The Marathon Beneva de Montreal is September 22-24 and promises to be one of the most fun running events in Canada this fall. Montreal, no doubt, is always spectacular, and the team behind the event promises “something for everyone” at the thirty-first edition of Quebec’s largest running event. Last week, we profiled Alexandre Ratthé, the event’s executive producer; this week, we wanted to hear from an actual racer with experience on the course and in Montreal’s booming running scene. Meet Alex Diaz, TV host, author, entrepreneur, mother, runner—who offers her insight on this extraordinary event.
iRun: When did you start running and why?
Alex Diaz: To me, running is a lifestyle, and it brings me immense joy. When I first started running, I didn’t have much faith in it because I considered myself part of what I call “the rest of us,” those who are not naturally gifted in sports. However, one day, a close friend of mine who was an experienced marathon runner joined me for my very first run. He respected my pace and had a clever idea: he took me up Mont-Royal. I ran and pushed myself all the way to the top. When I finally reached the summit, an overwhelming sense of happiness washed over me. My entire body felt a deep sense of well-being that left me craving for more. It has now been 11 years.
iRun: What are your current fall goals?
AD: We’ll see. I’m a mother of two, managing two businesses, writing cookbooks (with the next one in progress), practicing Pilates for strength, and running to clear my mind. I refuse to sacrifice anything to stay active. If I can successfully run the 5K on Saturday and then complete a half marathon with my kids like I did last year, I’ll be over the moon. Yes, I admit, I have a bit of a hyperactive nature.
iRun: What would make Montreal an appealing running town to someone outside the city?
AD: The people. The latin vibe. The food. The legendary kindness of Quebecers. Montreal offers you enjoyment both before and after the race. You won’t be disappointed.
iRun: Is there a robust running scene in the city, and is it easy for someone not local to navigate?
AD: Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of Central Park, is also the mastermind behind our cherished mountain, Mont-Royal. Here, you’ll encounter both the dedicated runners (the elite) and those who simply enjoy running, year-round, on the track or along a trail. Having so much nature in the heart of the city is truly incredible. And you know what? The pathway that runs alongside the Lachine Canal, offering views of Old Montreal, may not be Ipanema, but it’s a stunning waterfront trail located just a few minutes away from downtown. That’s pretty remarkable as well.
iRun: What’s a common course where runners congregate, and why?
AD: In addition to the aforementioned locations, Parc Maisonneuve and Parc Jarry are also flat parks that provide ideal spaces for interval training. At the Étienne Desmarteaux athletics track, I often encounter accomplished athletes and champions. I offer them encouragement with a thumbs up, and to my surprise, they cheer me on with equal enthusiasm, despite my slower pace. I greatly admire their dedication and talent.
iRun: I know you’ve run the Montreal Marathon previously, is there anything about the run you might recommend?
AD: I’ve run many times, both alone and with friends. However, one of the most memorable experiences is running as a family with my children, who are incredible athletes. Last year, I surprised my son by signing him up for his first half-marathon when he woke up in the morning. Although he initially felt bothered by not being able to sleep-in, he took on the challenge and ran 21.1 km with no prior notice or preparation. It was an amazing accomplishment for him.
iRun: OK, you’re the local foodie, time for the million dollar question: where do you like to eat?
AD: Chez Damas is my go-to place for the most incredible Syrian food in the world, according to my personal taste. The dining experience there is both elegant and unforgettable. When it comes to authentic tacos and the best guacamole in town, El Rey del Taco at our extraordinary Marché Jean-Talon is a must-visit. If you’re craving a delicious fried halloumi burger and zataar fries, Chez Loumi is the place to go. And for a delightful grazing box take-out to enjoy as an aperitif on the Belvédère du Mont-Royal, À la table par Hanna is a fantastic choice. I could go on and on with a hundred more recommendations, so feel free to DM me if you want more suggestions!
iRun: That’s so nice of you! Let’s just make sure we leave no stone unturned, with regards to eating. Where would you recommend iRun readers celebrate post-race?
AD: La Buvette Beaubien is a wonderful choice, especially if you’re looking for a private room in the back for your group or duo. The restaurant offers an extra menu that adds to the festive atmosphere. It truly embodies the essence of a neighborhood restaurant where you can experience a true Montreal outing. La Buvette Beaubien serves hearty tapas that are perfect for sharing, and their impressive selection of wines by the glass is sensational. It’s the ideal place to celebrate weeks of hard work and dedication. Indulge in the flavours and let the fiesta begin!
For more information on the Marathon Beneva de Montreal, please click here.