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McMaster alumna, Victoria Coates (Hamilton Spectator)

McMaster alum wins Around the Bay Road Race

Victoria Coates talks about her time at Mac and her preparation for the historic Hamilton race.

Apr 27, 2022


McMaster alumna, Victoria Coates, was the female winner of this year’s popular Around the Bay 30K Road Race in Hamilton. It was an especially important achievement, largely because it was her first time competing in the historic race, as well as her first time running such a long distance. 

“It felt amazing to win,” said Coates, a graduate of McMaster’s geography and political science programs. “Around the Bay is an iconic race and it has always been a personal goal of mine to compete.” 

Driven by her eagerness, Coates overcame a few challenges during her preparation for the race, including regaining fitness after an injury and the uncertainty of having never competed in such a long race before. 

“I started focusing on this race around January of this year. The preparation entailed longer runs and training in the area to get more familiar with the course,” said Coates. “But I was very lucky that my coach, Reid Coolsaet, is a former Olympian who took part in Around the Bay a few times before. He was familiar with the race and helped me visualize the course and understand how it might feel at certain points.”

Coates has been running for most of her life. She started in elementary school for fun but joined a track team at her high school. She fulfilled her dream of being on a varsity team when she came to McMaster University and qualified for the Women’s Cross-Country team. Since graduation, Coates has represented Canada at international competitions, including the World Cross Country Championships and the World Half-Marathon Championships.

“The time at Mac was very special to me. To this day, I’m still extremely close to my coaches, Rory Sneyd, Paula Schnurr, and Pete Self, as well as many of my former teammates,” she said. 

She also met her husband, Eric Barry, while on Mac’s cross-country and track team. “Eric and I live in Hamilton, and we still run together. He also helped me a lot during my training for Around the Bay and paced me during the race.” 

Eric Barry and Victoria Coates (Mieke Aasman Photography)

Today, Coates works as an urban planner with the City of Brantford, a career that combines her interest in governance and geography. Despite her win, she’s not resting on her laurels and is already preparing to run a marathon. 

As for advice for current student-athletes, Coates’ words of wisdom are simple: enjoy it. 

“I’ve had such a positive experience being a student-athlete, so if anyone has the opportunity to do that, I would highly recommend it. I met some of my best friends and my husband at Mac. It was such a great experience for me.”