Posted by: Kennedy | September 27, 2011

Race recap: Island Girl half marathon relay

I thought summer was over. But on Sunday, it made an appearance for one last hurrah.

Not only was it a gorgeous, sunny, warm day in Toronto, it was also the day of the Island Girl Half Marathon Relay on Centre Island – a race complete with hula dancers, steel drums, and grass skirts.

This was my very first relay race, and I loved it. Here’s why:

1) I had an awesome teammate! My running buddy Lynne, who is quickly becoming a regular on the blog as she’s done every race with me since August. Even though we ran alone, we completed the race together. It was a joint effort, which made it all the more special when we finished.

2) I got to be a spectator. Since I started running two years ago, I’ve stood on the sidelines exactly once – when I dropped out of the Sporting Life 10k due to a knee injury. It’s really motivating to watch a group of runners start a race – all that nervous energy and excitement standing at the start line, followed by all the cheers when the gun goes off. It’s totally fun.

3) There was a friendly, relaxed, supportive vibe. Maybe it was the fact it was a women-only race, or that it had a fun island theme, or that some of us were running in teams, but this race had a really great, non-competitive, easygoing atmosphere. We were just a big group of women out for a Sunday run along the lake.

We practically saw the sunrise as we rode the ferry to the island:

After checking our bags, picking up our timing chip, and making a pit stop, I saw Lynne off at the start line

…and proceeded to stroll around taking photos of the beautiful island scenery before making my way over to the “exchange area” where Lynne would finish and I would start:

While I waited, I chatted with fellow relay-ers, cheered on runners, swayed to some island beats, and watched two hula girls shake-shake-shake their booties:

When the announcer called out “64!” I knew Lynne was right around the corner. I quickly shook out my legs, took her chip off her ankle and wrapped it around mine, and with a quick ‘congrats/good luck’ exchange, I took off.

It was a lovely route – plenty of shade from the tall trees in the first 5km, followed by a few kms along the boardwalk right next to the lake, and plenty of sunshine towards the end.

All smiles at the half-way point!

For me, the toughest part was the boardwalk portion. Though scenic, there was a lot of resistance as we ran against a pretty strong wind. I passed a runner soon after reaching the boardwalk, but for the next 10 or 15 minutes, I was all by myself. At that point, I could have used someone to draft.

The relay distance was 10.5k (half of a half marathon, or 21.1k), and I crossed in 59:06. As I approached the end, I spotted Lynne waving at me from the sidelines. She jumped out and ran with me across the finish line – teammates to the bitter end! We came in 19th out of 51 teams, with an official time of 2:04:55. Nothing to sneeze at!

After a quick stretch, we grabbed snacks from the food tent and had a mini-picnic on the grass. This was not your average post-race bagel-and-banana:

While we basked in the sun, a nearby group of ladies asked us if we would take their picture. We happily obliged, and they returned the favour:

We got chatting and soon realized they were from my hometown ‘hood: Goderich and Stratford! They had driven up the day before and made a weekend of it. Such a small world.

Eventually, Lynne and I made our way to the ferry and back to dry land…

…only to discover we had missed brunch at the Watermark patio by 30 minutes. A bit disappointing… we were both craving eggs!

I ended up having the chipotle roasted turkey wrap with side salad and coleslaw. And a celebratory glass of wine.

And that’s that. A great way to spend what is sure to be one of our last summery days. Mahalo, Island Girl!



  1. Congats Kennedy and Lynne! What I would have given to be able to race with you. I need a running buddy in Comfort Cove, NL – anybody!?

    • Are you kidding? A run along the ocean?! You can bet I’ll be bringing my running gear when I come visit!

  2. We’re glad you enjoyed our first Island Girl Relay! Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Hope to see you on the Island next year.
    Tara and Brad Melville
    Race Directors
    Island Girl Half Marathon & 5K

    • Thanks Tara! It was a great race. I will definitely put it in the calendar for 2012.

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