The race: Lucky 7 Relay
The location: Halifax Common
Distance: Seven kilometres times three
Why do it: Because you want to set a PB in a totally odd distance
Swag: Running sleeves, gigantic finisher’s medal
Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?
Many Clint Eastwood fans will recognize Dirty Harry’s immortal words. Well, Halifax got lucky today.
Lucky 7 indeed – especially for organizers United By Running. The successful 21 kilometre team relay event capped a very successful year for the race organizers. Like their all-womens’ five-kilometre event, Sole Sisters, and Martime Race Weekend, Lucky 7 sold out days before the actual race. At this time of writing, it wasn’t confirmed, but it also appears with 1,216 participants, the Lucky 7 was poised to take the title as Canada’s largest relay race.
But the good luck didn’t just extend to the event organizers. Participants had good fortune too. Mid-November in Halifax could have easily brought a wicked Nor’Easter, but instead race morning dawned cold and clear with no snow in sight anywhere.
Want to do this race? Then you need to be an early bird. The first of the three, seven-kilometre legs kicked off at 7 a.m., meaning racers had to be on course well before that to prepare. Subsequent legs ran at 8:15 and 9:30 a.m.
The timing meant that while your partners were out on course, you had a fair bit of standing around to do. No better way to spend it than cheering everyone on and, true to form, a boisterous, noisy crowd screamed and yelled as racers ran through the start/finish area.
Even so, after standing in the cold for an hour, chills began to creep in. A lot of people talked about their feet being frozen in their running shoes. In between legs, many flocked across the street for heat to the Atlantica Hotel, one of the race’s sponsors.
It would be near impossible to find a flatter, faster course. Four and three-quarter loops around the Common added up to seven kilometres. Street closures all the way around meant runners could swing out later in the race to help ease some of the congestion. Even so, for the more fleet of foot weaving and bobbing through the crowd was a requirement.
While the Common loop is nearly flat, the first corner offered the tiniest of uphill grades. It shouldn’t have seemed like much, but when you’re running full-tilt, it quickly became noticeable. Thankfully, as soon as you turn the corner, a gentle downhill makes up for it.
Like other United By Running events, this one combined equal parts race and run event. Organizers encouraged teams to dress in costume and that added to the festive air. A team wearing tights designed to look like thongs on bare legs; a cowboy with an over-sized badge; Wonder Woman; and several Mexican wrestlers were among the outfits on course.
There was even one guy dressed up like Eric Gillis, the Canadian two-time Olympian and two-time gold winner in the Canadian national 10,000 metre event.
Oh wait, that really was Gillis. In Halifax for the weekend for a variety of events, Gillis ran all three legs of the relay on his own, taking it easy on the first two and using them as a warm-up before really opening up on the final leg.
Readers of this blog know in my previous post, In which I run with an Olympian, I jokingly wrote about racing Gillis. Well, in real life I’m guessing he put about three minutes on me and he didn’t even look like he was breaking a sweat.
Some runners expressed confusion about the different start and finish areas. The finish chute was back of the start line to compensate and properly make up the seven kilometre distance. It didn’t take long to figure out the layout.
The course offered two water stations, one of which Run Nova Scotia supported.
The race also featured a baggage check, hot coffee (gratefully consumed on the cold morning) muffins and hot oatmeal for the racers. If, like me, you loathe hot cereal, this added up to my particular version of hell: thousands of people wandering around with cups full of the one food that absolutely grosses me out. But everyone else liked it.
If you plan to do the relay, I strongly advise you either arrive with your team or arrange a meeting place. Disorganized, ours did neither and subsequently I hardly got to see either of my team mates throughout the entire event.
The Lucky 7 is yet another terrific event to the regional race calender. The run makes great use of the Common and it’s Halifax’s good fortune to have that part of the city highlighted in yet another event, along with winter’s Tri-the-Oval.