The Toronto Marathon kicks off this Sunday morning, two weeks and a day after the horrific van attack by Alek Minassian claimed ten lives. As so often happens in sports in 2018, the event will go on and the race will be held, with additional security measures in place and a solemn air hanging over the route. We caught up with Jay Glassman, race director of the Toronto Marathon, in which iRun will be hosting a series of talks this Saturday with attendant racing experts and legends, such as Kathrine Switzer, in town for the event. Glassman expects runners from over 53 countries to participate in his race, and says more than $1 million has been raised this year for local charities (since 1995, it’s been more than $14 million). “You hate racing under these circumstances,” says Glassman. “But we don’t cancel races. That’s not what we do.”
iRun: How close is your start line to where the van attack took place?
Jay Glassman: Just around the corner on Yonge Street. Participants will be running past where the attack took place.
iRun: Has anything changed on your race course?
Glassman: The course remains unchanged from last year.
iRun: What will the Toronto Marathon do to acknowledge those horrific events and the horrible loss of 10 lives?
Glassman: We will honour the victims with 1 minute of remembrance just prior to the start of the marathon.
iRun: God, I feel like I’ve been present for so many of these. You also held your race after the bombings in Boston in 2013. What does it mean for a city to carry on with events like marathons and races and not be deterred by terrorists and murderers?
Glassman: We can’t let these acts of violence deter us from going about our daily lives. It’s hard to make sense of the senseless, and we are lucky that we live in a country that does not tolerate violent actions like this and hate crimes. It’s important to go on with life while also important to remember the lives lost in this terrible act.
iRun: Can you talk a little about what sort of police presence we should expect?
Glassman: The Police will be, as always, present all along our course and at all intersections to make sure that our participants can safely navigate the course while providing direction to pedestrians and vehicles as well.
iRun: How many years now have you been running the Toronto Marathon?
Glassman: 23 years.
iRun: Does that experience help you in the face of the unprecedented situation you find yourself in this year?
Glassman: We have worked with many people in many departments of the City; Police, Transportation, EMS, Water, Parks, by-law and others and believe we have a good understanding of what they require as they have for what we need.
iRun: It’s crazy, because we also live in Toronto. And finally the weather is nice. It’s almost like a marathon in the city, like after the shooting in Vegas, will help us reclaim our streets.
Glassman: It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day and we want our participants to enjoy themselves and the city as they head from Mel Lastman Square to Ontario Place. We have a lot to be thankful for and a beautiful city, nothing celebrates it like a big city race.
iRun: How have your numbers been overall?
Glassman: Our numbers are up from last year. I think this is largely weather related, as the past three years we have experienced poor weather in the weeks leading up to the event which impacted our numbers.
iRun: What should runners expect by doing your race?
Glassman: A great PB course—all of our courses; Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K, and 10K are fast courses—mostly flat, or downhill and definitely scenic as we take in many of the neighbourhoods of the city. We have a great Expo with over 40 vendors and lots of great deals to be had on the latest runner apparel and gear. A beautiful technical shirt and medals to every finisher. At the finish line, we have beer in the Moosehead recovery area and a huge RMT team to help work out those sore muscles. Lots of support on the course and from the 1,500 volunteers to help keep our participants motivated all the way to the finish at Ontario Place.
iRun: Good luck out there. And thanks.
Glassman: This is what we do. It’s an honour to put on races in this great city I’m lucky enough to call home.