Tag Archives: Toronto Events Spring

Marathon Training and Heart Attacks in Toronto vs USA

My latest DeHaan Fitness article, “Marathon Training Unlikely to Increase Risk of Heart Attack“, actually presents a bit more of a balanced view than the title indicates.

The much larger of the two research papers that I reference, provides results from about a decade of organized marathon events in the USA. They counted both full and half marathon races.

One of their conclusions was that having spectators and professional medical people available reduced the mortality rate in the few heart attacks that occurred.

Both studies showed that there are, indeed, risks in exercising. Nonetheless, the title reflects my sincere belief that most people would be healthier if they would train at a not-too-intense, recreational level for endurance sports such as running or bicycling.

The Toronto Connection for Heart Attacks During Organized Marathon Events

"Heart with Anterior Wall Dysfunction", image by Patrick J. Lynch
“Heart with Anterior Wall Dysfunction”, image by Patrick J. Lynch

Toronto has hosted, on average, two marathon events a year for quite a few years. Each event includes a full marathon run of 42.2Km (26 miles, 385 yards for our American friends), as well as a half-marathon (21.1Km, “duh“).

If memory serves, from what I remember from our local news in the last six to ten years, Toronto has averaged about one death every two years across all these full and half marathon races.

Although participation has grown over the years, let’s just use the 2011 entrant numbers to get a rough estimate. The Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, held in the autumn, had about 12,750 runners across the two races. The Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon, now a spring event, had about 5,300 participants. If these numbers were consistent across all the years, we would have seen about 1 death for every 36,000 entrants.

If my numbers are off…and certainly participation has grown over the years…I would still guess that one death for 25,000 entrants would be somewhat pessimistic.

Disclaimers All Around

Let’s note that the news would not report every cardiac arrest, nor every ailment treated on-scene or at hospitals. So I don’t have a firm comparison with the “Participating in marathons, half-marathons not found to increase risk of cardiac arrest” article from Medical Xpress (based on a report in the New England Journal of Medicine).

Let me repeat, I also did not go back to research the news archives for the Toronto deaths. I had begun paying attention around 2003 or so, when my own endurance training had started.

Nonetheless, another real problem (especially for anyone who shovels snow) is that cardiac arrests can occur to anyone; and lack of regular exercise is one of the contributing factors.

Also Promoting my Article about Marathon Training and Heart Attacks

In my Blog of Writing, “My Disclaimer for Marathon Training” provides a writing tip about disclaimers, such as:

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.


Professional Writing by DeHaan Services

DeHaan Services writes web site or advertising copy for clients. Our skills are demonstrated in articles in Decoded Science, and other online sites. That’s why we highlight articles on this blog page.

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Thank you for reading about heart attacks versus marathon training.

Better Late than Never to Report on the 2011 Toronto Challenge 5Km

(Updated June 18, 2015): My latest article about this annual summer event in Toronto is “One View of the 2015 Toronto Challenge 5K Charity Run“.

I foolishly allowed my work schedule to keep me from writing about the running event that launched my hobby of running with a purpose beyond mild fitness.

Mike in the 2007 Toronto Challenge
Mike in the 2007 Toronto Challenge

The Toronto Challenge is an annual 5Km (3 mile, for readers from the USA) fund-raising running event in the city of Toronto, Ontario. Each entrant can raise money for one of approximately sixty housing or support institutions. Examples include the Yonge Street Mission for a variety of social programs including for those with marginal housing, True Davidson Acres (one residence of  many in the Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services), and the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf.

I’ve participated in this charity race for eleven straight years. As I mentioned, this was the first event that I entered. It was so much fun to take over the streets with hundreds of others, to block traffic, and to see how I did compared to others…that I vowed to run a marathon someday.

I did indeed run my first marathon almost a year later. I really prefer going longer distances, using that excuse to avoid having my heart race and my legs burn; but I keep running this particular event. Partly to say “thank you” to the organizers, and partly to keep in touch with a few buddies who also are hardy perennials in this “garden”.

One other strong point about this event is that it includes a 5Km walk and 1Km walk. The heart breaker is the 1Km walk; generally these participants live in supportive housing because of frailty due to age, or because of physical or mental challenges. Most of these participants need help from a caregiver or relative to make it through the single kilometre…in the time it takes most of us to run 5Km.

My apologies if you would have entered the event this year, if only I had posted this article earlier. Check their web site for next year’s date, generally the second Sunday of June. This is one of the few events that accepts last-minute entrants…arrive an hour before start time, pay your dues, and receive your official bib.