Up until now, Toronto has had the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September and the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon in October.
They are only 3 weeks apart, leaving some residents fuming... shutting down a slew of streets once for a marathon gets folks a bit upset, but when they do it all over again just a few weeks later? Then the gloves come off.
There are clear benefits to having a marathon in the city. People come from all over Canada (and beyond) to participate, they stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, and they experience the city in a way that is second to none. Even as someone who has lived here more than 10 years, I was surprised how wonderful the people of Toronto were when I ran the Toronto Marathon.
But two marathons? In 3 weeks? It's twice the aggravation for dubious additional benefit.
In fact, it has been argued that having two marathons prevents either one from being particularly successful. The Toronto Marathon had around 2,000 finishers, Toronto Waterfront had just shy of 3,000 (not including the shorter distance races). These are not particularly impressive numbers - even the 30K Around the Bay race in Hamilton draws over 6,000! Chicago is a similar sized city and draws 30,000.
For 2011, the city will put out a request for proposals. Undoubtedly, the two existing races will submit bids, and possibly others.
In my opinion, Toronto's wish list should be:
- Size - more people, more economic impact
- Showcase Toronto - the course has to showcase the city's neighbourhoods and sights.
- Profile - the Waterfront race has this, big prizes attracts some top marathon talent.
There is no reason why a Toronto Marathon can't be the biggest and best marathon in Canada, and be a destination race for athletes outside of this country.