A big part of being a runner is taking part in the races. There are a lot of them and quite a few that take place in downtown Toronto and the GTA every year, so there really is something for everyone. I have four that I have enjoyed running since 2008. I promised a couple of months ago that I would share my opinions for each of them, so that is what this post is all about. I will be giving each race a rating out of five and since I will be talking about running, instead of your typical thumbs up or stars, I will rate each race using my own original creation. My Nike Frees.
Since I am officially in training for two upcoming races – one in August and one in October, I will rate those first. Both of these races are long distances, and if you read my post titled “My love hate relationship with running”, you would know that running long and fast is hard work with IT band issues. However I remain ever positive that with the help of my chiropractor , hard work and dedication, I will complete these races with a smile and reach my time goal for both of them.
Please note that I will be rating these races based on their course and organization, I won’t be including things like bag drop off & pick up (I never drop off a bag) or food available afterwards (I’m not a big eater immediately following a race, I generally down some Gatorade and then enjoy a celebratory brunch feast).
Acura 10 miler:10 miles, or if you are quick at calculations, 16k, is a long way to run when it is August and it is dang hot outside. This race starts in the Distillery District, and since I was married at an art gallery in this area, it holds a special place in my heart. After the first year I ran it, I swore I would never run it again. Purely for the stretch through Leslie Spit. Toronto in the summer can get pretty gross with heat, and running completely exposed to the hot blazing sun ain’t too much fun. I am probably the only person that does a rain dance before this race hoping for the heavens to open up as I hit this part of the course. I will give the organizers props for having mist stations at the start and end of Leslie Spit. I am certain that is how I have lost serious time,as I have been known to just stop and get drenched before moving forward. My personal best time has been 1:28, not bad for 16k, but not good enough for me. This year I am looking to shave off a good 5-8 min. Wish me luck. Overall the course is fairly flat, and it is a great warm up to the Scotiabank half/full marathon. I gave this race :
Scotiabank half/full marathon:I first ran this as a full marathon back in 2008. I now run it as a half. Either way the course is flat, and it runs along the water which is great because even in October one can get pretty sweaty and getting that breeze feels great. Last year the start and the finish were at a different location along University which was extremely crowded and confusing. This year it goes back to its original home, Nathan Philips Square.This year runners will also see a new course for the first 10k! How exciting. North to Queens Park, east on Wellesley, north on Church Street, west on Bloor past Toronto’s “Magnificent Mile”, south on St.George through the University of Toronto, west on College, passing Chinatown at Spadina and Kensington Market at Augusta, before running south on Bathurst to the Lakeshore, and resuming the old route. As you run through each neighborhood there are cheering sections with music playing & people holding up signs, all which give you that much needed boost to keep going. With the flat course this race is great for anyone wanting to scratch a half or full marathon off their bucket list. Hopefully this year the course changes will change my score to a perefect 5. Overall I give this race:
Oasis Zoo 10k, 5k & cub run:The first time I ran this 10k I foolishly didn’t do any hill training. I don’t advise this. I advise getting your butt to High Park for some killer hills. If you are familiar with the Metro Toronto Zoo, then you will know that it can be quite hilly, especially the Canadian Pavilion part. The second time I ran it I was 16 weeks pregnant and I was under strict doctors orders to take it easy. I somehow managed to run it faster than I did the year before, hmmmmmm. This year I am running the 5k. I have been working on speed and I think this will be a great event to see how far I have come. If you have little ones and you want them to take part in the cub run my advice would be don’t bother. My step daughter did it a couple of years ago and it was a mass of confusion. There were literally hundreds of “cubs” ranging in age with hundreds of parents, with their kids in wagons (shiver) as the kids were all dressed up in their favorite animal costume trying to out cute one another.
Positive note? When you run this race you and your cheerleaders get free admission into the zoo, so you can race and then can hang. This is not the biggest incentive for me however, since I am – confession time, not the biggest fan of the zoo! I never have been. I do love the monkeys though, as they are always great for a laugh. Overall I give this race:
Sporting Life 10k:In 2011, an agreement was reached with the City of Toronto to separate the two fall Toronto marathons. This agreement ensured that the Canada Running Series (CRS) Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon would remain in October with no competition and the Good Life Marathon would be moved to the spring on the first Sunday in May. Unfortunately, the agreement was made by CRS without the knowledge or agreement of either Sporting Life or Camp Oochigeas (the charity this race supports) and without regard as to how this would impact fundraising for the charity. The Sporting Life 10K run has been held on the first Sunday in May for the past 14 years, and 2012 was the first year with a new date. Instead of being alone in early May, the result is 3 races all vying for runners. This was the first year that Sporting Life branched off to host the very popular run down Yonge Street. This year runners ran either the Yonge Street 10k, or the Sporting Life, or both. Both take you on the same route. This race is a great run for beginners or anyone working towards a personal best. I personally achieved a PB this year with a time of 49min! While it can be overwhelming when there are literally thousands of people running around you, once you start your race and start your trek downhill, the crowd does thin out so you have your own space. I personally like that the race now takes place during the second weekend of May. It means that there is a better chance of warmer weather, instead of the chance of snow and a chill you can’t quite shake that you would experience in April, or even early May. Overall I give this race:
There you have it, my opinion on a few great races. There are plenty of others out there if none of these get you lacing up your shoes. You can check out both Canada Running Series and Running Room for a longer list. Whichever ones you choose, it’s important to remember to always take part in proper training, you don’t want to injure yourself and not make it to the start line.
So…what are you waiting for? Sign up, lace up and get running!