Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival 20k: 29th July


What’s a holiday if you can’t sneak a few runs and ideally a race in there? So, when I booked up to go to Toronto with Louise & the boys I found this race on the net beforehand and entered. It was only 8 days after my ill-fated attempt at the Clydestride Ultra but I was always only taking this on as a training run.

I had already ran in Toronto twice in the 2006 & 2008 marathons. Both times I had come up short of what I wanted to achieve and it was nice to be doing a run for the sake of a run without any expectations or targets. I just wanted to enjoy myself. This event is a ‘tune up’ according to organisers (pun likely intended) and is set as a particular training run for the Scotiabank Marathon in September.

On the day it was scorching, as is Toronto’s want in July. With temperatures nudging mid-20s by the start time, this pasty Scot was already working out a hydration strategy. It was to drink well and plenty.

The race itself is pretty flat, as you can see from the elevation picture above. It is broadly out and back with a few wee twists and turns. It starts in the beaches district on the boardwalk, weaves past Woodbine Park and out to the Port Lands, pretty much heading west towards Downtown. Then, you double back and head out into what feels like an industrial causeway towards Tommy Thompson park. After a few km in this direction it is then about turn and straight back to whence you came, along the boardwalk and over the start line which doubles as the finish.

The curious thing about this race is it is not timed or chipped and no results are recorded. I have no idea of knowing how I did except to know I started near the front and few people overtook me. At the end a chap suggested I had finished in the top 20 or 30. That really surprised me as my time of 1:31.04 is not exactly spectacular and is about 10 mins quicker than I could do for the distance. Then I remembered two key facts:

  1. It was boiling hot by the end
  2. The race was a tune-up for the marathon

In respect to the 2nd point, the race had pacemakers who wore marathon times (e.g. 3 hours) and the runners generally ran marathon pace, which meant I had ran just over 3 hour pace in their eyes. I am nowhere near that standard over 42km!

At the end a couple of friendly Ontarian chaps got to asking me about what marathon I was doing. I explained I was only in the race for the craic. They seemed perplexed. Strange, eh?

The event was very well organised and well marshalled. Plenty water on route, but little in the way of support. The course was a bit droll. The beach on Lake Ontario made for a fine backdrop but there were a couple of sections that were concrete and bushes and inspiration was hard to find in these sections.

The goody back at the end included a Fedora (yes, a hat) given by the Jazz Festival organisers and in one of the most curious collections I have done after a race. My oldest son Euan is sporting it in this picture at the top. Runners were given a Scotiabank drawstring bag and allowed to fill their bag themselves from stalls which included bread, chocolate, running sweets, powerade and fruit. It was pretty cool and being an early finisher, I had a pretty full bag.

Garmin file for the race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/204544095

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