Judging from the line-up for the Centre Island ferry last weekend, Toronto is a runner’s city. Though this year’s Midsummer Night’s Run was plagued with problems related to its temporary relocation to Toronto Island, it nonetheless served as a reminder of how strong this city’s running culture remains. Whether you’re a lone runner, a beginner aiming for a race, or a seasoned vet thinking about trying a new course, the following 5 Great Toronto Road Races will give you carbs for thought…
Yonge St. 10k Run/Walk – Late April
For those who want to get an early start to the running season, but who are well-enough trained to do 10 kilometres downhill on a hard surface, this is a great race. It’s especially suited for people who’ve been training all winter and are experienced enough to know they can submit their knees to the test of a long downhill run — no easy feat! Did you see how we didn’t make a “feet” pun there? That’s the restraint that comes from training!
Sporting Life 10k Run/Walk – Early May
We’ll forgive the logo of this event for including a creepy white-kid-in-fake-Indian-costume image, because (like a lot of runs) this is for a great cause: Camp Oochigeas, serving kids with cancer. It’s bonkers-popular, which means that as runs go it’s a lot more social/crowded than it is competitive, and it’s also a pretty serious downhill grade. Once again, think of your knees, and be gentle.
A Midsummer Night’s Run 5k/15k/30k – Mid-August
Thirty clicks is a strange distance, nearly halfway between a half-marathon and the full-meal-deal, but as challenges go it’s a nice incremental increase — especially for runners who’ve tried out-of-town races like the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon earlier in the summer. We’ll reserve judgment on this year’s utter organizational botching of this race that left runners in some cases lost in the dark on Toronto Island with few marshals to guide them, or lining up for well over an hour for the ferry back to land (during which numerous people passed out, we both heard and witnessed). The race’s usual course through the Port Lands is less bucolic, more apocalyptic, but surely better organized than what we saw this year. For those of us who find facing the early mornings of race day the hardest challenge of all, this evening run is eminently desirable. Proceeds go to Sick Kids, which is about as good a cause as they come.
Terry Fox Run – Mid-September
If you’re displeased with the increasingly corporatized nature of the road race, this is the run for you: no set distance (it varies from race to race and is run all across Toronto and Canada), no sponsors, no entry fee, and no minimum donation. Proceeds go toward cancer research, in the memory of Terry Fox, about whom few reasonable people could have any complaint. With smaller distances than most road races and an entirely positive approach to the road race model, this is an attractive race for beginners trying their hands (and feet) at running with others. Highly recommended.
Scotiabank Waterfront 5k/Half-Marathon/Marathon – Mid-October
Now that the cronut-burger stand at the CNE has been shut down, there’s but one great challenge that remains for Torontonians to face this year, and that’s the Scotiabank Waterfront race. A “Big Race” in the mould of Big Races everywhere, it therefore involves lots of sponsors (see: name of race) but also lots of volunteers and a high profile. Spectator coverage is expected to be especially good this year and the course is advertised as “flat” above all, which makes it attractive to those running their first marathon. As well, if you like to run by bands rocking out, there’ll be plenty of that. For those who dread running in the winter months, this is the last road race until springtime, so get your kicks while you can.