There was a lot of joy, fun and sense of community brewing in East Scarborough on Saturday, June 4th. Not just a race, the Inaugural Scarborough 5K was a reflection of the diverse population of Toronto. Held at Morningside Park in east Scarborough, and organized by the community, 150 runners descended on the luscious green space for a run in the park. It’s an example of running members of a community building something that they know their area needs.
The course was on a bit of grass and a bit on paths; there were hills and flats to showcase the gem of a park that is located near Centennial and University of Toronto Scarborough campuses.
The event was sold out.
The brainchild of Melanie Murzeau, founder of the group Black Runners of the GTA, and organized by the Canada Running Series Foundation, it had run groups situated downtown joining groups from Scarborough for the first time. (The largest events in the city usually begin and end near Toronto’s City Hall).
Murzeau, a runner since childhood, remembers running cross country in Morningside Park, and is a firm believer in diversity, inclusion and representation. Her actions speak louder than words. “I want to bring Scarborough into the community as a form of inclusion,” she said. As a member of the running community, she realized the accessibility of events in Toronto and participating in run clubs was a barrier for Scarborough locals, particularly if the activities—that often start early in the morning—were located in the city centre. Murzeau told me that Scarborough is a community that isn’t often exposed to running events and, by bringing an event to Scarborough, bridges the gap and brings the Toronto East community into the wonderful run world.
It’s a sentiment echoed by On shoe representative, Anoke Dunston, who has taken two night buses from Scarborough to arrive at a 7 a.m. race downtown, an experience not unique to anybody living in suburban Toronto. An active member of the running community, Anoke helped planned the event and the race course. Organizing a race in Scarborough is significant for the community because the commute isn’t an onerous endeavour, especially if one is without a motorized vehicle. And it’s that theme of inclusion that took the day—the event was all about showcasing the joys of running, and spreading the message that everybody can run (especially in a beautiful location close to home).
True to form, the event, the Inaugural Scarborough 5K—featuring local high school volunteers and the Toronto run community—did not disappoint.
The event brought out many local runners. Event ambassador and founder of the Hill Run Club (HRC) in east Toronto, Allison Hill, along with Me Versus Me, Black Runners of the GTA, Parkdale Roadrunners, Raeden Run Club, Kardia Athletica, ChixRunTheSix and Kickback Connect, to name a few, all came together as participants and supporters to encourage and inspire runners of all ages, shapes, size and abilities. Local business Canbe Foods Inc donated vegetarian samosas for the post-race food and got a huge thumbs up from participant Denoja Uthayakumarr, who as a child would make samosas with her mother and continues that tradition today. Gabriela Estrada, participant and Program Director at Fast and Female, also approved of the food.
Anh Vuong, director of the Canada Running Series Foundation, hopes to continue the collaboration with Black Runners of the GTA to grow the event and make it an annual race in Scarborough.
The event raised $4,550.90, surpassing their goal of $4,000, and will go to support the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough (BGC East Scarborough) and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (FCFST) with Indigenous Spirit Fund. For more information, see Scarborough 5K on Instagram.
For race results, please see here. And if there’s an event that you’d like to host in your own community, if there’s a gap in the events where you think a community could benefit, please let us know. Let’s all work together and find new finish lines, for everyone.