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Sardines in a sardine can ~ Sporting Life 10K May 13, 2012

Sporting Life 10K May 13, 2012 

    I’ve had a difficult time settling on the tone of this race report. I’d like to be as positive as I can, but I’d like to be as honest as I can too.  Sunday, Mother ‘s day, I ran the Sporting Life10K. Upon completing the distance I had mixed feelings about the race. I’ll start by sharing some of the race particulars.

The 10K route winds its way down Yonge St. It’s a very fast downhill course.  Runners  begin their journey by marshalling themselves into clearly marked start corrals. The starters’ pistol/horn sends out the fastest of the fast at 8am. The remaining corrals follow suite according to the expected finish time. “K” markers line the route, and two aid stations, offering water and or a sport drink are located at approximately the three and five “K” markers.  Runners cross a timing mat at the 5K marker, and then proceed to run the remaining distance to the finish line. Finishers are guided into the race pavilion to receive their medallion, post-race nourishment and to be entertained by live musicians.  Race sponsors have their own tents, peddling their wares.

    For runners who parked near the start line, race organizers ordered shuttles to take them back. Similarly, for those who in the morning parked near the finish line, shuttles to the start line were offered as well. The cost of five bucks was well worth it.  As with most established races, a bag check was made available.

    Early Sunday morning I decided to park at Ontario Place (it was free), and paid my five spot to take a shuttle up to the start line.  It was drizzling rain throughout the early hours making the roads slick – not the best for racing, but the weather isn’t something you can hold the race organizers accountable for.  Upon arriving to the start, I manoeuvred my way to my designated start corral ~ blue.  One coral behind the fastest group.  All I can say is that I have never seen so many runners jammed into such a small location.  Sardines in a sardine can is the best way to describe it.  Over twenty-two thousand runners registered for this event, and if you’re claustrophobic, this race is not for you.  As you cross the starting mat, you’re on a 10K journey of nothing more than a game of avoidance, unless of course you’re fortunate enough to be out front.  Elbows, and ankles, sidewalks, curbs, pedestrians crossing at inopportune times all made the 10K stressful.   I was forced to speed up, and slow down throughout the majority of the course. Pace? What pace?  The aid stations were a mess. Fluids and cups flying all over the place.  Cups on the surface adding to the already slick conditions.  Organizers could barely keep up with the delivery or the clean up.  With a distance of 10K, there just isn’t enough time or race distance for the mass of runners to thin out.  Add the narrow confines of Toronto’s downtown streets and you have a recipe for a potential disaster.  I’m not even sure one can argue that the event can be run for a simple good time.  I attended the event with a few friends.  It was their company that made the morning enjoyable.  Over the course of the event, I did spot a few fellow Team Running Free (TRF) runners, however, unlike other venues such as this year’s Chilly ½ in Burlington, TRF, in my opinion, was not well represented.  Perhaps the majority of our runners knew something I didn’t?

Next year I’m going to attend the Toronto Yonge St 10K. It’s part of the Canada Running Series. It’s participation numbers are capped at fifteen thousand.  Will lower numbers (if you call 15,000 lower) make a difference?  There’s only one way to find out.


Avid outdoorsman. Live in small rural community with many opportunities to get outside! Running is my passion, but do frequently get out on my bike, and while up north at the cottage, get my share of swimming in. Look forward to a great 2012 season, and am looking for interested individuals to compete in Adventure racing.

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One comment

  • I was very disappointed that no finish times were posted. It’s fun to see how you did personally and others while still in the after-glow of a race. The finish area lacked organization. Compare the excellent signs at the Harry’s Spring Runoff. The awards ceremony was late. I agree there were just too many people. On the positive side, I felt the route was well-marked and marshalled. I hope Sporting Life invites a public discussion on ways to improve the race. For now, the only reason I would repeat the race is to support the camp for children with cancer, not because I enjoyed the race.

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