Community Pride in the Name of Love: Pride & Remembrance Race Report

    Pride in the Name of Love: Pride & Remembrance Race Report

    Somewhere over the finish line.

    Race: Pride & Remembrance 5K

    Date: June 24, 2017

    Location: Toronto, ON

    At their absolute best, Toronto’s Pride Weekend and running are two institutions that celebrate love like no other. If you put them both together, you have the potential for a love—and confetti!—explosion.

    There are many ways to evaluate a race. Is the course manageable, safe, and properly measured? Are race operations smooth? Are the important amenities available during the race? What about the swag?

    In each of these respects, the Toronto Pride & Remembrance 5K is a great race, but there’s so much more reason for running.

    Beyond the “objective” categories, for me the races where I’ve been filled with the most joy and eager to come back are those that celebrate and connect you to something bigger, both in and beyond yourself. These races are about more than just the tangibles of running and athletics.

    They’re so damn enjoyable that performance becomes secondary, or at least not the sole criterion by which we measure an experience. They connect you to the community in a way that makes it more than a race.

    Because it’s nestled within the festivities of Toronto’s Pride Weekend, the Pride 5K feeds off the colourful vibrancy and energy that comes with Pride every year. As you make your way to the start line at Church and Wellesley, rainbow flags are already flying, music is already pumping, and the streets have already been closed off to traffic.

    Rather than a starting gun or horn fired off by some elected official who probably didn’t want to be there, the world’s oldest performing drag queen Michelle DuBarry counted us down and a confetti cannon signaled the start of the race. Of course you can’t run without a warmup set to “I Will Survive” and partly led by Premier Kathleen Wynne. How could you not be loving this?

    With a small out and back course, including two laps of Queen’s Park, you were never far from a cheering station and once you made your way back to the start/finish, where confetti was still flowing, revellers had poured in and Church Street was really alive. Each kilometre was a reminder that running and the city in which we run are communities we can be immensely proud to be a part of and ones we can be actively involved in making better as runners and citizens.

    By the finish line, you were far too drowned in positivity to worry about whether or not you’d run your absolute best race. The costumes, tunes, and messages of inclusivity reminded you that running can be about joy and sharing in the gift of movement. It’s not all about personal bests and beating yourself up over your shortcomings, customary and sometimes necessary as that can be for runners. For the moment, we were all too busy exchanging hugs for any of that to feel more than trivial.

    Officially, runners raced in support of Fife House, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, Casey House, and the Pride and Remembrance Foundation (more info on the race’s beneficiaries). Running through the heart of Toronto’s Church/Wellesley Village, historically home to the city’s LGBTQ community, you knew exactly who you were running for, those who were there that day and the needlessly many who weren’t here to celebrate this weekend.

    To run on this day really meant something. This race was about a community of runners of varying backgrounds and motivations lifting one another up and hopefully extending that love beyond our sport.

    • Ravi Singh