Merithon if my third fun run in a row, after the 5k Foam Fest, and The Runway. These runs are awesome, entertaining, different. They have an exclusive formula, out of the conventional 5, 10, 21, and 42km. In case of Merithon, we set a group of runners to run from Toronto to Hamilton, where the Merit Brewery is located. It works like a relay, where each runner covers a section of the 70km distance. The course doesn’t need to be equally divided among runners. Each one runs the distance they can give the best for the team. Some run shorter distances, other longer distances, giving a lot of room for a strategic race.

Merithon is organized by Run To Beer, a runner club located in Toronto that organizes runs that always finish at local breweries. This is one of their annual events. I had the pleasure to participate for the first time. I know the club because I used to live in Toronto and I still have good contacts there but I don’t know enough people to form a team so I asked the organizer to fit me in some other team. It turns out many people did the same and I ended up in a team that nobody knew each other.

We created a Whatsapp group to streamline the planning and communication. Each one mentioned the distance they wanted to cover, then we decided the sequence of the relay, the transition points, and the logistics of transport, foods and drinks. Nothing really complicated compared to a ultra-marathon. I was the only one living outside Toronto so instead of going to the start at the Exhibition Place, I planned to meet the team halfway, in Oakville. We had everything set three days before the race day and all seamed to make sense.

It was raining that Sunday morning. Not a lot but enough to refresh runners. The whole team was at the start time, but me. I was the third runner in the relay, so I went to my transition point that was 40 Km ahead. The rest of the team was in a car, driving to transition points, picking section finishers and droping section starters. The race started at 8 and by 11 I was on the road to complete my 20km section. I ended up running a bit more, 22.59km, because of the warm-up, but the half-marathon within that distance was my fastest one to date. Running in a 5:19/km pace, I lowered my personal best by two minutes! My previous time was 1h52, measured during my first marathon. My new time is now 1h50.

I’m normally afraid of running fast at the beginning to not hit the wall by the end, but that day I wasn’t on my own. I was in a team and ran the entire section in a pretty steady pace. The only explanation I can give is that I ran for social reasons. Like a soldier in battle, I wasn’t alone but instead part of a group doing something difficult together. I felt I was running not just for myself but also for them. Peer pressure is indeed a powerful motivation.

I passed the baton at 12:50h to the last runner, and the rest of us headed to Merit Brewery. When the entire team gathered at the brewery, everybody got a free beer, which was just the beginning of a joyful celebration of a hard morning, covering 70 km from Toronto to Hamilton.

Merithon Team