What better way to start your year then with a 9K race down the Toronto Beaches boardwalk and path system to kick off the New Year.
This is the thinking of the Hair Of The Dog 9K Run held on the morning of new years day starting at the Balmy Beach Club doing an out and back route on snow, sand and trail.
Having not run a race or even trained much due to the holiday season and its travel / gluttony based commitments this seemed like a fantastic way to shake of the cobwebs forming on my runners.
Of course I had made this decision on New Years Eve and to make sure I followed through with it made of point of telling a few people to shame me in to actually dragging myself out of a warm bed on the 1st of the year after a late night of drinks and great food.
Well doing so was worth it. There is nothing greater then a winter race that you can run down to the starting line directly from you home in a few minutes, stay inside the warm and inviting Balmy Beach Club socializing with other runners all while enjoying a little coffee.
A quick on the site registration and a bib pinned to shirt I was ready to race. This being my first time running the event and not knowing what to expect I took to the starting line with other runners, some shivering, some looking a little hung over while others pumped up the crowd in fun costumes ranging from super hero’s to mexican wrestlers.
Soon we were off and the race was underway. It was an interesting experience to say the least as the course at times was only a loose guideline as runners jockeyed for positions allowing them find the best footing on the snow, ice and other surprises winter running tends to have in store.
I found it an especially surreal experience to be running along a race route where you are sometimes being paced along side of the occasional snow shoer or cross country skier as fresh boxing week snow had left just the right amount of the white stuff on the ground for such outdoor sports.
It was not until I reached the half way turn around point that I learned that Hair Of The Dog was not just a catchy name for a race held after a night notorious for drinking but was also being in fact served at the aid station.
As I approached two chipper volunteers yelled out an offering of water on the right or schnapps on the left. I found this amusing then realized they were in fact not kidding.
By the end of the race I had seen and experienced a lot of things that both inspired and amused along the race course. Including those that ran right off the finishing line as crowd of runners and onlookers formed to take an ice cold dip in the lake!
The hospitality of the Balmy Beach Club continued at the finish with a delicious chili lunch and hot drinks that were included in the race fee and were the perfect end to such a fun wintry event.
I look forward to barking up the wrong tree yet again next year at the Hair of The Dog and will have to see who else I drag along with for a fun and exhilarating way to start the year.