Here at Saucony, we’re proud to be one of the sponsors of the Canada Running Series Scotiabank Montreal 21K on April 28th. In giddy anticipation, we asked Saucony Ambassador, and veteran of this race, Lecia Mancini, as well as Race Director François Lecot, to talk us through the course, and fill us in on what we all have to anticipate!
For Lecia, and for many Canadian road-runners, the Montreal half-marathon marks not only the kick-off to the race season, but a change of season in general, and that alone makes it special. “All the brave runners who've trained through winter shed some layers and get to run on ice-free pavement!” she says.
And for the most part, that pavement stays flat, making it a great course to aim for a PB – but only if you stay mindful. “There are no major hills,” Francois says. “Just a single slope at the South end of the F1 Gilles-Villeneuve circuit, past the pits area. Be sure to pace yourself. You will be running on a F1 Circuit, so gauge your speed!”
“It's really easy to start too fast and lots of runners do,” Lecia adds. “The elites drive the front pack and the speed carries through the crowd. I've gotten swept up in the speed and excitement at the start line and had to adjust my goals mid-race because of it. Since then, I’ve learned to stick to my pre-set start pace and weave through the sea of runners for the first kilometre before settling into my race pace.”
Another aspect of which to be wary is the weather. “Spring in Montreal can be all over the place,” Lecia says. “While the last 3 years it’s been cool and sunny, I suggest wearing sunscreen and bringing different weather-friendly options that you can check at the bag drop. Basically, be ready for anything.”
Finally, be prepared to take the good with the bad. “Because the race is on an island it can be quite windy,” she says. “The good news is that if there’s a head wind, there will also be a tail wind since it's a looping route - so it evens out.”
More good news: there’s plenty to help you focus on something other than that late-stage burning in your legs. “Running in Parc Jean-Drapeau comes with a lot of unique benefits,” Francois says. “You’ll have scenic views of downtown Montreal while running on the South shore of both Îles Ste-Hélène and Notre-Dame. You’ll pass remnants of the Expo '67 world exhibition, like the Biosphère and Place des Nations. And the local run crews provide great support for runners along the course.”
Lecia agrees. “My favourite aspects of this course are the cheer stations that intersect runners at stages during the race," she says. "The energy is high and all the Montreal run crews are committed to making their cheer station the highlight of the event!”
The fun, in fact, gets underway even before the starting gun goes off. The day before the race, Lecia's crew, the Run Rite Athletics Club, along with a few others, hosts the official 21K shakeout run. "It's a sexy-paced 5km through the streets of Montreal," she tells us, "where crews and runners from different cities come together. It usually includes carbs and fun prizes.”
And, of course, the good times keep going long after the finish line is crossed. “After the race it's all about celebrating!” Lecia says. “Montreal has a ton of great eats, and brunching is especially popular on weekends. There's always poutine, of course. My crew and I usually end up at Falafel Yoni in the Mile End for undoubtedly the best falafel in town.”
From fast times to falafels, it’s clear now that if the Montreal 21K isn’t on your race calendar yet – it should be. You can find all the info you need on the CRS website. You can also find Lecia and the Run Rite MTL crew on Instagram. As Lecia says, they’ll be happy to welcome you. “Reach out if you'll be in town for the race and would like to join the shake-out, cheer station and post-race celebrations!”