Quebec City, Canada - August 30, 2009 - Bill and I wanted to run a half marathon in late August-early September as part of our training. We found this race, and decided to make a vacation of it. I, for one, am very glad we did. It was a great race and a wonderful trip.
Our race day started early (don’t they always?) with a walk from our hotel down to the port of Quebec City. There, we joined fellow runners on the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to the town of Levis where both the marathon and demi (half) marathon would start. Once ashore, we were separated into different shuttle bus lines for our trip to the start. The marathoners (42.2K in Canada) were going to town and the top of a long ascent. We demi marathoners (21.1K) were delivered to the start near a park in a residential area of Levis. I was sure the neighbors would not be happy about blasting stereos at 6:30am and the noise of hundreds of runners, but the homeowners were out to cheer us on early on a Sunday morning.
The demi marathon started at a relatively flat area of Levis. It didn’t last long. Soon, we hit one big hill, a short break, and a second big hill. Luckily, these hills were the worst of the course, so I was glad to get them out of the way early. Soon after the hills, we were on the world’s longest cantilever bridge crossing the St. Lawrence to Quebec City. There was a long downhill (finally!) to a road that ran just along the river. We stayed on this road all the way into Quebec City. The race finished in the heart of the port with lots and lots of excited spectators shouting “Bravo!” as I passed. The last few yards were even on a red carpet. Once we crossed the finish line and returned our race chips, we received a unique lighted finisher’s medal. We also got a bag to choose our food from the finisher’s area. There was plenty of water, bagels, cookies, yogurt, chips, peanut, and other food.
I was very impressed with this race. The expo was small, but nice. We received a reusable tote bag and a technical shirt with our race information. By staying at one of the official race hotels and booking the stay through the race center, we received free entry into the pasta dinner. The food was good and plentiful, but, alas, there was no wine at the dinner. There were many stops along the race route with both French and English signs announcing what was available at the stop. There were stops for bananas, oranges, Carb Boom!, and even wet sponges (although we didn’t need them as the remnants of Hurricane Danny kept the morning cool and overcast). The race was measured in kilometers. The kilometer signs descended to let you know how many Ks you had left to the finish. I enjoyed passing all 21 kilometer signs.
Quebec City is a wonderful place to visit as well. The city is gorgeous and quaint. The people are very friendly and will gladly speak to you in English if, like us, you do not speak French. The food is delicious, and Canadian beer is exceptionally good. The weather in August is quite cool as well. We both enjoyed this vacation, and would recommend this race to anyone.