The top running events in Toronto this spring are a bumper crop of races with routes designed to tempt novices into embracing the sport or to help seasoned vets hone their skills after a winter on the dreadmill.
Spring's batch of races brings a wide range of options; straight up races go head to head with muddy obstacle courses, Amazing Race rip-offs and notably, a US import by way of the Nike Women's Run. There's really no better way to see the city then on foot-hibernation time is over.
Here are my top picks for spring running events in Toronto.
Harry's Spring Run Off - Saturday April 4
Harry is once again organizing his 8K or 5K (or 800m for kids) race through the beautiful paved paths of High Park. Harry decks out his runners with a souvenir shirt, hat, backpack and medal. It's almost like getting a full new wardrobe...of running gear. Participants who raise more than $300 have their fees refunded, and if you bring in over $1000, you get a gift card at the eponymous shop, all in the name of fighting prostate cancer.
Lovely Spring Run - Saturday, April 11
Don your finest ear muffs and rally your friends and family to cheer you on (or run with you) for this 5K run through Ontario Place. The Lovely Spring Run benefits mental wellness with proceeds supporting CAMH. Early birds who register before April 8th score a free T. Kids can join the fun with a 1K run, the rest will slug through a brisk lakeside 5K, with a free yoga session and massages post-race.
Yonge Street 10K - Sunday, April 19
This downhill race will steer you down Yonge until your euphoric finish at Fort York at Bathurst. Part of the Canadian Running Series, the Yonge Street 10K benefits Red Door Shelter, which assists families and children. If you hustle and raise over a hunny, your entry fee is refunded. Every runner scores a shirt they'll most likely not wear again, as well as the obligatory show off medal.
Bum Run - Sunday, April 26
While their logo looks like a pair of balls running, don't let that hold you back from joining the 4th annual Bum Run. This run raises important bum awareness (colorectal cancer), which is no joke. The map for this 5K weaves around Queen's Park for a strictly downtown route. There are prizes for the winners and medals for everyone.
Spring into Action for Diabetes - Saturday, May 2
Sugar sensitive sporty types (and their supporters) are set to take over Sunnybrook Park for their 10th annual "Spring into Action!" Walk or Run for Diabetes. The 5 or 10K (or 2K for youth) chip-timed run helps to provide funding for research as well as camps for kids struggling with the disease.
Fork in the Road 5K - Saturday, May
Set your sights just a pinch above the city to the rolling hills of Uxbridge for this unconventional race. The "choose your own adventure of runs," a wrong turn means you're either running up hill or adding a few extra kms to the route. Choose wisely and you'll enjoy a lovely 5K through a former Christmas tree farm. Funds raised go to Jumpstart, and early registration gets you a free T.
Goodlife Toronto Marathon - Sunday, May 3
This marquee marathon (or half, or 5K) starts off in North York and winds itself all the way down to Ontario Place. While most of the route is downhill, the first set of hills south of York Mills are a doozy. Expect well-wishers to line Yonge street, along with necessary pitstops for water, Gatorade and well, port o potties. Start training now, this competitive race is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
Sporting Life 10K - Sunday, May 10
The second downhill 10K race of the season, this one begins near Yonge and Eglinton, turns at Richmond, and finishes at Fort York Blvd. Sponsored by New Balance, runners will score a slinky New Balance shirt and a finishing medal with an adorable kid in a canoe. Register early and score gift cards and other perks to motivate your fundraising. All proceeds go to Camp Ooch, giving kids with cancer a summer to remember.
Mud Hero - Friday, May 22 and Saturday, May 23
Shackled up Ontario Place is home to another run this spring, the 6KM Mud Hero run with over 20 muddy obstacles and a megawatt dance party after. Perhaps the club kids have moved west after the Guv finally closed? Tie your run in with a worthy and local charity, Mud Hero has chosen Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation or Camp Ooch as their go-to's. Chip-timed runners receive a medal, T and free photos.
Toronto Women's Half Marathon/5K - Sunday, May 24
The first of three running events, this GoodLife-sponsored run kicks off for either a frisky 5K or a heavy half marathon in and around Sunnybrook Park. The other two events will carry you through the summer and fall. Those running all three receive a fancy prize after completion. Money raised goes to the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO).
Rugged Maniac - Saturday, May 30
Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort in Kitchener will see thousands of 'maniacs' descend on their property for a massive mud party featuring 25 bizarre obstacles that you'll never have to encounter in your real life. The 5K course features a lengthy downhill waterslide, clambering over shipping containers and leaping through fire, so if pretending you are Jean Claude Van-Dam is your thing, this run is for you.
Color me Rad 5K - Saturday, May 30
This vibrant run was formerly hosted at Downsview Park, but so far this year they've only listed the location as Toronto, so fingers crossed this race makes a turn south and paints the town red (and blue, and green....). The 5K race is enormously successful with events all around North America. Volunteers pelt you with 'colour bombs' as you run. Wear white and leave looking like a tie-dyed hippy monstrosity.
Capital One Race for Kids - Saturday, June 6
This Amazing Race er, awesome run... themed event will take you and your designated teammates through downtown Toronto, and while it definitely is not geared towards hard core distance runners (you can opt to take TTC around this year), the 'checkpoint' puzzles add a dose of fun to the course.
Intact Insurance Furry Friends 5K - Sunday, June 7
East Enders with fuzzy friends will no doubt flock to Whitby for a frolicsome 5K around Lake Ontario. This run welcomes your dog to run alongside you (Bulldogs need not apply) or on your own if you want to feel the thrill of a small pack of (leashed) animals chasing you. Those that raise more than $200 score a free t-shirt. All money raised goes to support the Humane Society of Durham and Homeward Bound Rescue.
Nike Women's Run - Sunday, June 14
No doubt the most anticipated run of the season (at least for us gals), the Nike Women's run is set to take flight with a picturesque route through the Toronto Island's varying terrain, capturing the rugged beauty of the island with the city's growing towers as an uplifting backdrop. While it's designed for women, men can apply to join too - just bear in mind you'll be greatly outnumbered. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. The lottery for entry went live March 9th, so hopefully you had a leg up and already secured your spot.
What did I miss? Add more spring running events in the comments.
by Libby Roach via blogTO