Running Toronto

2013 running events in Toronto

Running events in Toronto are about to hit full stride. Perhaps you've been training all winter in snow and slush in preparation for another great racing season. Or maybe the first signs of spring have motivated you to lace up and tackle your first 5k. Toronto's long roster of running events is sure to include something for pretty much everyone, with a wide range of distances, locations, and charitable causes between April and November.

Below is a list of top picks for Toronto running events in 2013 as well as a long list of additional races and fun runs to keep you moving all year long. Be sure to sign up early, as prices increase closer to race day, and many races sell out fast.

Top Picks

May 5: Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5km
This race pegs itself as a "downhill, fast and scenic" Boston Marathon qualifier, and the website boasts that over half of the 2012 participants achieved a PR. My friends and I have found the marathon and half-marathon routes to be fast and scenic as promised, starting in North York, and passing through Rosedale Valley, the Distillery District, St Lawrence Market, and then looping out and back along the Lakeshore to end at Ontario Place. The 5km route sticks to the lakeshore, starting and ending at Ontario Place. The incredibly large marathon medals may be a bit over the top, but after training through winter in Toronto, you've earned it. Price: $50-$100 (increases April 1)

May 12: Sporting Life 10km run/walk
If you feel like everyone you know is running this race, you're right. Don't be left out! This huge event--with registration capped at 27,000 runners--is in support of Camp Oochigeas, a camp for children with cancer or affected by childhood cancer. The run bills itself as Canada's premier running event that delivers the largest net proceeds to charity. It follows the same route as the Toronto Yonge Street 10km in April, but it is a good choice for runners looking for warmer temperatures and a large, festive, and charity-focused event. However, serious runners looking to PR may find the large crowds to be a bit cumbersome. Price: $45 (increases April 1)

June 29: Pride and Remembrance Run 5km run and 3km walk
As one of the largest fundraising events during Pride Week, the Pride and Remembrance Run raises money for selected charities that support the LGBTQ community. This year's race hopes to raise $100,000 for the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, Planned Parenthood Toronto, and the Pride and Remembrance Foundation. The run starts and ends at Church and Wellesley, looping around Queen's Park, and promises to attract over 1,000 participants, including celebs and political leaders. The race has gotten positive reviews in previous years for a great atmosphere, yummy food at the finish line, and a fun post-race party. Price: $35

August 17: A Midsummer Night's Run 30km run, 15km run/walk, and 5km run
This enchanted evening of running starts at 5:30pm and, to quote Shakespeare, it promises to be as "...swift as a shadow, short as any dream..." The event takes place along the eastern beaches and waterfront, offering a flat, fast, and scenic course (and, in previous years, a BBQ and beer tent to reward runners at the end). Race organizers play up the mystical, Shakespearean theme, encouraging runners to "flutter your wings and wave your wands" and run in costume. Proceeds go toward the SickKids Foundation. Price: $40-$55 (increases April 1)

September 15: Terry Fox Run
It's hard to find a reason to not participate in the Terry Fox Run, with multiple locations across the city, multiple distances, no minimum donation or entry fee, and an inclusive, family-friendly environment. In my experience, this event has great volunteer support and welcomes participants of all ages and abilities. Runs are usually 5km or 10km, but check what is offered at your nearest race location. The Terry Fox Foundation supports cancer research. Price: no entry fee or minimum donation

October 20: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5km
If you're looking for something to motivate you to run all year long, this could be it. For many Torontonians, all of their training and racing throughout the spring and summer lead up to this goal race, advertised as flat, fast and festive. Runners may find the route a bit dull, with its out-and-back loop along the lakeshore, but to keep it interesting, there are plenty of participants, cheering crowds, and the most on-course entertainment of any Canadian marathon. Plus, organizers have changed the eastern portion of the marathon route to increase the number of spectators heading into the last 10km, when cheering supporters make all the difference for weary runners. Price: $45-$90

Additional 2013 Running Events

April 6: Harry's Spring Run-Off 8km, 5km and children's run
Kick off the racing season with this run through High Park to fight prostate cancer. The popular race is capped at 2400 participants for the 8km and 2000 for the 5km, and it is nearly sold out. Be sure to look sharp--the 'best dressed' runner will win a $100 gift card to sponsoring retailer, Harry Rosen. Price: $50

April 6: Beaches Spring Sprint 5km run/walk and 2km kids' run
Put on by the Beaches Recreation Centre Advisory Council, it is the 26th anniversary for this boardwalk run/walk. Available details are sparse, so contact the Beaches Recreation Centre for registration info.

April 13: Spring into Action Physiotherapy 5 km run/walk/wheel
This race through High Park is in support of the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada. There is also 3-person team entry option for the price of $90/team. You get a free t-shirt if you register before March 29th. Price: $35

April 21: CBI Hustle for Hunger 5km run/walk
It's the fifth year for this run through High Park, with 100% of fees donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank. The family-friendly event offers face painting and balloons for kids, and welcomes seniors and four-legged friends (on leashes). Price: $35 or $20 per team member

April 21: Toronto Yonge Street 10 km run/walk
This is the first of Toronto's spring 10km races down Yonge Street, starting just north of Eglinton and then weaving down to end at Bathurst and Fort York. The course is downhill and fast, and I found the smaller crowds made for an even speedier run compared to the Sporting Life 10km, which runs along the same route in May. For this and all downhill races, be sure to train appropriately--pounding down Yonge Street can be hard on the knees! Price: $50

April 28: Game of Life 10km and 5km run/walk
Weaving through Ashbridges Bay Park and Woodbine Beach, proceeds from this race go toward the Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC)'s grassroots sport programs in Africa and the Caribbean. Price: $35-$45 (increases March 29)

April 28: Cadillac Fairview 5km run/walk
In support of the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, the goal of this year's race is to raise over $250,000 with more than 800 participants. Taking place in Sunnybrook Park, the event is intended to be accessible to all individuals and families, and it offers a post-run lunch compliments of Oliver and Bonacini. Price: $40 or $75 for a family of four

April 28: CMCC Backs in Motion 10 km run and 5km run/walk
Put on by the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, it's the 30th anniversary of this race in support of chiropractic education, research and patient care. The race starts and finishes at CMCC, near Leslie Street and Steeles Avenue East. Participants can take advantage of pre- and post-race care provided by CMCC's chiropractic interns. Price: $30-$40 (reduced rates for CMCC students and kids)

May 11: Leaside Spring into Action! For Diabetes 10km, 5km, and 2km
This run, walk, or cycle through Wilket Creek Park promises to be a "fun, family event based on exercise and awareness." Proceeds go toward the York University Diabetes Sports Camp and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Your registration fee includes a breakfast, a yoga warm-up, and a post-race BBQ with live music. Price: $35, or $60 for a family of four

May 25: Oasis Spring 8km and 4km run/walk
This run along the West Toronto Rail Path is in support of the Oasis Dufferin Community Centre, which provides emergency food relief, counseling and leadership development to the community. The top three finishers in each race will win free entry into the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon or Half-Marathon. Price: $25-$40

May 26: Walk of Life 5km run and 5km, 3km, and 1km walk
In support of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, this race through the Evergreen Brick Works hopes to raise $500,000 this year. New for 2013 is a post-walk celebration with 15 gourmet food trucks and vendors from the Toronto Underground Market. The event also offers a free breakfast, parking, TTC shuttle services, kids' activities, and live entertainment. Price: $35

May 26: Toronto Women's Half Marathon and 5km
This is the first race of the Women's Run Series, where "women set the pace" in a welcoming and fun atmosphere. To appeal to the ladies, the Sunnybrook Park route includes a firefighter's water station and a chocolate station. A portion of the proceeds supports the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. Price: $55- $95

June 1: Campaign of Hope 5km run/walk
Proceeds from this run through High Park go toward the Youth Life International Relief, and there are reduced rates for team entries. Free t-shirts are offered to participants who raise over $100. Price: $20 (increases April 1)

June 2: Freedom to Move for Dystonia 5km run/walk
It's the 7th anniversary of this High Park event, in support of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Canada. Price: $20

June 9: Toronto Challenge 5km run/walk and 1km walk
This family event raises funds for non-profit organizations and community programs that support seniors' independent living and quality of life. The downtown route starts and finishes on Wellington Street, heading north up University to Wellesley, and back down Yonge--an uphill start with a nice downhill finish. Price: $20 or $40 for a family of four

June 13: Scotiabank Rat Race for United Way 5km
More details are coming in April for this Thursday evening race through the financial district, but start thinking about your rat-themed costume. This year promises a new route, a new registration and fundraising system, and technical tees. Price: TBA

June 16: Safeway Father's Day 5km Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer
Why not celebrate Father's Day by running or walking through Ashbridge's Bay Park to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Canada? The event offers free Green P parking, kids' face painting, snacks, and burgers. Price: $35

June 22: Lions Port Union Waterfront Run 10km run and 5km run/walk
This Scarborough run is part of the Port Union Waterfront Festival, and raises funds for various community needs. Price: $20-$25

June 23: Run for Huntington Disease 10km and 5km run, and 5km hike
The goal of this event is to raise $60,000 in support of the Huntington Society of Canada. Last year this wheelchair-accessible run/walk in Wilket Creek Park became the largest event supporting the organization. Price: $29-$39

July 14: Dawn at the Don 8km run and 5km run/walk
This family-friendly run in Sunnybrook Park is set amidst parkland and forest scenery along the Don River. For future running stars in training, Dawn at the Don includes a 300m Sprout Sprint for kids 5 and under, and a 1km Kids' Kanter for 6- to 12-year-olds. Price: $30-$35

July 28: Beaches International Jazz Fest Tune-up 20km, 10km, and 5km run
This race bills itself as a group training run for up to 500 participants, and an official 'tune-up run' for the October Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon. The race starts and ends at Kew Gardens, heading west along the Martin Goodman Trail. I enjoyed this race last year for offering a longer distance course with a casual atmosphere, as you run (without chip timing) along the boardwalk and are rewarded with live jazz at the end. A great way to enjoy a summer's day at the beach. Price: $30

August 11: Toronto 10-miler and 5km
Many race details, such as the course and fees, are still to be announced, but I've heard that previous years' races were fast, flat and fun events through the Distillery District and Leslie Street Spit. Price: TBA

August 24: Toronto Women's 10km and 5km
As the second race in the Toronto Women's Run Series, this Sunnybrook Park event is billed as a perfect speed workout for fall marathoners and half-marathoners, or a fun and friendly race for new runners. A firefighter's water station, chocolate at the finish line, and a post-race party provide extra motivation for participants. Price: $35-$45

August 25: Bum Run 5km run/walk
Encouraging participants to "walk or run for your bum," this race raises awareness about colorectal cancer screening, and all proceeds go toward Colon Cancer Canada. 2013 is the second year for the event, which starts and finishes at Queen's Park, doing a loop along College, Spadina, Bloor and Bay. Price: TBA

September 7: Night Race 10km run and 5km run/walk
Starting at 8pm, just as the sun sets, this unique night-time race through Sunnybrook Park is sure to be illuminating (haha). All participants will receive an LED headlight, which must be worn during the race, and last year headphones were not allowed for safety reasons. Additional lights, flashers, and glo-sticks can be worn--if not for safety, then at least for the rare opportunity to wear glo-sticks in public. Price: $70

September 8: B&O Yorkville Run 5km run/walk
True to its Yorkville setting, this run claims to be Toronto's premier boutique race, giving participants the opportunity to "run the red carpet" during TIFF. The website says the race expects some "serious celeb runners," and will offer post-race hors d'oeuvres from Yorkville restaurants. Whether or not you see A-list celebs, you'll be supporting YWCA women's shelters in Toronto. Price: $50

September 8: Longboat Toronto Island Run 10km and 5km
Organized by the Longboat Roadrunners club, this is apparently Toronto's oldest 10km race, celebrating its 33rd year in 2013. The Toronto Island course is flat, with a mix of pavement, grass and boardwalk terrain. Since the run is put on by fellow runners who "know what it's like to run hard," the post-race picnic includes not only bagels and fruit, but also burgers, hot dogs and cookies. For families, there is a 1km kids' run and a 5km family run. Price: $45

September 14: Toronto 5k run/walk
This mid-town 5km is Toronto's newest running event. It starts and finishes at Winston Churchill Park, winding around the Bathurst/St. Clair neighbourhood. The run is in support of the SickKids Foundation. Price: $40

September 21: Oasis Zoo Run 10km and 5km
This event is held at the Toronto Zoo in support of the zoo's conservation programs, and the course includes a scenic loop through zoo grounds. There is also a 500m Cub Run for kids ($20). Price: $45-$60

September 22: Island Girl Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay and 5km
Another ladies-only event, this Toronto Island race embraces the island vibe, promising a "Caribbean-style" event with steel drums, grass skirts, and tropical fruit at the finish line. The relay option allows a team of two to split the half marathon distance. Price: $50-$65

October 6: CIBC Run for the Cure 5km and 1km run/walk
U of T's St. George campus will be awash in pink for this event that is held simultaneously in locations across the country. The Run for the Cure raises money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and includes inspirational and informative features like breast health info stations, a Wall of Hope to share your thoughts, and special recognition for participants who have survived breast cancer. Price: $40

October 26: Toronto Women's 8km and 5km
This is the last race of the Toronto Women's Run series, taking place in Sunnybrook Park. Like earlier races in the series, there will be a firefighter's water station, a chocolate station, and post-race party. Plus, if you complete all three runs in the series, you get a special prize. Price: $35-$45

November 10: Downsview Half Marathon and 5km
Whether you're looking to squeeze in one last race before winter's arrival, or looking for a special way to mark Remembrance Day, this race fits the bill. Taking place at Downsview Park, the "run to remember" begins with a short Remembrance Day ceremony at the starting line, and passes historic WW2 hangars and the Canadian Forces base. There are reduced registration rates for military personnel, as well as a two-person relay option for the half. Price: $30-$65

Off road running

I should point out that this list is focused on road running races in Toronto. If you're looking to leave the pavement behind and get a little dirty, events like Tough Mudder, Mud Run, Spartan Race, and the 5 Peaks trail running series are worth a try. There are also plenty of races in nearby suburbs if the dates and distances below don't align with your precise training schedule or racing preferences.

Photo by Subjective Art in the blogTO Flickr pool

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