Outdoor running in Toronto is more popular than ever but groups still cautious
As the city went into lockdown in March, Toronto running groups abruptly stopped meeting, and while the city is now in Stage 3, many running groups aren’t back to normal just yet.
Running Rats Toronto, started in 2002, has been on a hiatus since March 15 and has no definite plans for when they will re-start running groups, club member Mike Lin told blogTO.
Because the group generally runs in the downtown core, Lin said it is difficult to find a place to run as a group in a safe, socially distant way.
“We are in a bit of a unique situation downtown, it is a bit more confined and constrained,” Lin said.
Lin said they are waiting to see how things go and they want to work how to do it safely before they start up again.
Normally about 30 members would show up on a Tuesday run so it may be difficult to keep a safe distance, said Lin.
“Knowing runners, they like to socialize and keeping that six-foot bubble is tough when you have got a dozen people,” Lin said.
Running Room groups have also not returned yet, Running Room CEO and founder John Stanton told blogTO.
He said they have to figure out how to hold the running groups safely.
“Everything we do is to promote health and wellness and the last thing we want to do is have a mass break out as a result of somebody making a mistake at a gathering,” Stanton said. “There is so much unknown with this COVID.”
Right now the Running Room has no plans to re-start groups this fall and they possibly won’t start again until next year, Stanton said.
High Park Rogue Runners hope to return to group runs in the next couple of weeks, Danielle O’Hanley told blogTO.
O’Hanley said they are looking at safe options such as having people pre-register for runs, getting contact information and limiting the number of people join the group runs.
Before March, they would meet three times a week in High Park and they could get up to 70 people on a group runs.
And there seem to be more runners out in general.
“The Martin Goodman Trail is kind of a zoo in terms of runners,” said Lin.
Lin suspects some new runners are looking for something to replace gym workouts.
“We see a lot of new runners — people around town who are gym refugees,” said Lin.
O’Hanley said she has noticed many new runners in High Park.
Stanton also noted how people are choosing to workout outside rather than in the gym.
“You see many more people out walking, running, cycling,” he said.
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