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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The top 10 running events in Toronto for summer 2014

running in torontoRunning events this summer in Toronto are about to clog not only your Facebook feed with brag worthy personal bests but also laments about Toronto's already congested and closed roads. From marathons to 5ks and everything in between, there's no excuse not to pound the pavement this year. Need a new pair of sneaks? There's a new store for that or check out our list of the top stores to buy running shoes in the city.

Here are my picks for the top running events in Toronto for summer 2014.

Pride and Remembrance Run, Saturday June 28

Celebrate World Pride Day with a spin around the gaybourhood. Starting at Church and Wellsely, this quick 5k run or 3K walk will sure to be the most colourful. This event is in its 19th year, with rotating beneficiaries all supporting the LGBT community.

The Beaches Jazz Tune-Up Run and Walk, Sunday July 27

Help Toronto East General Hospital all while helping yourself train for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. This 'official tune up' training run for the marathon includes 20, 10 or 5K runs around the Martin Goodman Trail.

A Midsummer Night's Run, Saturday August 16

This aptly named race kicks off near Cherry Beach at sunset. With varying lengths of distance (30, 15 or 5k) to test and torment you, this Shakespearean themed run has teamed up with Sick Kids to collect donations for their Rheumatology division. Dress in your best fairy costume for a chance to win prizes.

Toronto Women's Runs Series 2, Saturday August 23

The second run of three, this 5-10K run sponsored by GoodLife should get you in perfect pitch for the last event, on October 25. This female driven run includes cheeky posters of Ryan Gosling rooting you on, and firefighters on site working the hose to soak any woman who looks they're in sudden danger of overheating. From Sunnybrook Park to Taylor Creek Park.

Night Race Toronto, Saturday September 6

If you dig glow sticks this event has got you covered with mandatory LED headlights that will turn Sunnybrook Park into a mini disco ball. Starting off at dusk, choose between 5k or 10k, or 1K for the kids.

B&O Yorkville 5K, Sunday September 7

Swanky runners slimming down for TIFF should definitely plan on fitting in this 5K between premieres. Dubbed Toronto's Premier Boutique Race and Canada's fastest 5K run not to mention prizes from marquee sponsors like Hermes, Louis Vuitton and B&O, this glitzy red carpet 5K through the streets of Yorkville promises a post-race party with Hors D'oeuvres from the area's finest restaurants.

Toronto Island Run, Sunday September 7

The Longboat Roadrunners puts on this highly anticipated island run, with lengths of 10K or 5K, including a kids 1K. Dubbed Toronto's oldest 10K race, the 34th annual Toronto Longboat Island Run benefits start2finish.

Downsview 5K, Saturday September 13

Explore Canada's first urban park in this fast 5K around Downsview's surreal landscape. Airplane runways, train tracks, man-made lakes, and fabricated hilly mounds make for an unusual backdrop for this race, but take solace; the charity dosh is going to another urban development, Humber River Hospital. All finishers score an aviation themed medal, and there's a kids race too.

Terry Fox Run, Sunday September 14

If you only run one running event this summer, this should be the one. Terry Fox is Canada's hero, and his legacy continues to be far reaching into its 34th year. With an astonishing 84 cents on the dollar all going directly to cancer research, Terry Fox has runs across the country (and world), all with no minimum donation required. Arrive early for uplifting speeches from cancer survivors and join this Canadian icon on his personal (and final) mission to cure cancer.

Oasis Zoo Run, Saturday September 20

Channel your inner tiger and race around the hilly Toronto Zoo grounds for this 10K or 5K run/walk. Part of the Canadian Running Series, elite athletes will be competing for some serious bananas; while the rest of us will be cursing the zoomobile lapping us around the Canadian domain. Kids can run in the 500m dash past giraffes and zebras and score a zoo themed medal just for playing.


Ready, Set DIE!, Saturday May 31

Toronto's hungry for brains, and charity based zombie runs proved so insanely popular that last year's Zombie run has been given a new name, benefiting Heart and Stroke Foundation. Toronto will host the first (out of 6 provincial runs) at Polson Pier- Alpha Obstacle Training. While technically more of a run than a race, this 5K team based obstacle course pits you zombie (or survivor) against each other-zombies are decked out by professional makeup artists while survivors work hard to keep their free T's blood free.

Capital One Race for Kids, Saturday May 31

Starting at Nathan Phillips Square, this run is more like an 'Amazing Race' reality show where teams must work together to solve clues and move to the next checkpoint all in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toronto.

A Campaign of Hope, Saturday May 31

This charitable run is in its 10th year, supporting Youth Life International Relief with a 10-5-1K walk/run around High Park. All participants score a one size fits none XL 'A Campaign of Hope T-shirt'.

Relay for Life, multiple June dates

Relay for Life benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society takes part all across Toronto (and cities throughout Canada). Teams of up to 15 gather at a local closed track to walk for 12 hours showing support to cancer survivors and raising money in an effort to find a cure. Team members can nip off to have a rest in a makeshift decorated tent city, listen to tunes and eat while taking turns around the track.

Toronto Challenge, Sunday June 8

Starting (and finishing) at City Hall and put on by the City of Toronto, this urban 5 or 1K run/walk stretches up to Queens Park with a single lane marshalled loop. Prizes and commemorative t-shirts are up for grabs as you support Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services.

Unionville Festival Funky 5K, Sunday June 8

Don your best disco duds on the VIVA bus up to sunny Unionville for the Funky 5K benefiting Markham Stouffville Hospital. As part of the Unionville Festival, this 5K chipped run or 2K walk will take you around this historic town including the smug Toogood Pond.

Scotiabank Rat Race for United Way, Thursday June 12

Rat inspired costumes score front of the starting line for this vermin themed race through the downtown corridor. This evening 5K fun run is testing out a new route this year, starting at Nathan Phillips and finishing on University.

Thyroid Cancer Run/Walk, Saturday June 14

Take a stroll through lovely High Park while raising funds for Thyroid Cancer. Starting at 10 am, runners can pump it up with a 5-10K run walk in and around the park grounds. Last year thyroid cancer survivor Olivia Chow took to the mic to speak openly about the disease, so keep your eyes peeled for at least one mayoral candidate.

Spring Fling Race, Sunday June 15

This 10 or 5K (and 1K kids' race) jaunt through Sunnybrook Park on Father's Day benefits the YMCA, enabling at risk youth in Toronto to score memberships to their local Y. Dad's score extra goodies apres-race, while everyone will feel good about a medal for just finishing.


Run & Hike for Huntington Disease, Sunday June 22

Join local do-gooder's at the 6th annual Run & Hike for Huntington Disease. Starting off in Wilket Creek Park, near Sunnybrook, this 10k run, 5k run, or 5k hike (walk) will stretch your legs through some challenging hills, all while contributing to a better lifestyle for the 50,000 HD Canadians that are affected by this crippling disease.

Journey to Conquer Cancer, Sunday June 22

Fans of Princess Margaret Hospital come out in droves to support the hospitals research lab, programs and patient care. This family friendly run/walk has lengths of 5, 3, or 1 K routes in and around Princess Margaret Hospital.

Hipster Run, Thursday June 26

This under the radar event is organized by the Black Toe Running at Trinity Bellwoods Park at 7:30pm. The route is about 5K long, with random obstacles like beer pong, slack-lining, and toe painting thrown in for good fun. While technically a free run, donations are suggested and will be collected for Autism Ontario.

Dawn at the Don, Sunday July 13

This early morning run is a family favourite, with special Kids Kanter and Sprout Sprint races that'll make you wish you were still three apples high. Adults on the other hand will find the 8K or 5K routes invigorating (right?) through beautiful Sunnybrook Park.

Sunset Shuffle, Thursday August 21

Another evening run, this 6K race starts at Ward's Island and weaves around the picturesque landscape of the island, wrapping up at the clubhouse for a post-race party. Only 225 runners are allowed to compete at this one, so sign up quick.

Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women's Cancers, September 6-7

The pinnacle of running events isn't even a run at all, this grueling 60km walk broken up over two days begins at the Rogers Centre and weaves through downtown Toronto with pink pit stops throughout. Bring it back to the Dome for an all-star sleepover party before you wake up to do it all over again.

The Slime Run, Saturday September 6

Reminiscent of my wasted youth Saturday mornings watching You Can't Do That On Television, the Slime Run will give you a good dose of nostalgia as well as the difficult task of negotiating through slippery green slime for 5K around Petticoat Creek Conservation Area in Pickering. Edible and hypoallergenic are comforting notions, but you'll be elated as you slosh through it knowing that you're aiding people who are suffering from Lyme disease.

The Toronto 5K, Saturday September 13

Presented by the Running Room, in support of Sick Kids Hospital, the Toronto 5K kicks off at Sir Winston Churchill Park for a swift 5K around the picturesque Wychwood Park hood. This feel good event includes free T's and medals for all finishers and prizes for the top bananas.

RBC Run for the Kids, Saturday September 20

Only in its second year, the RBC run for the Kids features 5K, 15K and 25K lengths, so if you're prepping for the upcoming GoodLife marathon, this race should help you get a leg up on your training. With proceeds going to help mental health for youngsters, you can feel good about fundraising all while covertly collecting some sweet prizes. Start and finish is up at Mel Lastman Square, so expect some rolling green spaces mixed with new condo builds as an assorted backdrop for your run.

Island Girl, Sunday September 21

If running in a bra made out of coconuts sounds like your idea of a good time, then this female only race is for you. With either half marathon or 5K runs around the island, this race includes a post party wrap up with grass skirts, steel drums and probably longing stares from the occasional male gawker.

What did I miss? Plug your favourite summer running events in the comments below.

Thanks to Pure Leaf for sponsoring our summer adventures. For more things to do this summer, check out our Best of Summer page.

Photo by PLTAM in the blogTO Flickr pool

by Libby Roach via blogTO

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