Wild winter ices race plans for Around the Bay hopefuls

This year's unusually cold winter has prompted more than few would-be Around the Bay participants to hawk their race bibs to other runners.

'It’s been a really, really tough winter to train in,' race organizer says

Hamiltonian teacher Haley Logan-LaRiviere pauses to have her picture taken during a running session in Dundas earlier this year. She has decided not run in next Sunday's Around the Bay Road Race. (Courtesy of Haley Logan-Lariviere)

Haley Logan-LaRiviere was working towards a “lofty goal” of running her first 30-kilometre road race in next Sunday's Around the Bay competition.

That is, until Hamilton’s wild, unusually frigid winter stopped her plan cold in its tracks.

When I did go outside, I went too hard too soon.—Haley Logan-LaRiviere, runner

Nursing a leg injury she blames on the rocky weather, the 27-year-old teacher is one of dozens of people selling their race bibs online using sites like Kijiji and Craigslist.

Bitter winds and icy terrain this season kept Logan-LaRiviere from running much outdoors, so she trained on a treadmill in the hopes that the weather would improve.

“When I did go outside, I went too hard too soon,” she said.

As a result, she got hurt, straining her it iliotibial band, a strip of connective tissue that runs from that runs from the side of one’s hip to just below the knee. It’s a common injury for athletes who run long distances.

At first, Logan-LaRiviere tried to run through the pain, but soon “realized this is probably not a good thing to do.”

Now, she, along with her father, Dan Logan — who, incidentally, injured himself on vacation in Costa Rica — are selling their bibs for the sold-out race for $75 each, roughly what they paid in early-bird registration fees.

Increased number of registrants backing out

Logan-Lariviere is not alone. According to Around the Bay race director Michael Zajczenko, between 200 and 300 people have applied through the event’s website to transfer their spots to other people.

He estimates that it's an increase of about one third over last year, and attributes the uptick to the weather over the past few months. 

“It’s obvious. It’s been a really, really tough winter to train in.”

Ewald Becker is selling the Around the Bay bib belonging to Krysten, his 25-year-old daughter, on Kijiji. A veteran of several Around the Bay races, he may choose to bail on the event as well.

Krysten, he said, suffered a knee injury as a result of her winter training. And Becker, a software salesman, has developed a persistent pain on the arch of one of his feet.

Like Logan-LaRiviere, Becker and his daughter stayed cooped up inside for much of the winter because of the cold and the icy ground conditions.

When the roads and trails improved, he said, the father-daughter duo made a point of making up for lost time — to somewhat disastrous effects. 

“Because we’ve have had to cut back on our training, when we do go out, we go too hard,” Becker said.

The 59-year-old said he doesn’t “like backing out of anything,” but added he will decide next week if he’ll don his sneakers for next Sunday’s big event.

“I’m resting and I will probably run, but it will be a very late decision as to whether I race or not,” Becker said. “At a minimum, I’m going to take it easier this year.”

Winter training tips

Running Room manager Ben Jurkovic recommends that runners training in cold conditions dress warmly and go slowly. (Cory Ruf/CBC)

Marking its 120th anniversary in 2014, Hamilton's Around the Bay Road Race takes place each year in the early spring. The event now boasts 30K, 5K and two relay events.

Around 13,000 runners have registered to participate in the sold-out race.

Though the forecast for next week is expected to be unseasonably cold, Zajczenko said he didn’t have any special advice for entrants into the race.

“Be prepared,” he said. “Most runners run year-round. They’re used to it.”

However, Ben Jurkovic, manager of the Running Room in west Hamilton, which sells jogging gear and offers training courses, said winter runners should heed the following tips, regardless of whether or not they're training for a lengthy race:

“Dress appropriately and go slower.”