It’s understandable that the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon has had trouble establishing itself as a world-class race considering it is one of two marathons held in the city. Fortunately, in recent years, the two marathons have agreed to hold their races in different seasons so as to avoid confusion and give them both space to grow. The Goodlife Marathon now takes place in May while the Scotiabank marathon occupies October.
This year, we can look forward to even more improvements as the race is changing up the course for the better. The Scotiabank Marathon route has been altered for 2012 in new and exciting ways. In the past the course has been more or less an out and back along the Lakeshore — which makes for a wonderfully flat course, but not a whole lot of exciting scenery for the runners or the spectators. The course will still enjoy flat water-side portion this year but it will start off by taking the athletes through some nifty areas of Toronto. The race will begin as usual on University between Queen and Dundas but instead of going straight South towards the Lakeshore, it will head North. The course will circle around through Church and Wellesley, pass by the ROM Crystal, cut through U of T and then roll by Chinatown and Kensington Market before heading towards the water to continue its usual route.
Although it will mean more road closures, the new course definitely seems to be a step in the right direction. It will allow for a wheelchair race and will also avoid the problematic issue of having runners go over the on-off route of the Gardiner. Weaving through the city will give spectators many more opportunities to catch the race which will then provide athletes with some extra cheers and encouragement along the way. In addition, the new route will hopefully be an extra draw for traveling marathoners who like to experience the culture and feel of a city while they run.
The changes are good ones, but they will have to be the beginning not the end of the alterations if the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon is to become a truly world-class race. Big city marathons such as Boston and New York have a huge draw not just because of their history and prestige — they’re also loved for the way they weave through their cities, thereby giving the athletes experiences they will never forget. Fortunately, according to “The Toronto Star”, race director Alan Brookes announced that the new course is “part of a much broader long-range plan.” Brookes seems to be a director who is consistently dedicated to conferring with other race organizers and coming up with new ways to improve the Toronto Marathon from year to year. No doubt, he’s already put in place methods to avoid the one to two hour wait in the cold to retrieve personal belongings that most athletes endured last year upon crossing the finish line. So hopefully more improvements are just around the corner!
For more information on either watching or participating in the race on October 14th, check out the Scotiabank Marathon’s website for everything you need to know.