How Toronto can become a more ‘welcoming place’ for runners – and their tourism dollars


Photo by Patrick Leung – the Ghost Race

Back in May 2017 I was invited to speak at City Hall sharing my perspective on Running Tourism in the City of Toronto. I had previously written for iRun magazine on Running Tourism, researching both the monetary benefits and social benefits for communities including Toronto, NYC, Ottawa, and Vancouver. So my perspective has came from that of a marathon runner in other countries, the research I complied for iRun, and my experiences as a leader in the Toronto run community. I was happy to share what I thought the city could do to support this sport and it’s athletes from near and afar and I was happy to continue the conversation in early 2018 as part of the working group establishing recommendations for the city council’s economic development committee. Some thoughts on that initial conversation were shared here by CBC.

On April 14th, the report that had been developed through the established working group of City Councillors, City employees, and community stake holders was released and the city council’s economic development committee voted to take a closer look at our recommendations.

Some recommendations from the working group included ideas like opening public transit earlier, having various City teams communicate more clearly and easily with race directors, and some welcoming and inviting tasks like displaying race promotional material on bus shelters, street banners, and even at the air port, as many Marathon Majors do welcoming athletes to the city and celebrating the event.

We highlight the financial benefit to the city, including a comparison of Toronto’s two marathons (and yes, only have one major race was brought up) to Marathon Majors including NYC ($36 Million CAD of $415 Million USD).

CBC did a follow up interview which I supported. You can check it out here.

As the city council’s economic development committee will be taking a closer look at these recommendations I am glad the the conversation continues and look forward to Toronto continuing to grow as an epic place to race and live.


Race Report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon:

On Sunday October 20th I ran my fourth Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. Because of where it occurs in my training schedule it is a race that I have always used for pacing and this year was no different – sort of.

What was different is that since May I have been training with a new team, the RUNWAY,  and so my race strategy was a little more specific then it has been in previous years. With the goal of a personal best at this weekends Road to Hope Marathon, I was under specific directions to run my full marathonrace pace during this half marathon – no faster, no slower – and this was hard – not physically hard, mentally hard.

My plan was simple, stick to a 5:30 pace and keep my walk breaks (which were every 20min -ish) to 30 seconds and come in at 2 hours – no faster, no slower. I came in at 2:00:59.

What was hard about this race was the mental game. I knew I could run faster – but the goal of this B race was to set myself up for success this weekend, for my A race.


The Tribe

So with this Mental Challenge in mind, here are 3 tips for overcoming the mental game while pacing at a race.

1. Have a Solid Understanding of Your Goal aka Run Your Own Race. I was mentally challenged for almost the entire race knowing I could run faster but shouldn’t. But because I knew the importance of keeping this pace I didn’t and no matter how frustrating it was – especially when all, yes all, of my friends ran personal bests, I held back and focused on my goal – slow and steady. So the lesson, don’t be worried if you see a lot of people passing you, run your own race!

2. Start Slow. My previous plan was to just go! I would get caught up in the energy and excitement and even after 6 years of racing and 4 marathons, I would always burst out to fast. But not this time! I used my Nike + SportWatch and kept pulling back and slowing down to 5:30, because that was the plan. So the lesson, listen to your body but take it slow. Remember the goal is to race the entire run, not just the first 2km. So take it slow, and know your body with thank you during the last few kms.

Now I ended up running this race with my friend Jenna, it wasn’t the plan but my pace worked for her race speed (gave her a PB) and the company was nice. So pretty much I broke this last rule, but will definitely be sticking with it this weekend.


Jenna and I, the Faster Dynamic Duo

3. Don’t Get Caught in the Hype. I like to chat, love saying thanks, and enjoy jumping and dancing around on course celebrating my run. When your race is for fun it’s great to get into the groove of the event, when you have a specific goal in mind, that’s where your energy needs to go. So the lesson, stay as calm as possible, resist the urge to high five spectators, bottom line is conserve your energy for the race. My exception – always find time to give thanks.


The Finish Line