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2017 Ontario Marathon Guide

With loads of changes to the Ontario marathon calendar, this is an update of 2015 article aimed at helping you plan your 2017 calendar.

Though Ontario has seen a rash of cancelled marathons – the Sault International, Thunder Bay’s Miles with the Giant and Huntsville’s Band on the Run – the Mudcat Marathon, MEC London, Sir Chimnoy, Conquer the Canuck, Perth’s Kilt and Cornwall’s Run to EndMS now bring the count to 31 marathons that will be staged fully or partially in 2017.

While a full list can be found in the final section, below are some considerations that may steer you toward something quick, tough, unique or full-of-bling:

 

GLOBALLY-RECOGNIZED

Ontario is host to the only three Canadian road races, two marathons and a 10K, accredited by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as significant global races:

Ottawa (May) – Ottawa is an IAAF Silver Label marathon. The race weekend also features the Gold Label Ottawa 10K.

Toronto Waterfront (October) – Canada’s lone Gold Label marathon.

 

QUICK COURSES

Toronto (May) – This spring event runs from North York to Ontario Place, just off Lake Ontario, with a net decline of 105 metres. While cooler than race held later in May, race day temperatures can exceed 15C.

Mississauga (May) – This course takes runners from the Square One Shopping Centre in downtown Mississauga to Lakefront Promenade Park with a net elevation drop of 77 metres. Staged the same day, temperatures are cooler than later events in Whitby and Ottawa but can still be higher-than-ideal.

Hamilton (November) – This course declines 125 metres, starting on the Niagara Escarpment and finishing in Centennial Park, again off the shore of Lake Ontario. Along with this decline comes ideal temperatures, with a typical race day high of around 5C. This is Canada’s leading Boston qualifier most years per MarathonGuide.com.

 

TOUGH COURSES

Northface Ontario (July) – Taking place at the Blue Mountains near Collingwood, this course has a total elevation change of 2,618 metres. In July!

EndurRun Marathon Stage (August) – This summer race gives you an option of running a standalone 42.2K, 78K over three stages or 160K over seven stages.

For those of you who want to go beyond 42.2 km, ultramarathons take place throughout Ontario regularly with distances up to 200 km (Sulphur Springs) or all-you-can run in 48 hours (Dirty Girls).

 

RUNNING ACROSS ONTARIO’S BORDERS

Ottawa (May) – Starting and ending in downtown Ottawa, the portion from 19K to 26K is run in Gatineau, Quebec.

Detroit (October) – The course features a beautiful early southbound sunrise run across the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor and an underwater mile return to Michigan via the tunnel later in the first half.

Niagara International (October) – This race starts at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in downtown Buffalo and enters Canada via the Peace Bridge, finishing in the shadow of the Canadian Falls.

 

COOL MEDALS

Detroit (October)  Its automobile designs are often rated very high in the now-defunct Marathon & Beyond’s annual medal ratings.

Huge Toronto (October) medals are now the size of a dinner plate.

Below is a picture of the medals I have collected in running 11 unique Ontario marathons:

IMG_1918

 

VALUE

Sudbury Rocks (May) – When I ran this Marathon in 2010, it was in the $40-$45 range but what stuck with me was the race charity proceeds were higher than the sum of entry fees.

Whitby (May) – $40 to enter if done within the prior August.

MEC London (May) – $25!

EndurRun (August) – In the $35 range at early entry.

MEC Toronto (September) – $25.

MEC Ottawa (October) – $25.

 

EXPO AND RACE BLING

Mississauga (May) often has a large offering of bib bag and expo freebies, including practical items for the suburban homeowner, here is my score from 2015:

IMG_1933

Friendly Massey (July) age-group winners receive hand-carved bar stools. With a small field, all are in contention.

EndurRun (August) – This race gives a great spread of food and a variety of unique items. If one upgrades to the seven-day event, a custom finisher’s shirt with your finishing time is printed while the runner socializes at the Conestogo Community Park with the other finishers.

 

MY FAVES

Though only partially run in Ontario, Detroit (October) is my favourite large marathon. You can’t beat the start with loud tunes and bright lights in the pitch black; watching the sunrise come over the Ambassador Bridge; the fans in Windsor jammed into a few kilometres all holding their Tim Hortons’ cups; the Underwater Mile; a tour to Belle Island and a downtown finish.

EndurRun (August) is my favourite community Ontario marathon. You are a member of the family at this one. Well organized by runners and an event where you are treated as an elite athlete.

 

DATE and LOCATION

Picking a date that works ideally for training and a nearby event for which you can train on the course can be desirable as well. So here is a list of unofficial next race dates:

1-6 Run4RKids (Toronto Indoor)

2-12 Thunderwolves Indoor (Thunder Bay)

2-19 Winterman (Ottawa)

4-29 Run to EndMS Marathon (Cornwall)

4-30 Waterloo

5-7 Toronto

5-7 Mississauga

5-13 Mudcat (Dunnville)

5-14 Sudbury Rocks

5-21 Whitby

5-27 MEC London

5-28 Ottawa

6-3 South Coast (Simcoe)

6-11 Conquer the Canuck (Cambridge)

6-17 Niagara Ultra

6-25 Perth’s Kilt Marathon

7-1 Sir Chimnoy (Ottawa)

7-15 Northface (Blue Mountains)

7-16 Friendly Massey

8-13 EndurRun (Conestogo)

9-10 MEC Toronto

9-16 That Dam Hill (London)

9-24 Kitchissippi Run (Laurentian Hills)

10-1 The County (Wellington to Picton)

10-8 Ottawa Fall Colours

10-15 Detroit

10-15 Toronto Waterfront

10-29 Niagara Falls

10-29 Haunted Hustle (Temiskaming Shores)

10-29 MEC Ottawa

11-5 Hamilton
Thanks to Marathon & Beyond Magazine, MarathonGuide.com, FindMyMarathon.com, RoadRaceResults.com and these great events for making me aware of what is out there during my years of running. Enjoy.

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