We are excited to announce changes to both time trials at the ENDURrun in 2019. First, some background.
The ENDURrun concept and the Stage format took years to create. The primary goal was to find a formula that would test the Ultimate runner, but would also offer variety of course terrains, explore much of Waterloo Region, and not favour one running discipline over another.
Focus groups weighed these factors and came to a format in 2003 that you know and love (and hate). For reasons of continuity and historical comparison, our format has remained the same since inception. Most changes have come from items beyond our control, such as the paving of Wilmot Line and the trail availability at Chicopee.
We knew from the very start that the ENDURrun did not include all of the elements we wanted. Elements that made the cut include road and trail, flat and hills, time trials and mass starts, and morning and evening Stages. Elements that did not make the 2003 version include a track race, a double day Stage, and perhaps a 100% technical trail course. All elements worthy of being included in the ENDURrun.
The changes for 2019
The simple truth is that road races are not as easy to get as they used to be, and as the Region grows and demands on our roads increase, finding new road courses is difficult, and not possible in 2019. Moving some parts of the ENDURrun off the roads is a new reality for us. To find suitable trails and tracks for our two “sprint” Stages is a big win that we are very excited about.
Summer 2019 construction on Sawmill Road in Woolwich Township will render our Stage 2 and 6 courses unrunnable this summer. So we are taking the opportunity to make two long-considered changes:
Stage 2 is moving back to Cambridge – on the Grand Trunk Trail
Ever since the long-term construction on the Mill Run Trail forced us to change the course for 2011 and abandon Cambridge for 2012, we have been itching to get back to this great city. The 2019 course will incorporate one of our favourite sections of the Walter Bean Trail, and become an out-and-back entirely on trails. It will maintain the individual Time Trial format. We are very excited about re-introducing this element of geographical diversity.
An interesting note is that both records were set on the previous course, which with Cress Hill, other rolling hills, and about 5 kilometres of trail, was considerably more difficult than the 2012-2018 course which featured exceptionally flat country roads including some gravel. This 2019 course is somewhere between the two: more turns and elevation, but still considerably flatter than the original version.
Stage 6 will become a 10,000m track race
This is the big change. The format will be three heats, with all cumulative Ultimate and Relay times after Stage 5 sorted together and broken into thirds, with the faster third starting at 7:00, second at 8:00, and third at 9:00. No competitors within 1 minute of each others’ cumulative times will be separated. Accounting for withdrawals, we estimate that each heat will see fewer than 30 competitors. As we have previously announced, no Guests (including Ultimate withdrawals) will be included in Time Trials. Timing and location are TBA, but we expect the track to be rubber. We will work with you on coming up with track rules and etiquette.
We expect participants to see positives and negatives in this, depending on their own preferences. On the plus side, more people will run earlier in the day and there will be greater access to water stations, making this event overall cooler than it was previously. We are excited to take another 10 kilometres off roads, which drops the road share of the 160 kms to 50% for the first time. This will also introduce a new social element to the Stage, where more participants have more access to watching and cheering for other competitors. On the flip side, some might be wary or inexperienced about running on a track, some may be running later into the day than they would have previously, and with 25 laps, lapping other runners will be inevitable. (Taking the second lane for an entire curve is an extra 3.3m).
For those who are initially less than thrilled, consider this: Some ENDURrun participants do not like various aspects of the trails, roads, hills, locations, times, etc. Some are not true marathon runners. Does anybody consider this to be ideal weather? But this gets at the point of the ENDURrun challenge – to test the complete runner. We aren’t making gratuitous changes for the sake of change – this is a small but fundamental update, well considered, and we believe that the satisfaction of the challenge and the pushing of comfort zones is part of the One Tough Runner ethos.
Note that everything is always up for review each year and the success of the track race will certainly be considered.
We don’t expect any changes to the other Stages (1, 3, 4, 5, or 7).