Rock n Roll Montreal Half: A Race Report

Because I had an ankle injury, I was planning to run this in 2:05 but I really was shocked that I did it in 1:51. The weather conditions were awesome . . . for me – sunny and in the mid 50s. It was a little warmers than I had expected and I kind of wished that I would have worn shorts instead of my tights. That said, I was very excited to run my first race outside of NYC and the US of A.

It may have been too hot for this guy. There is always one of these folks.


Before beginning this report, I will state a few pros and cons with this Half. Granted that these cons may be issues with the Rock n Roll organization rather the race’s location.


  1. It’s laid back, compared to the multiple security checks associated with the NYC marathon.
  2. The course is mostly flat (except for a few hills near the end) and you get to run through places that most tourists don’t visit.
  3. The post race goodie bag was amazing – two apples, juice, some version of gatorade, water, tomato juice (yuck), and yogurt.
  4. The bands, singers, and dancing groups along the course were pretty awesome.


  1. The corral assignments were a mess. This could be due to people putting in incorrect finish times in their registration. Many people were walking within the first mile for the half, yet their corral numbers were higher than mine. I was supposed to be in corral 4.
  2. You don’t see too much of the city for the half, because most of the race is the two islands, Iles Sainte-Helene and Notre Dame.img_7796
  3. Baggage pick up was a mess. It took about 50 minutes to get my bag.
  4. I kind of wished that the post race festival started earlier. I guess the main party/music fest started after the full marathon, but I wanted to hear some music…It is a Rock n Roll event.


Preface profile picture

The race started at 830am and getting to the start was easy breezy (except that the trains were really crowded) compared to the NYC marathon. I left my airbnb at only 7am; I remember having to be at the Staten Island Ferry station by 545am. So there was not a whole lot of sitting around in the cold while waiting for your wave to start. Plus, there was a band to keep you entertained before starting.

Miles 0-4:

This portion mainly took us around Île Sainte-Hélène with notable sites being a Six Flags park (La Ronde) and the Biosphère. The crowd was pretty slim during this part, but most of the runners were excited for the run. Plus, there were some awesome bands along the route. It’s interesting that the bands and singers were from Montreal but most of them were singing english rock songs from the States. I was expecting to hear more French-Canadian rock music during the race.
Miles 5-9:

Islands #2 and #3. This portion of the race took us through the second and third islands, île Notre Dame and Montreal itself (yes, Montreal is an island). I will say that this probably was the most boring part of the race, because there were hardly any spectaculars during this portion. On Île Notre Dame, there were nice views of Montreal and Île Saine Hèléne … I think that we passed a casino. Getting into Montreal was a bit of a struggle because the main bridge, Pont de la Concorde, was not completely shut down for the race. This meant that we were squeezed into a small space across the bridge, so it was a little hard to maintain your pace. Plus,there were spectators and a couple of injured runners on the bridge and that made it a little difficult to navigate.

It was at this point when I realized that I could do a sub 2-hour Half with my ankle injury.  I was a little sad that there was not massive crowds to cheer us on once we hit Montreal. I was expecting something like the crowds in NYC’s marathon when you cross the Queensboro Bridge and enter Manhattan. It was kind of nice to run through the outskirts of the Old Montreal, but there was not too much interesting scenery.
Miles 10 – 13.1

This is where things got a little interesting and tough. This portion pretty much brought us through the village (Le Village) to the finish, Parc La Fontaine. It is funny how right at mile 10, we made a left and BAM a big ass hill. Okay, I guess it was not that big but it was annoying. This is where the race became a little fun because we got to see different neighborhoods, it was a little more festive than the first 2/3rds of the race. Plus the pink “stones” in the gay village were kind of cool.
The finish was a little tricky, because after mile 12 most races will have half or quarter mile markers. Yes, everyone has Garmins, Fitbits, and Apple Watches but my Fitbit overcompensates my mileage by 1/4-1/2 of a mile. Basically, I did not know when to do my final push. However, I was not too upset about it.


OMG, if I were doing the full marathon, I would be so upset to see this. Basically, you know that you still have another 13.1 miles (and more hills) to go but the half-marathoners are almost done.

The finish was pretty congested and a little disorganized but “traffic” was flowing. I mentioned the issues that I had with baggage claim.

I love when spectators come up with creative signs. Plus, it was cool that they had them in french and in english.


I am so glad that I rented an Airbnb that was a few blocks away that way I was able to go home, shower, and consume all of the calories that I burned by eating a huge plate of poutine.


Since this was a Rock n Roll even, I tried to take screen shots of the songs that were playing at the beginning of each mile, unfortunately I started after the first mile. I did not realize that this playlist had so many female songs for the beginning of each mile. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I will say that it was great to have “Titanium” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the start of my final two miles.


Some of my suggestions, which may or may not be feasible. 

1. More of Montreal for the half. Obviously, you will see more of the city if you do the full marathon (at least 16 miles of city with the full versus 5-6 with the half). Perhaps, the half and full marathoners could be separated earlier in the race. For example, the half could go directly into Montreal after Île Sainte Hélène rather than running Île Notre Dame with the full marathoners. Plus, this would lead to less congestion on the bridge going into Montreal.

2. Have a way to use mobile devices for getting your race materials. Fortunately, the organizers had paper race confirmation forms for us who did not print ours.

3. A little more prep work for the liquid stations would have been great. Around mile 6/8 most of the water was gone and the volunteers had to pour water on a cup by cup basis.

4. The post race festival could have been a little more festive. Even though the full marathoner were not finished with their race, there were plenty of half-marathoners, 10Kers, 5Kers, and 1Kers around. Oh and another beer truck would have been helpful in preventing long waits for the redeeming your beer tickets.
All of that said, I would definitely want to run another race here. Hopefully, that race would be the full marathon since that is what I originally planned to do. But, I was satisfied with the half, considering that I was coming off of an ankle injury.


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