The fast and fun Toronto Marathon set for another epic event

There is just one that offers participants a comprehensive tour of the inner workings of Canada’s largest city and that’s the Toronto Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, May 7. The race offers a full and fast marathon but also a half-marathon, 5km, and 10km options.

The Toronto Marathon is an exciting and challenging event for runners of all skill levels. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a first-time marathoner, the Toronto Marathon offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

The race is beloved, in part, because of its fast downhill course that winds its way through the heart of Toronto, taking runners past some of the city's most iconic landmarks and neighborhoods. From the bustling streets of downtown to the tranquil beauty of the city’s many charming pockets, it is the perfect way to explore the city and push your limits. And, entertainment is provided at select locations along the course to help keep runners motivated and get them to the finish line.

The race record for the men’s competition dates back to 2000 when Moroccan runner Damaoui El Mostafa finished in 2:15:17. The women’s mark was set in 2004 by Olga Kovpotina of Ukraine in a time of 2:31:47.3.

Since 1977, this legendary race has made it a mission to offer an incredible running experience. And, it’s what keeps participants coming back year after year. Runners like Collingwood, ON resident Nick Brindisi, who ran his first Toronto Marathon in 1988.

“What I like about the race itself is the fact that it’s the one that truly gives the participant a tour of the city. You get everything from North York to Casa Loma, the Rosedale Valley, St. Lawrence Market, the downtown, the waterfront, and CNE to mention a few,” Brindisi says. “Couple the sightseeing with a course that has more downhill than up and you have the potential for a fast time.”

Race director Jay Glassman took over the race back in 1995 and has successfully guided it through a series of changes such as having to relocate from the original Queens Park finishing area, as well as being forced to move the event date from the fall to the spring. And, in so doing, he’s had to get creative and really push the boundaries of race directing to include some groundbreaking initiatives including his now internationally renowned psyching team.

The program was initiated 17 years ago by the late Dr. Kate Hays and has since grown to a team of 30-35 sports psychologists who work with runners to get them to the finish line.

“We call it ‘mind over marathon,’” says Glassman. “With people hitting the wall sometimes it’s physical but sometimes it’s mental. Our psyching team can help give you some of the tools to visualize and help you reach your goals.”

Although it took a while for the concept to take hold, Glassman says runners now seek out the psyching team members whether at the race expo, before the race begins, or during the race to help them meet their goals.

Glassman and the Toronto Marathon seem to make a habit of putting the needs of race participants at the forefront of everything they do.

Sue Wheelband, who lives about an hour north of the city, has been at the Toronto Marathon twice, once as a participant and once in the cheering section at the bottom of Hogg’s Hollow hill near the start of the race.

“There is super on-route support and cheering,” she says. “And it’s downhill most of the way so it can be a fast course. It’s a nice time of year to train and run a half.”

When it was time to partner with a charity, they chose the Princess Margaret Hospital (now the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation) and established the first third-party event fundraiser for the hospital, because as Glassman says everyone has been touched by cancer. The arrangement was a first for the hospital and is now commonplace for events in the city.

At the finish line, participants are not greeted with a handful of massage tables and RMTs with huge lineups.

According to Brindisi, the race medals are epic. That’s just one of many reasons why he recommends the race.

“The race is so well organized and the volunteers are second to none. They really do a great job of ensuring everyone is hydrated and safe and they cheer like crazy,” he says. “The race features the most giant medal of any race I’ve been in including 100-mile ultra trail races. If one is a hardware junkie this race will not disappoint!”

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