The Trek and Run Team were supported during this event by;
The Scotiabank Toronto Marathon is Toronto’s premier running weekend. Before we talk more about the event, here’s a film that’ll give you an idea of what Dave experienced as he ran the 5k and the marathon.
4 of the Trek and Run team took part, here’s what they thought of the events.
Pamela – The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon has to be the best half marathon course I’ve encountered. Well, maybe I am biased, being a Toronto-gal, but this course is flat, fast and so much fun. I came into the race VERY under-trained this year. This was supposed to be my goal race of 2017, but life got in the way. Family and relationship issues meant that training could not be my number one priority this summer. However, the bonus was, I arrived at the start line well-rested and uninjured, and that is a rarity indeed! I had a great playlist ready to go, and once we got over the starting line I felt full of energy and ready to take on the day.
The course starts on University Ave, down by the hospitals, and winds its way up past Queen’s Park and the ROM to Bloor. This is so scenic, and it is fun to walk right down the middle of these big busy streets. I was a social butterfly until we turned south onto Bathurst, where I decided to pop my headphones in, pick up my pace, and get a bit more serious. I started passing a lot of other speed walkers, and I was feeling strong! The crowd support in this race is amazing, and honestly, the first 7 km flew by and I hardly noticed them. My usual strategy on a half is to fuel at kms seven and fourteen, usually with Clif shot bloks. My tummy was not feeling 100%, however, so I decided to rely mostly on the Gatorade. I did have a couple of bloks around the 10km mark, but I was feeling good on the fluid energy, so I stuck with that. At km 14 I picked up the pace and effort again and started powering toward the finish. I managed to pass a few more of the speed walkers that I had been watching in the distance ahead of me, and that felt good! The weather was incredible. I love a warm race, and I always perform better in the sunshine. I also love the view down by the lake. Once you climb the hill south of parkdale, you have the CN tower in your sights and you know that the finish line is near.
And what a finish line it is! You really feel like running royalty coming up Bay street toward the finish. There are always lots of supporters, and the signs every 100m are so encouraging. Coming across the line we were greeted with a big smile, a shiny medal and some post-race snacks. The atmosphere is festive and fun in front of city hall with lots of hugs, selfies and smiles to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. I finished at 2:48. My PB is 2:43, and I believe I could speed walk a 2:30 someday but that was not to be, this year. I will have many happy memories of this race, though, and I hope to be back again in 2018.
Virgil – The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has always been a favourite big city, world-class calibre kind of race for me, and with its relatively flat course I always anticipate that this late season race will be one of my faster ones. Unfortunately, just before this year’s race I had the brilliant idea of ending a four day wilderness camping trip in Killarney Provincial Park by hiking the rocky uneven paths and large boulders of Granite Ridge Trail. With a 50 pound chow chow towing me along a lot faster than I wanted, I rolled my left ankle a few times, causing it to swell up significantly. The mini competition I had planned for the marathon with Jeff, a good friend of mine, had ended before it started. Still, I was determined to finish the entire race and enjoy it as much as I always do, albeit in a slower manner!
After applying talcum powder to our feet Jeff and I took in a quick breakfast and found a nice hotel to heed nature’s call before heading to the race start. It was a pretty exciting day for another friend of mine, Jean-Paul Bédard, who had run five consecutive marathons starting in the wee morning hours of Friday, starting his sixth marathon on the morning with the rest of us mere mortals. He was a well-known endurance runner advocating for survivors of sexual violence, and running this time for his campaign called #6inthesix. I took pictures of him with Mayor Tory and then over two minutes of video of the race start.
Those pro runners burst out of the gate like water breaching a dam. After that we jumped back in the corrals to start our race.
I knew that keeping pace with Jeff would be a tall order with a wonky ankle but I was grateful for the company and feeling good. We rounded the ROM and Kensington Market and headed toward Exhibition Place. When we reached Coronation Park and headed west, the lead pack of runners were already heading eastbound on Lakeshore Blvd. Imagine, we had 7.5km completed and these guys were already 10… TEN! kilometres ahead! Yes, I know I started several minutes behind gun time, but it was inspiring regardless. Losing contact with Jeff was inevitable and it happened shortly before the turnaround after 12k, partly because I found an interesting distraction of finding runners dressed up in various outfits, vying for Guinness records.
This race was unique for having a list of quirky Guinness World Records that runners could officially register for. For example, you could have a world reord by running a half marathon wearing 50 t-shirts. It was like Pokémon, I had to catch them all with my phone! There were many enthusiastic spectators, cheerleaders, and bands to keep the race interesting and give runners extra motivation.
I babied my ankle but it was inevitable that it was going to revolt against me, and it did around the 23k mark. Try as I might I simply couldn’t lift the pace and I limped into a 7 min/km pace that dragged into 10 min/km pace at times. It was really frustrating that my heart rate was in the low 140s yet my legs couldn’t respond. I saw Jean-Paul just before the eastern turnaround at the Beaches, he was quite an inspiring sight, his wife beside him, riding along on a bike.
At around 35k I tried race walking as an alternative to my zombie shuffle jog, and found that I was able to hit 8 min/km, which was faster than my best zombie jog. In fact, an announcer on a microphone complimented me on my race walking. I have no idea how race walkers walk so quickly, perhaps I should learn some techniques. Running past the Distillery and St. Lawrence Market meant that the end of the race was near.
I always enjoy the last 5k of this marathon and past the final corner heading north along Bay I lifted myself into a sprint. The 100m markers floated by and I let out a primal roar as I crossed the finish line.
Kudos to Jeff for completing his first marathon, I know it will be the first of many. Congrats to the T&R team for their races – Pam for her half distance, Adam for his marathon, and David for doing the 5k and marathon combo. I hope that the Guinness record seekers validated their attempts successfully. Finally it was great to note post-race that Canada’s marathon record was broken at this very event, truly cementing its place as a world-class calibre race!
Adam - The alarm sounded early for this one, 5:45 am! Rough. Saturday night, not many hours before, I arrived home from work close to 11:30 pm. By the time my bags were set, clothes packed, gear sorted and a Go Train route determined I got to bed close to 1:30 am. I tossed and turned until about 4 am with pre-race jitters, much worse anxiety than usual. My last race was a 100 miler in May and I’d had nothing in between due to a crazy work schedule and overdue family time so I felt a little under trained. Plus trying to navigate my way from Hamilton to Toronto provided its own challenge this early on a Sunday. Top that with the 1000’s of runners I’d be along side of and my butterflies kept fluttering and multiplying. I caught a train from Aldershot Station in Burlington that arrived at Union Station in Toronto by 8:10am. Dave had picked up my race kit but he’d run the 5k prior to the marathon and wouldn’t be able to meet with my bag until 8:30 am with a race start of 8:45 am. I hopped off the train, enjoyed a warm up run from Union to Nathan Phillips Square about 10 minutes away, and arrived at the bag check to wait for my kit. The volunteers gave me 2 clear bags and allowed my to check my empty backpack in one!!!!! Everything transitioned so smooth with the arrival of my kit and bag check. Dave and I ran to our coral together, snapped a quick selfie and we were off. The last 8 hours of worry were for nothing, essentially.
Unable to eat much the morning of, I was barely out of the gate before I felt the first hunger pangs. I didn’t let the massive crowds rattle me. Because of the size of the event, staggered coral starts eased the congestion of runners in the streets. The first 10km were thrilling. You get to run through downtown Toronto in the streets with 1000’s and 1000’s of people to cheer you on. From city hall we passed Kensington Market and then ran out to the Exhibition Place and along Lake Shore. I felt loose and smooth. The next 10km took us to the turnaround and back towards the city. The sun shone full above us, the air steadily warmed, the crowds continued to cheer. I felt great with the dry warmth and knew I could keep my pace up. My feet and the road were soft. I revealed in the moment as much as possible. At the halfway point I noticed that my time was too fast to keep up and experience prevailed. I took my foot off the gas and realized I’d been ahead of the 3:30 group. Way too fast for me! But there were bands playing everywhere, friends in the crowds, so much hype and wonderful spirit, it was difficult to go slow. Running through the Beaches was a really surreal experience.
By the 35km mark I began to really feel the lack of training. My spirits stayed high and I kept pushing forward. I began to see runners who collapsed, runners at the side of the road with muscle agony, others plainly defeated and exhausted. The heat took a toll although there were plenty of hydration stations and ample points to grab gels to eat. But the excitement of the crowds pushed people hard! Runners stopped to help. Medics, volunteers, there was an amazing spirit within the race. I crossed the line at the 4:30 mark which is my typical marathon time. I wanted a sub 4 but I’ll take it. After the race there was a lot of support, bag check again was a smooth transition. I was happy to get on the Go Bus so that I could sit and reflect on the race (an added bonus to my day was that there was a direct bus option back to Hamilton where I live). With time to reflect I could see that my pre-race worry was not necessary as race wise everything had been set up perfectly. Although I typically shy away from road marathons, especially ones of this size and caliber, and generally stick to the trails, the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon provided a world class event in my backyard. I am proud to be a part of not only such an amazing race, but also one in which Canada’s fastest ever marathon time was recorded!
Dave – I decided to take on the 5k before the marathon as, well, the finish straight is so much fun, why not experience it twice in one day! The 5k started down on Lakeshore, and after I’d dropped my kit bag at the central race HQ I jumped on a shuttle bus that took me down to near there. It was a little chilly but I found an indoor area and enjoyed the dawn breaking over the city.
The race started at 8am, which meant I’d have a half hour or so to take it easy and enjoy the run and then 15 minutes to collect my new bib number, meet my team mate Adam, hand over his race pack and then make it along to the marathon start corals. Easy! The 8am start also meant that just as the gun went off, the sun rose over the trees ahead of us, it was a beautiful sight.
The route took us straight along the waterfront towards the city centre, rising up a ramp to pass the CN Tower on our left and then we veered left up Bay St to enjoy the finish straight. Everything had gone to plan, I’d finished in 26 minutes, felt fine and was eager to take on the next challenge. The fine weather encouraged the people of Toronto to come out and support the race, there really was a lot of noise and good feeling on display along the first few kms through the inner city, then sporadically at cheer points as we went out and back along the lakeshore. I started to feel weary at around the 30km mark and had some stomach issues that put paid to any hope I had of a 3.30 finish, but the crowds kept me going and I put my head down and plodded on.
I love running through the Beaches area during this race, the support there is always incredible (I’ve done this marathon 4 times now and it’s always great at the Beaches!), and the same can be said of the Greek section about 4km from the finish. There was also a surprise section just past the Flatiron building where multi coloured pennants fluttered in a crosswind and girls on stilts yelled and waved flags, it was brilliant to run through that. I was happy enough to finish in around 3:50 and having collected my 2nd medal of the day walked over to Kensington Market to my current favourite Toronto restaurant, Cosmic Treats, for a vegan sandwich…
…and a double helping of their cashew ice cream. Two medals deserves two scoops, right?!