Edmonton Marathon Weekend V2.2: Is it fair to compare it to Calgary?

For as long as Edmonton and Calgary have been around, there has been a rivalry between the two cities. Both are comparable in size, both have major league sports teams, both have easy access to the Rocky Mountains and both have great summer festivals. For an Edmontonian (Me) to travel to Calgary and declare my civic pride, I risk ridicule and good-natured teasing. It is a lot like sibling rivalry. However, when the going gets tough, Calgary and Edmonton stand together. Great examples are when the tornado smashed through Edmonton and Calgary experienced devastating flooding. We stand together like family.

We are similar enough that I don’t think it is unreasonable to compare Calgary’s Marathon Weekend to Edmonton’s Marathon weekend. Since I attended Calgary’s big weekend May 25 & 26 and I also attended Edmonton’s big weekend August 24 & 25, I think I can do a reasonable job. However, this of course is subject to my opinion. There were great things about both weekends and terrible things about both, but all in all they were great events.

So let’s get started, shall we?

Let’s start with Expo.

Calgary Package Pick up

Calgary Package Pickup

 

Edmonton Vendors

Edmonton Vendors

Event Calgary Expo Edmonton Expo
Package Pick up Located at the Big 4, a huge venue with lots of room. Calgary had lots of space very little waiting and the volunteer spent time telling you what to expect. No longer located at the Expo Center, the venue was changed to The Chateau Lacombe. Package pick up was tight and the lines were confusing, the volunteers were rushed but excellent.
Chip Check Did not have Chip Check One guy was checking chips, so even though you had very little wait time for package pick up the line for chip check was insane. 1 guy???
Parking $15 unless you had your bib number, then it was free. Free in the hotel parkade to expo goers
Vendors There were several vendors who offered product for sale and had excellent variety and mediocre deals. Only a couple of vendors offered a few items but I found a gal who made custom compression sleeves for my calves SCORE!
Charities Team Diabetes and Team in Training were well represented and so was Right to Play with Martin Parnell signing books. Team Diabetes and Team in Training were well represented and Team in Training talked to about the Women Nike’s Marathon in San Fran, I am in! Kid Sport was well represented.
Other Races Calgary is a mecca for fun runs and longer distant races. They had reps from all over Alberta, Western Canada and California. New York City Marathon and Vancouver Marathon were promoting their races as well as a couple of cycling races.
Speakers Several speakers from Canadian Medalists to book authors were scheduled. None

Best Expo? Calgary had more variety, Edmonton answered more of my questions and was WAY swankier.

Transportation and Parking

Item Calgary Edmonton
Parking Very limited on race day and $15 Tons of parking at Edmonton Expo Grounds. $5 prepaid pass available at the Expo, $12 on site.
City Transportation The C Train was easily accessible and most people used it. Wouldn’t let you purchase a special event ticket for the return. Station was walking distance from the start line. The ticket line on the return trip was insane. LRT is fairly accessible and plenty of people used it, although most people drove. Public transit tends to be less popular than people self-driving. Why? Wow-let’s just say the city is working on it. LRT offers a special event ticket and can pre-purchase a return ticket which means fewer lines when it is time to go home.
Road Blocks Calgary Police is an awesome job blocking roads and directing traffic. Not very chatty. One confusing intersection had us running into oncoming traffic, it was scary. No one was paying attention. Edmonton Police did an awesome job blocking roads and directing traffic and had the added bonus of being chatty and friendly. One car pulled out of a parking lot and nearly ran me over. The Police Office took a piece out of him and fixed the situation.
Road Conditions Calgary had a lot of potholes and ankle turners. It was spring and winter plays havoc on the roads. The bad sections of the roads were spray painted in neon as warning.

Edmonton wins best parking and Calgary wins best public transit.

Race Course

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Calgary Start – Where are the pace bunnies?

IMG_4572

 

Edmonton Start, Lots of bunnies every where!

 

Items Calgary Edmonton
5km Morning Race- same time as the other races, no opportunity to run 2 different races. Evening Race – this race was the night before the bigger events. It gave you an opportunity to run 2 events. The Evening race perfectly showcases longer summer days in Edmonton
10km Morning Race same time as the other races, no opportunity to run 2 different races. Evening Race – this race was the night before the bigger events. It gave you an opportunity to run 2 events. The Evening race perfectly showcases longer summer days in Edmonton
21.1km Morning Race In the spring 4C Morning Race in the summer 16C
42.2km Morning Race In the spring 4C Morning Race in the summer 16C
hills Yes – each race had hills but the marathon distance had a significant hill about the half way mark. No – fast and flat
location Along the Bow River and downtown Along the North Saskatchewan River and into residential
views Running beside the Bow is nice Running beside the NSask is spectacular
Crowds A very well promoted race. All of Calgary knew about it and came out to cheer or run it. 15 000 participants over 4 races. The streets were practically empty. Not well promoted. Hardly anyone heard about it. Over 2500 participants for all the races

Calgary was a circular race, Edmonton was an out and back. I liked being able to register for multiple races. There were other runners who like it too. Calgary’s race morning was pretty exciting with everyone there. It was a cluster F*** at race start. They were big enough to have corrals. The evening race was fun, the kids race 1k was first then the 5k and the 10k left at the same time. An evening race during sunset is lovely and the view was spectacular in Edmonton. I am giving the win to Edmonton.

Course Amenities

Amenities Calgary Edmonton
Food The post-race refuel food was located downstairs in the grandstands. It wasn’t advertised well and you heard about it through word of mouth. After running 42.2km who wants to walk stairs? Lots of chips and granola bars. They would only give me one bottle of water and wanted me to take juice. Right after medal and water pickup, the food tent was part of the exit. Lots of variety and even had wraps! Gave me two bottles of water was cool with me not choosing juice.
Water Stations They had a water station about every 3k-5k. Gave a choice of Water or Gatorade and gel 3 stations on the way out and 3 on the way back (about every 3-5k) – same stations. Offered GU Brew or Water and gel.
Port-a-potties There were easily 50 at the start line and two at each water station Zero at the start line and 2-4 at each water station. Northlands provided facilities – but not enough for the volume of people at the start.
Massage Therapists Pre-purchased post-race massage $15, race day purchase $20 Post-race massage $20
Pancake Breakfast The Stampede association provided a pancake breakfast – not sure if there was a cost. None, but Tim Hortons provided coffee
Booths/vendors Lots was going on, a real party atmosphere but couldn’t see what was in the tents because of the volume of people in a small space.

Nowhere to sit

A few vendors were lined up on the way out of the Race Park. Lots of room to move around, Sofa and Chairs were set up for runners to eat their post-race food.
Massage Tent Could not find it. Well marked, easily found inside next to the casino. Long wait 30-60min. Well worth it.

Stairs post marathon are just stupid. Be kind to rookie athletes Calgary! Edmonton wins the post-food category because of location, quantity and sandwiches.

Calgary wins for party atmosphere. Calgary Stampede association knows how to throw a party – hands down winner.

Medals

Calgary had a new medal for every race although I am not sure why they didn’t wait until next year to have the big reveal for the 50th anniversary. These medals had a cool factor and so did the shirts. The 42.2km was a belt buckle. Usually you need to complete an Ultra-marathon for a belt buckle. This was cool and at the Stampede, if you were caught wearing it, you won swag from the Calgary Marathon Association. Way to market yourselves Calgary Marathon!!114

Edmonton had a new medal this year. It no longer had the Canadian Derby theme attached to it. I think it should go back to the old Festival Marathon theme since we are Festival City. The detail on the medal was exquisite. I like di-cuts and detail. The Alberta Legislature is the prominent feature except you don’t really see it on the course. The different distance medals were differentiated by the ribbon. Interesting how in Edmonton the half is red and in Calgary the half is blue, while the full in Edmonton is blue and the full in Calgary is red. Coincidence?

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I didn’t put volunteers into the equation because quite frankly, Alberta is second to none when it comes to people stepping up to help out. These two events were no different. Lots of help, everyone was smiling, kind and supportive. I love volunteers!! As a runner, I always make sure I thank them as I run by “Thanks for volunteering!” People like hearing thanks and knowing they are appreciated. Without their support, there would be zero road races for me. I pay it back by volunteering one race for every race I run. You get groovy swag for helping out, and its fun.

The winner? Tough call, it might be preference. I am giving it to Calgary for size and variety but Edmonton wins for detail.

Looking at both events, I am thinking carefully about where to spend my race dollar. I really want to be a part of the 50th anniversary in Calgary because they do throw a great party. Which distance? Hmmm, I am leaning towards the Marathon but I am not sure yet. I will see how I improve in January. How about Edmonton? I don’t think I will do the half or full in Edmonton. It is just too lonely out there to go that far, but I will do the 10k because Saturday night was a lot of fun! Now, I would love to see Edmonton Marathon weekend become a massive success, so I think I will see if I can help out with organization. I am a big believer in put up or shut up, and Edmonton made huge gains this year, maybe they could use some more help.

Happy Running!

 

 

 

Running in the River Valley with Coyotes and Mo #yeg

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up loving Wile E. Coyote best. Road Runner was a showoff. Besides, I always had a special place in my heart for Super Geniuses. My run today included a coyotes on the trail in Downtown Edmonton. No, they did not resemble the Warner Bros. icon. For the record, Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, and home to about a million people (including the GEA). So one may not expect wildlife that could eat you in the middle of the city.

Right through the center of Edmonton is a parks system the follows both sides North Saskatchewan River. It is larger than Central Park, however it is made up of many parks beside each other with recreation trails and bridges that connect each park. Today I had some errands to do and that had me in close proximity to Emily Murphy Park, just north of The University of Alberta.

What was I doing? Shopping for new shoes, sports bras and headbands! Since I cut my hair, I can’t get all my hair into a pony tail and it is the MOST ANNOYING THING EVER! I am growing it out for summer. $50 later in headbands (they saw me coming!), plus the other apparel  I was at the till. I had a coupon for 20% AND a $10 gift card AND my shoes were $50 off! WOOOHOOO! I came away with an arm load of awesomeness for $150. For a change, my shoes aren’t hideous colours. FINALLY a colour I like!016

Hopped into my car and headed for the park. Today was sunny and gorgeous so I wanted to run for a little bit. Homework was nagging me, so I knew I could only head off for under 30 minutes, but that is better then zero minutes.

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If you squint you can see the river beyond the trees and the downtown core on the other side.

I figured I would head west because I knew the trails were groomed and the skiers have their own trail. I was hoping to have the place to myself, but saw 3 very friendly runners along the way. The secret wave of runners everywhere happened on this trail.

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The snow was slightly spongy so it absorbed my momentum instead of pushing off. That made my legs feel heavy, but the air temperature was fantastic. Warm for me, cool for you at 30F. I ended up pulling off my light jacket and just ran in my shirt. It was too warm for both. What a difference a day makes! Yesterday I didn’t think I could ever be warm again and today it was perfect.

As I headed south around the Mayfair Golf Course, I came upon some rustling in the trees.

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Then two coyotes appeared off to the side of the path – YIKES! I turned around and gave them plenty of space.

I didn’t take the time to snap a picture but I sourced one to show you what they look like

CoyoteMullane

They aren’t as scary as wolves, but there were enough dogs around to get into a scrap so I figured it was a good time to head back and get some homework done.

It felt good being out there today. Some-days are like that. Everything feels great, and some-days you just push through. It’s days like this that I live for.

Happy Running!

Mo’s Victory was clouded in darkness

I took a week off from running. Why? Mostly because I was exhausted. Between work and Mid-Terms I had very little sleep. I slept 13 hours Saturday morning and had a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. I then went to bed exhausted at 10. I think I was a little knackered from my week. Perhaps not running was smart because I tend to injure myself when I run  tired. But part of it was a mental block.

Today is Family Day here in Alberta  I know it is else where too, but some places had it last week and the States has Presidents day, so it is a long weekend for many. Myself included. Except after a weekend of sleeping, I knew I needed to get my sorry butt out the door. Today  was my scheduled 20 minute non-stop run with the C25K program. I have had a mental block about getting it done for a while now. My evening last night gave me some news that I should be super happy about but instead I thought….”Crap, that is the day my 10k is. I don’t want to miss it. But I might have to because the obligation is a big deal…a marriage or something big like that. Perhaps I won’t get invited…one could hope but likely I will have to go being she is my sister and all.

I kid… I kid….

Sort of.

I actually don’t care which 10k I run with one caveat: There has to be a medal.

The thing is, I like winning stuff. I never expect to win a race, however I like the medal around my neck. It feels like I accomplished something. If there isn’t a medal, I will save my cash and run for 10k on the trails behind my house. I could care less about the tech shirt or socks or whatever else the swag might be. I want hardware.

These were the thoughts that ran through my head as I ran towards the creek in the driving wind. Damn that wind was cold. I then was tossing out the idea of running the half the next day instead. That is me all over Go Big or Go Home. I could run the half, but my dream is to run the 5k and the 10k first. the 5k color run is already screwed up. It sold out in Calgary in about 3.2 seconds. I might be exaggerating a bit…but it sold out quick. The Edmonton Color Run is rescheduled for September. SEPTEMBER! That would be AFTER I do a 10k!!! Talk about doing stuff backwards, but that is my life. I walked a half before I ever had walked a 5k.

I took a quick peak at upcoming runs. There is the 10k in Calgary May 26 but I have no idea if that is a medal race. I need to investigate  There is the 10k in Canmore, but chances are it is running up a mountain. Think Hills on Steroids. I am not sure my knees would like that. However it is a possibility. Or there is the Half in Edmonton on the 18th. Running it is a big deal for me. I just ran 20 minutes without stopping and didn’t die, so perhaps I could work up to this with a schedule of 8 and 1s or 10 and 1s. I think 8s would be the smarter choice for a gal of my size.

Anyway you slice it, I ran 2.5k without a walk break and without thinking about it because I am busy planning. I prefer to be mindful when I run, but this helped me over come that mental block. Next goal, run OVER the creek to the south end of Edmonton. I still need to think about baby step size goals because my Garmin says I haven’t run a 5k yet, that is no where close to a 21.1k!! I guess I need to worry about the 5k first before jumping ahead.

intact10k2

Fresh Powder, Mountains and Mo

This week’s athletic adventures were a combination of walking and hiking in the mountains and running at the local park.

My kids and I took advantage of the winter sunshine and blue sky and headed west to Jasper National Park for the day. Skiing wasn’t on the agenda that day but we did manage to take in some beautiful winter trails along Maligne Canyon and walked a couple of km around the town-site. The snow was deep and the air was crisp, but the sky was the perfect Alberta Blue that I love so very much! The canyon trail was steep and knee deep with snow. The cold was biting on our cheeks, but we loved it anyways.

IMG_2905Malign CanyonMalign CanyonTonquin Valley

 

There is something about the Rocky Mountains, they are energizing and inspiring to me. They are also exhausting. One day hiking and walking (only 3k total – but UP more than down) and I was knackered. I slept a lot the next day but was eager to head out for my run this morning. I am still taking it slow and steady, I am not pushing it hard because I need to maintain a consistent and gradual build up for health reasons. I don’t want to be forced to stop again.

This morning there appeared out of nowhere, a blinding snow storm. The delicious kind! Where great giant fluffy flakes fell from the sky to create a ‘white out’. Similar to a blackout but all you see is white. I decided I wanted to run in that, but sadly the sun came out. Not that I was really sad, the sun feels good  – a whole lot better than grey skies! For Christmas my sister knit me a Tiffany Blue hat and scarf for running. The hat is too hot yet because it isn’t below -10, so a head band for the ears is perfect for me.

Proof I wear the scarf Sista!

Me before I start running - all happy and excited

I walk for my warmup to the park trails, west of my house. The road was slick with powder but I am thankful for my YakTrax. I am late getting to the start of the trail because the snow fall requires ‘trudging’. Once on the trails, I am happy to note many people had been out and trampled the snow for me! Running south towards the creek, I see the most unusual sight, not that I should be surprised, but I am amazed anyways. I see a cycler on his bike, in shorts. He was too fast for me to take a picture, but I caught his tracks. I saw quite a few cyclers in the mountains as well. Proof that you can live without a car in Canada…not that I would want to try very hard to do so!

Bicycle Tracks

 

If every winter day was like this one, life would be grand indeed. Happy Running!