About a year ago, I wrote my first blog post with a picture taken by my walking coach Lee Scott at the start line of the Sporting Life 10K race. This year, on May 12, 2013, I was standing behind the same start line with the banner over me. I was among the 27,000 participants getting ready to race down Yonge Street to raise funds for Camp Oochigeas, a camp in Muskoka for children with cancer.
The cold air that snapped back in mid-Spring did not chill the enthusiasm of the participants most of whom were dressed appropriately to come out early in the morning, warm enough to stand around waiting and yet not to get overheated when they were well into the race. There was a mix of short sleeves and long sleeves, plus of course, the cut-out garbage bags, which would be discarded along the way.
Athletes started to arrive around 7 a,m. They either huddled under the scaffolding of buildings or went into the Sporting Life shop or a Starbucks nearby to stay warm. By 7:45 a.m. everybody lined up at the corral to which each person was assigned based on expected finishing time. I was a walker and so I waited in the Orange corral. The gun went off at 8 a.m. for the first wave of elite runners and those who intended to finish under 48 minutes (Red and Yellow corrals) to be followed by the Blue, Green, Purple and Orange waves, the last of which waited until 8:40 a.m.
An awesome sight appeared in front of me as I power walked down Yonge Street. It was a sea of people on the busiest and longest street in Toronto.
We started from between Eglinton and Lawrence, headed south and then turned west at Richmond. All the streets were closed to traffic. The sense of ownership of the roads without cars was unspeakable. At the club district, we turned south along Peters Street, which looked asleep in the morning hours. We went west again on Front Street, then south on Bathhurst and the Finish Line was on Fort York Blvd. just west of Bathurst. We had live bands entertaining us at each kilometre mark.
After crossing the Finish Line, we were gathered at Coronation Park, where volunteers handed us the medal, and where refreshments were waiting. This year, Nike gave each participant a sticker that they could put on the Nike Wall, and Nike would donate $1 for each sticker, up to the amount of $10,000. This year, Sporting Life aimed to raise 2.4 million dollars for the Camp. The Sporting Life 10K now reigns as the second largest running race in Canada and the race with the largest charitable donations.