Canada Day, 1st July, as I continue to tour National holidays – only this one and the National Day of Sweden deliberately, the others in Europe were almost all a surprise. It is no coincidence that I have been to both those National Days – they both have extra, bonus parkruns. Sweden was an easy one for me, since I was in Europe anyway. Canada a bonus, making sense only because I was booking to go to Panama late, flights were expensive and fiddly, while going via Canada allows me two direct flights and some bonus overseas parkruns.
Beach Strip parkrun is a straightforward out-and-back run along the shore of Lake Ontario. It is fast, along a wide tarmacced route, well-used by other runners, walkers and cyclists, with plenty of room (but check over your shoulder when turning, or if attempting to follow the racing line). It’s also not perfectly flat, with one very short but slightly cruel bump just before the turn. It really isn’t a hill. It really is noticeable.
Since I am now entirely blasé about getting to new runs, and usually stay nearby, I had glanced at the map, noticed it was about 10km to the start from Hamilton downtown, and left it at that. When I arrived in Canada last night, slightly less fit and more injured than would make a 10k jog first thing ideal, I checked for buses to take me East – it should be possible to get one East, then one North, and get close to the start, but the trip planner was denying any knowledge (I should have used this Hamilton trip planner). I figured any jet lag would work in my favour to get me up in time to walk, the UK being 5 hours ahead, and so it was. Friendly fellow runners offered me several lifts back somewhere nearer to home after the run, and I gladly accepted.
The moral is – it is walkable, but make sure you have time. And pick your line across the main road/water carefully (as ever, Maps.me chose a nicer, walkway route (Red Hill trail), than Google maps’ roads). My route is on Strava. There are also city bikes for hire, which would have been a nice way to travel early in the morning.
The views. Oh, the views. The lake glistened under morning sun, and stretched off to the horizon. Best to take them in before, or after, the run, as this is a good course to stretch your legs on, and any extra attention might be best used in checking for cyclists needing to pass. It’s easier to look out over the water on the back section of the route, when you can hug the right side of the path without straying while looking right.
The meeting point is just North of the Lakeview building, which has public toilets (they say they’re open at 8:30, but I was there at 7:30 and used them), at the 4600m marker on the trail. Don’t be worried if you see a standing sign saying “3.2km” with a walker icon and think you are a long way away – it’s close to that.
Today, with 45 participants, was the second-highest attendance so far. Compared to many events in well-established countries, that’s a low number, but it means you can chat to pretty much everyone, and makes for a lovely atmosphere. A couple of youngsters finished, grinning from ear to ear, and were fussed over. One dad really hadn’t expected his daughter to want to go further than the ice-cream shop en-route, but she finished, grinned, kept on grinning and looked like she could happily do it all again if necessary.
The volunteers were super friendly and welcoming, and coffee afterwards (I got a lift to get there – it isn’t on site) was social. I was happy talking academia with some Beach Strip regulars, though the conversation turned to firefighters, calendars and toplessness when some of the Nautical regulars joined us. I plan to join them on Saturday, so I’ll let you know if you should always expect comic conversation if you go.