The race: The Bunny Hop
Location: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Distance: 10 km.
Why do it: To get a sense of where you’re at after a long winter.
Swag: Cool long-sleeve shirt with a bunny theme and tons of draw prizes.
If you’re looking for a spring tune-up race, one to gauge your fitness and get a reading as to where you’re at, you could do a lot worse than the Bunny Hop. This long-time 10-km runs on an honest course. By that, I mean it doesn’t buy into the current trend of tracking over flat terrain to try and guarantee a personal best.
The Bunny Hop is fast but tough. The run takes place in Prince Edward Island’s tiny but beautiful capital, Charlottetown. But the race route neglects the historic city’s waterfront and mostly runs through some largely anonymous neighbourhoods and through an outlying suburb.
For years, the local Dairy Queen hosted the run, but pulled out last year after years of sponsoring the race. Nonetheless, this competitive 10 km is still run over the same course.
The Bunny Hop gains its name for obvious reasons. The race is normally scheduled near or on the Easter weekend; this year it runs April 7th. The weather is predominantly damp with a bit of drizzle in the air, but humid enough that shorts and a single long-sleeve jersey are enough to keep runners comfortable over the distance.
The Bunny Hop features a classic 10 km course in that it encourages runners to push their pace, but at the same time appears deceptively easy. The start along Eden Street is a very slight uphill, one of those that you barely notice unless you’re pumping full tilt out the gate.
After a brief jaunt along Kirkwood, things get interesting once you hit North River Road. It’s a long downhill until you turn left on to the TransCanada. Push, push, push: it’s all downhill. Watch though. The traffic can be heavy and you often have to run almost in the gutter.
Next, get ready for some pain: that section on the TransCanada is short, but entails a nasty little uphill before turning onto Maypoint Road. It’s flat and fast again, with the exception of another 200-metre or so climb up Chelsey Circle. But it’s all good, because just as quickly, it’s downhill again. Then you’re back on Maypoint, hammering along the flat.
Along Beach Grove Road – which sounds more idyllic than it is; you’re in the ‘burbs now – the hill is gradual, but at speed and about seven km into the race can lead to some serious attrition. At the far end, you get some free speed with another downhill before turning back onto North River.
And that’s where things get tough. That long downhill is now a long uphill and at the end of the race and you need to grit your teeth, dig deep and push. You turn back onto Kirkwood again and then back onto Eden. That’s where you need to gun it. It’s a slight downhill, you’re legs are jelly, but you’re almost home. Great job!
Too bad you don’t get that free Dairy Queen Sunday at the run’s end anymore.