I’d like to take this opportunity to de-mystify, de-confuse the considerable confusion that seems to be out on the street regarding the Toronto Yonge Street 10K and the Sporting Life 10K. I’ve had a bunch of emails and Facebook messages from you about the issue, and it’s a subject that needs clarification. Simply put, there will be two runs in 2012.
The Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 22nd is “the old race with the new name.” It’s the event you’ve run in the last many  years. It’s been owned and organized by the terrific Canada Running Series team to the highest national and international standards you’ve all come to love and enjoy every Spring.
Sporting Life has decided to end its title sponsorship of 14 years [before them it was Reebok, Coors Light, and Caledon Springs], to part company with CRS, and put on a run of their own on May 13th, on the same course, in support of Camp Oochigeas, and call it the Sporting Life 10k. We are enormously grateful for the 14 years of naming-rights fees and sponsorship support from Sporting Life and wish them well in their new go-it-alone venture.
Look forward to our usual high race organizing standards and big race excitement on Sunday, April 22nd at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K.
Canada Running Series, Toronto Yonge St. 10K
So after two years of having two great runs down Yonge Street, which event is “better” among the two, the original Sporting Life 10km owned and operated by the Canada Running Series, now re-named and re-branded the Yonge Street 10km. Or the “new” Sporting Life 10km, taken over by the Sporting Life store and Camp Oochigeas?
On a technical level, it’s pretty easy to determine this just based on overall feedback from the consumer. The Yonge Street 10km produced back to back high-level, well organized races for both the masses, the Elites, and for a number of charities. It even grew over 10%, with 5185 finishers in 2012 and 5748 in 2013. This should not be a surprise to anyone as the Canada Running Series stands alone in North America among the Best in Class Race Organizers, plus they created and started the actual “run down Yonge Street” over 12 years ago so they should know how to execute this tricky event better than anyone. They have taken a popular half-marathon in the fall and combined with ScotiaBank to create a World Class, Silver Level IAAF Race Weekend that everyone now just calls “Scotia”, one of the best Race Weekend’s around for runners, walkers and over $4.2 million earned for charities. As a Team, CRS has organized almost 100 races in the same decade between the Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal races and events, and this same team won the bid to organize the Pan Am Games Marathon in 2015.
On pure numbers alone, the new Sporting Life 10km partnered with Camp Oochigeas, combined with the better 2nd May date and excellent local media coverage, far surpassed many expectations and quickly became one of Canada’s largest running events, in a single edition (one race distance). With 21,845 finishers in 2013, it is now in 2nd place across Canada, behind the Vancouver Sun Run 10km (55,000 annually). The National Capital Race Weekend in Ottawa (7 events with over 44,000 runners and walkers) is Number Two overall in the Country. The Marketing Machine at Sporting Life (which for those paying attention was sold to a Private Equity firm in late 2011 for 75 million dollars) scored a big coup in partnering with Nike and the Toronto Star, and offered anyone who entered early enough the Deal of the Century for runners! Pay $30 – $40, get your race entry, a high value Nike Dry Fit shirt, one of Canada’s best 10km race venues (my pb here is 33:20 so I know), the same value back in a store gift card, AND support a worthy charity.
It was the talk of the running community! I personally know alot of runners who signed up not even sure if they were able to run either the 2012 or 2013 race, you could still just pick up your race shirt and gift card and consider it a bargain. Now the Kenyans were not the only winners…. In the first year, 2012, numbers swelled to create a Race Cap of 24,000 runners, and 17,549 would cross the finish line, a tremendous accomplishment. Camp Oochigeas fundraising grew even more from the $1.3 million raised in 2011, approx $1.7 and then surpassing $2 million this year! That should not be a surprise, with 10,000+ more runners to draw from. That’s all the good news folks. Many, many technical issues were experienced from both fast and slow runners in 2012 and 2013. In the first year, everyone cut the new race some slack…limited washrooms at the start, poor Corral organization, lack of medical at the finish line ( a well know local Race Director on the Crew was so furious she turned down the opportunity the next year to work for this event). Many runners finished that first year and were unaware of the party afterwards (food and medals) and left the site empty handed, and the chip-timing system was a mess. It was a beautiful sunny morning, glorious for running.
In 2013, more technical issues resulted, but hey, 27,000 signed up! Sporting Life and the Event Organizers boasted this fact repeatedly, and so they should. Very impressive numbers, and this was with a SOLD OUT sign a month or more prior, so who knows how many could have entered if they raised the Race Cap? Thankfully no one else was allowed to run, as it could have been even worse at the start and finish line. In fact just 4296 more runners crossed the line in 2013, but logjams, crowds and issues at the Finish Line meant several thousand “runners” had to wait in queue to cross the finish line mats to record their official finisher’s time. So for the second year in a row the technical Race Crew were dealing with a very similar amount of overall participants?!
Charity or no charity, Toronto deserves better than this for an event proclaimed to be……“Canada’s premier running event that delivers a value-packed running experience and the largest net proceeds to charity!” (taken from the home page of the official event website). Some of us have been fortunate to travel and participate in the many, many large-scale races and events held around the World that become excellent marketing pieces for these cities. The Miami Marathon, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York Marathons, the Paris 20km, Boilermaker 15km in Utica of all places! The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta takes on 60,000 runners each July 4th holiday and sells out within a day. Ditto to the Marines Corps Marathon in Washington. Duluth, MN has Grandma’s Marathon that annually ranks among the best in show for organization. The Houston Marathon in January. The Chicago Triathlon. Pick any Ironman race, anywhere on the planet. On and On, races and events that are award winning, raising millions as well for charities but also technically speaking, well-organized and worthy of road closures.
Which is where Toronto now finds itself, at a cross roads. City Hall is bursting with requests for permits, but do we need more mediocre events? American Event Planning companies are actually trying to access permits to put on events in our own backyard, which is telling us something right there. Why doesn’t the City actually care who organizes these events and gains access to limited road space. Are we embarrassed as a City when tourists come here, spend their hard earned dollars and then have terrible experiences at some of these events? Should we just let anyone use the name “Toronto” and go market themselves and their events without being held accountable?
Here at MyNextRace.com we love to see more races and events, as it means a healthier more vibrant sports scene, and many of these runners and walkers will no doubt support other races and events in both running, cycling, triathlon and obstacle racing categories. Heck, as one Toronto City Councillor famously said years ago, “let’s have a marathon every weekend if it means more money for charities and for the City”!
The sport has changed much since the “old days” when a cotton shirt and post-run banana sufficed. Entry fees have gone up, in some cases WAY UP but so too has the expectation level, and whereas it was un-heard of to travel far for a race now it’s quite common. It’s now big business and entertainment for the masses, so who wants to be better entertained anyway???