iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

10 Reasons to Run the Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon

July 25th, 2016

Known affectionately by insiders as “The Freep,” I first heard of Michigan’s largest road race from a friend singing the praises of the organizers and volunteers – and I have only heard great things about it since. So when I got the chance to run this year’s event, taking place October 14-16, I was all over it. But when I tell people this (particularly non-runners, or anyone who has never done the race), their first question is, “Why would you drive four hours to do a race…in Detroit?”

Well folks, I am here to tell you that Detroit’s got a bad rap. Here are 10 reasons why you should come and run the Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon or International Half Marathon.

1. Be an International Superstar

Get those passports out; whether you’re running the half marathon or the marathon, the coolest reason to run this race is to be an international runner. It’s the one day of the year when you can cross from Detroit to Windsor and back again on your own two feet.

Ambassador Bridge - photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

On the way to Windsor, you’ll get a stunning view of the sunrise over the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge. On the way back…

2. Run under water?

…You get to clock a timed underwater mile – the only one that includes crossing an international border – as you run through one of the great engineering wonders of the world: the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. Don’t worry about running in a tunnel though; fresh air is pumped in at a rate of 1.5 million cubic feet per minute, so you won’t feel like the runners ahead of you have used up all of the oxygen.

3. Represent the Eh-Team

While most of the runners (80% in 2015) come from Michigan, Ontario is the second-most represented region with 7.6% of the 2015 field. In addition, runners came from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and all of the East Coast provinces last year. So bust out your Canadian pride!

Running in Windsor; photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Running in Windsor; photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

4. There’s something for everyone

Whether you want to run a marathon, a half marathon, or a 5K, there’s something for you. Don’t forget to sign the kids up for the Kids Fun Run!

Want to run some random distance? They’ve got that too – there’s a 5-person marathon relay that features legs that range anywhere from 2.9 up to 6.4 miles.

But yeah…you’ll want to brush up on your kilometre-to-miles conversions, or print your pace band in miles, because the course is marked in miles.

5. Health and Fitness Expo

Almost every race boasts about their expo, so you can never be sure what to expect. Everyone I have spoken to says that the MDCD Health & Fitness Expo is worth setting aside some time for. The vendors take over COBO Hall, which is home to the Detroit Auto Show every January, and in 2015, there were over 100 vendors – so you should be able to find anything you are looking for.

6. Find your happy pace

It’s flat, it’s fast, and it’s great for runners of all abilities.

For the nervous first-timers, you’ll love the generous cut-off times, and the fact that the pacers that go all the way to a 6:30 marathon and 3:15 half marathon.

Hoping for a BQ? The event also features pacers for each and every 2018 Boston qualifying time from 3:10 to 5:00, and last year, 8.3% of the field met their standard.

Meet your pacers here.

Behnam Kamrani pacing in 2015; photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Behnam Kamrani pacing in 2015; photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

7. The crowd

I know, I know…a lot of races say they have great crowd support. But after hearing what Megan Warzecha, a Race Ambassador from Detroit, had to say, I believe it:

“In Detroit, we know it’s NOT all one big party.  We know what it’s like to be down and out and we know what it’s like to fight our way back.  When I run Detroit, I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are ready to go to work.  Not one runner or one spectator is out there half-assing it.  When it comes to crowd support, there’s not one dead zone on the course, save the underwater mile.  You never feel like you’re alone and, when the proverbial s__t hits the fan, there’s always some guy on the sidelines ready to pull you out of your own misery.  The “Freep” takes you through some areas that a lot of people wouldn’t think twice about getting out of their cars in on your average Sunday afternoon, but on October 16, it’s the most beautiful 26.2 miles in the entire world.”

8. Rockin’ Official Afterparty

Celebrate your victory and show off your shiny new bling at the event’s official Afterparty. There will be music, free massages for participants, and local food truck favourites to satisfy almost any craving. Stash some cash in your checked bag, or get your family and friends to buy you a drink at the charity beer tent in support of Crossroads of Michigan – it opens 9 am.

You never know who you'll meet at the Official Afterparty! Photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

You never know who you’ll meet at the Official Afterparty! Photo courtesy of Detroit Free Press

9. You can stay in Windsor

So the dollar is unpredictable and has some of us nervous about committing to spending south of the border. Good news – the race start is an easy jaunt across the border, so you can stay in Windsor. Getting there in the morning is an easy drive, or you can take the Tunnel Bus.

While you’re in town, you can enjoy the best of what the city has to offer. While, sadly, the Rum Runners Tour will be done for the season, you can do your final shakeout run along the waterfront trails, carb-load at any of the fabulous local restaurants, breweries and wineries, try your luck at Caesar’s Windsor casino, or take a stroll in Olde Walkerville.

10. And visit Detroit!

Detroit’s cultural identity is heavily influenced by the auto industry, from the boom that followed WWI to the more recent hard times – making it innovative place with amazing architecture and a vibrant cultural scene. For example:

So as you can see, this race is worth the drive to Detroit, so make sure that passport is up-to-date, and register now! Use discount code IRUN to save 20% on any race registration – I’ll see you there!


The Secret Delights of a Rookie Pace Rabbit

July 23rd, 2016


It was a disastrous start just 500 meters into my first pace rabbit assignment. I was running the 55-minute pace for the inaugural Toronto Waterfront 10K and my pre-race excitement had fizzled into shock.

The essential tool in my pacing repertoire – my GPS watch – could no longer be trusted as GPS signals bounced through the financial towers of downtown Toronto. My GPS pace oscillated from 4:55/km to 6:05/km and the first kilometer on my watch was way ahead of the course marking.

But fortunately, I had prepared.

Feeling the Pace

Two days prior to the race, I went out for a 5:30/km pacing practice run. As any reasonably intelligent pace rabbit should do, I agreed to run a pace that I could comfortably perform. My primary challenge, however, was to reign myself in from running too fast.

During my trial, I would run by feel, check my pace, curse myself for going too fast, adjust my run by feel, and check my pace again. This was all about developing my “effort memory” to help keep myself in check for race day and I was glad for my anal-retentive tendencies.


Pacer Ear Problems

The last thing that I had to practice before race day was running with my pace-rabbit ears. The good folks at Canada Running Series had the bunny ears custom-stitched to an awesome Ciele pace-rabbit cap. With a bit of trepidation, I donned on the cap on for the first-time and began to run. Within my first few steps, I was overwhelmed with an unexpected feeling: floppiness.

I ran a little bit further trying to ignore that floppy feeling but it came back over and over again. This was a problem.

I quickly decided that I needed to find a way to secure my ears so that they would stay up (cue the laughter). I wasn’t handy enough to stitch and tape wouldn’t hold for long. Thankfully, I was clever enough to determine that a couple of well-placed safety pins would keep this pace-rabbit’s ears up for the duration of the race – phew.


The Community of Rabbits

On race day morning, the pace rabbits all met up for a pre-race group photo. Each of the pace rabbits represented a different run club from across Toronto and it was great to see a community of runners coming together. Each pace group had their own giant but surprisingly light pace sign to act as a beacon for goal-time runners.

I had the good fortune to be paired up with Allegra as my pacing partner in crime. We agreed to take turns carrying the pace sign and we were both equally excited at the prospect of pacing others towards their goals.

Pace Mode Not Race Mode

As we headed into our corral, it was a nice feeling to have runners congregating around us. As the start horn blared, the first challenge of the race was in holding the a giant pace sign in my right hand while starting my GPS watch as we crossed the start timing mat. After that, it was all about reminding myself that I was pacing instead of racing and that I had to keep my effort in check.

The course starts in the downtown Toronto core and heads south through the high rises of the financial district. My eyes widened as I checked and re-checked the pace fluctuations my watch was reporting. Allegra’s GPS watch was also having problems so we had to take a different approach to pacing – we were going into manual mode.

Although our GPS watches were inaccurate for distance and pace, they could still be used reliably as a stopwatch. Whenever we saw our next kilometer marker, we would check our elapsed time and adjust our pace to cross each split as closely as possible to the target pace time – it was a bit of mental effort, but it helped us to stay focused.


Coaching, Cheering, Passing

The best part of pacing duty is that it gives you permission to be an encouragement to others. I would remind runners to get a drink at the aid stations and provide advice on how to squeeze the top of the cup to minimize spillage. As we headed down the one main hill, I focused our pace group on letting gravity do the work. As we headed back up that same hill, I emphasized using our arms to pump our way back up. I was doing my best to ensure that others could run their best and I absolutely loved it.

With the last kilometer upon us, I advised my pace group that it was now time for them to go through one final push. Both Allegra and I didn’t want anyone to finish with us – we wanted everyone to finish ahead of us. This was the first time that I was happy to have runners pass me towards the finish as it meant that they were likely to be meeting their goals.

As we headed into the final stretch, we were now well versed in matching our desired elapsed time with a specific point on the course that was now the finish line. As we neared the finish, I glanced at my watch and we slowed ourselves just a bit. We crossed the finish mat, raised our pace sign in celebration, and finished with a 54:59.

Keeping the pace,


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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewchak on Instagram: @andrewchak

On Russia, Rio and Racing: John Halvorsen Handicaps the Olympic Games

July 21st, 2016

John Halvorsen, centre, in red shorts, could’ve had the world record in the 10,000m if he only doped.

The Rio Olympics are now just two weeks away and there’s tremendous buzz circling their arrival. Russians and doping. Disease and mosquitos. And oh yeah, Canadians in pursuit of their medals. John Halvorsen, race director of the Ottawa Race Weekend, competed in the 1988 and 1992 summer Olympics and knows most of Canada’s top runners well. We asked him to handicap the action and put iRunNation in our top runner’s shoes.

Q) As a former Olympian, what’s going through the mind of the Canadian Olympic athletes right now? 

A) Nervous excitement. It depends a little on if it’s your first Olympic experience or even your first international experience, but at no other event do you feel so under the public eye than at the games.  You have the media plus your whole supports structure—family, coaches, club mates and sponsors.   Most are also going through their final preparations to be in the best shape they can be as well we planning their trip.

For the most part it’s all about staying calm and focusing on why you are there. You need to prepare mentally so you visualize that this is like any other race and you follow the pre-race plan that has worked for you in the past as best you can.  At the same time you need to be adaptable since everything is different at the games as your plan may not be possible due to security, space you are given, timing of when you have to move into call rooms and so on.

Q) If you were racing in Rio, how nervous would you be about the conditions? 

A) At the games you are quite isolated in the village since it is a bit of a security compound.  Most people don’t realize this.  The services on site are also typically very good and the athletes know to be careful, say with food they’re not used to. So in the village I don’t see a problem. At the training centres or competition sites it’s also quite secure and isolated. Now I think for some sports this would be different than track and field. Some sports may have smaller villages closer to their competition sites and some may compete in questionable conditions—we have all heard of the places where the triathlon swimming will occur.  Then there is the famous Zika virus which is definitely a problem, but I think the probabilities are quite low and even then for most it will not be a problem.

Q) Would you go? 

A) Definitely yes.

Q) The Russian doping scandal now seems pretty apparent. Top officials must have known what was happening. What should be done about the Russian athletes? 

A) My view is the team should be banned.  This is the kind of doping violation we often talked about almost jokingly saying it could not be this bad in the post cold war era, but clearly it was.  A team punishment is quite serious but we need the IAAF & IOC to take a stance or international sports is at the brink of irrelevance.  Unfortunately this may impact athletes in Russia who perhaps are clean all though it appears this is not just a sports administrator problem, it is also a cultural issue.

Q) Is it just Russia, or is doping widespread? What can be or should be done to address this problem? 

A) My fear is this is much more widespread than Russia. In Russia it looks to be state sponsored while I think in other parts it is maybe not as blatant but still part of their practices. This extends in to the west as well where we see suspected pockets of coaches and athletes. In terms of what to do I think WADA needs to continue to push the agenda of clean sports. I think in most western countries WADA and regional bodies like CCES in Canada has control of where the athletes are and can actually do a lot of out of competition testing whereas in other regions it is unfortunately more difficult. There is also an educational element.  Finally WADA unfortunately need to stay on top or even ahead of developments in medicine so they can actually test for what is being done.  This is a difficult tasks since the cheaters look for benefits in any new medical development, even in gene therapy, some which for no test exists.

Q) What does doping do for runners? Was it widespread in your day or something you worry about at the Ottawa Marathon?

A) Depending on what is used the benefits can range from pure physical increase in strength or stamina (numbers of over 10% or even 20% increase in performance metrics has been reported although I think it becomes less in well trained athletes), to mental benefits like improved well being and aggression, as well as to hide the use of banned substances you may be taking. In my time we certainly heard about it in distance running. In explosive events like sprints and throws we knew it was happening as people like Ben Johnson got caught but few distance people were caught. This has thankfully improved and now distance athletes are getting caught.  As a former athlete it certainly is frustrating to see what is happening and it does make you wonder who did what back then, or even now.

Q) What do you mean?

A) If I take my best 10,000m time of 27:43 and add on a 5.2% improvement I would have the world record today which is 26:17. If I consider the world record when I was running I would ‘only’ need an improvement of about half of that. So it makes me wonder at times where I really stand as more and more revelations come to light.

Q) And what about at your race? Is there cause for concern?

A) No. As an IAAF Gold label event we must test several athletes and we are very happy to do so.  This is the role we can play in the current WADA program. We support in competition testing at our event and look at a potential positive as success in weeding out the bad apples and not as a negative on us.    Another interesting discussion is should we let any formerly caught athletes who have served their suspension into our race? My personal view is I would support lifetime bans but don’t feel we should implement it until WADA/IAAF/IOC does.

Q) Let’s switch gears and get serious: can our runners win gold? 

A) I’m excited to see how the Canadians can do. We have some strong medal contenders in Andre De Grasse (100m/200m) as well as Melissa Bishop (800m). Melissa has been running really well recently so I hope she can get a medal. Gold will be very difficult as Caster Semenya is now back and running really well. Of course Caster Semenya’s participation will likely also be a point of discussion unfortunately but a fascinating story to follow.

I think those are the main medal contenders on the running side but I hope to see several top 12’s out of the team, not just in running but also field events.  Watch for pole vault, high jump to name two, but it is always fantastic to watch the surprises that inevitably happen whether on the running or the field side.

Q) What would have to happen for Reid to win? For Krista? 

A) I think for Reid, Krista, Eric or Lanni to win is a long shot in the marathon but medal times are often not as fast as in the larger marathons including Ottawa. They would need to run smart and be a little lucky with having their best-ever day while a few others don’t. In any case we should be very proud to have such a strong Canadian contingent of distance runners (5000m and over) in the Olympics.   Especially considering the doping control system we have and evidence now suggest others don’t.

Q) Did you understand the controversy with Athletics Canada regarding Lanni not being able to run the marathon? Do you think they made the right decision in allowing her to run? 

A) First of all I’m not exactly sure if the controversy was real or not.  In any case, yes I think they made the right decision to let her run. These things are also much more complex than most people recognize and are likely driven by strong influence of Sports Canada and Own the Podium which set ‘performance metrics’ on the administrators.  I also think Athletics Canada has moved in a hugely positive manner to (mostly) use the IAAF standards for selection and which I believe over time will only strengthen the sport in Canada.

Q) How likely is it that she can medal in both events? 

A) I think it is unlikely she will medal in either event but she met the standards and should be allowed to run if she is top 3 in Canada. Our sport need heroes for the next generation to look up to and to say “I can beat her.”  This is the role Lanni, Krista, Eric, Reid and the entire Olympic Track and Field team will play over the next four years. Whether they medal or not is too me not a measure of success.  They are already successful runners and success at the Olympics is to me based on having a good race given the course, conditions and reasonable expectations.  We should also not lose sight of the fact that Athletics is the worlds most competitive sport with more nations participating and the easiest to participate in.  Everybody runs!

Q) Lastly, can you share with us your favourite Olympic story. Either one of yours or one that you saw or just one involving Canadian athletes that makes you inspired? 

A) To me it’s when my room mate from Barcelona 1992, Vebjørn Rodal, went and took the Gold in the mens 800m in Atlanta 1996.  My plan was always to be in Atlanta so it was bitter to be at home with a cast on my leg after my second achilles surgery, but seeing him win that race was something special. He has a great personality and ran with incredible guts. I also think he had the best expression of “I can’t believe I just did that’ on his face after.

Ask JP: Why Every Runner Needs a Sherpa

July 18th, 2016

With the fabulous summer weather finally upon us, it’s quite easy to block out all those painful memories of training through the cold winter months. But it’s only a few short months until those bone-chilling hours at the staging area waiting for one of your fall races. Running is definitely one of the most beautiful gifts you can give yourself; however, I think it’s important to remember that success in running does not happen in isolation—many of us would be lost without those people who are always there to support us.


By: JP Bedard

Now is the perfect time to give a huge “shout out” to the lesser-known heroes of our sport, without whom, we mere mortals of the running world would be at a loss. The people I’m referring to are none other than what I affectionately call our  “Running Sherpas”. Just as highly skilled mountaineers would never contemplate an assent of Mount Everest without the assistance of trusted Sherpas, adept at the highly technical Himalayan passes, we runners are beholden to those caring individuals, who among other less attractive duties, drive us to and pick us up from races near and far. My wife often jokes that she’s not entirely sure when she signed up for this gig, but without a doubt in my mind, she’s the best running Sherpa on the planet.
If I had to write a job description for a running Sherpa, it would most likely sound something like this:

Wanted:  Faithful Running Sherpa

  • Must be willing to forego weekends and family time during spring and fall racing seasons
  • Must be content to wander aimlessly around race expos as your runner weighs the pros and cons entailed in purchasing compression socks versus compression sleeves
  • Must be content to subsist on a diet that includes eating pasta 4 nights a week
  • Must be willing to forgive (or most likely – ignore) your runner’s inevitable grumpy mood and irritability during the taper period leading up to each and every race
  • Must buy in to the idea that 10 pm on a weekend really is a ‘late night’
  • Must be adept at standing for hours watching an endless stream of runners while you wait to take the perfect action shot or video of your runner grunting and waddling down the homestretch toward the finish line
  • Must be amenable to giving your runner a big hug, and if you’re lucky, a big kiss after the race even though your runner is a salty, sweaty, smelly mess

If you don’t already have your very own Running Sherpa lined up, I suggest you get cracking on that one as soon as possible. If you’re not sure how to recruit one, let me pass along a little sage advice my wife has on the subject. Pick destination races that offer a great time to check out a new city or country –preferably ones with excellent shopping and fantastic restaurants.  Also, if you’re not targeting a particular race as your goal race of the season, and there’s no hope in hell of you getting on the podium, don’t hold up in your hotel room the day before the race saying: “I want to rest my legs before the race.”  Remember why you started running in the first place, and be grateful for all of the incredible things you will discover about yourself along the way. Much of our training is a lonely and isolating activity, so why not embrace the opportunely to share your adventure with those you love? By far my most memorable running experiences were those in which I embraced the camaraderie and festivities of the race itself.

Follow Jean-Paul’s blog,  find him on Twitter and Instagram, and send him your questions!

Nike’s Track & Field Kits for Rio

July 18th, 2016

With the latest technology from the Nike lab, track and field athletes are tapping into #UnlimitedInnovation in time for next month’s Rio Olympics.


By: Karen Kwan

Reduce drag and maximize effort. At the Nike #UnlimitedInnovation preview a few weeks ago in New York City, it was this basis and the Nike Vapor track and field kits that intrigued me the most. Using the brand’s AeroSwift technology (which incorporates recycled polyester), the stretch knit is breathable and features Nike AeroBlades, tiny formed nodes that channel air around the athlete (in the London 2012 Games there was flocking in the Nike sprint apparel; so think 2012s nylon flocking, but kicked up several notches in terms of technological advancement). What’s this result in? The greatest drag reduction of any Nike track and field kit ever. And with Canada’s Melissa Bishop winning the Women’s 800m Final the following week and qualifying for her second Olympic team while sporting this kit, I couldn’t help but immediately think of what fractions of a second these AeroBlades contributed to.

AeroBlades are found not only in the T&F kits but have also been strategically incorporated into leg and arm sleeves and on adhesive patches for the Nike AeroSwift Tape kit. To determine the best placement of the AeroBlades, Nike used mannequins of similar shape and size to its athletes and a wind tunnel to find where they worked best at minimizing drag.

Looking at every minute detail, Nike also worked on improving the track and field bib. The old safety pins with the bib flopping about is more than 100 years old and while it’s fine for runners like most of us, for elite athletes, it, of course, creates drag and resistance. Borrowing from the AeroSwift Tape kit, the AeroSwift Bib is a single, perforated micro-layer knit that can be applied directly to the kit, making it seamless and comfortable as it stretches and moves with the athlete.

Excited to watch the athletes compete (and this technology put to work) in Rio! I streamed on Facebook Live from the Nike #UnlimitedInnovation preview, by the way; you can check it on on the iRun Facebook page if you haven’t seen it yet.

Karen Kwan is a regular iRun fashion and travel contributor, and you’ll find her running fashion posts every Friday on Instagram. She contributes to a number of publications and you can also follow her travel and running adventures at Health & Swellness.

Running Beside Your Olympians: Reid Coolsaet & Eric Gillis

July 16th, 2016

Welcome to back to Running Beside Your Olympians – an exclusive look into your Olympians to honour the 28 Olympic sports.

With the 2016 summer Olympic games are fast approaching! Hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5th and 21st, more than 10,500 will compete for the whopping 306 sets of medals up for grabs.

Keep checking in with iRun and we’ll fill you in on the latest, juiciest and impressive facts about the Canadian athletes that will be proudly representing Canada this summer.

With the Olympic Games around the corner, Team Canada recently released a commercial to show they have ice in their veins. The stake are high and Canada and is ready – let’s celebrate and honour that!


Today, we’re highlighting two running legends – each shaking the running scene in their own right! Reid and Eric will be running alongside one another at the 2016 Rio Olympics, proudly representing Canada. Congratulations from the entire iRun community!!


Reid Coolsaet, Marathon 

Reid is a celebrated long-distance runner, known for his background and successes in the 5,000 meter. In 2009, Reid took the marathon scene by storm. Notably, in 2011, he ran the second-fastest marathon by a Canadian athlete, finishing third in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, with an impressive time of 2:10:55. He went on to represent Canada in the 2012 London Olympics and will taking the international stage one again in a few weeks in Rio.

Eric Gillis, Marathon

An internationally renowned athlete, Eric is celebrated for dedicated athleticism and impressive running career – thus far! Eris is well-known for representing Canada in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 10,000 meter and competing in the Marathon distance at the 2012 at the London Olympics.

Keeping his momentum, Eric will be competing in his 3rd consecutive summer Olympics in Rio. We will undoubtedly be seeing great things from Eric in the upcoming weeks.

Activewear Gets a Colour Run

July 15th, 2016

Remember when you could not find leggings in anything other than black? Snooze fest. Although I of course appreciate and wear black tights and solid colours, I’m a big fan of brights and prints when it come to my fitness gear (a brilliant pattern can almost mentally energize me for a run sometimes). Such as these pretty painterly tights from Nuvango Gallery & Goods.

By: Karen Kwan


The Toronto shop on Queen St. West recently came out with an activewear collection of shorts and leggings ($59 and $99). The first collection features more than more than two dozen works of art, each made in collaboration with one of the gallery’s artists. Made to perform well (so yes, the fabric is sweat-wicking and odour-resistant) but in eye-catching designs such as this print of ocean waves in a soothing green tone. Available in store and online at

Karen Kwan is a regular iRun fashion and travel contributor, and you’ll find her running fashion posts every Friday on Instagram. She contributes to a number of publications and you can also follow her travel and running adventures at Health & Swellness.

Running Alongside Your Olympians: Meet Krista DuChene

July 15th, 2016

The 2016 summer Olympic games are fast approaching! Hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5th and 21st, more than 10,500 will compete for the whopping 306 sets of medals up for grabs.

To honour the Olympics’ 28 sports, iRun will be kicking off our latest campaign:

Running Beside Your Olympians!

Keep checking in with iRun and we’ll fill you in on the latest, juiciest and impressive facts about the Canadian athletes that will be proudly representing Canada this summer. Spoiler: some of these athletes include Krista DuChene, Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis!

With the Olympic Games around the corner, Team Canada recently released a commercial to show they have ice in their veins. The stake are high and Canada and is ready – let’s celebrate and honour that!


Let’s kick it off right here, right now!

Krista Duchene, Marathon Distance

Krista Duchene, mother of three from Brantford, Ontario outran Athletic Canada’s Olympic standard qualifying time of two hours, 29 minutes and 50 seconds in April 2015, at the Rotterdam marathon in a time of 2:29:30. After facing difficulties with the “competitive readiness,” which is easier said than done, Duchene proved that she was physically fit to compete at the Olympic games. Duchene is ready for the challenge and highly anticipated to put on an impressive display of athleticism in Rio.


Photo Credit: Saucony Canada

Some facts to know about Krista:

  • Krista has become known as the “marathon mom” across the country for her awe-inspiring ability to juggle motherhood and her career as a professional runner.
  • At the Montreal half-marathon in 2014, Krista completed the race with a broken leg!
  • Krista’s half-marathon record time stands at 1:10:52 and full marathon at 2:28:31
  • She’s the second fastest Canadian female marathoner of all-time
  • Sometimes, to augment her busy schedule, she does speed work around the playground of her daughter’s day care
  • She’s a seriously talented hockey player
  • A nutritionist, she eats wisely; however, she will spoil herself post-race with chocolate
  • She credits her faith with maintaining a positive outlook
  • She’s seen as an inspiration to the younger women in Canadian distance running, especially Rachel Hannah, who helped her off the course in 2014, Montreal
  • Sometimes, when she can’t race, she’ll act as an announcer for the races, as she’s done several times at the Calgary Marathon
  • She’s on the cover of the next issue of iRun magazine and we’ll be launching a contest with her in which readers can win pairs of her autographed shoes!

Go Krista! Everyone in the iRun community – and country for that matter – will be cheering you on come August!

Check in often to see what other fun facts about your Canadian athletes we have in store for you. 

Improve your core and balance with one simple exercise

July 13th, 2016

There is a moment in every stride, while running, where you are supporting your entire body weight on just one leg. So it makes sense that having a strong core and good balance will make you a more efficient and will boost your performance.


By Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg BSc. Kin

The modified side plank is an exercise that every runner should do, regardless of your skill or fitness level. This exercise is a static one that strengthens the core while improving spinal stability, improves posture, boosts metabolism and decreases your risk of a back injury. And as an added bonus, it will also strengthen your shoulder girdle. For optimal results, perform the modified side plank for 30-60 seconds 2-3 times per side, at least three times a week.

Modified Side Plank

How to: Lie on your side with bent knees. Position your elbow under your shoulder with your forearm flat on the ground. Keeping your head in a neutral position, lift your hips up and push them forward so that your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and be sure to push your hips forward and do not hold your breathe. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

What I Have Learned On My Runs

July 13th, 2016

Having run well over 100 marathons, lost more toenails than I care to mention, and logged more miles in a year than most people put on their car, I’ve learned a few things about what it means to wholeheartedly call myself a runner.


  1. My priorities have most definitely changed. There was a time I’d stay up late on a Saturday, eat and drink whatever I wanted, but not anymore. I’ve shifted my priorities to make room for running in my life, and in the process, running has cleared a space inside of me that allows me to appreciate what is really important in this world.
  1. Believe it or not, I became less socially-competitive and more self-competitive. Don’t get me wrong—the moment I hear the gun go off at the beginning of a race, I want to cross that finish line before the person in front of me. That being said, the majority of the time I’m running and training, I’m only competing against myself, trying to beat my last kilometer split on my GPS watch.
  1. Instead of running away from something, I started running towards something. One of the gifts you get when you lace up your shoes and head out for a run is that you begin to connect to that part of your soul that demands your complete attention. The longer I run, the more I run towards that place inside me.
  1. I am now completely in tune with my body. Unlike most other sports, running is just about you, and you alone, propelling your body through space. It’s because of this very simplicity that runners are naturally more in tune with their body. Stick with it long enough and you’ll do your damnedest to stay healthy and keep your body in motion.
  1. In order to pursue your passion, you need a “Sherpa”. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pampered elite runner or a novice out for your first 5k race—every runner needs a “Sherpa”. I would be completely lost without my incredible wife, Mary-Anne, who drops me off at races, snaps pictures of me along the course, and is always waiting for me at the finish line with a BIG hug and warm clothes. Running has made me realize that to be successful in any passion you pursue, you should never underestimate the importance of your support team.
  1. Running has brought me to my senses. Let’s face it—We as a society are becoming lazier. We drive everywhere, and we entomb ourselves in a little iBubble, a byproduct of our smartphones, headsets, and game devices. I love running because it puts me right into the streets or into the wilderness. When I run, every sense is electric and buzzing. From the crunching of the snow beneath my feet to the sounds and smells of the city core coming alive, I feel authentically connected to everything around me.
  1. For a sport that uses a stopwatch, time is really irrelevant. Even if you’re in the middle of a race trying to hit your goal time or on the track for a speed workout, time is ultimately irrelevant. Running compels you to stay in the moment, connect with your breath, and roll with your cadence. So for me, every run has nothing to do with cumulative time, and everything to do with a series of connected and highly charged moments.
  1. I have built up my resiliency bank. Running has made me not only physically stronger but also more mentally resilient. Running requires you dig deep, and access that “will” inside that many non-runners never access. I think this has a lot to do with why runners wear their scrapes, bruises, and blisters like badges of honor. You’ve earned it, so wear it proudly!
  1. I’ve learned the importance of belonging to a tribe. My running family is an incredibly supportive community. I look forward to connecting with my “tribe” every day on social media, and meeting them at races across the country, and around the world. This caring group of friends has been there to share in my triumphs and to hold my head up when I’ve hit some dark, challenging times.
  1. In order to keep it, I need to give it away. The irony of running is that it is a bountiful gift that will bring immense joy into your life, but in order to keep that joy, you need to give it away and “pay it forward”. I owe an incredible debt to the running community for everything it has brought to me and for everything it has unearthed in me. It is with this in my heart, that I am always eager to speak to running clinics around the city so that I can share the wealth of this way of life.


Next issue: August 2016
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