The pros and cons of smaller races

This past weekend I took the train up to Kitchener-Waterloo to visit a friend and run the Waterloo Classic 10K


This past weekend I took the train up to Kitchener-Waterloo to visit a friend and run the Waterloo Classic 10K on Sunday morning. The good: the heavy rain let up and Sunday morning was clear and a million times less humid than Saturday. The bad: my friend has an injury that left her unable to run, so I had to do it on my own’though she was there with my boyfriend to cheer me on. (Of course, since she’s faster than me, I probably would have lost sight of her pretty quickly).

It was a fun race but what was most interesting was it was by far the smallest race I’ve ever run (except perhaps the Earth Run 5K here in Toronto, which was more of a fun run than a race). Compared to the Nike Human Race 10K in Vancouver last summer and the Sporting LIfe 10K here in Toronto in the spring’both with about 10,000 runners’this one was petite. There were about 1,500 participants in the event, but only about 500 of those were running the 10K.

So what were the pros and cons of this race compared to bigger ones I’ve done?

‘ The race definitely had a friendlier feel, although I’m sure the runners at the front of the pack were feeling the competitive juices flowing.

‘ The event was much more relaxed due to the relative ease of logistics.

‘ You can place higher! Not necessarily in terms of where you are relative to others, but in terms of absolute numbers. I placed 10th in my age/gender group, which sounds fabulous. I don’t need to tell everyone that that’s out of 29…

‘ You can actually move. You won’t be stuck in crowds through the entire race.

‘ You might not be stuck in crowds, but there are less people around you to help keep you motivated and spur you on.

‘ There’s less entertainment and less spectators along the way’which wouldn’t be a problem for everyone, but I found the route kind of quiet.

‘ The roads aren’t entirely blocked off (they don’t have to be), which means traffic is still trying to move around you. At one point late in the race (I had already finished and was driving back home), a local tourist train crossed the road and one poor runner had to stop and wait for it to go past. At another point while I was still running, traffic was waiting for gaps between runners to move across them’which doesn’t seem very safe to me!

And finally, neither a pro nor a con but a fun fact: this race ended with a lap around the stadium track, which made the finish seem very Olympian.

I think I’ll try to do more small races to balance out the bigger local ones’but I also recommend that runners from smaller cities try to make it to bigger races for the experience.

Tell me: which do you prefer?

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