Stories by Chris Christo
Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 14 2011
The Trinidad and Tobago Road Runners’ Club touring team awaits the 9 a.m. start of the 12th edition of the annual Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon: Debra Agong, Dennise Demming, Glen Doyle, Victorio Hawkins and John Lum Young. It is a 9°C morning, definitely chilly. Temperature is expected to reach 13°C by noon. The Trinbagonians intend to run their best and enjoy this festive event.
Off they go: south on University Street and a sharp left on Wellington St. towards Front St. and Eastern Avenue then south on Trinity St. to Mill St. East to Parliament St. and then a left turn south. The twist and turns avoid the protest march by Occupy Wall Street – Toronto faction. All this time the runners are amidst the tall buildings of downtown Toronto.
At 3km the runners turn west on Lakeshore Boulevard and smack into a headwind. They continue west towards Windermere Avenue but the strong breeze is already taking its toll. At 5k Lum Young is feeling the soreness from calf cramps the previous day. He knows that this is much too early to be in trouble, not with 37.2 kms still to race. It will be one long outing. The rest of the team are running to plan.
At Windermere, they make a U turn and pick up the tail wind; but it is still taking as much energy to keep moving. In Swansea a rock and roll band injects some life into tiring legs.
The waters of Lake Ontario are extremely choppy; no doubt the subject of a rough seas bulletin. At Parkdale, 14km, a jazz band perks up the runners.
On the other side of Lakeshore they can spot 100 year old Fauja Singh, easily recognisable by his turban, heading west and on his way to becoming the first centenarian to complete a marathon. Affectionately called The Turbaned Tornado, Fauja ran his first marathon at 89 years of age and went on to establish the world record (5 hrs: 40mins:1 second) in the 90 plus category. Four days ago last Thursday he broke the world records for the 100 plus category in 8 different distances ranging from 100 metres to 5000 metres. This is his eight marathon.
Coronation Park then Liberty Village and kilometre 17, Brazilian samba dancers cheer on the runners. Right on Stadium Rd and east on Queens Quay. The breeze from the open lake is side on and pushing the runners off their racing line when the athletes are not shielded by buildings.
Just past Harbourfront Centre and the half way mark rock and roll musicians cheer on competitors. At South Riverdale (25km) a steelband raises the tempo. Doyle takes a quick jump up. He is running strong. Hawkins is not far behind. Agong is on target. Demming is cautious.
Chinese dragon dancers provide the entertainment at 28km. The kilometres are telling on the participants. The race is becoming more difficult. Hawkins is hurting.
Kew Gardens Park in The Beach area, kilometre 35, Sons of Beaches are going through their rock repertoire from the 50s to 80s. Runners persevere.
One kilometre further on, opposite the landmark Irish pub Murphy’s Law, the Beaches Cheering Committee are determined not to be outdone by their local music band. Their noise mutes the runners’ discomfort.
The marathoners turn west. Once more the wind is in their faces. Another vociferous cheering section in traditional Greek dress urges the athletes on at kilometre 39. The CN Tower is in the distance. The runners push through the pain knowing that the closer the Tower the nearer the finish line.
At Cabbagetown (41km) The Coppertones are in full flight inspiring dead legs. These musicians are active members of the Toronto Police Service; their way of giving back to the community.
With 200m to go an old fashion 5 piece jazz band encourages weary runners over the last hurdle.
Congratulations are in order to the TTRRC team, especially to Debra Agong who ran a personal best.
Special mention must be made of 81 year old racing wonder Ed Withlock who shattered his previous 80 plus world record with a blistering 3:15:54 run.