The Tim Horton’s coffee and bits were out in full force yesterday for the first Oakville Heritage Hustle 5k event. Quite fitting considering the head office for the TDL group is in Oakville. If we didn’t get enough coffee and bits at the race venue, each participant was given $5 in gift certificates for later! Ah, a great Oakville tradition begins!

In other ways the race was a great success. Walkers were treated to their own division with separate start and results postings. Prizes were given out in the same quantity and proportion as the runners! That must be a first. The race organizers had clearly gone to considerable trouble to make walkers feel welcome and to ensure that there were no running (!) walkers by publishing guidelines in the race brochure. Perhaps, the only disappointment at the end of the day was that there was no reiteration of these walking guidelines at the start. Several younger age category participants did run for large parts of the race. This is a challenge that can be easily overcome, and we look forward to more Oakville Heritage Hustles in the future.

Looking for race results from several events held yesterday, I was encouraged to discover that the Toronto Marathon featured a half marathon walk (226 participants), the Prince Edward County Marathon also featured a walking division (30 participants), and Myra Rodrigues walked in the Prince Edward Island Marathon half walk event (64 participants). Things are definitely looking up for walkers.

On the Prince Edward Island marathon site, there is a clear statement that runners in the walking division will be disqualified. The race results seem to reflect the fact that walkers only participated. The Toronto Marathon event results defied credibility unless there were some elite race walkers entered in the event. This is not surprising as there were no walking guidelines on the race website, and the bibs were only differentiated from runners by number, not by colour. In addition, the walkers and runners started at the same time. With upward of 5,000 runners and walkers covering the half marathon distance, it would be very difficult to identify walkers who run.

On the whole, things on the race front are looking up for walkers. I’d like to see more definitive rules published on race websites, brochures and at race kit pick-up. I’d also like to see all of this reinforced with announcements at the beginning of races and separate colour bibs and back bibs like I had at the CRIM race would also be good!

As always, I welcome your opinion and would love to hear about any specific positive or negative experiences you have had in walking divisions.