Sporting Life 10K Race Report

First I want to say thank you so much for all of your support via comments/tweets/emails/messages etc. on my last post. I can’t tell you how much it means to me! I knew I had nothing to worry about by sharing the big decision. 


I am proud to say that this was my 5th consecutive year running Sporting Life 10K with Nolan’s Dream Chasers to raise funds for Camp Oochigeas. This year marks Nolan’s one-year Cancer-free anniversary and our team raised over $15,000 to commemorate the occasion. Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years!

I knew I wasn’t going to race the 10K after putting in a hard effort at the Toronto Half last weekend, but I did want to use it as a workout incorporated into a long run. Hubs and I devised a plan to park near the finish, run the route in reverse [uphill] to the start and then use the race as a glorified tempo run.

start-300x225It was an early (and cold!) morning, leaving the car to start our “warm-up” at about 6:15. I wore a jacket and my small Nathan backpack (without the bladder) so I could stuff it in for the race. I didn’t want to bother with bag check since it would probably already be very crowded by the time we go to the start.

City streets were relatively quiet and it was pretty neat to run the route that I know so well, but in reverse. It certainly is a lot harder going up. Course profile, start to finish:

mapWe wanted 12K to start the day, so we looped around some side streets once we made it to the starting area, hit the port-o-potties and pretty much had to line up in the corrals, which were quickly filling up. At 8am, we were off. We were lined up pretty close to the front and I didn’t have to do much weaving at all. From what I learned later on, it was pure mayhem if you were much farther back. I heard that the water stations were impossible (too short and not enough volunteers), but thankfully I had my own water from the first part of our run so I stayed in the middle of the road and out of the chaos. There were also a lot of issues with pedestrians crossing the race traffic – extra course marshals around busy intersections would have been beneficial.

PRO1-203x300I know this course like the back of my hand and I really love it. It’s mostly a straight shot net downhill, with only 5 turns (all of which in the last 3K). There are a couple of inclines, but there’s no question this is a fast downhill course. The tough thing is, it flattens out and you hit the turns after an easy-peasy first 7K and suddenly it gets really tough. I felt like I was losing steam over these last couple of miles and had to work harder to keep my pace under 5:00/KM, which had been “cruising pace” (or comfortably hard, as I like to call it) up to this point. I recognized a friend as he flew by me, exchanged a few words and then tried to keep up with him on the home stretch.

We had a pretty serious headwind the entire race with 25kph winds and 40+ gusts from the south and west (the entire course runs south and west). I wouldn’t say it had an impact on my time, but I definitely noticed it.

PRO2-300x202I hadn’t reset my Garmin after the first portion of our run that morning, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to finish time. I did monitor my lap pace throughout and expected to be just under 50 minutes. Ding, ding, ding!

1st half- 24:59
2nd half- 24:41
2936/21845 overall
142/2099 females
741/9014 F30-34

shirt-225x300 fiinshed-225x300It took a while for Hubs and I to re-connect among the masses and we were both freezing! I managed to bump into some of Nolan’s Dream Chasers to share congrats, but unfortunately we couldn’t hang around this year. We still had a 2K run back to the car and nothing warm/dry to change in to.

Total distance for the day: 24K including a 10K quality portion for a great cause!


Unfortunately there has been a lot of negative controversy surrounding the race regarding the logistics and some off-base comments from the race director.  From what I hear, they are hoping for even greater numbers next year so hopefully they will get their act together. I mentioned the issues with the water stations and lack of course marshals, but the worst part was a terrible back-log for runners around the 1-hour mark who couldn’t even get across the finish line. The Sporting Life 10K has been a benchmark event for Toronto and it raises a lot of money for a great charity, so it is really disappointing. I defer to Kenny’s posts for the whole story.


10 thoughts on “Sporting Life 10K Race Report

  1. Great job! I haven’t ran SL, and I am not sure I want to with all the converse going on. The crowds really put me off for this run. Even though I know big crowds do make for a fun run!

  2. I had heard great things about the race and chose to run this one over the Yonge Street 10k in April. I was a bit disappointed with a couple of things:

    – no swag bags at all. Not even a plastic bag to hold your shirt, bib and pins, especially when picking up several for different runners.

    – the 5k mats didn’t stretch across the entire road and on the left side, where I was running, there were only 2 marshalls telling everyone to move over. I wasn’t sure why they were doing so until the last minute when I saw the mat and made sure I crossed over one; it was the one of the furthest left. The person to my left missed it altogether.

    – there were no marshalls at the end of the race to get people moving out of the way. Many people crossed the finish line and just stopped. At other races there were marshalls getting people to move along/to the side.

    – I heard about the backup at the finish line. Someone told me that she waited about 35-45 seconds to step on the finishing mat from when she had to stop running because of the crowds. She literally had to walk from one point to the mats because of the congestion.

    – being the first time I ran this race, I had no idea where to go to get our medals. I sort of followed the crowd, however, once we crossed Lakeshore Blvd the crowd split. I didn’t realize that we had to go left through the fence path to get our medals. Marshalls here would have been nice.

    – the person I referred to above had contacted the Race Director and instead of getting a reply that he will definitely work on this next year, his answer was basically blaming the “new” runners to the race not knowing where to go.

    – somehow I think that the “bigger” for next year may not equate being better if some of these issues aren’t ironed out.

    – I luckily didn’t need water from the stations since I decided to run with my fuel belt but I did notice that at the 4k mark there were tables on the left side that were completely empty of volunteers and paper cups of water. The Gatorade tables further ahead had one guy manning a table by himself who was struggling to open the plastic around the paper cups as I went by, with no available cups to grab by the runners.

    While this is not a “qualifying” race by any means, for new runners like me, I would like to know that things such as the finish line congestion isn’t going to impact my personal timing goals, much like those who ran the ATB this year weren’t pleased about the train coming through in the middle of the race.

    • Oops – I was referring to Fleet St, not Lakeshore. I was stopped at a traffic light there and only could cross on the pedestrian light.

      I watched the video on that blog you linked and that lady telling everyone to keep moving didn’t have her equivalent on the left side. When I crossed the finish line I didn’t see marshal telling people to move it along.

  3. Great job!

    And I didn’t comment on your post about deciding not to do the IronMan, but all I have to say is that it’s your life, your decision. If you aren’t feeling it for whatever reason, that’s good enough reason not to invest so much time into it. Hope you are feeling peace now!

  4. Great result, congratulations. Have read about the “issues” of the event, don’t think I’ll register any time soon…too claustrophobic.

  5. You had it easy (other than the run uphill to start)! Yes, I had to wait-not just walk-to cross the finish line. I turned my watch off at 57:27 and my chip time is 58:02. Not to mention that overall because of the congestion in the middle of the pack I was almost two minutes slower than the same course three weeks earlier in the YS10K. So it’s a great cause-and I quite liked the shirt-but they need to really rethink how they put it on.

  6. Your pacing was incredibly consistent. Well done.

    It’s a pity when races aren’t a good experience for everyone. I’ve been to a couple that were totally mismanaged – walkers starting at the front of the pack and runners trying to weave through prams and dogs, courses that weren’t shut off to the public so you had to fight for path space with angry cyclists and people out for a Sunday stroll. Some of the race coordinators learn from their mistakes and others don’t. I hope your coordinator gets their act together next year and it’s a great experience for everybody.

  7. Volunteers and marshals are absolutely crucial for any event and a lot of our local races are sorely lacking in this aspect. Things are improving though; my last race this past weekend unfortunately had a lack of marshals at crucial intersections. Anyway, that’s my gripe but in the meantime, want to say “great job Marlene”. How did hubs do? Did he place?

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