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 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 iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

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

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

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 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

IRONMANIA WEEK: The Greatest Rivalries II

October 5th, 2015

We are ringing in our second edition of the IRONMANIA WEEK’S Greatest Rivalries! To celebrate the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 10th, we are posting all things Ironman for the entire duration of this week.

Without further ado, we are would like to celebrate the Iron War of 1989 between Dave Scott and Mark Allen.

After having won 6 Ironman Kona Championships, Dave Scott clearly had the recipe for success on the big Island.  While Mark Allen seemed to be able to beat him at all others races, Dave owned Kona and it wasn’t until 1989 that Mark would finally beat Dave and start his string of 6 Ironman Hawaii wins as well.  You might as well say there wasn’t a third place athlete in the 1989 Hawaii Ironman, because Dave and Mark beat third place Greg Welch  by nearly 20 minutes to form their own Iron War.  From the cannon at the start of the day, Mark Allen decided to swim on Dave’s feet and never leave him.  They excited the water in the lead and then started their 112 mile bike ride rarely more then a few seconds apart.  Mark made up his mind to let Dave set the pace and his job was to simply ensure Dave didn’t get away.  Off the bike the two American’s started their epic 26 mile battle.  Along Ali Drive in the first 10 miles they were side by side.  Up Pay & Save Steep Hill they ran only a few meters apart and all the way into the Energy Lab out on the Queen-K-Highway the two greatest men to ever do the race could hear each other breathe.


Dave Scott was a more muscular man and decided in his mind at mile 24 he was going to use the downhill section of the marathon course to push the pace and let his stronger legs take the punishment to get away.  Mark Allen on the other hand, didn’t want to leave it to the hill, knowing Dave’s strength and made up his mind that he was going to push the pace going up the hill just before 24 miles and see if he could break Dave.  With a flotitla of thousands of motorcycles, and bicyclists and helicopter sand TV crews near them, Mark Allen passed up going to the water station just before mile 24 and put a 30m gap into Dave.  The gap was never reduced and Mark Allen finally beat Dave in one of the most epic battles in Kona history to win the 1989 Hawaii Ironman for the first time and set a run record of 2hrs 40 minutes that still stands today. Mark and Dave took the previous record of 8hrs 26 minutes and pushed it down to 8hrs 09 minutes in one of the greatest two man battles ever.

Check back in with us tomorrow for more Ironman stories by Barrie Shepley!

IRONMANIA WEEK: The Greatest Rivalries

October 5th, 2015

By Barrie Shepley

Welcome to Ironmania Week! In honour of the IRONMAN World Championships on October 10th we are going to be celebrating the world’s greatest triathlon athletes coming together to battle it out in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

While just last weekend in Tennessee Krill Kotsegarov of Estonia ran past American Matt Charbot to win the Ironman Chattanooga to win the Ironman by a mere 2 seconds (the closest in history) with third place Stafan Schmid of Germany only 6 more seconds back.

This win inspired us to focus on the greatest Ironman battles in nearly four decades of Hawaii. Let’s kick off the week with two amazing stories: Julie Moss vs. Kathleen McCartney in 1982 as well as Patricia Puntous 1986 Hawaii Ironman Win then Loss.

Julie Moss vs. Kathleen McCartney (1982)

In the race that likely put the Hawaii Ironman on the map, ABC Wide World of Sports sent Jim Lampley to Kona to get 5 minutes of Scott Tinley doing the Hawaii Ironman and were planning a short news clip on their Saturday show.  Instead after Scott Tinley crossed the finishing line, Jim kept his cameraman shooting as Julie Moss was less than 500m from winning the women’s’ race.  What happened next is the thing that legends are made of.  Julie ran out of energy, cramped and fell to the ground.  So close to the finish, she couldn’t stop and was crawling to the finishing line with the cameras rolling on Ali Drive when Kathleen McCartney ran past her in the last sixty seconds to win the Ironman herself.  When Jim Lampley’s bosses at ABC realized the epic footage they had, they turned the 5 minute mini-story into a 30+ minute Hawaii Ironman show and all of the World were blown away with the courage and drama of the Ironman.  Julie Moss inspired many that day including her future  husband Mark Allen who went to beat Dave Scott in 1989 and win the race six times.

Patricia Puntous Wins Then Loses the 1986 Hawaii Ironman (1986)

The identical twin Canadian sisters from Quebec, Sylviane and Patrricia Puntous, were two of the world’s greatest Ironman athletes in the 80s.  They won dozens of shorter Olympic distance triathlons hand in hand crossing the line ahead of their competitors.  Sylviianne and Patricipa were 1-2 in the 1983 and 84 Ironman races in Kona.  In a hard fought win in 1986, Patricia Puntous ran herself into the lead and crossed the finishing line first  only to be later DQ for bike drafting later on.  The call was always vey questionable and apparently occurred near the 1/2 way mark of the 112 mile bike ride.  With live TV cameras rolling the elated Canadian crossed the line, believing she had won, and was sadly told she was DQ. Heart broken as you can imagine.   Today the call likely would not have even been made AND if it was, a 5 minute drafting penalty would have been given (versus a DQ).

Stay tuned this week for more amazing stories!

Bit by Bit Runners are Turning to Fitbit

October 2nd, 2015

fitbit fitness1

Some might remember the step counter. A simple device that attached to your belt or pocket and counted each step you took. I can honestly say I’ve met many people who got a step counter and one day started with walking and shortly moved on to running. Today, the step counter looks much different. Even with all the bells and whistles, the concept is still simple, to count your steps and motivate you to get moving.


Fitbit started in 2007, launching a much sexier version of that old step counter for the health conscious person. They decided it was time to integrate design and technology into a product that would inspire people to live a healthier, more active lifestyle.

From the very first Fitbit to the present day Fitbit, many things have changed. There is now a Fitbit for everyone, from an everyday walker, active lifestyle pursuant or the high-performance athlete. Not only do we all have fitness goals, but we also have our own technology needs. Fitbit will find the perfect activity tracker for you.


Fitbit recently launched the Charge HR. An activity tracker that is so much more. To list a few, like the name suggests, it continuously tracks your heart rate. Not only tracking steps, distance and calories burned, it will track how many floors you climbed. It tracks movement while you sleep, letting you know if you slept soundly or were restless. It also has a built in alarm, clock and caller ID. As far as an activity tracker goes, it’s fairly robust. Fitbit ambassador and trainer to the stars, Harley Pasternak, uses Fitbit not only one on one with clients, but helps them become part of a bigger community. He said, “Community is important and Fitbit allows you to link up with friends, family and co-workers to share ideas, integrate healthy competition and stay active.”

fitbit infographic

As a runner, I’m more accustomed to the GPS watches on the market, devices that track my lap times, distance and current pace. I can also track my heart rate with a heart rate monitor strap. When it comes to the Fitbit, I’m more interested in how this tool will help with my training. As someone who runs between 10-15K a day, I’m definitely going to hit the magic Fitbit number of 10,000 steps. The steps aren’t as concerning to me as the other parts of this gadget. If you are a Couch to 5K person, this is definitely a great starter tool for you. As an intermediate to expert runner, there are many other reasons why you might want to slap a Fitbit on your wrist.


The most important organ used for running is our heart. Heart rate monitor training can be complicated and even scary for some beginners. Unless you have a heart condition, heart rate monitor training may be a little overwhelming. Instead think of using a tool like the Fitbit to monitor your resting heart rate. Resting heart rate is a good indicator of improved fitness, whether you’re overtraining, or even coming down with a cold. Another great way to use the heart rate tool, especially for beginners, is recovery. Tracking your heart rate as it goes up is great, but a more important number is what your heart rate does on the way down. How long it takes for your heart rate to go back to normal is a great indicator of improved fitness. For the intermediate to advanced runners, I highly recommend using a heart rate monitor as a tool during your recovery runs. Maintaining a steady zone 1 heart rate for non-workout runs will ensure you’re getting the proper recovery while staying active.

fitbit fitness2

Whether you want to start a new fitness program or get some hard cold data about your workouts, there’s a Fitbit for any lifestyle. Fitbit is a great activity tracker that comes with a built in community, while keeping you motivated to stick with your fitness goals. Over the past 10 weeks, iRun and Sport Chek have been giving Fitbits away to our readers. To see how you can win a Fitbit, and to check out a really cool training program, see


fitbit fitness3

Nike Honours ALL Marathon Finishers in Newest Commercial

October 1st, 2015


By: Megan Black

The new Nike commercial, title “Last”, is making headwind in the fitness community – and with good reason. All too often we are saturated with professional athletes and statuesque models advertising fitness apparel and sport. We are bombarded with impossibly idealized standards of what it is to be an “athlete”. Of course, these commercials are inspiring and motivating, but are they realistic? Nike’s new campaign “Better For It” has paved the way for a new type of athlete – the everyday guy or girl looking to improve and better themselves through sport. Not long after, Nike’s newest commercial went live. It highlights one simple fact: Anyone can be a runner. All you have to do is start running.

The commercial opens with a wide shot of runners heading down a hilly street littered with paper cups from earlier competitors. The sun is setting, clean up crews with begun their duties and pedestrians now freely and safely cross the street. Then follows an exhausted woman at the end of the pack. The voiceover begins, “If you look up the word marathon it’ll tell you that the first person who ran 26.2 miles died. He died. And he was a runner.” The woman then reflectively states, “You are not a runner. You are especially not a marathon runner. But at the end of this, you will be.” Finally, the commercial closes with the signature “Just Do It”.

The sport of running is incredibly unique. Elite runners, weekend warriors, running novices and often time’s walkers all start, race and finish on the same course. While it is awe-inspiring to witness elite runners race a marathon at top speed in just over two hours, an often under appreciated and overlooked crowd is the back of the pack. These individuals work, sweat, push and suffer more through 42.2 kilometres just as the elites did – arguably, struggling more as they are on their feel for almost three times as long. The new Nike commercial respectfully honours these final finishers.

This commercial has taken the internet by storm. Individuals are refreshed by the unique honesty Nike has embraced and are sharing their thoughts. Some notable YouTube comments read: “This made me tear up. I started running 11 years ago and I didn’t think I could. I was always told I wasn’t “athletic” but now I AM a marathoner! Great work Nike!” and “Respect for the DFL! A finisher is a finisher!!”. Non-runners have chimed in as well, commenting, “I probably couldn’t roller blade 26.2 miles” and “Mad respect for anyone who suffers through 26.2 miles”.

Nike has done it once again! Pushing us to: Just Do It. So get out there, go for a run! Because guess what? If you run, you are a runner.

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the Nike commercial

As always, please share your thoughts! We love hearing from you.

Five things we learned from running legend Jack Daniels

October 1st, 2015


On December 5, Jack Daniels, former Olympian, run coach extraordinaire, and inventor of the Daniels’ Running Formula, which, among other things, concocts a very simple equation for the distance of your long run, will be in Toronto to give a clinic at Black Toe Running. Prior to the event, and prior to our feature in the December issue, in which Daniels’ coaches everyday runners from 5K to the marathon, we picked the mind of the trainer that Runner’s World declared “the best in the world” and is still running everyday at 82-years-old. Here’s five things from the man.

5.  You Don’t Have to Freak Out About Shoes

When asked what shoes he prefers or what he makes of the minimalist sneaker movement or pronation-correcting sneakers, Daniels laughed. “I’ll wear anything that comes along,” he said, adding that sometimes he’s invited to speak at running camps, hosted by a shoe sponsor. “Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony: If they give out running shoes and I get a pair, I’m happy. It’s the training, not the sneakers, that makes a runner great.”

4. Peak Soreness Doesn’t Occur the Day After a Hard Workout

In fact, 48 hours after a hard workout is when you most feel the ache. Daniels’ has his runners try speed work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they have a Saturday meet, in order to keep their legs sharp, but also give them time to recover. Remember that, everyone racing on a Sunday: if you’re not limping on Monday, don’t be surprised if on Tuesday you have trouble handling the stairs.

3. 30 Minutes is the Magic Number

Daniels says that the benefits of a 30-minute run over a 10 or 20-minute run far outweigh the health benefit difference between a 30 and 60-minute run. “30 minutes is ideal, much better than 20, but not much worse than an hour,” he says before adding: “A 10-minute run is certainly better than nothing, but at that clip, you spend almost as much time showering and getting dressed as you do in your shoes.” If you can find 30 minutes, that’s an ideal time for a run.

2. Two and a half hours or 25%

If you’re wondering how long your long run should be prior to a marathon, think either 2.5 hours or 25% of your weekly mileage. When applying the Daniels’ formula, it becomes immediately obvious that must of us don’t run enough. For instance, if you want a 30K long run prior to your marathon, you should be running 120K-per-week. Are you running that much? I know I’m not. And long runs shouldn’t exceed two and a half hours. “Seems like that’s just too long to me,” Daniels says. For half marathoners and 5K, the same equation holds. Don’t exceed more than 25% of your weekly distance on any one run. The answer? It’s not that you should cut down the long run. It’s that you should increase your mileage per week.

1. Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number 

Inspired by his daughter, Daniels ran his last marathon at 77-years-old. “My longest training run of the previous five years had been three miles,” he says, adding that we often apply our own limitations on our abilities. Granted, Daniels is a former Olympian, but he ran his marathon in Flagstaff, at altitude, and was nearly 80-years-old. “People are always looking for a magic solution to finishing a race, but why is 20 miles for a long run better than 19? I’ve never understood that. Someone has to prove to me that there’s an exact corresponding long run distance for everyone, until then I’m going with two and a half hours.” Can you run a marathon at 80 without training? Certainly it’s not advisable. But it’s possible. And Daniels is living proof.

Incidentally, Daniels doesn’t drink Jack Daniels or any alcohol whatsoever. His brother was killed by a drunk driver and rather than drinking, Daniels prefers to run.

For more information and registration for the coaching clinic in Toronto on December 5th  Athletics Canada is giving out professional development credits to all attendees who have an NCCP. It’s also an opportunity for coaches to become certified by Dr. Daniels.

Marathon Playlist Set to Romance

September 28th, 2015


Every time I run a marathon, I put my music on at about 26K. I always plan to save it until around 30K, but it seems like I never can. Generally, I start asking for help just after the halfway mark, and music is the best response I have found.

A lot’s been made about apps that design the perfect running tunes to match your stride and running tempo. RockMyRun can do such a thing, giving you music around 160 beats-per-minute for a fast run and more like 140 for something more closely resembling a jog. People have tried this and been happy, and that’s excellent.

Personally, I have a hard time tracking how many steps I take in a minute and can’t even get my head around the math. Actually: I don’t want to. I like running because of the feeling, and sometimes even a watch feels like I’m subjugating the personal freedom which is one of the best things about running I enjoy.

Putting on music during a race goes against another thing I love about racing: interacting with the crowd. But it’s a soaring, searing, emotional surge I get when hearing my favourite music while out on a run, and for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, for which I’ve become hell-bent on breaking three hours, I am organizing my playlist in an unusual direction: I want to listen to emotional, uplifting love songs that remind me of my wife and children and make me happy instead of pounding Metallica, Can’t Tell Me Nothing by Kanye West or the punk rock from Bad Brains I think I’ve listened to in every race. I want to run on gratitude, not anger, and I want to feel every second of my experience, and have it heightened. And that’s why I’ll be racing to Simon & Garfunkel and the Young@Heart chorus doing Fix You while I try to squeeze every last drop of energy from my body.

It started at the Boston Marathon. In 2012, I was also hell-bent on breaking three hours and I came into the race like an amateur. I couldn’t stop thinking about my pace and strategy and I was nervous and driving myself (and everyone around me) crazy. It didn’t feel like a fun thing. It felt like a war. Which can be cool but, in this case, it wasn’t. By 10K, my race was already over. For the life of me I couldn’t hit 4:16-per-K. It messed with my mind and drained my confidence and somewhere around the half marathon, I began to walk. I’d never done that before.

I was feeling down-trodden and like a failure, when I turned my music on. I can’t explain the emotional lift I was given by the live version of Nothing As it Seems by Pearl Jam, but it was something bordering on the spiritual. It picked me up, erecting my spine, and, slowly, I got my groove back. First, I began slowly jogging. Then, I picked up my pace. A smile came on my face and I began playing the air guitar. People watching the race were going nuts and I realized something in that moment: we have a decision to make with every race. These experiences are ours and ours alone. I can determine whether or not my run is successful. And in Boston, time be damned, I won.

This is the playlist I’ll be listening to on October 18, although I’m sure a song or two will be tweaked between now and then. I hope you like the mix and I hope, no matter when or where you’re running, that you choose to treat yourself nicely. Any time we get out there, it’s a win. I’m going to be running relaxed and happy—breaking three hours with love in my heart. Listen here:

Rocking, Rolling and Running the Montreal Marathon

September 27th, 2015


Last weekend, a record-breaking 34,000 runners ran through the streets of Montreal and enjoyed one of the best racing festival weekends in Canada. The Rock ‘&’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon was full of French ambience, whimsical shopping, and an all-ages, all-distance running party where everyone was invited.

RnRMtl-25 Medal-474

The little details that mattered

As soon as I started picking up my race packet, I knew that this was going to be an exceptionally well-organized event. I received four safety pins in a cute, mini Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon zip-lock bag with a zip-tie for bag check. Then, there was a custom-printed transit pass for runners to use throughout the race day. And lastly, a really nice detail of the race was that you could customize your bib name to which I christened it with my Twitter handle (as if you hadn’t figured that out already).

RnRMtl-Paperclips and Passes-474

The expo featured the usual fare of being able to purchase any last minute piece of make-you-run-faster running gear that you could think of. Whimsical souvenir race apparel was plentiful and there was also a wide assortment of running gear on sale. Unfortunately for my shopping habit, the medium-sized gear was gone by the second day of the expo in which I arrived that was fortunate enough for my wallet.


A most entertaining course

The half-marathon course is shared with the first half of the full-marathon and it is one of the most uniquely varied and entertaining courses that you can run through a city-based road race.

The Jacques-Cartier Bridge serves as a majestic start line containing 26 corrals of runners waiting to be unleashed through the city. After the start horn blared, we headed down to Île Sainte-Hélène and winded our way through La Ronde amusement park where we ran past stationary Ferris wheels and roller coasters.

RnRMtl-Bridge Start-474

We then headed over to Île Notre-Dame where we sped through the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Formula One racetrack and we would imagine ourselves finding an extra gear as we managed the tangents. As per the namesake of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, the rock bands were distributed throughout the course and they performed the best rock songs that reminded us that it “hurts so good.”

RnRMtl-Rock Band-474

As we headed back to the mainland, we navigated our way right through Old Montreal and this is where the local crowds appeared with cheers of “Allez! Allez!” (“Go! Go!”) and “Bravo!” We then passed through the downtown core and it’s at the 19K mark where things got challenging as we climbed up a 700m hill on Rue Berri. At this point, we were reliant on the magnetic pull of a roaring finish line at Parc La Fontaine to power us to the end.

The every-runner finish party

One of my favourite aspects of this race is that the 1K kids marathon, 5K, 10K, half- and full-marathon have a shared finish line. It is a real joy to be able to share in a race finish with runners of all shapes, sizes, and ages as it really speaks to how running can be accessible to everyone.

RnRMtl-Bouncy Castle-474

The park environment makes for a festival-like feel and there were bouncy castles for the kids, a Hedley concert for rock lovers, with beer and food for everyone else. I was fortunate enough to have access to the post-race VIP area (totally worth it) that featured hot lunch items, massages, and a professional post-race photo that was emailed to you afterwards.

RnRMtl-VIP Tent-474

Here’s to another 25 years

From 9,000 participants in its inaugural race to now over 34,000 participants in the 25th edition, the Montreal Marathon is well-deserving of its growth. The race will continue to grow when in 2017, the event will be hosted over the course of two days in order to accommodate more runners and nighttime entertainment. If the great experiences of the past couple of years are any indication, I’m looking forward to another 25 years of this great race (and hopefully I’ll still be running then!).

RnRMtl-Finish Photo-474

Cheers to another 25 years,


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

On the Hazards of Racing and this Past Sunday in Montreal

September 25th, 2015

BLOG-HEADERS-BEN-KAPLAN2015 Montreal Rock n Roll Weekend

Photos: Eric Tremblay

On the bridge when the race began, you could actually feel the steel sway. I looked back from the start line of Montreal’s Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and I was moved with a sense of pride. Runners for as far as the eye could see. As the countdown began for the start gun, runners began cheering and a surge overcame the crowd.

I was elated and, like those around me, I began to cheer.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll race series stresses fun as much as it does finishing times, perhaps more so, and their events are popular all over the world. I’ve run in their events in Portugal and Las Vegas and neither race was about a PB. It’s about community. And a destination. And, sorry if this sounds cheesy, but happiness and fun. This is a race I’d recommend for a first timer.

In Montreal, I took off with the 1:30 pace group for the half marathon, and soon began speeding up. Bands were performing along the course, there was good audience participation and there were high fives.

“It was perfect. The music was beautiful and I noticed that the beat from the songs was matching my stride,” said Kip Kangogo, an elite Canadian marathon runner born in Kenya, who took second in the race. “The race was so sweet.”

It was the 25th edition of the Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and reports have said it had 34,000 participants. By the time I finished, around 10 a.m., racers and organizers were glowing at the post-race festival. I ran into Jean Gattuso, chief operating officer of Lassonde, the makers of Oasis juice, who had bussed 300 employees from their corporate headquarters in Rougemont to participate in the race.

“If we eat well and train well, we can reduce the cost of health care in North America,” said Gattuso, whose company developed a special sport’s drink for the race. “This event is important to us because it’s a family event, accessible to everybody—not only elite runners, but families. We want to make sure the next generation is in shape.”


There were good feelings at the post-race festival, especially between the Lassonde staff and the Rock ‘n’ Roll organizers, because Lassonde had just renewed their sponsorship program for another seven years. At this point, there are Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll events in Montreal and Vancouver, but that could always expand (there are more than 30 Rock ‘n’ Roll events around the world). I kicked back, drank a beer and watched Hedley perform, and felt good about both my race and my sport.

Later, it came out that a 34-year-old woman had suffered a cardiac arrest on the marathon course and would eventually succumb to her condition and die that day in the hospital. It’s not the first time I’ve been on a race course where later we find out that someone has died. At the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2011, a 27-year-old died 300 metres from his half marathon finish line. These deaths are always gruesome and carry with them that stigma that our sport is dangerous and kills people. What’s more, you didn’t have to run that marathon, or 10K, or even walk around the block. It’s not like Parkinson’s or cancer, that strike at random. Perhaps people should just stay home and sit on the couch. I addressed some of this stuff in my book (Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now) and this is what the experts say:

“From the undertaker’s perspective, driving an automobile is a much more dangerous endeavour than participating in a marathon,” said Dr. Donald Redelmeier, Canada’s Research Chair in Medical Decision Sciences. “Science provides evidence that running is better, not worse, for your health.”

Between January 1, 2000 and May 31, 2010, there 59 cases of cardiac arrest in the 10.9 million marathon and half marathon runners. In Canada, when I published last year, every seven minutes someone died from heart disease. Running can exacerbate a pre-existing heart condition. So can any strenuous activity. Fifty percent of the 59 cardiac arrest casualties had been suffering from a hardening of the arteries. The runners just didn’t know it at the time. You have to get yourself checked out before you start training. (And by no means do I say this to discredit the woman who passed away in Montreal or the man in Toronto; my heart goes out to them and their families; this is only meant to establish some facts about our sport).


Here’s one last quote from my book:

“If you bring together any critical mass of people on any given day, there will be people in the crowd suffering from heart disease,” said Dr. Aaron Baggish, associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.“Running is one of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

It’s a shame that the newspapers only really report on a marathon when something awful happens. It’s also a shame that people thinking about running or getting involved with any sport, can read about something like what happened on Sunday and choose not to get involved, not to get healthy, and not to exercise. It’s horrible what happened to that young woman. But that’s an aberration, and not a side effect of our sport. I’ll see you, I hope, at the races. Because there’s nothing quite like it on earth.

Band on the Run

September 22nd, 2015

Luke Doucet is a songwriter, 2:45 marathon man and a member of Whitehorse, a white-hot country rock band he plays in with Melissa McClelland, his wife. Ben Kaplan caught up with the country’s fastest rock star.


iRun: Say your house catches on fire. Which do you save—guitars or shoes?

Doucet: Apparently you can run barefoot. Air guitar? Not as cool.

iRun How did you start running? Why?

Doucet:  Melissa made one little innocuous ‘muffin top’ joke and my vanity spun out of control. Also—I suffer from fairly acute insomnia. Exercise is something I thrive on and always have. I need to burn fuel. After running sporadically for about a year, I decided to run every day one week. I did 5-8K daily runs until Sunday, when I set out in Hamilton with the goal of running until I was exhausted and then turning around and running home.

iRun: How’d you do?

Doucet: Good, I had no distance in mind other than to see how far I could get. I ran a half marathon that day, and have done so every week since—300+ and counting.

iRun: True or false, because I’ve been attri-buting this to you for years. Did you say, “We’re all allotted 10,000 beers. My problem was I tried 
to drink all 10,000 in one night.”

Doucet: I’ve said we each get 10,000 beers in life. If you drink them all in your 20s…you’ll have to die or get sober. How this relates to running? I like to have a drink. I like solitude. I like the city. However, as you approach 40, you realize that that lifestyle is only sexy in your 20s and maybe your 30s and then it starts to take its toll on you. Running not only adjusts the physical, but also resets the mental clock. It gives me new priorities and an opportunity to meditate.

iRun: Tell me about your current running program. Training for something?

Doucet: I’m eight months into my “year off,” meaning I’m not marathoning this year. I put in six hard years of 5-7 day weeks, clocking between 80 and 160K/week, running seven marathons, ten halves and a few 10Ks (hate them—too hard!) before I realized that I needed a slower year to recover.


iRun: Man, I knew you were fast but I had no idea that you ran that much.

Doucet: I sustained a hamstring injury at the Road To Hope Marathon and I’m still trying to sort it out. So I’m logging 60-70K/weeks with minimal speed work and no long runs beyond 25K. My plan is to start training hard again this fall while we tour. I’ll likely run a marathon in the spring of 2016 as a training run and a big effort in the fall of 2016 to try to beat my 2:45 PR (Hamilton 2014).

iRun: Whitehorse has taken off. Does that change your running? Are you busier? Happier? And do those things affect you as a runner?
Doucet: I’m both busier and happier. We also have a new baby and so now when I take the time to run, Melissa is alone with Jimi. My running didn’t have consequences before Jimi because Melissa and I work together—we spend more time together than other married couples (yes, all of them), so the “marathon widow” concept didn’t ring true for us. “Honey, I’m going to run for 2 hours every day… is that ok?” was met with “Bye!” Now that we have a baby, time is of the essence.

iRun: You don’t listen to music when you run. Why not? 

Doucet: Running is rhythmic and I need to allow my lungs, my energy, my goals for the day, to dictate my pace, not someone else’s song. I did listen to an entire Elliot Smith record on a run, but it was so dramatic that I had those songs in my head for a month. It started to cost me sleep. That’s too heavy.

iRun: Can you make us a running playlist?

• Get Out, Sloan

• There She Goes, 
The La’s
• New York, New York, Ryan Adams
• Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Rolling Stones
• Go It Alone, Beck

iRun: What gear do you wear?

Doucet: Shoes? I swing back and forth between New Balance (890 for daily runs, 1400 for racing/speed) and Mizuno (Wave Rider & Sayonara for dailies and Hitogami for racing/speed.) They’re very different philosophies (the NBs are soft and spongy, the Mizunos have the wave plate technology so they are fairly stiff), but I enjoy them both.

iRun: Tell me about your greatest run. Was it at a race? 

Doucet: My PR was my last race in Hamilton. I was coached by Tania Jones and the amount of work I did to go from 2:48 (Carmel, Indiana 2013) to 2:45 was astonishing. I added 30K more distance in my tough weeks. It was brutal, but it worked. I hit my target exactly and running along the Niagara Escarpment was breathtaking. The descent towards the lake involved a headwind that was fairly aggressive, but it meant that instead of putting the breaks on for those 6K of descent, I was able to just fall into the wind. I lived in Hamilton when I started running so it was pretty special to PR there, where it all started.

iRun So you’re taking a year off from racing to be a father. Does that mean, when you return, you’re trying to beat that PB?

Doucet: I don’t know if beating that’s possible. I’m 42 and have a nagging hamstring injury. I have a busy touring schedule and a new baby. My fantasy is to someday make a run at the Manitoba Marathon. It’s been won in 2:36. Can I knock nine minutes off my PR? It’s a terrifying prospect, but I may give it a go. We’ll see.

Luke Doucet, with his wife Melissa McClelland, record and perform as Whitehorse, and they tour Canada this fall. For dates, see

Stevie and Me

September 21st, 2015

The story of a man and his pit bull traversing the mountains in the name of cystic fibrosis.
By Devin Featherstone

It’s true what they say, that a dog is a man’s best friend. From the time Stevie was just about a year old we’ve shared countless adventures together. Although she’s one of the laziest dogs at home, when she hits the trails she comes alive.

2015-08-21_09-04-23Stevie is 80 pounds and large in stature, but she fears running water. One day, we’d done a long run through the mountains and encountered a river crossing. The water wasn’t fast moving, and it rose to be about waist deep. Stevie could not cross the river. Instead she watched me start to cross and let out a whaling sound that resembled a trucker’s horn. Obviously I couldn’t leave my dog on the other side, so I ended up virtually piggy backing her across the water. Fortunately for Stevie, her paws remained completely dry.

I have a love for photography and trail running has given me the opportunity to capture moments in places that most people can only dream of reaching. Cystic fibrosis has been a large part of my life. My friend Danger Dan has undergone not one, but two double lung transplants in his mere 30 years of life due to cystic fibrosis. Because I am actively involved with the group, I was fortunate enough to receive green Cystic fibrosis flags. Regardless of the mountain that Stevie and I conquer, we always take a picture of us waving and wearing our green cystic fibrosis flags.

Stevie has become an ambassador for cystic fibrosis, and wears her flag with pride. Her pictures have gone so far as to reach a man in Colorado who was recently diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. He requested to have a flag of his own—his goal is to summit mountains; to not let the disease control his life and his passions. One dog, one flag and a couple of photos on a long run have brought connection and, for me, a sense of appreciation. I have the ability to run. I have the ability to breathe. This is something so many people take for granted.

My passions have provided me the opportunity to see so much beauty. Although running is solitary, there’s something so incredibly special about looking over your shoulder and seeing your dog appreciating what you’re doing just as much (if not more than) as you do. They may not look at the same view and appreciate it at the same level. But they’re with you, and it’s a moment. And it means something. It’s yours, shared.

Since I’ve started running with Stevie she’s forced me to slow down. After a long day of work when the couch is calling my name, she’s always waiting for me to take her out, encouraging me to get out there on days that I might not have. There isn’t a day that I want to run without my dog or see a mountaintop without her standing beside me to share that moment. I truly recommend it and you will never forget those moments—especially if you can tie in a cause close to your heart.

Next issue: September 17, 2015
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