VIRA Island Race Series-Running the Hatley Castle 8k

The Hatley Castle 8k is the next race which is part of the VIRA Island Race Series. It will take place on February 18, 2018 at 11:00 am.

For those of you who have never been to Royal Roads, it’s a very beautiful location for running. The Hatley Castle is also National Historic Site and is a tourist attraction here in the Greater Victoria Area.

I’ve run the Hatley Castle 8k a few times. The first time I raced it, I was definitely not prepared for the hills nor the trail and gravel parts of the course.

This is a technical, challenging and fun course. A small part of the race is run on a crushed gravel surface. Many people enjoy the ups and downs of this race.

I definitely will not be trying to do this super fast, but I will test my hill running skills.

How to run the Hatley Castle 8k:

First, don’t start too fast in the first km. I made that mistake once and almost had to WALK up the hill closer to the middle of the race. I talk about starting too fast every time only because I keep seeing people doing it over and over again.

It’s always easier to speed up later than it is to maintain a pace that is too fast from the start. I feel that if I keep saying it to myself then maybe I will stop busting out of the gate. So far, in the past 2 races, I ran a negative split because I didn’t start too fast.

As you get closer towards the middle part of the race, there will be hills. The climbs will be challenging and rewarding. Generally, the best way to overcome the hill is to embrace them.

When you are running up the hills, use your glutes, your quads and your hamstrings. You will need to push from the hip and use your entire leg to get up that hill. As you go up the hills, imagine yourself reaching the top and the feelings of accomplishment that you will get as you conquer the climb.

While you are ascending, try to keep a shorter and steady stride without overstriding. Keep your breathing even and deep, while at the same time keep your upper body from tensing up.

On the way down, you can relax and keep focusing on your form. Try not to land too hard on your feet. Use the downhills to your advantage. You can lengthen your stride on the way down.

Final tips:

Please also note that a very small part of the race is on a trail surface. Therefore, pay attention to the pine cones which might be on the trail. I often slow down on trails because I don’t want to trip on a pine cone or anything like that.

As you can see from the map below, the course is a bit turny, which will require you to slow down for parts of it.

If my memory serves me right, the last part of the race is done on crushed gravel. Naturally, gravel is slower than track or road. Therefore, don’t be too upset if you don’t end up being able to sprint to the finish as fast as you would on the road.

Above: The finish line. This is what the gravel looks like. It will have a small impact on your speed.

Don’t beat yourself up if your time at Hatley Castle 8k is a little slower than the Harriers Pioneer 8k. The scenery and the race atmosphere will make up for any hills that you may encounter.

Hope to see you there!!



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