This Sunday marks the 120th anniversary of the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario. First run in 1894, it's the oldest organized race in North America — older even than the Boston Marathon by three years. Sunday's historic run will consist of a 30-km road race, as well as a few shorter races including a 5k and two relay races. All the events are sold out, which means there will be 9,000 competitors at the starting gate of the 30k.
The first race was run on Christmas Day in 1894. It was sponsored by Billy Carroll, owner of the Hamilton Herald Newspaper (as well as a local cigar store), who wanted to showcase the area's best long distance runners. Over the years, the race has hosted competitors from around the world, including a few Olympians. This year, Ontario Premier (and recent red chair guest) Kathleen Wynne will be amongst the competitors.
There have been a few minor hiccups leading up to the race this year. The most notable one has been the weather. Extreme colds in Southern Ontario have made it nearly impossible for competitors to train — and those who did make it outside found that strong winds and icy roads cut their training time short.
There's also the problem of the T-shirts. Long-sleeve running shirts with the Around the Bay logo are typically given out to all the runners before the race. But this year, the shirts are stuck in port in Vancouver, where truckers have been on strike since last month. That means no goods are moving, including the shirts.
Still, the race will go on as planned, continuing an important Hamilton tradition. In the gallery above, you can check out some great photos from the long history of the Around the Bay Road Race.