Where to Watch the July 2012 Toronto Triathlon Festival Races

One of the new Toronto events this summer is the 2012 Toronto Triathlon Festival, mainly consisting of several triathlon races.

This article’s purpose is to guide spectators who want to see elite competitors and also recreational athletes pursuing this triple-discipline sport. The brief answer is “Get to Coronation Park for the start of the festivities at 9am, and find a spot near the finish line”.

Updated after the 2012 Toronto Triathlon Festival

(Updated July 25, 2012). A friend reported on his experience as a spectator for his wife who competed in the triathlon sprint event.

Spectators actually were permitted to watch the swim discipline from the mainland waterfront shore on the east, since the transition zone was protected by a fence. Therefore the athletes’ gear was still secure, while fans could watch from a good vantage point. As you can read below, this section gave me the most concern.

Spectators could see the competitors exit from the transition, both for the bike and run phases, because there was some room west of that area.

It was easy to watch the main portion of the run anywhere along its route on the Martin Goodman Trail west from Ontario Place.

In short, the organizers did a fine job laying out the routes for the triathlon competitors while also supporting the spectators. As well, the lengthy e-mail to the competitors included some information for their supporters about spectating.

Back to the Original Article

I assume that all the triathlon competitors have already trained, registered, reviewed the official site which is noted below, and received instructions on where they should go for their mandatory briefings on Saturday and to compete on Sunday. Thinking as a spectator, however, the official site seems to leave some questions.

This festival is like so many of Toronto’s street festivals, such as the recent “Festival of South Asian Culture in Toronto in 2012“, only in having road closures. However, don’t expect to eat your way along an avenue, buying food from restaurants along the way! It’s more like “The 2012 Becel Ride for Heart in Toronto” in being an athletic event on major roads.

The Toronto Triathlon Festival Races Start at 7 and 9:30 AM

"Old School Vintage Road Bicycle" image by Ha-Wee (Howie Le)
“Old School Vintage Road Bicycle” image by Ha-Wee (Howie Le)

Race time is 7am on July 24 for the Olympic distance, or “Ironman 5150” triathlon event. The Duathlon also starts at that incredibly early hour: seven in the morning.

The sprint discipline races begin at 9:30 am.

The competitors benefit by avoiding the hot hours later in the day.

If you plan to watch at the finish line in Coronation Park, the entertainment and activities begin at 9am. Awards ceremonies are scheduled for 11am and noon.

Where are the 2012 Toronto Triathlon Festival Races?

The Toronto Triathlon Festival’s 2012 start area is at Ontario Place; the competitors will swim in the channel just south of the mainland. It’s not clear whether any spectators will be allowed on Ontario Place grounds, or how near along the Martin Goodman Trail to the west.

The bike portion of the Toronto Triathlon Festival 2012 will roll from Ontario Place, north to the Gardiner Expressway, east to the Don Valley Parkway and back to the transition zone at Ontario Place.

The 10Km run will follow the Martin Goodman Trail west from the transition area to about the intersection of Lake Shore Blvd. West and the South Kingsway, then back east, beyond Ontario Place to Coronation Park.

Where to Watch the Swim Discipline of the Toronto 2012 Triathlon Festival

At press time, there is no clear advice for spectators to watch the opening swim. (Updated: Read the “Updated…” section above!).

The competitors will use Parking Lot 1 south of Lake Shore Blvd. West and just east of Ontario Drive (which is only found north of Lake Shore) as the transition zone. Spectators will not be allowed to enter that area.

The waterfront to the east of the transition zone might be available to spectators, but it’s pretty far from the swim.

If it were permitted, perhaps the best place to watch the swim would be on the wharf west of the entrance area. The longest swim extends about half-way, or less, of the length of Ontario Place’s west island. This would be an interesting place to watch the start and end of the bicycle stages, as it is near the transition zone. Again, at press time, there’s no word on where spectators might be allowed to watch the swim.

The swim is only the first discipline in a triathlon race. The bike section is the longest.

Where to Watch the Bicycling Discipline of the Toronto Triathlon 2012

The bike discipline provides the most opportunities for casual spectators. Go to any pedestrian crossing over the Gardiner Expressway or Don Valley Parkway (DVP) to see the cyclists in action at their top speeds.

If you don’t care about the finish line, my recommendation is to stand on the bridge over the DVP between Riverdale Park on the east and the fields on the west (near the Riverdale Zoo). It’s wide, only for pedestrians, and low enough to get a good view of the competitors below.

The cyclists turn when they get north of Eglinton Ave., so Eglinton, Millwood, the Prince Edward Viaduct connecting Bloor with Danforth, Gerrard, Dundas and Queen are also possibilities. The Viaduct is so high above the valley, that it would be my least favourite choice. Does Spanbridge have a sidewalk? I know I wouldn’t risk standing on Don Mills Road.

Since the Gardiner Expressway is elevated, I’m not sure that there are any good vantage points for pedestrian spectators along most of the downtown route. The competitors will, however, bicycle onto the Gardiner via Jameson, which has a very limited sidewalk capacity but boasts some grassy verges. Spectators would have a good view of the riders on Jameson and a decent glimpse as they enter the Gardiner Expressway.

Where to Watch the Run Discipline of the Toronto 2012 Triathlon Festival

The cycling stage will end where it began, in the transition zone parking lot at Ontario Place. Then the competitors become runners. They head west before doing an about face and finishing in Coronation Park.

You could go to Marilyn Bell Park, west of Ontario Place, or one of the other parks along the Martin Goodman Trail. Have a picnic brunch in Sir Casimir Gzowski Park or Sunnyside Park.

The finish line is the best place to watch the athletes finish their races, of course. Head for Coronation Park, which is just east of Ontario Place. The closing ceremonies for the Toronto Triathlon Festival 2012 will be held there.

Coronation Park for the Finish Line of the Toronto Triathlon Festival 2012

Entertainment is scheduled to start at 9am in Coronation Park, including children’s activities in partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors professional sports franchises. If you haven’t already donated, consider supporting their official charities. They have three listed as of press time. One charity partner is MLSE Team Up’s Foundation (“Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment…”), whose vision is “to change lives through the spirit and power of sport”. The second is Right to Play; the third is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

You might get a cookie from the Redpath “Acts of Sweetness” truck. The drinking fountain and washroom facilities of Coronation Park should be available, too.

The official site is mum about food vendors, so you may want to pack a picnic lunch. Another option is to head east along Queen’s Quay for several blocks to find a restaurant in downtown Toronto’s harbourfront district. (Follow the Martin Goodman Trail east; it curves south and then east again to meet Queen’s Quay at Stadium Road).

Getting to the Toronto Triathlon Festival 2012 despite Road Closures

My usual advice is for spectators to take the TTC, or ride your bicycle, to reach Ontario Place or Coronation Park. The 511 Bathurst Streetcar connects from the Bloor subway line and reaches the CNE grounds; but the subway won’t be running early enough on Sunday morning to help you arrive before the races start. The 310 Bathurst Bus also covers this ground; there is indeed a Blue Line route too. Or take the 29 Dufferin bus south to the CNE.

The Toronto Triathlon Festival suggests that competitors can park at Ontario Place’s Parking Lot #2 for $20. I have no idea whether there would be room for spectators’ cars to arrive via Lake Shore Blvd.

Car parking is extremely limited right at Coronation Park.

Road Closures for the 2012 Toronto Triathlon Festival

The east-bound Gardiner and north-bound DVP will be closed to automobile traffic. I strongly suspect part of Jameson Ave., plus some or all of the CNE grounds, will also prohibit cars.

The Official Site of the Toronto Triathlon Festival is Geared to the Competitors

The Toronto Triathlon Festival‘s official site has a huge amount of information, and is especially geared to informing the competitors of all the details they need for the full weekend festival. Unfortunately, it says little for spectators.

Yet Another Triathlon is Coming to Toronto in August

Toronto will host yet another triathlon event in August 2012. I’d written “To Untangle Two Toronto Triathlons in 2012” to clear my own confusion.

Looking for More Annual Toronto Events?

Check the “annual events” or “Toronto events” categories toward the end of the left-hand menu for other fascinating, free or frugal annual events in Toronto.

Triathlon is part of the Ontario Summer Games, but not in Toronto. See “Sample Some Sports at Ontario Summer Games 2012 in Toronto” in my Fitness blog for a pointer to the details.

Disclaimer: DeHaan Services has no relationship to the organizer(s); I am not reimbursed for writing this article.

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