Chilly Half Marathon celebrates 25th edition with Chilly Chat featuring Reid Coolsaet

History of event set to be published in lead up to special virtual race

On the first Sunday of March 1997 more than 500 runners sidled up to the start line on Lakeshore Road in Oakville for the first annual Chilly Half Marathon. Since then, the race has grown to become one of the most popular in Ontario drawing thousands every year.

This year marks the 25th edition of the popular chilli-fuelled event. Yes, the Chilly Half Marathon, Frigid 10K and Frosty 5K is virtual this year, but that isn’t stopping the VR Pro Races team from celebrating the incredible success of this race. And it starts tonight, March 4, with the Chilly Chat

This event, held live on the Chilly Half Marathon Facebook page, brings together the two founders of the race Kelly Arnott and Mark Arnott, along with Mark Sullivan, running coach and Chili Pepper mascot, Anissa Hilborn, president of Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation and special guest Reid Coolsaet, an Olympian who has raced and won the Chilly Half on many occasions. 

The evening promises to be a fun recounting of race memories, stories of Olympic glory and a shared love of running. 

In addition, Jessica Brake of VR Pro will be publishing a history of the race, which will be available on the race website this weekend. 

All of this is leading up to the big virtual event. 

2020 Chilly Half Marathon winners Krista Duchene and Reid Coolsaet

“We will have one fantastic Virtual Chilly Half, Frosty 5k and Frigid 10k,” Arnott says. “We do want to share with you all that you are superstars and we will have a commemorative ring as a finishing gift or a choice of two medals plus the amazing New Balance technical shirt.”

The race has been known to attract some of the country’s top distance runners such as Coolsaet, and Krista DuChene. In addition, Tristan Woodfine, who recently got a PB and bested the Olympic qualifying time on his way to a great finish at the London Marathon last weekend, is also a former Chilly winner. 

“The thing I really like about the Chilly Half is the timing. To have a goal in early March, really helps me to get through January, February, the dark days and the cold,” says Coolsaet, in a recent video. “I’m going to take part this year. I’m looking forward to it.”


Arnott reminds participants that virtual events are a great way for runners to maintain training and motivation by setting goals. There are many runners who have used the Chilly to run their first half marathon or 5K, and 2021 should be no different.

"At this time when we have to social distance to avoid the spread and real races have been cancelled, we can still all go out and run or walk and train! Goals are so important and therefore having something substantial to work towards,” Arnott says.

As always, the VR Pro Races Facebook group will continue to provide a sense of community for runners who are looking for training tips, motivation and camaraderie. This is also a great place for race updates, and to win prizes. 


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