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Should there be one or two marathons* in Toronto?
This has been discussed in the informal running community for some years.
I don’t have ties to either organizer, but it always seemed clear that there was serious competition between the “upstart” Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the “longer-running” Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon.
My carefully-considered opinion comes down to two questions:
- If I had to choose to run only one or the other, which would I choose? The Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon would be my choice, by a very narrow margin.
- Which marathon is better for Toronto? The winner by a landslide would be the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
The Goodlife marathon has more elevation changes; it goes through different neighbourhoods; and the facilities are better (both at the start, Mel Lastman Square, and the end at Queen’s Park with the use of Hart House for a shower and change). It just feels more like a tour of Toronto.
Their site shows that the average runner has a faster time in the Goodlife marathon. Makes sense to me, because it is “net downhill”.
But the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is the race that Toronto needs. Consider the elite finishing times:
- This is the fastest men’s marthon on Canadian soil. Finally, after more than 30 years, we’ve beaten the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
- The world record for Men’s age 70-74, Men’s age 75-79, and Men’s age 90+, were set at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. (Thank you: Ed Whitlock of Milton, Ontario; Fauja Singh of London, England).
- No other marathon on Canadian soil has the men’s winning finishing times comparable to Boston or New York. (Let’s admit that Boston’s route has significant hills, while the Waterfront marathon is carefully flat).
The reason – the Waterfront marathon organizers have arranged the funding to attract the better elite runners. That’s part of the competition between the two events – getting sponsorships and attracting talent.
So, if we must drop one and keep one, let’s keep the event that has attracted the fastest elite runners: the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
For the record: the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is held on the final Sunday of September. The Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon is held in October, on the Sunday immediately following Canadian Thanksgiving Monday. (This normally means there is a 3-week gap between these events. But when Sept. 30 falls on a Sunday, then there is only a 2-week delay).
*For runners, a ‘marathon’ is exactly 26 miles + 385 yards; the metric distance is 42.2 Km. When anyone else talks about a “marathon effort”, they mean “a really big effort”. But in athletics, that’s the distance. How that came to be, is another story…
[This post was last updated 2010-02-03.]