Road races in and around Toronto

A friend of mine recently asked, twice, why I stopped running. Paranoid, I wondered if that wasn’t some kind of a hint that I should resume a training regime because I’m getting round or something. Actually, he asked because runners usually have a hard time leaving the sport and I laughed and told him I never liked the physical act of running and I got so intensely bored of training in Vancouver (and getting beat down by the rain).

At the same time, I think a half-marathon 21.1km is the perfect distance. Training for one is just a blip on your schedule and the 2-ish hour outing on race day is a perfect workout. If it’s an away race in a new city, it’s just the right distance to explore the city in a way you wouldn’t as a regular tourist. And you still get a medal! There are races out here that could entice me to start training again, I added. Spoken like a true runner, he said. Really…?!

A few races have come and gone this fall and I wonder if I would have entered them if I had my wits about me to look them up in the summer. These would be the first ones I would do….

  1. Toronto Yonge Street 10K (formerly known as the Sporting Life 10K) takes place late April. It starts at Yonge-Eglinton near where my cousin lives (they could see me off) and ends at Fort York Boulevard downtown near the water, from where I can crawl to my friends’ condo nearby!
  2. Energizer Night Race (5K/10K) takes place across the country in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver on different days from August to November. I only learned about this race this year and missed the early September deadline for Toronto. It looks like a neat race that starts at dusk and has great high-value swag: nice tech t-shirt and a powerful headlamp that I need and have not yet purchased!
  3. Okay, this one is not a marathon but utterly Toronto-unique. The CN Tower Climb takes place twice a year with the Enbridge CN Tower Climb for United Way coming up this weekend (but it’s not a good weekend for me) and the WWF CN Tower Climb in April.
  4. It seems to me the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon in early May gets less love than the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in mid-October. I did the latter run back in 2005 and yawned with boredom. It is, as promised, all along the waterfront but you didn’t really see the water from Lakeshore. The May race has a crazy route that starts at Mel Lastman Square in North York (north of Sheppard) and you take over Yonge Street all the way down to Bloor before curling around Rosedale Valley Road out to Bayview before heading back downtown. The full-marathoners have to do an out-and-back on Lakeshore (hah!) but the half-marathoners just run up University to finish at Queen’s Park. Running down Yonge is somewhat unique because we usually just zip down underground (i.e., by subway) but could be really boring too.
  5. When I visited Ottawa for the first time in 2007, I decided I wanted to do the Ottawa Marathon which takes place in late May. Usually, I am in Halifax in early May which means I wouldn’t make a second trip out here within a month. They’ve rebranded the race since 2007/2008 and I’m now not so thrilled but it is, as I remember, very elite, a qualifying race for not only Boston but other international events. They purportedly have the best-designed finisher medals that are also iTab-enabled.
  6. Then I learned about the Army Run in Ottawa in September which has a 5K and half-marathon. My patriotic side is tickled and I want to add a dog tag finisher “medal” to my collection!
  7. Since Toronto is the eastern hub, why not increase the province count for medals I have (has been stuck at 6 provinces since 2005)? Winnipeg is a short flight away and the Manitoba Marathon takes place in mid-June.
  8. You know, I have never visited Newfoundland before. It never seemed worth it from Halifax (terribly long road trip) but it’s just a 3-hour flight from Toronto, since you can only consider flying. The Huffin’ Puffin’ Marathon (formerly known as Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Marathon) takes place in late September and sounds positively tiny with about 100 runners. It would be the smallest race I have ever entered!
  9. Besides not having visited Quebec City before, I was really intrigued by their race weekend in because of the Friday Staircase Challenge that preceded the marathon event on Sunday. Now the events are split up with the Staircase Challenge in June separate from the Quebec City International Half-Marathon in May and the SSQ Quebec City Marathon in August. The Marathon de Montreal is in late September and Montreal is a much shorter distance from Toronto.
  10. After getting my toes wet with an “international” marathon with Portland in 2008, an American marathon may as well be Canadian as it was not all that foreign. Except they are bigger and better!  Going off memory, you can’t just get into the ING New York Marathon in early November and have to “pay your dues” trying for 5 years before you are guaranteed, while you can get into the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and it was a really great race according to a Running Room contingent I know that went several years ago. Finally, the one that got me really intrigued recently because I did happen to be in town during race weekend is the Detroit Free Press Marathon. Both half- and full-marathoners run to Windsor (Canada) through the dark, curving Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and then return to the U.S. over the Ambassador Bridge. A two-country run and holding a Canadian passport, it should be a breeze logistically (unlike some other two-country run that might exist that does not involve Canada).
I’m not sure it’s truly in the spirit of running that I have made up this list. But you can’t argue with the spirit of adventure, right??

On this day..