I still get nervous at the start of the Achilles 5K, though I have participated in the annual event – the marquee race for Achilles’ athletes in the Greater Toronto Area — often.

It’s an anxiousness that stems from wanting your friends to do well, and hoping your guiding works out all right. I wouldn’t trade that anxiousness for

This race is like coming home for me.

It’s a chance to reconnect with all the wonderful people I met through my 10 years or so connection with Achilles Canada.

I would be guiding my friend Chris White in our second preparation race this year for a spring marathon. The Achilles 5K race starts at the Steam Whistle roundhouse (an old railway station), in the shadow of the CN Tower.

We were also looking to help out our mutual friend Geza Fenyo, who, like Chris, is a veteran Achilles’ athlete. It was our honour as well to run with guides Monica Lee, and Todd Shannon.

This shorter distance was a small concern. Chris was fit, but hadn’t done any speed work. We had a long warm-up (about 30 min), but found it a challenge at the start to ramp up quickly to our goal pace of 4:10 to 4:30/kilometre. Tackling a hill at race start, and negotiating the crowds at also took vigilance.

Chris settled into a good rhythm by 2K. We stayed as close to Geza, and his guides Todd and Monica. The spectators and other achilles’ runners helped a great deal in that respect, too, overwhelming us with their one-of-a-kind enthusiasm and support.

Geza left nothing out there, giving everything he had for last half of the race, fighting fatigue. He and Chris finished together in a great time of just over 21 and a half minutes, good for top 3rd and 4th spots for Achilles’ athletes.

Geza and Chris were more than satisfied with their own efforts and their race results. The beer and chili, though taken in earlier than advisable at 11am on a Sunday, was a worthy reward, not to mention all the post race stories, pictures and instant nostalgia. Wouldn’t trade that for anything either.