Only in these parts can you run a road race and have someone pass you la tire d’érable (or tire sur la neige) at a water stop right in the middle of the race. I am not sure there is an English translation for this glorious maple syrup liquid that forms a gob when poured onto the snow, and then rolled onto a popsicle stick.
Yes, this was served at the mid-race water stop, this race was several weeks back on April 25th and it was still pretty cold out, about 0 degrees C or 32 F. I ran in the circuit Les Course Gourmandes race in Mont St. Gregoire, about a half hour east of Montreal. I hesitated when I first noticed a person handing these out, but not for long, and slowly licked away at it over a few minutes, in the middle of a race. It turned out to be good mid-race nourishment for a cold spring day. Les Course Gourmandes is a new race series in south western Quebec, each race has a food theme, can’t go wrong there. The course was moderately hilly, point to point, I ran the race and then jogged back to my car, a good day, over 10km.
Maple Syrup production in these parts is about the best in the world with I think about 70% of the global market share. Of course, the origins of maple syrup come from the maple festival – Wáhta – part of the Iroquoian culture in this area, which I share in from my Mom’s side of the family.
Maple syrup (sirop d’erable) leads this second blog post to the introduction of my two sons, Rafael and Russell, pictured below at one of their early childhood races, the L’Astragale race in October of 1997 in Valleyfield, Quebec. Their Mom’s family once owned a “cabane a sucre” or sugar shack northeast of Montreal, so for several springs in the early 1990’s we spent plenty of time there, eating and enjoying plenty of laughter with the Quebecois hospitality shared within her family. Life took our paths in different directions, and that’s okay; I am happy to say my two sons are now young men in their early 20’s, and doing just fine in life.
They ran just about every race in the circuit Endurance when they were under 12, as each race has 1km for children. Then, they took a break from their Dad’s passion during their teenage years, but now are getting back into running a bit and fitness in general. A good post-race meal can usually motivate them to join me for a race or two each summer.
My sons live with now, they do most of the cooking around our house (very well I might add), and I do most of the cleaning (not particularly well I should say). It is good to be a Dad, so Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there; and to my own Dad who crossed over to the spirit world several years back, I miss you very much and still think about you every day, and every time I line up to run a race, I think about you even a little bit more.
Forever a runner, how sweet it once was, and how sweet it still is.