I’ve been a big fan of the Toronto Women’s Run Series since I ran my very first race with them in October 2010. Over the past three year I have completed their 8K and 10K races, but this was my first time running their half-marathon. Here’s what I thought:
Registration and Race Kit Pick-Up: Online registration was simple and quick. The half-marathon didn’t sell out so there was no rush to register early. The Toronto Women’s Run is really good at sending out regular email news blasts with updated info so everything about the race was very clear. Race Kit Pick-Up was at the Rosedale Running Room, easy to get to for downtown dwellers, but probably a pain for those who live outside downtown. Pick-up was offered on Friday and Saturday.
Digital Hype: The Toronto Women’s Run does a great job of creating hype and building momentum about the race on facebook, but their twitter account is lacking. I saw them use the #TOWomensHalf hashtag a couple times and tweeted to them to see if that was the official hashtag, but never got a response. The hashtag was used on race day by a few runners (including myself), but certainly wasn’t trending.
Getting to the Race: As long as you have a drive to Sunnybrook Park the morning of the race, you’re fine. This race is not accessible by TTC due to it’s early start time on a Sunday morning.
Course: To be honest, I didn’t love the course. At the last minute the organizers had to add two hills (due to construction at Sunnybrook) and the 750m hill at 19k was incredibly demoralizing. The portion of the course from 13k to 18k was a loop from Don Mills Road to Pottery Road along the Don River Trail. It was nice because it was a on a trail, but it was soooooo boring. There was no music, only one water station at the turnaround, and a few scattered volunteers cheering us on. Of course those volunteers were AMAZING, but it was a long way to run out and back without much excitement going on. I ran this race alone and for this stretch it felt very lonely.
Finishing Line and Medals: The finishing line was perfect. Lots of volunteers and spectators lined the course so it really felt like a champion’s finish! Medals, or necklaces in this case, were handed out as soon as your crossed and plenty of water and eLoad was waiting as soon as you exited the chute. Post run food included pitas, chips, banana and chocolate. The finishers necklaces by Foxy Originals were a nice touch as something different from the typical race medals. I love the charm and will probably transfer it to a keychain so I can use it everyday.
Would I run this race again? Probably not. This was my 3rd half-marathon (I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon in 2011 and the Niagara Falls Women’s Half-Marathon in 2012) and this was my least favourite. I love the Toronto Women’s Runs Series and what they stand for, but this course was just really boring, especially the portion on the Don River Trail. I definitely wouldn’t run this alone again, but might consider it as part of a running group or with some friends. In the future I would definitely still consider running this series’ 8K and 10K races.
BONUS: Because it was the Toronto Women’s Runs 5th anniversary, all digital images were free, courtesy of Ryder Photography! I thought that was a very nice touch. Here’s my favourite one: