Summer is the hottest time of year on the Toronto running scene – in every sense.
With a race just about every weekend, there are as many options as one could hope for within the city itself, as well in surrounding areas of the GTA and beyond. You can escape the inner core of Toronto by racing in the suburbs or on the trails, or you can race downtown and experience what it’s like to run on deserted streets that are typically packed with vehicles.
June 21, the first day of summer, is quickly approaching. If you’re still in the planning stage of figuring out your summer schedule, this list of eight reputable and well-organized races is a good start.
Below are our picks, in chronological order, of events within the GTA.
One of Toronto’s most beloved road races is the Pride and Remembrance Run, a 5K which takes place during Pride Month and a day before the Pride Parade. The race begins at Church and Wellesley and heads east for two loops of Queen’s Park before returning to where you started. The race, now sponsored by local retailer BlackToe Running, is offering medals to all participants this year and even has its own beer called fab! lite.
What better way to kick off Canada Day than with a road race. From the same organizers as the Chilly Half-Marathon comes a Canada Day celebration with a flat and fast out-and-back 5K in Burlington, Ont. The race is a short drive from downtown Toronto and runs along Lake Ontario during one of the nicest times of the year.
MEC offers the most affordable races of anyone in Canada and the race series comes with no frills. At just $20, the MEC Race Four (Trail) is a great introduction to off-road running in a low-key but well-organized environment. Kortright Conversation Centre provides an escape from city life just north of Toronto and the race includes a 7K and 12K on non-technical terrain.
Hosted by the Toronto Beaches Runners Club, the Beaches Jazz Run is another grassroots event that’s popular among the running community. Entry fees are on the pricier side ($55-$79 for the 5K and half-marathon) but the event is well run, there are multiple race kit pick-up locations – a must in Toronto traffic – and the course on the Martin Goodman Trail and on the Leslie Spit can’t be beaten.
The Toronto Women’s Run Series is the most popular women’s race circuit in the province, if not the country. The supportive and friendly environment is great for first timers and the event is held in the peaceful setting of Sunnybrook Park, relief from many of the city’s road races which are held on major roads. The 5K/10K on Aug. 24 is the second of three events the series hosts throughout the summer and fall.
Secluded on Toronto Island, just a minutes boat ride from the downtown core, the Longboat Island Run is a local favourite and often times a tune-up race for many runners pursuing a fall marathon. One of the best parts of the experience is riding the ferry to and from the island along with the hundreds of other runners. The course is extremely flat and a post-race BBQ is offered for all participants.
The B&O Yorkville Run, a truly premium running event, doubles as the national 5K road championships which attract the top runners to Toronto from across the country. Registration costs $125 + HST plus a $100 minimum fundraising donation for charity which is recovered from the extravagant race kit every participant receives: a duffle bag with a technical shirt, Barry’s Bootcamp class pass, a spa gift card for the St. Regis, and much more.
Hosted by Canada Running Series, the top running circuit in the country, the Oasis ZooRun features a challenging but unique course through the Toronto Zoo. Run past exotic wildlife and take on the undulating hills during the 5K and 10K on the final summer weekend of 2019.
Gearing up for a summer race? Visit Toronto’s Feet First Clinic for the latest footwear and much more.