Saturday, July 7, 2012

Canyon Country Challenge - Race Report

The race:
Canyon Country Challenge - 5K, 10K, 15K
Dorion, Ontario

I completed the CCC 15K in June 2011 and I was excited to be back again at one of my favourite races.  Why my favourite?

It’s the community spirit.  Dorion is a tiny community with a big heart.  It’s a community of go-getters.  The race is a fundraiser for student scholarships (more about that here) and it draws walkers and non-runners as well as competitive athletes from Thunder Bay and the region.

Every runner gets a prize.  The lunch after the race is spectacular and home made.  While there are certificates for the winners, the focus is on celebration for all.

Last year, the race was grueling in the hot June sun.  This year we were blessed with fog and drizzly weather – perfect for a 15K.  The home base for the race is Dorion Public School – which doubles as the Dorion Community Centre.  The school is immaculate and the washrooms are so clean (in comparison to some races I have been to!).

This year, I recognized several of my students volunteering at the race.  The race provides an opportunity for secondary school students to accumulate some of those 40 hours of volunteer work they need to graduate.

This year, my former cyclist son came along with the intention of running the 10K, but the need to get home and break in his new work boots before flying into the bush limited him to the 5K race.  I do appreciate his dedication to always supporting as many local events as he can, even if he can’t stay for the full event.

The mass start was low key, and I reminded myself to stick to my race plan and not get caught up in running to fast with those running a shorter distance from the beginning.  Pre-running the course taught me that this race is uphill both ways on the 15K course!

The cliffs and the fields are quite stunning, and even the up and down into the bridge over the stream wans’t nearly as painful in the cooler weather this year.

I was past the 10K turnaround before meeting the first 15k runner – always a good thing for those of us who are no longer fast!

The last 2K were a killer for me but they were flat, so the Dixie Chicks (“I’m not Ready to Make Nice”) on repeat kept me mad and moving fast.  I was happy with my time (1:33:04) for the 15K considering the terrain and my lack of training and it is a good benchmark to improve on.

The lunch at this event is spectacular and home made in the community.  Last year, I was closer to the front of the lunch line and managed to scoop some local garden asparagus and rhubarb crisp.  The buns (an forgive me for forgetting the baker’s name) are famous and amazing!  This year it was vegetarian lasagna with lentils and everyone was raving about it.

I was lucky to be called near the start of the draw and I had my pick of many prizes donated by the community and the sponsors.  I picked up a Pampered Chef cookie press for the school.  (The fact that it had dried cookie dough on it shows the community support – lots of people contribute prizes).

My son didn’t stay for the meal, but he was pretty impressed with the 12-year-old Eric Osala who won the 5K race.  They had almost a 2 minute gap on the field.  We will have to look out for Eric in the future.

This is a fabulous homey event that brings out everyone in the community.  Watch for it again next year.