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2004 Lively FireCracker Race Report
By:  David Zylberberg   (2004/07/07)


Many members of XCOTTAWA competed in the MDS Nordion 10km in late May. I also compete in the occasional road race but like to delay my first one until I am in sufficient running shape to be competitive (they can get there quicker). I have spent most summers of my life in Sudbury, and the largest local running race is the Firecracker 5km, held on July 1 at the Tom Davies Community Centre in Lively. This is the fifth consecutive year that I have ran this race and I still enjoy it as a particularly good event. Lively is a small town about 7 km from Sudbury that used to be its own mining town. With the decline of company towns, increase in the urban economy, and creation of the City of Greater Sudbury, Lively now functions somewhat like a suburb that also has mines nearby. It still retains a lot of the small town feel with the quiet streets and nice little houses. The running race goes through the main street of Lively with some sections on a gravel road and others just out of town. The race tends to get a lot of local people who come out to watch as it passes by there house as part of the Canada Day festivities in the town. The first year I raced here, the mayor came to act as starter (now Walden is amalgomated and has no mayor, but their municipal councillor has come other years) and the event is always well organized.

Another thing I like about the Firecracker is that it attracts the best field for any running race in Sudbury. All the top local runners attend and most years there are some even faster runners who grew up in Sudbury but have moved away. This year it also had a record field of 127 runners, but no exceptionally fast former Sudbury residents. At the start line there were a lot of runners milling around in Track North pinnies (a racing club like Ottawa Lions) so it was obvious the field would be fairly deep.

By 100m I had positioned myself just behind Darren Jermyn, Track North coach and former star runner. Darren tends to run at a steady pace so having him leading meant that the pace would be fairly slow. THe leaders went through the kilometer in 3:20 so we knew fast times were possible. In the second kilometer, runners started to fall off the lead pack with NTDC Thunder Bay's Rob Bewick being one.

After 1600m, there were four runners left: Darren Jermyn, me, Kerry "Iron Stud" Abols (former star skier, coach of Ona-Wa-Su ski club and Lockerby High School Running) and Paul Walker (recently graduated high school track star from Valley East). Paul and the Iron Stud dropped off just before 2km as we made the turn onto a 1 km stretch of gravel road with a steady but gradual uphill and head wind. I decided that I had to attack here as it was the only section of course where I would take time out of Darren. I got a 50m gap over the next kilometer and made the turn back onto the pavement with this lead. Then came a 500m flat straight section with nothing around. It was a wierd feeling with only the lead police car in front of me and the sound of feet pounding the pavement behind. On this flat section I got caught, stayed with Darren for the 500m downhill section and got dropped at the 4km mark. He is a very elegant and efficient runner and this allowed him to carry on for a well deserved victory in 16:40.Once dropped, my previous efforts caught up to me and it began to hurt as we went down main street and turned onto a side street.

With 300m to go we turn onto a finishing straight that is really painfull. It looks shorter than it is and is gradually uphill. Also, making the turn makes you think you are done so any extra seconds are unexpected. This year I suffered and ran slowly in this straight like every year, but was still able to hold off a hard charging Iron Stud by 6 seconds. I finished in 16:53 (a new personal best) and am fairly pleased with the result. Paul Walker came fourth in 17:22 and Rob Bewick held on for fith in 17:45. Another year in which I enjoyed my annual trip to Lively and a very well-organized race.

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