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These winter road races make up the southern Ontario grand slam

All four of these southern Ontario winter road races have something in common

Around the Bay
Around the Bay
Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.

Four southern Ontario winter races. Four distances that aren’t the typical 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon.

We at Canadian Running consider the quartet – Boxing Day 10-Miler, Robbie Burns 8K, Re-Fridgee-Eighter and Around the Bay 30K – the “southern Ontario grand slam” (in reference to a grand slam in baseball which is four runs.) All four of these races offer lesser-contested distances including 10 miles (16K), 8K, 8 miles (12.8K) and 30K. If you’re able to complete three of them, it’s a triple crown.

The beauty of the off-distances is that they provide a solid stepping stone if you’re moving up or a halfway point if you’re moving down in distance and testing out your speed, for example. Done a half-marathon but not quite ready for a marathon? Try a 30K. Done a 10K and not quite up for a half-marathon? Race 10 miles.

RELATED: Boston’s perfect prep: Around the Bay.

For the busy racer, all four races are doable back-to-back as there’s adequate time between each to rest and recover for the following event. Plus, if you’re new to that distance, it’s an automatic PB, granted you finish. Here are the four races in chronological order.

Boxing Day 10-Miler – Dec. 26 (Hamilton)

The 97th annual Boxing Day 10-Miler is a classic post-Christmas tradition for southern Ontario runners. The event, which also features a 4-miler (6.4K), another off-distance, gets underway at noon local time.

Robbie Burns 8K – Jan. 28 (Burlington)

Most southern Ontario road racers begin their 2018 campaign at the Robbie Burns 8K as it falls within the first month of the new year. That said, the end of January is also one of the coldest times of the year, so prepare to bundle up for this winter event. The 8K is an option for runners looking to experiment beyond the 5K but are perhaps not quite ready for the 10K.

The Burlington Runners-hosted event begins at Burlington Central High School. The race begins at 9:30 a.m. local time.

Re-Fridgee-Eighter – Feb. 11 (Waterloo)

Hosted by Run Waterloo, this relatively low-key event offers an 8-miler and 8K. In 2017, the race took place in the midst of a blizzard, as part of a special weather statement, which made for rather memorable photos. The event begins at 10 a.m. from RIM Park.

Around the Bay 30K – March 25 (Hamilton)

Around the Bay
Photo: Kevin Mackinnon.

“Older than Boston.” As its tagline indicates, Around the Bay is the oldest long-distance road race in North America, first run in 1894, three years before the Boston Marathon. It’s the oldest continually run marathon in North America.

In addition to the 30K, which features a single loop of the city, Around the Bay also offers a 5K, though the course is not quite “around the bay.” All races finish inside FirstOntario Centre in central Hamilton and the start line is located just outside of the FirstOntario Centre, formerly known as the Copps Coliseum. The 30K gets underway at 9:30 a.m. local time followed by the 5K at 9:45 a.m.

Keep an eye out for a costumed Grim Reaper towards the end of the race.