The Best and Worst race I’ve ever Run: Fall Colours 5K Race Recap

I’m going to start this post with a story:

Back in 2002, I was competing in my very last track and field season in high school. I competed in the 100m Hurdles, 100m sprint and the 400m hurdles, as well as the 4×100 relay. At our regional event, I had already advanced in both the hurdle events, but the 100m sprint did not go well because of a crappy start. The last race I had on the schedule was a 4x100m race. My team was made up of more junior runners. Usually, I was in the ‘anchor’ position, which is the last runner. My team refused to practice hand-offs, let alone practice at all – so I wasn’t too happy with them already. Because of the lack of teams registered for the event, we would automatically qualify to the Southern Ontario regionals as long as we finished the race. At the last minute, I decided to switch from anchor to the starting runner because I wanted to give the rest of the girls a bit of a head start. I started off the race well – being the first runner to exchange zone. I watched the other girls run and saw that we finished the race.

That is went I saw the red flag go up.

A red and white flag system is used to signify a good exchange or a bad one. If an exchange zone is done well – the white flag goes up. If a team messes up – red flag. Whenever I see that red flag go up – I get a little sick to my stomach.

Anyways – I saw that red flag go up and soon enough I heard that we had been disqualified for a bad exchange in zone 3. At that point I *may* have yelled a very bad curse word across the track. I proceeded to stomp my way up to the stands. When I got there, I threw my spikes and all of my gear everywhere and I believe might have yammered on about people not wanted to practice. I then left and went to pout somewhere outside the stadium. I was not a happy camper.

So remember that for a few minutes while you read the rest of my race recap:


Somersault Events – Fall Colours 5K Recap

The Fall colours race is held in Cumberland, Ontario, which is just at the edge of East Ottawa – and only about 10 minutes away from my house (and is where P’s parents used to live). We left fairly early because I knew traffic/parking would take some time. It wasn’t too bad though. We parked within about 5 minutes and went into the grounds. The expo area was fairly chaotic. I managed to get my bib, timing chip and shirt fairly quickly. There were huge lines for the washrooms, but I managed to wait less than 5 minutes, which is pretty good.


We watched the little kids run their 1K and then heard that all the races were now delayed by 10 minutes due to late entries and parking issues. I wasn’t too happy about it, but 10 minutes isn’t too bad. I wore my trusty MEC shorts and my purple long sleeved tech shirt. I regretted the choice of a long sleeved shirt as by 10am, the sun was out and it was getting a little bit hot out. The 3K race was right before the 5K start, so once they went off, we got into position.


I placed myself at the front of the pack as I know for the slightly smaller races, in order to place, I should be close to the front. Β I had no big plans on running this race – I just wanted a solid, clean race and work on my pacing. Because I tend to obsess about the watch from time to time, I chose to keep my Garmin turned over and not look at it during the race, at all. Remember that point as you continue to read.

The course took us around the Cumberland museum for the first little bit, which was great because it was completely surrounded by people. The only downfall was that it was gravel paths – and I’m not the biggest fan of that, but the first loop went well. I saw P and Max a couple of times and then we went down to the main road. Just as we were approaching the road, I noticed quite a few 3K runners (who were mainly kids) running up the path at the same time we were coming up it. There was no barrier or another, so it was a bit unnerving to see runners all jumbled up together. I do think that I saw Kristi’s son Evan run by me – but he was going so fast, I didn’t have a chance to cheer him on.

KM 1 – 5:00

When we went down Montreal Road, there was a nice downhill stretch. At this point I found a male runner with a red tech shirt and ball cap on. He looked like he was going at a pace that I would like, so I followed him. I tried to not go to fast down the hill, but wanted to gain some time as well. As we turned onto a side street, there were pylons all around to help control runners and traffic. The thing is – the runners were all on different sides. One would think that the runners going out would be on the right and the ones coming back in on the left (like traffic), but there was people everywhere.

KM 2 – 5:09

We approached the water station and I accidentally took a Gatorade. Luckily it was blue flavoured and it didn’t make me sick. I continued up around the side streets – passing a few people as I felt, including one girl who kept cutting me off by wandering all over the place. When I went past the red shirt runner, he stopped to walk and I said byebye to my unofficial pacer. At one point, I noticed as we approached an intersection that there were people running one way, and the big crowd going another. But I figured that was the loop we started with and continued on. Β At this point, I was thinking that this 5K was going pretty fast, especially when I saw the 4K marker.

KM 3 – 5:09 (again!)

We went up the big hill and I just charged up it. I didn’t want to stop, so I just went up and made it over the hill fairly quickly. At this point we were to turn back onto the museum grounds, to complete one more loop and head into the finishing chute. I felt a little sick at this point, but trucked on through. Again, not a fan of the gravel, but it wasn’t too bad. I was in the the lead pack for most of the race – being able to see the front for pretty much the entire race. I knew that if I stayed in this group, I would place in my age group for sure.

KM 4 – 5:27 (the hill slowed me down)

It was nice to have a huge crowd of people cheer you on as your approached the finish. Unfortunately the timing clocks were not set for the 5K, so I had zero idea how the race went. I flipped over the garmin, stopped it, and then swore.


What is wrong with that? Look above – KM 1-2-3-4, no KM 5.

That’s right, we were short of 5K. I looked down and saw 4.3KM on the distance section of the watch. My next thought was “I cannot believe this happened again!!!”. Two years ago, the 5K race in Fall Colours was too short. My friend from school and another friend from track both told me today that they got stuck in that race two years ago. So.not.impressed.

I talked to a few people at the recovery zone and all of us were pretty bummed. I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but the route we took was not right at all. At first I thought we had simply run the 3K loop, but because we ran a loop of the grounds first (the 3K’rs didn’t) that made up for the extra 1.3 KM.

Nope – somehow we made our own race.

Here is a map of the loopy part of the race:

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 3.15.56 PM

Here is the map my garmin made:

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 3.15.40 PM


Yeah – I don’t know how that happened. At all! I do not remember seeing any marshalls telling us otherwise at Lockwood. It is not like only a few of us made the mistake – apparently everyone did, as they changed the results to a “4.3K run”. From what P said, the marshall he was standing next to had no idea what the routes where and did not know the colour coded bib system. I have a feeling that the marshalls were not properly informed. When you have a course with this many loops, it is imperative that they are positioned properly. Unlike the Army Run that had only one big turn (that got messed up), this one had many. The potential for error is very, very large.

Understandably, I am a bit upset about this. I was definitely on pace to PB – and probably on pace to go sub-26, even with a few hills. Had I known that I was missing 800m, I would have turned around and kept running just to get a 5K in. P said that one guy realized this where he was standing and did go back and run more. I am very proud of myself for going under 5:10 for my first 3 KM – that is a first!

So back to my track story – no, I did not throw my bag across the field and swear. I was fairly upset and maybe cried a single tear, but I think this will just fuel the fire for me to PB in the Rattle me Bones Race, even in a hot dog costume.

I love Somersault races, but this one was not my favorite. I will probably not sign up for this race again. It is too bad, because the weather was perfect and the fall colours were indeed, very pretty.


Official Time: 21:54

Place: 57th out of over 359

Age Category: 1st out of 29

Gender Category: 21/232


So yes – another gold lanyard for me! Although I did not stay to pick it up (again).

That is my race recap! Hope you enjoyed reading πŸ™‚

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  1. Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom

    I’ve been reading so many blog posts about distances being messed up because race coordinators are slacking on their end! That’s insane!! These races are planned months in advance, so everything large and important should be okay!!

    Congrats on a great finish!!

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      The thing is – this has happened with this exact race before. The organizers are the main triathlon and road race group in Ottawa and usually put on good races – Fall colours being their 2nd biggest race ot the year. This was just crazy-town. Somehow the marshalling got screwed up. They usually try to blame it on the runners saying that we “have our headphones on” – but there were no signs and the marshalls that I saw were not doing anything. Very disappointing!

  2. Amy

    Oh no. That is so frustrating. All that effort and hope to find out everything was wrong…totally sucks. I’m sorry πŸ™

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      It is very frustrating! Especially when I pay good money to run these races!

  3. Kristi

    You must be so frustrated! I also remember this happening at a past Fall Colours race, though I can’t remember if people went off course or if the course wasn’t measured properly. I think their 5k route is just too complicated and like you said leaves too much room for error unless they have very good marshalls posted at any point that has two options as to direction. The 3k, 10, half and full have routes that are thankfully pretty easy to figure out. When I was showing the kids the 3k map online I remember thinking I was glad that I wasn’t sending them off on the confusing 5k route. I have to admit though that I was worried they would end up on the 5k by accident. Evan also mentioned he had to run against a flow of runners – that must have been when you saw him. Considering it was mostly kids in the 3k they really should have had a marked “lane” for them as I am sure they were all over the place and blocking the 5k runners.

    All that said OMG your were fast!!!! You are so set to have an amazing 5k race. I can’t even imagine me doing a 25 min 5k right now. Wish I had known you were there – it would have been fun to meet in person! Maybe after race season we can meet up downtown and do a run together. I am willing to keep the distance short if you are willing to keep the pace slow, really slow πŸ™‚

    BTW – Evan was thrilled to see his name in your post πŸ™‚

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      I’m very frustrated. I pay good money for these races and I signed up for a 5K, not a 4.3. I helped run OFSAA XCountry in 2011 – and you can bet that I knew that route inside and out (it was a complicated one out in Green’s Creek near Louis Riel). I also made sure my husband (who was one of the lead bikes) biked the route several times to make sure he knew every single turn, and how to approach the turns. I still have absolutely no idea how we all made that error. At first I really thought we just ran the 3K loop, but my Garmin map clearly shows that we really were off. How we didn’t turn right and went right instead is beyond me. There really needs to be a marshall at every single turn – especially on a race like that. I really like how we all turned right onto a street that we were supposed to be coming up from. How does this happen?!? (I’m definitely laughing now).

      My husband ended up helping clear the way for the 3K runners because he was getting really concerned that the kids were going to get trampled by the 300+ 5K’rs coming through. I know I had no idea that they would be coming up in front of us! The marshall he was standing beside apparently had no idea what bib was for which race and no real idea on where the race was to go.

      Hehe, thanks!! It would have been a PB for sure πŸ™ Maybe sub-26! I also felt pretty comfortable running at that pace. I was pleasantly surprised (but then very disappointed at the same time) that I ran my 3 first KM’s as cleanly as I did. Major progress for sure!

      We should definitely meet up sometime for a run! Haha – I have no problems keeping it slow πŸ™‚ Actually, I’ve decided to run the Ottawa Race Weekend Half this year – so I will need to go on some longer runs!

      1. Kristi

        Let’s try to do some long training runs together – always nicer to do a long run with a partner! I definitely want to keep running through the winter so spring training won’t seem like starting over.

        I’m considering doing the Around the Bay race, just not sure if I want to drive all the way to Hamilton. Like you hubby, mine goes to a lot of races but he has mentioned he’ll draw the line at Hamilton in March πŸ™ Can’t say I blame him though.

        1. Rebecca (Post author)

          Apparently Around the Bay is supposed to be a good race! Lol, no way my hubby would let me go all the way to Hamilton for a race – BUT my parents live in Mississauga, so it isn’t too out of the way πŸ˜‰


    What a shame! You can’t afford to be disappointed like that again in the future. Maybe there is another fall run nearby that you can run in instead.
    Rattle Me Bones here you come! πŸ™‚

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      Rattle me bones is pretty much the only race left in the fall for me. Between busy weekends and hubby not really liking spending part of the weekend at a race, I can only do a couple per season. So I think Rattle me Bones will be a run to PB race ….. In a hot dog costume lol

  5. Mom

    Would you like some cheese with your wine?…. At least you were running and exercising,not sitting on the couch watching tv and scarfing down turkey and pie like most of the rest of were ( oh yea, you did that later )’
    No excuse for the event organizers, but since I have organized and run baseball tournaments for many years, sometimes things go wrong and you learn and try to improve for the next time. You still did good though!!!

  6. Kristen

    Your mother’s comment is the best…
    It sucks to be disappointed like that, but yeah, grand scheme of things, not the worst thing in the world. Hopefully you can PR soon!!
    I hope Somersault is able to take the feedback about marshalling into consideration for next year and not have that happen once again. Didn’t they have an issue with someone’s bike getting stolen at a tri as well? Hopefully they’ll regroup and put on even better events next year.

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      No – I could have pooped my pants, broken something, been run over by a car – all those things would be awful! Some of the comments from my co-coaches at track and friends at work have been funny – everything from saying they need to put huge direction light arrows on the course to yelling “4.3!!!” at me all the time. We have also been talking about doing a ‘coaches challenge’ 5K, which now they say “but you will have the run the full 5K this time!”.

      I don’t know what Somersault will do – this is the second time this particular course has been messed up (although my friend said it was the lead bike error in 2011). I think the 5K course is just too overly complicated. For next year, it would be best to change the course OR really make sure the marshalls and lead bike know the route. Yes – a very expensive bike was stolen. I competed in a different tri and yes, it was way too easy to walk into the transition area without a bib….

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