took first place in the women's 30 kilometre race and set a new course record with a time of 1:44:39. Zajczenko said there is always a push to break records in the race and though Marchant isn't signed up this year, there could be others vying for a new record.
For the past 10 years, the road race has raised money for the St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton Foundation. In that time, they've raised $1.5 million for patient care and research, including $315,000 last year. This year, organizers are aiming even higher with a goal of $400,000.
"We've tried to increase the number of fundraising teams because fundraising teams are always instrumental in helping us to reach out goal," Sera Filice-Armenio, president and CEO of St. Joe's foundation said. She said there's a lot of hometown pride for both runners and those fundraising for the race.
"There's such a tremendous history behind this race that it is really part of Hamilton. It's nice for people to come out and support it."