Mike’s an avid runner. Whether he’s kicking off a work day or relaxing on the weekend, running 5K is peak “Mike time” and ideal podcast listening. Mike’s always been interested in participating in the Around The Bay race — a true Hamilton tradition. This year, he’ll be in Scotland for race day so he’s registered for the virtual 5K. Mike had the chance to sit down with Anna Lewis, Race Director of Around the Bay, to chat about the race and what makes it an event worth celebrating.
If you’re less familiar, the Around the Bay Race is one of the oldest road races in North America, with a rich history dating back to 1894. The race, which takes place in late March, attracts thousands of runners from across Hamilton and the globe to participate in a variety of distances, including the 30K, 5K, and relay races. The event is more than just a race, it is a celebration of the community and a demonstration of the spirit of volunteerism. Anna Lewis is in her 8th year as Race Director and first got involved when the previous race director was looking to retire. Anna, who was the Director of Special Events at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation at the time, thought the opportunity was perfect for her: “When I became the Race Director, I wanted to do something fun. I ran the route and made social posts along the way in preparation for becoming the race director.”
Anna says that volunteers of the Around the Bay Race play a crucial role in making the event a success. From the folks along “Tin Pan Alley” (aka Beach Blvd.) who come out to support runners by banging pots and pans, to the residents along North Shore Blvd. in Burlington who set up their own fruit and water stations, the support is felt by the Around The Bay runners. “We have people who have been volunteering their time with us for over 20 years and we are so lucky to be surrounded by such a great community,” says Anna. “There are people such as the Grim Reaper and Captain Obvious who parade around with funny signs to encourage participants, Stan and the West Plains Church Choir who sing and cheer to pump people up; the output of support is amazing.”
There are also volunteers involved directly with the race who are integral to the event’s success. From St. John Ambulance offering medical attention, course set up, parking and traffic control, and directional support to runners, the volunteer team makes it all happen. Volunteers also help clean up after the event so that the city can return to normal as quickly as possible, without too much disruption. As Anna describes the spirit of the event “I just think it really is a community event where everyone cares.”
Last year, Around the Bay really felt the support of the two municipalities involved (Hamilton and Burlington), “who really want to make this comeback a success [post COVID-19 shutdown]”. Anna is looking forward to this year’s race: “I would encourage everyone to continue to do what they’re doing and support the participants through cheering and volunteering. We could not do this without them!”.
Last year was my favourite Around the Bay Race to date, where all of the local run crews gathered at Merit Brewing for a shakeout leading up to the big race. You never know what to expect and it’s always an excellent community event. Last year four hot dogs ran by me…what BBQ item will I find running past me this year? Looking forward to 2023!Tess Hudson, Around The Bay Race Participant
The 2023 Around the Bay race is on March 26th and virtual races can be completed anytime in March. If you’re interested in volunteering or participating in this quintessential Hamilton event, visit BayRace.com and register today!