Race Report: Toronto Challenge

The Toronto Challenge is a fundraising run that supports non-profits serving seniors in our city. It's an annual event with a 23-year history -- quite impressive!

Even more impressive is the diversity and sheer commitment of the participants, who take part in either a 5 km run, a 5 km walk or a 1 km walk. This year, the oldest walker was 104 years old, the oldest runner 83. Their dedication is inspiring!

I ran as part of team Dixon Hall - Mid-Toronto Community Services. We're an agency serving the young and the young-at-heart in the downtown core, with a catchment area that focuses primarily on St. Jamestown and Regent Park.

Taking place the day after the Binbrook duathlon, I felt pleasantly surprised that my legs were in fine form. The morning started off sunny but just before we started, the clouds started rolling in and the temperature dropped noticeably. I took off relatively close to the lead pack and quickly picked up speed to give myself a little elbow room. I maintained the pace - much faster than usual - all the way up University and across Grosvenor to Bay and then south again. After running in the humid heat and on grass and trails at Binbrook, I really appreciated the smooth pavement and cool air on this course (neither of which are a guarantee in downtown Toronto!)

I recall two very young boys, barely taller than my waist, simply flying down Bay Street. They took cups of water at an aid station, sipped a little, and then dunked them on their heads -- just like pros. I suspect we'll see more from them in the future.

At about 4 km, I looked at my watch and realized I was on track to smash my PB. I crossed the finish line at 18:31, two minutes faster than I've ever run this distance. That was good enough for 23rd place and first in my age group, both unexpected and pleasant accomplishments. I didn't even realize they awarded medals for this event, as I thought it focused on the cause.

Speaking of which, the biggest accomplishment is that the city expects that the event raised around $500,000. That will make a big difference in the lives of Toronto's seniors. Congratulations to all of the fundraisers and participants from all of the agencies.