Marathon weekend to bring legends, champions and city leaders together to set records on the course, and in the community
TORONTO, Sept. 25 /CNW/ -- The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) kicked off marathon weekend today by celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Runner's Expo with a cake cutting ceremony featuring marathon legends, global elite athletes, local dignitaries, and members of the community. This year, a record-setting 99 community and Neighbourhood charities will be supported by the Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge and Neighbourhood Challenge, both of which raise funds through pledges collected by marathon, half-marathon and 5k participants. Organizers are hoping to raise more than $1.5 million for these community causes.
"The race has truly become a signature event in Toronto,"said Race Director Alan Brookes. "We're thrilled to see not only the rapid growth of the event, but the way our civic leaders, neighbourhoods and local charity groups have really embraced Scotia Waterfront this year. Can you imagine, the Mayor running? And Councillor Stintz, Olivia Chow, Mike Colle, Peter Fonseca, George Smitherman. Everyone's either running or knows someone who is. And those who aren't running - like City Councillors Saundercook or Bussin are out cheering for them."
"This year marks just how far this world-class marathon has come over 20 years," said Kyle McNamara, Managing Director and Head, Scotiabank Small Business. "We're celebrating the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as a great race for this great city, one that is accessible to the population but also competitive to the elite athletes as it raises funds for local charities."
A record 50,000 runners and spectators from 40 different countries are participating in this year's STWM weekend, including returning champions, Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia and Kenya's Kenneth Mungara. Seboka, who set a women's course record in 2008 with a time of 2:29:06, faces strong competition this year from a set of young Ethiopians, Amane Gobena, Haile Kebebush and Kenyan Lydia Cheromei. The men's field pits the experienced - 31 year-olds Gashaw Melese Asfaw and Kenya's Daniel Kiprugut Too - against some of the world's top 'up-and-comers' including Kenya's Joseph Maregu.
Legends to watch!
Some of STWM's most memorable and beloved athletes from the past 20 years are also featured in this year's line-up of returning legends, including U.S.A.'s Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first ever women's Olympic Marathon in the 1984 Los Angeles games, Canadian Women's Marathon Record holder Silvia Ruegger, who raced against Benoit Samuelson in the '84 Olympic Marathon to place 8th, and England's 98 year-old Fauja Singh, marathon world record holder in the 90+ age group for his 2003 STWM finishing time of 5:40:04. Joining Benoit Samuelson, Ruegger and Singh at this year's event is Canada's own legend, Ed Whitlock, the only person in the world over age 70 to have ever completed a marathon in less than three hours - a feat he accomplished at both STWM 2003 and STWM 2004.
A new route!
This years' STWM features an improved race route, now taking runners through The Beach, Leslieville and St. Lawrence Market neighbourhoods instead of the Leslie Street 'Spit'. There are also increased prize money incentives for time bonuses including the introduction of $25,000 each for new Canadian Men's or Women's marathon record, and a new start line for the 5k at the Exhibition Place.
Scotiabank MarathonKIDS program
Not to be missed on the 5k track are the 1,000 students in grades 4-to-8 who have been running in daily intervals of a marathon since the start of the school year. On Sunday, they will be completing the last five kilometers of a full marathon. These young athletes are participating in the Scotiabank MarathonKIDS program which promotes a healthy and active lifestyle from a young age while providing kids with the opportunity to increase physical activity and to work towards reaching a goal.
Locations! New for 5k!
Both marathon and half-marathon begin at 7:30 a.m. sharp, following opening ceremonies and neighbourhood festivities will continue until 2 p.m. The 5k has a new Start location at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place and a new start time of 10:20am. For full details, please visit www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com.
About Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half-Marathon & 5k is the flagship event of the Canada Running Series, and is both an international-class race and a major community festival. The 42k marathon is currently the third largest in Canada, and was the site for the fastest marathon ever run on Canadian soil in 2007. Its Neighbourhood Challenge and Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge tie the sporting event strongly into the broader Toronto community, and this year, 99 local charities expect to raise a record of more than $1.5 million that will go back into the neighbourhoods, communities and families of the GTA. Since its inception in 2003, the Scotiabank Group Charity Challenge has raised more than $4.25 million for local causes. The STWM has the distinction of being one of only five IAAF Label marathons in North America, along with New York, Boston, Chicago and Ottawa. Recognized as one of "Ontario's Top 100 Festivals" for 2008 and 2009, the STWM was recently voted "Best Marathon in Eastern Canada" by Get Out There Magazine.
Scotiabank is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, both in Canada and abroad. Recognized as a leader internationally and among Canadian corporations for its charitable donations and philanthropic activities, in 2008 the Bank provided $43 million in sponsorships and donations to a variety of projects and initiatives, primarily in the areas of healthcare, education, social services and arts and culture. Visit us at www.scotiabank.com