The CRS Yonge St 10km, Toronto – April 2015


Trek and Run were supported during this event by the following;

Helly Hansen

Salba Chia 

Gore Running Wear


Garmin Actions Cameras

Part 1, by Dave Wise

First of all, here’s a film that I made whilst running the event to give you an idea of both the course and the atmosphere.

I’d heard that the Yonge St 10km was one of the fastest races in North America. I hear many such claims about various distance races though and it’s difficult to judge if there’s any truth in the statements, unless you’ve done all the races in North America! But having done the Yonge St 10km yesterday I’d say that it certainly is a fast race, and if you haven’t done a mainly downhill 10k before then it’s likely that you’ll achieve a PB at this one.

The beauty is that the downhill’s are gradual, nothing too steep, so you can really just roll along at top speed, and although there are some uphills they’re slight and small. Here’s a readout from my Tom Tom GPS watch of the Yonge St course to show you the route elevation (it’s the dark blue line). You can see it starts on the left at about 165 metres and finishes about 80 or 90 metres lower…

yonge st 10 stats

The event is excellently organised by Canada Running Series. Emails were sent out before the event letting you know everything you needed to and race pack pickup was available on the day – great news for me as I don’t get down to Toronto city centre much so would’ve struggled to have picked it up beforehand.

There were no queues for race pickup when I arrived at about 8am, the desks were clearly marked and well staffed, and no queues for the toilet either as plenty had been provided (although they did develop queues nearer race time). Baggage drop was equally smooth; there were a number of buses waiting by the roadside and you just left your bag with volunteers at the bus which had your race number written in front of it. Simple.

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There were only one little issue, for me, and that was with the freebie sun lotion that came in the goodie bag. It was made by Aveeno, who are well known for testing their products on animals. Not a big deal for some but since I’m vegan, it is for me. I’m not being ungrateful, I do appreciate a decent goodie bag and understand the work it must take to get sponsers onboard to donate thousands of samples, but it would be great if any cosmetics in future goodie bags could be cruelty free and ethically sound. A big part of why I run is that I love the natural world and want to be out in it, as I think many of us do; therefore we should do all we can to preserve it and all the animals that inhabit it, I reckon.

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Apart from that, the goodie bag was excellent. Brilliant race t-shirt, baseball cap and a few other samples as well as some decent Canadian running magazines.

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As for the race, friendly marshalls were everywhere you needed them, the Toronto Police force did a great job of controlling traffic, the route took us right through the heart of the city (past Dundas Square and also the CN Tower) and there were four or five music bands playing live en route to encourage us along. A big thanks to you all, on behalf of us runners. We all understand the events would be nothing without you, so thanks for making it such a good environment for us to run in.

A special shout out must go to the 40 minute pacer. He was really vocal in his encouragement and directions. I’ve run with many pacers around the world and I’d say that he was one of the best.

The wind was a problem early on; several times we got an icy blast in the face, and then it switched to the side, then to the rear (which wasn’t bad at all). I guess the nature of the tall buildings on Yonge St turns the road into somewhat of a vortex in places.

At the end of the race we got a decent medal and lots of food and drink – biscuits, bananas, water/Gatorade – and our bags were there waiting for us.

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There were plenty of toilets, a band playing and a real family atmosphere. If only there wasn’t a cold wind howling, it would have been perfect. There were also a streetcar stop just nearby, really convenient for getting back to Union Station and onwards public transport links.

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So that’s the practicalities. Now to my own race experience.

I’ve been told many times by the Pro’s not to change my schedule on race day. Do whatever you do in training, they say, only do it faster.  Ok. I usually follow their advice. But not this time.

A few days before the race I felt that I should rest. This was meant to be a fast 10k, I wanted to be fresh for it! But that was my first mistake. I run every day. Every single day. To take three rest days is very odd for me. I should have just run as usual, but perhaps kept it down to a quick 5 or 10k.

The second thing that went wrong on race day was toilet duties. For those of you who are not runners, you might well think that what follows is a case of ‘too much information’, but us runners understand just how important a good poop on the morning of race day is. I poop every morning about ten minutes after breakfast. Yes, that regular. So I was pretty anxious when it didn’t happen yesterday. I looked at my watch. Half hour since breakfast! I’d have to leave the house for the race in ten minutes. Man, this wasn’t looking good.

I walked to the start line, it was about 8k from my house and since Sunday buses aren’t the most frequent around my area I wanted to be in control of my timings. I enjoyed the walk, the sun rose and drove the chill away and there was that beautiful spring freshness to the air. It was windy though, flags flew on the full…

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…and I wondered how this would affect us during the run. If it was blowing from behind us, great, we’d fly downhill, but from the front, mmm, bad news. It seemed to be coming from the east though, which meant it would be at our sides, and I didn’t have a clue what that would mean from a racing point of view.

At the event village on Yonge St there were plenty of toilets. No queues. But there was no hint of a poop from me on the horizon. I warmed up and felt odd. Then I told myself to get this negative rubbish out of my mind and get on with stretching.

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I had a long warm up in the end, about half hour, then I stood in my coral at the start line for five minutes.

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Not enough to get cold, yet, when the starter horn sounded and I moved away, I felt my tendon pull.

“Ok, I’ll just carry on, there’s no way I’m pulling out of this race, it’s probably not that serious anyway,” I thought to myself.

I stayed with the 40 minute pacer group until the 4km mark. I found the pace surprisingly easy but then the tendon pain in the back of my thigh became too great. I had had a calf injury at last year’s Brighton Marathon and run through it to finish so I thought I’d do that here, too. I stepped off the course for thirty seconds to stretch out and then got back into my stride but, no go. This was some serious pain.

It was time for some self-examination, that went something like,

“Don’t be a lightweight, get on with it, it’s just a little pain. Yiannis Kouros wouldn’t have given up with just a bit of hamstring pain.”

“But if I run on, I could do some serious damage that could finish my season.”

“That’s just in your mind, and your mind is a liar. It’s always telling you to sit on the sofa and chill out, remember? Don’t trust the bugger, get on with it.”

“But, it really, really hurts, and everybody is passing me, and I feel a bit of a fool too. I mean, pulling a tendon on the start line, what an idiot!”

“You’ve never had a ‘Did Not Finish’ in your life, and it’s not going to happen now. Get on with it.”

So I got on with it. I forgot my goal of a personal best and settled on just finishing without hurting myself too much more.

It was a fascinating learning experience, and a good reminder for me to look kindly on all people, as who knows the battles they are facing inside them. I passed a water station and the marshalls were all cheering and I thought, I wonder what they see? A middle age man limping, struggling, perhaps scowling? Do they understand that this is not a scowl but an expression of pain, that I should be flying down this road, that it was just a minute twist of fate back there on the start line, perhaps even a little bit of gravel on the road, or even the fact that I didn’t go to poop as usual, that has transformed me from decent runner to, well, I’m not sure what I was, just a chap hobbling down the road really…

And it made me think back to when I had a ruptured spleen a few years ago and had thought, what do people see when they look at me? Do they think, because my exterior appearance is normal, that I’m un-harmed inside? Do they even give a thought to the fact that my spleen could split at any moment and that I’m near death, according to the doctors, at every moment of the day?

No, of course not, we can’t expect such insight from others I thought as I passed the 7km mark. But we can remember the lesson ourselves and be gentle with each other when we meet and, as I said before, look kindly on each other, for who knows the internal physical and mental struggles our neighbours are facing, even if all looks perfectly fine on the outside.

I crossed the finish line in 43 minutes, which just shows how fast this course is! There’s no doubt in my mind that given an injury free run, this was a sub 40 minute course for me, and my previous PB is 41-ish. If your PB is around the same as mine you could probably knock two or three minutes off that at the Yonge St 10k.

There was a first aid tent just beyond the finish line. I sat there with some ice under my upper leg and hoped that it wouldn’t end my season. Who knows, fingers crossed.


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Part 2, by David Cook

It’s about 5 days to the race. I wouldn’t be racing this coming weekend if it weren’t for the support and encouragement of my new running group. They’re not elite runners, but for recreational runners, they are hardcore. Every Thursday, 6am sharp, regardless of weather conditions.

When it comes to the pure love of fitness, activity and being outside, I suspect I have as much to offer as I have to learn from them. But training for racing, racing, speed and the mental state for all of it: I am a novice. Q calls me Saturday to help me prep. He knows I’ve been stressed in a variety of areas in my life and that running racing is new to me. He knows I’m fit but not fast right now. He reminds me: just get this one done and learn from it. It’s only one result of many. They’ll get better. Don’t go too hard, see what’s left at 8 k.

I’m glad he called.

It’s now the night before. I look at the clock, it’s not even 10 yet. Sweet, I’ll just finish up a few emails and head to bed. What the? It’s 11.30. How did that happen. By the time I get to bed and ready to shut off my light it’s 12.30. *sigh*

I wake to the brilliant, sunny Sunday that it is. I love the sun!! I got a solid 6 hours and I feel rested. Food. Shower. Running clothes, iShuffle, garmin watch, subway tokens to get there and back, spare money. Good to go!

The first hint of trouble is when I arrive at the subway station just before 8 am. No subway. Starts at 9.


Fine, I’ll jog. 3 km tops.

I pick up my race kit. Well, what’s left of my race kit given that they’ve run out of my glasses, hats and my size of shirt. If only I’d got to race pick up sooner!

Just a quick stop in the bathroom (last night’s fish tacos are feeling like a really bad idea about now), a light warmup and I’m good to go! I head over to one of many portables, where I see the line stretches two abreast for about 75 meters…

Oops. As as I said, if only I’d got here sooner…

I look around to find other, hopefully less busy portables. I find the best possible choice and wait (23 minutes to start: I’m good). And wait (12 min to start, still good?). And wait (5th in line and 7 min to start). A kind woman sees my bib color and recognizes my situation: she offers to let me jump the line. I am profusely thankful. The fish tacos have done more damage than I thought, but I should be fine. With a spring in my step I leg it up to my corral.

I’m last to my corral. Decision time: back of the fast corral (half of the runners are projected to finish 5 minutes slower than me) to fight the masses, or front of the next corral with a 5 minute gap of empty road? Yellow corral, here I come!

I’m in the very front of the line. This is good! We start. This is good! I feel good, I’m liking the day, the sun. I’m glad I’m doing this. And then another stroke of good fortune! The lights at Eglinton turn red as we approach. If there’s one lesson I really took to heart with my hard core recreational running friends, it’s that time stops at red lights. We stop our watches: not part of our time. But what the? No one’s stopping!! Fine. I’m not going to be the one. I’ll skip this one too.

On Yonge St. we’ve been descending steadily until we hit the Mount Pleasant Cemetary where we climb a short hill. The wind, which I’d been told would be a tailwind, has been primarily been a headwind. I’m blasted by a steady gust of wind that I’m pretty sure is propelling me backwards between strides. It’s like not keeping up to a treadmill. But damn it’s sunny!

The middle of the race is steady fun. Water stations, lined with countless smiley faces eager to provide refreshment. Somewhere around Bloor is a band playing a pretty darn good version of Great Big Sea’s Ordinary Day.

I’ve been steadily glancing at my watch to pay attention to my time per kilometer. I’m all over the place, with times varying 30ish sec from one K to the next. Pacing? Not my forte at  the moment it seems…

I’m amused by the woman who always seems to be 20 feet in front of me, despite regular stops to hug spectators. Lol. Seems to be working for her… maybe I should try… Wouldn’t all spectators want a random hug for a middle-aged sweaty runner? Never mind.

A turn! And now for real, it is a tailwind! Woohoo! 8 k to go. Lots left in the tank. Too much, I’ve been dogging it. Need to move.

And then it’s over. 44:27. Way slower than I wanted, but not the nightmare time I worried about.


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