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Trip to Toronto brings meetings with more heroes

On my recent trip to Toronto, I had three objectives; take a copy of my book Marathon Quest and give it to Right To Play (RTP) CEO, Johann Koss, compete in Bonsai the Don, a trail race with a twist, and run the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.
Martin meets with Fauja Singh, who ran a marathon last year at age 100.
Martin meets with Fauja Singh, who ran a marathon last year at age 100.

On my recent trip to Toronto, I had three objectives; take a copy of my book Marathon Quest and give it to Right To Play (RTP) CEO, Johann Koss, compete in Bonsai the Don, a trail race with a twist, and run the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.

I flew out on Thursday morning and was feeling a little fatigued. I was still feeling the effects of Soccer Quest 42.

My meeting with Johann was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Friday and Sarah, my RTP contact took me up to his office. She knocked on his door and he came out, joined by Clara Hughes.

Hughes was one of my inspirations for working with Right To Play. In 2006, after winning gold in the Turin Winter Olympics, she donated $10,000 to the organization to provide play based programs for many children. Luckily, I had brought another book and was happy to sign it for her.

In the afternoon, I had to head down to the marathon expo and pick up my race package. At the Running Room booth I chatted with John Stanton. John had been good enough to write a review for my book. It was then over to the speaker stage where I talked to one of my all time heroes Fauja Singh. Last year, at the age of 100, Fauja ran a marathon, the first centurion ever to do so. This year he was going to run a 5km “Victory Lap”. Good for him.

On Saturday I headed to the Don Valley Parkway for a very special event. A group called “Preparing the Trail” had organized a four hour trail run. This could be done in teams or solo. My buddy David and I decided to do it solo. The twist in the run was that at some point during the race each runner had to each plant two trees. “Preparing the Trail” is a grassroots, environmentally active, not-for-profit organization that use the power of sport to educate and empower a growing movement of environmental individuals, while supporting charitable partners Right To Play and Trees Ontario.

The 5.5km loop was through the Don Valley’s Crother’s Woods Trail. The scenery was spectacular and kilometre after kilometre ticked by. The race was reduced to three hours due to a late start but David hammered out 30km and finished first. His prize, a bonsai tree. I completed 19km, just the right amount ahead of Sunday’s marathon.

Sunday morning came around quickly enough and the rain was hammering down. David was suffering after his trail race and he dropped me off at the start. I chatted with Jerry in the purple coral. It was his first half marathon and I wished him all the best. As the gun went off, the rain stopped and 24,000 of us headed out onto the streets of Toronto. I planned to run a five hour marathon but I felt good and ran a faster pace. The effects of the trail race started to hit me as I crossed in the 30-plus km zone. I hung in and finished in 4 hours 40 minutes 28 seconds.

Another good day at the office.