Oak Bay Avenue. Photo by Matt Cecill

© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News

It is one of the largest community events in Oak Bay and one of the most cherished among Victoria runners – the KOOL Oak Bay Half Marathon saw 1,500 registrants yesterday on a glorious sunny day. It was a tad hot for some, including me, but after weeks of training who wasn’t going to run this scenic course with those fab ocean views? With 800 in the half marathon, 400 in the 10k, 30 relay teams and 200+ happy little people in the kids race the event was a sell-out.

The venue for the second year was at Windsor Park, a fabulous spot on a day such as yesterday, where runners could spread out and cruise the sponsor booths, grab their post run breakfast sandwich and queue with their kids for the popular bouncy castle.

But before all that we had a run to do. It was already 16 degrees at 8 am so we knew it was going to be a hot one. So with sport drink and gels on board, we were off down Windsor Rd towards Hampshire. With full road closures and no cars on the roads (for once residents obeyed the no parking signs – thank you!) all we had to worry about was bumping into each other, until the pack spread out. A left on to Central then Newport and up that hill to Oak Bay Avenue (that used to be the old finish line), but we weren’t to stop and shop as it was a quick left back onto Hampshire, down to Central again, but taking a right and left onto Victoria to Beach. Then the views began.

One runner, Danny, visiting from Manitoba, noted: “This was easily the prettiest course I’ve run, the scenery and views are second to none.” Yep we are lucky to live here.

The view from Beach Drive is spectacular. Photo by Laura Jones

However, no matter how many times I run this route I forget it isn’t flat. The golf course hill can be a challenge, as is the steady climb up to Cattle Point. After the turnaround at Ripon, we had just over 8k to go, but the heat was kicking in and so every water station was a welcome sight. The stations were organized with lots of water and Gatorade (we heard they went through 10,000 cups!). Plus there was a ‘Sneakerdoodle’ cookie stop! The marshalls were very enthusiastic and they all seemed to know me – such is Victoria.

The last four kilometres you really have to dig deep, no shade, rolling hills and a gruelling last climb from Beach to Victoria. Danny commented: “Some rolling hills on the course were enough to provide a bit of challenge and keep things interesting.” No kidding! Thankfully Hampshire was shady and once you turned onto Windsor we could see the finish line.

More encouraging shouts from spectators and then over the line into the welcoming arms of all you’re running buddies, and then the medal of course. 1:57:50 isn’t too shabby in the heat but second in my age group? There is a run god after all!

Done and dusted. Oak Bay Half is such a great event – it’s a nice size, you get to run with friends and celebrate your achievement. Kids and dogs mingled at the park while we re-hydrated and chatted about the race. Now if Oak Bay would only get their act together and allow a beer garden, the day would have been perfect!

Women’s winner Jen Millar taking High 5’s from her kids
The Dairyland Kids Run is such a hit. Photo by Matt Cecill