Tag Archives: running races

Sporting Life 10K: Racing with 27,000 Athletes on Yonge Street

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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.1-IMG_1226

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.

A Word A Week Photo Challenge: ACTION

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Action during a running or walking race is most familiar to me. When I participate in a race, I do not have the opportunity to take pictures of athletes in action, except from their back perhaps. When I do get a chance of be on the side line as I discover from my photo archives, they happen to be races in the winter months. I have here pictures taken during the Boxing Day 10-Miler in Hamilton that I have written a blog earlier, and the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington which is held on the first Sunday of March. 

The intensity of the action varies depending on which phase of the race the athletes are in. The two athletes above are both in the final lag of the race and finish is only 100 metres or so away. They are looking strong and making a final sprint to finish.

In the earlier phases of the race, athletes tend to bunch together to maintain a desirable pace, be they in the front pack, and the middle pack or the back. Athletes have their own strategy to complete the race depending on their goals. Just look at the intent on their faces and you can tell how focus they all are.

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Then they start to spread out.

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Since I am a power walker, I am normally at the back of the pack with the slower runners. Our form is different but no less intense when it comes to action. The gratification is that as the race goes on, the walkers can overtake the slow runners to finish at a better time.

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