The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – 16th Oct 2016

Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

Brooks Running

&

Helly Hansen

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All photographs, unless otherwise stated, by David Wise and Virgil Cheung.

First, to give you a firm idea of the event, here’s a short video Dave shot as he took part.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) is Toronto’s premiere marathon event. Here’s what our team thought of the event.

Tim - The STWM is probably the event with the best pre race expo in Ontario. It’s definitely not one of those expos that you can see in full in three minutes, like some other races I won’t mention. You can walk around for a couple hours at the STWM expo, hear talks on various subjects, get your running form reviewed, buy gels for the race, try some other nutrition and hydration products, and even try out running shoes from some of the newer up-and-coming shoe makers (Salming, Topo), as well as some old favourites. I’m also impressed with the very comprehensive website for this race.

Getting to the race was a bit of hassle. I really wish the city of Toronto and the TTC specifically would work with race directors when there are 20,000 plus people travelling to a race on a Sunday morning. With the subways not starting early enough to get anyone to the bag check before the race, you are left with slow and packed busses mostly. Cab drivers and Uber probably made out great Sunday morning, but it was a pain getting to the race start. Of course that is no fault of the race itself.

Now let’s talk about porta-potty’s! Does any race ever have enough of them? The line-ups to use them at the start were a bit crazy. I’d say they were 30 minute lines easy. This was 15 minutes before the race. Here’s a tip: go inside City Hall (the doors are open for runners to keep warm) and use the washrooms downstairs. There was basically no line inside. It’s not sustainable for thousands of people to use the indoor washrooms however, so keep that tip to yourself!

As for the race itself, I ran the half marathon and the crowd support is great, as is the course winding through downtown. The volunteers are plentiful and top notch and the aid stations are run perfectly. There was a real international flavour this year, and I enjoyed the enthusiasm of what seemed like dozens of Mexican nationals out on the course proudly representing their home country and generally having a blast. And you can never have too many Latinas in a race if you ask me. There were also a few very cool and  inventive costumes…

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Noticeably absent this year for me was the cattle call right after the finish line. It was like rush hour traffic on the Don Valley Parkway in past years just to get to the event village. Not fun. This year it was a nice easy walk without waiting and no bottlenecks. Well done to the race directors for fixing that issue. The post race food bag is fairly paltry, but at least the banana wasn’t green. Nothing worse than running for hours and then being handed a banana that will be ready to eat on Wednesday. The online results are pretty much available within minutes of finishing, and the medal is always pretty nice at STWM. Of particular notice this year were the technical shirts for the race. The full marathon shirt in black was possibly the nicest looking shirt I’ve seen given out at a race. The shirt was designed by local artist Mango Peeler and wasn’t bad in the half marathon white either. However, being a rainy day, there are probably many of us half marathon runners who now have a nice looking white shirt with four rust spots where the safety pins held our bib. That is a shame. And I wish I ran the full marathon for that black shirt. It really is a sweet looking bit of race swag.

I have yet to run the full marathon course at this race, but as far as half marathons go, I’ve now run this one three or four times, and would definitely say it’s my favourite to date.

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Philip - I wasn’t planning to run this race but the opportunity presented itself and I decided to pace my friend Virgil to a 4 hour marathon. I’ve done a few 10-13k runs this past few months but not the usual 30-34k weekly long runs that I am used to and my left foot was sore afterward the shorter runs as were my knees so I was a bit concerned how my body would hold up during this marathon.

Pre-race: I got to Nathan Philip’s Square around 7:30am and it was full of runners getting ready for the race. It was full of excitement and a great place to hang out. The temperature was a balmy 18 degrees with 15mm of rain forecast for throughout the day.

Bag check was from 7-8am and we were a bit concerned on making the deadline since public transit was limited to get to the start. But luckily they kept baggage check open right up until the start of the race at 8:45. I liked the fact that the baggage check drop off and pick up was all at the same spot. Also, they hung all the bags off the ground to keep them dry and it was in a somewhat sheltered location; this is especially important since the weather forecast was for rain throughout the day.

0-10km – There were a few announcements then the start horn sounded and we’re off. Light rain is starting to come down and we start off at a nice easy pace up University Ave which is three lanes wide. Just after Queen’s Park we turn west onto Bloor St; road surface was pretty good. As we approach Varsity stadium we are greeted by the Varsity Blues cheerleaders, that was a real treat early in the race.

At this point we are feeling great, on pace and continue to Bathurst St where we turn south towards the lake. Runners need to be cautious on Bathurst St as there are streetcar tracks which are slippery, especially with the rain. As we approach the next turn near the end of Bathurst St., volunteers were great in warning us of the camber slope of the next turn.

11-20k – There was a gel station at 12km so took a few and washed it down with water and Gatorade. Then we see the elite runners speeding by so graceful and effortless, so inspiring! There was a steel drum band, ladies dancing in shiny dresses and great fan support along Lakeshore Blvd. As we hit the 20k mark Virgil is beginning to lose pace and feel pain in his knees.

21-30k – This section is probably one of the most challenging as you have the hilly out and back on Bayview Ave. I did enjoy the section through Corktown as I’ve never been to this area before, its a nice area for running. There were pockets of cheering along this section including a group waving the Greece flag.

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30-42.2k – The 30k mark is along Lakeshore Blvd and you run through the beaches along Queen St. out and back. You can see the turn around at a distance and is a slight downhill so take advantage of this. Great to see all the runners going the other way so you can have a moving target.

Coming back along Lakeshore is relatively flat so you can keep a steady pace until you reach the overpass at the DVP. Once you get over this you will be at the 40k marker and if you have anything left then this is the time to give it all you’ve got all the way to the finish line.

Water stations were plentiful all throughout the race and fully staffed with many volunteers cheering and making sure runners were ok and knew where to go. The organizers of this race did an excellent job and I highly recommend this race to anyone, especially to those attempting their first marathon.

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Tara - The race expo of STWM never fails to disappoint! I got to meet Canadian marathoner Lanni Merchant as well as Ed Whitlock and took a few pictures with them. Lots of great vendors, samples and swag. I purchased a race jacket to commemorate my first Scotia full marathon.

On race morning I drove into the city nice and early so parking was not a problem. The warm temperatures made standing around and warming up easy. Lots of signage and volunteers to help out if needed.

Overall, the course was great. Relatively flat and scenic with lots of crowd support and cheer zones. The second half of the marathon is certainly more scarce of spectators, but here were still enough cheer zones to help encourage us along. The beaches and distillery district were really great!

I have run the half marathon here many times, but this was my first time running the full at STWM. The finishing chute was amazing! The crowds, the noise. I could hear the announcer as I approached Bay Street while making the final approach. The excitement of a big race was not lost on me even though I was towards the back of the pack. That finish straight was a tunnel of noise, it was great!

All in all, it was a superb race and one that I will definitely be running again.

To discover more please visit  http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/en/index.htm

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