Everyone’s a winner at Around the Bay
The Hamilton Spectator
April 6, 2010
“Did I not tell you, you would be blown away?” said a snorting and sweaty Ted Michaels after completing the 5 K run in the 116th edition of the Around the Bay Road Race held in Hamilton two weeks ago.
We were gathered in the winners’ at Copp’s Coliseum waiting for the top 3 elite athletes in the 30K event to cross the finish line in what seemed more like a running of the bulls.
I’ll start at the beginning. Ted is the legendary afternoon news anchor at News/Talk 900 CHML and along with Jim Carriere helps me host the show every weekday afternoon.
To say Ted is a die hard runner is an understatement. He relentlessly worked to get everyone at Team CHML on board, working out and raising money for St. Joe’s.
I was one of those inspired by Ted’s past performances and decided to enter the 5K walk just to get a feel for the event and see what had Ted foaming at the mouth every year.
I must say, I can’t run due to a past injury although cycle several times a week to stay in shape. It was easy to see why most who participate get caught up in the excitement and burn themselves out in the first half of the race.
I watched the start of the 30K from a second floor vantage point at Copp’s Coliseum. To see the police escort go by, followed by a group of 30 elite athletes and then a sea of 8,000 runners sends shivers up your spine.
It seemed the wall of runners would never end. Finally it did and the 5K participants took to the street. The great quality of this event is it gives every day folk a chance to participate in a world class marathon.
How many sports give the fan a chance to participate in the event? When was the last time you got to take a shot at the Air Canada Centre, swing a bat at the Roger’s Centre or catch a pass at Ivor Wynne?
This is one of those events; anyone with a pair of comfortable shoes can play.
Race director Mike Zajczenko said it’s for people who just want to run “for health, for fitness”.
It’s not just about the top elite athletes who cross the finish line in an hour and a half, Mike says it’s about the “9,800 really, who race for fun!”
How has the oldest race of its kind in North America changed since it was first run Christmas Day back in 1894?
It’s now a sold-out weekend event that has tripled in size over the last decade to 10,000 runners including a runners expo, giant pasta dinner and large community involvement. The non profit organization has teamed up with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation in recent years raising thousands of dollars for a great cause.
As a result you see every size, shape, age and ability strapping on a pair of shoes and heading for the Bay.
It’s liberating knowing everyone there is participating for their own reasons and yet drawn together for a common cause.
By the time I got to the entrance of Copp’s, I had to sprint. Each runner crosses the finish line at centre ice under a timing clock while an announcer congratulates the runner on their time and accomplishment.
Over the course of the morning we watched everyone from elite athletes, school kids, grand parents to runners with physical disabilities cross the finish line with arms stretched in the air. It was inspirational.
Not many were even close to the record winning time but all were winners in their own mind. And rightly so.
The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays 4-6pm on News/Talk 900 CHML.
Visit his website at www.ScottThompsontalk.com