at the races Options for Runners, Right Now

Options for Runners, Right Now


As we move into June, it’s becoming painfully clear that racing as we know it will not return anytime soon. While we haven’t heard word on some of falls biggest races—events like the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon—we know now that the Canada Army Run in September will be held virtually, and other big events are following suite. October’s GoodLife Victoria Marathon and the Hamilton Marathon, originally slated for November 1, are also now either cancelled or virtual runs.

So what’s a runner with itchy feet to do? If you’re in Ottawa, Sportstats, the parent company of iRun, has created a Physical Distance 5K. It’s like a time trial meets actual race, because there’s an official race clock and results.

Kicking off at their office at 155 Colonnade Road, in Ottawa, this event is open all summer long, and has the potential to spread nationwide. “The beginning of the Physical Distancing 5K proved very popular and the people who’ve tried it, love it, so we’re looking to expand,” says Marc Roy, Sporstats CEO, of his self-serve 5K with a MyLaps touch-less timing system that works on remote sensors and bibs, and features no human contact during the event. A runner is mailed out a bib and books a time for their run, which is held on sidewalks and trails and avoids traffic lights. Shari De Jong was the first participant.

“It was nice and quiet. Just me and the birds.”

Another fun event in Canada, that began in the U.S., is The Slow Mile Challenge, brought to us by the great Molly Seidel, one of America’s best marathoners who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and ran the mile once with a PB of 4:46:08. Inspired by a challenge via Citrus Magazine, Seidel ran the mile—and that’s the catch, in this un-serious serious running event, a participant must be running at all times—in a time of 36:56:01. It’s since taken hold of participants looking for a good time, and is certainly a fun thing for a family.

Meanwhile, in the adult-only category, there’s the Beer Mile World Classic, the only track-based running world championship being held this summer. And definitely the only one in which participants are encouraged to drink beer. We spoke to Nick McFalls, the event producer, and he said there’s still time for Canadians to compete. Canadian women, especially, are encouraged to show off their skills.

It’s a wide open field for our women. I’d like to see as many fast Canadian women—and beer drinkers—participate as we can.

Lastly, there’s the Canada Day Challenge, presented by Virtual Run Canada, with some of the fanciest bling in the game. This event, held all through July and featuring events at 2K, 5K or 10K, offers race entry, medal, and unisex T-shirt. Not bad for a time when most of us are feeling that distinct twinge of disappointment that we haven’t picked up a new race shirt since spring.

Stay safe out there everyone. Practice social distancing. Give walkers a wide berth. And always remember how lucky we are we can run.