Race Report: Icelandic Festival 10-Mile Road Race (August 6, 2017)

 •  Filed under running

In August, I ran the Islendingadagurrin (Icelandic Festival) 10-Mile Road Race from Winnipeg Beach to Gimli, MB. This report includes some of my training and recap for the race. It was originally published to r/ARTC.

Race information


Goal Description
Pipe dream Sub 60:00
A Top 3
B Sub 65:00


I'm in the middle of Pfitz 12/70 for a goal marathon on September 10th. I've been doing a slightly modified version of the plan, but mostly just rearranging the runs to accommodate my schedule. The basic structure of the weeks is three key runs: lactate threshold or VO2 max, medium-long run, and long run. I did the lactate treshold workouts exactly as prescribed. For the VO2 max workouts, I have been doing kilometre repeats at minimum as I don't believe that 600-800m repeats are specific enough to marathon training. Based on the demands of the marathon, I believe that mile repeats at 10k pace have more benefit than 600m repeats at 5k pace.

The intensity of the medium-long run has depended largely on how I'm feeling. Most of them have just been easy-to-moderate runs. If I schedule the week right, I can make it a second hard workout before my long run, and for those I like to do progression runs that get close to marathon pace. I think there's only been one time where that schedule has worked out right, though.

My long runs have been nothing to write home about. I had one successful Pfitz progression. My marathon-paced runs have been disastrous because of the heat. Based on those runs, I didn't have a ton of confidence going into this race.


This race starts in Winnipeg Beach, MB, which is an hour north of our provincial capital. It's about a three hour drive from where I live, so I decided to make the trip on race morning. It wasn't my brightest idea but I've done something similar before and it turned out okay. Plus, I almost always wake up absurdly early on race morning, so 3:30 AM didn't sound impossible. After some oatmeal and coffee, I loaded up my car with various gear and hit the road at 4:00 AM.

I got to Winnipeg Beach a little before 7 AM and drove around in search of the start line. This is a small community that attracts city people in the summer and weekend cottage types, so I figured the start line would be fairly easy to find. I followed some signs to the "downtown" and noticed that the start line had been prepped: A spray-painted line that read "10 Mile Start" and two picnick tables. I parked my car, sipped on an energy drink, went to the washroom, and then wandered over to the start line hoping that I could pickup my bib. Turns out that bib pickup didn't start until 7:20 so there was just a bunch of runners waiting for the organizers to arrive. It turned out fine, but my normal race-day anxiety was in overdrive because it was 30 minutes until the race and I still didn't have my bib. This race has been going on for 49 years though (the longest in Manitoba, I think?), so they must know what they're doing.

Once I get my bib I meetup with a friend from Brandon and we start our warmup at around 7:30. It was a good warmup, with about 20 minutes of easy jogging. On the way back to the start line I did one race-pace stride and was ready to go. Based on last year's race times I figured I could go right to the front.


Once I was at the front, I noticed at least two guys from Winnipeg who would likely be competing for the win. One was a previous winner and perpetual podiumer of the Manitoba Marathon, so I figured he would go out fast and there was no way I would (or could) chase him. Another guy always competed for top spots in local races, and based on his times I knew he'd go out fast too. I couldn't recognize anyone else so I figured that it might be a good race for third, but you just never know in these smaller races who's going to show up.

The siren sounds and we're off. My strategy is to go out around threshold pace (4:00 /km) and see whether I have anything faster in the legs.

Naturally, everyone in the front pack goes out at like 3:20 /km. It never fails, but it doesn't take long for the pace to settle down as we make the turn onto the highway that makes up almost the entire course. The race then plays out almost exactly as I expected, with the marathon winner already gapping everyone and the guy in the visor pushing hard for second. I'm running about 4:00 km pace and trailing a small chase pack as I watch this develop, and I figure that now is as good of time as any to make a move, so I surge hard and pass the chase pack into third. I'm running about 3:45 km pace now, and I figure that I can at least hold this for a mile or two and then ease off if I have to. I am then slightly horrified to realize that I would have to hold this the entire race to have a chance at breaking 60 minutes. LOL.

The course follows a highway from Winnipeg Beach to Gimli, MB. It's "Manitoba cottage country," which is kind of a hybrid of trees and prairie grass. The highway is mostly straight and flat. There are a few houses along the way. The first half of the race is mostly shaded. There's not much more to be said. Oh, except for the fact that the highway is open to cars during the race, with no pylons to separate runners and traffic. Also, you're running with traffic, not against it. The shoulder is paved, but I'm not a fan of running 10 miles on a sloped surface, so I'm kind of recklessly running to the left of the white line. I'm not complaining because this race has been going on a long time and I figure that it's always been done this way. It was just a new experience for me.

For about 6 miles (10 km), I feel pretty good. I'm mostly between 6:10 - 6:20 per mile (3:50 - 55 /km), which is a bit faster than threshold pace but it feels sustainable. At the time, though, I felt like I was running a lot closer to 60 minute pace, but I come through 5 miles (8 km) at 31:00 and realize that that dream is out the window. I'm still in third, though, and judging by the cheers from the small roadside gatherings, I have a bit of a cushion. I figured that I'd be pretty happy with 3rd place in 62 minutes.

Around 8 miles, things start to get hard. I have about fifteen minutes of running left and my pace is slipping to 4:00 /k, but my stride feels off and I just don't feel like I'm capable of running fast. In Pfitz's plans, his lactate-threshold workouts are mostly 6 - 8 km, and they peak at 11 km, so this feeling isn't too surprising. For the last two miles I just lost focus and suffered my way through it, knowing that I had no chance of catching second and couldn't make that much of a dent on my final time. I was looking forward to surging for the final stretch through the town of Gimli but at this point it was more a matter of surviving to the finish line. I come through in 62:59 for third place.


The race ends at the Icelandic Festival in Gimli, so there's the usual post-race offerings like gatorade, chocolate milk, and fruit. I stretch out a bit and realize that I have to stick around for a while to get whatever prize they had for my 10-year age group. I got a mug and a pair of socks. Worth it.

Luckily I had a friend who was in Gimli, so he gave me a ride back to the start line where my car was. I was originally considering just jogging the 10 miles back, but maybe that was too ambitious. I went for a 20 minute cooldown with my friend from Brandon who was in the race, then we had a greasy breakfast at one of the local restaurants.

Lessons learned:

  • 60 minutes is a stretch goal, and the pace is nothing to take lightly. I figure that a year more of training and speedwork can get me there, so maybe next year I will build my summer training plan around this race.
  • Anything faster than 4:00 km pace is treacherous territory for me. I clearly didn't have the strength or lactate clearance to sustain the pace or surge after 50 minutes of hard running.
  • Based on this race, I'm now VDOT 55, which is the highest I've ever been, so my race performance and fitness are still trending upwards. That's about all I can ask for. I know that my "bad race" is coming one of these days, but I'm happy to just keep rolling along while the going is good.


Mile Time
1 6:05
2 6:13
3 6:19
4 6:17
5 6:14
6 6:16
7 6:20
8 6:22
9 6:34
10 6:58
Kilometre Time
5 19:17
10 19:29
15 20:03
16 4:08