Barefoot Spring Run Off 8K

HSRO 8K - leading the pack

Leading the pack

This was a good race, for all kinds of reasons. To start, it was a return to a race that I did five years ago, after getting back to running after an absence of almost thirty years.

Second, it was a chance to pay back. Late in 2005, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Since then, I’ve had very good care from the good folks at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital. For this year’s Spring Run Off, I raised just over C$1,500 to support PMH’s research and treatment programs. It’s only a drop in the bucket, given the prevalence of prostate cancer these days, but it’s something.

As if that weren’t enough, I managed to set a new personal best time for the 8K. My chip time was 44:12.8. That’s a 6 minute improvement over my finishing time in 2008. I placed 6/21 in my age category, 649/1173 in my gender group, and 917/2244 overall. It’s a good result, and one I’m very pleased with.

Just before the race start, I had the pleasure of meeting with some fellow dailymilers. It was a very pleasant way to start race day. The weather was good, though a touch on the cold side to start: 2C, sunny, 11 km/h wind, and 55% humidity.

The Spring Run Off course is interesting, and a tough one if you’re trying to do it quickly. As you can see from the map below, it’s a double loop, with a smaller one within the larger. The roadways are narrow, which can make mid-pack running somewhat crowded, especially as many runners optimistically start well ahead of where they should. The route includes two rather steep descents and two comparable climbs. The second climb, a short but brutal 400m, occurs just before the finish line. This is where elite runners make their final strong kick – for the rest of us, it’s a bit of a slog. In either case, it’s a great location for spectators, and makes for a very exciting finish line atmosphere.

Spring Run Off 8K map

The man's alright!

The man’s alright!

I ran this one well. (No false modesty here!) I knew that if I kept to an average pace of 5:30 min/km or so (which, given my recent training, was eminently doable), I’d be able to finish in a respectable time. So I pushed the pace a little on the flat bits, took the descents fairly gently (not so easy to go downhill quickly when barefoot, and my left hip doesn’t like downhills), and did my best on the climbs. As I was running slightly ahead of mid-pack, I didn’t feel as crowded as I had five years ago. Also, I’m much more confident than I was then, so could move through the crowd fairly easily. In fact, except for the descents, I managed to pass other people quite steadily throughout the race. An unusual occurrence for me, and a very pleasant one! Overall, it was a good strategy, and one that worked well.

A confident finish, for all the toughness of that last climb, and all that was left was to bask in some spring sunshine.

Mission accomplished

A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone who supported me to raise funds for this event. That’s the real cause for the great feelings and the celebration!



  1. Major congrats on a most wonderful race Alan! You got some great photos as well. I’m sure you’re excited about the upcoming half at Mississauga as a result. Great write up and great race!

  2. Great race and race report Alan! It was great seeing you and the other Dailymilers before the race. We should have taken a group photo.

    I was behind you at one point and could see what you meant about the crowds. I was worried someone was going to step on your feet!

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