TORONTO. January 8th. Organisers of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon received a wonderful Christmas present with the news their event has been awarded IAAF Gold Label status – the sport governing body’s highest road race laurels – for the first time in its history.
The Toronto race is the sole Canadian marathon to achieve this level and only the fourth in all of The Americas to be so honoured. Boston, Chicago and New York, which are all part of the World Marathon Majors series, are the other Gold Label marathons in The Americas. That’s prestigious company, indeed.
The announcement was greeted with elation by the fifteen full time staff in the Canada Running Series office, who have worked tirelessly to improve upon the Silver Label the race has held for the past seven years. The marathon is the grand finale of the eight race series.
“We believe the awarding of an IAAF label signifies that the race is in a unique class of road races,” said Paul Hardy, IAAF Competitions Director. “It is recognition of being one of the best races in the world, in terms of both organisation and quality of athletes.
“There are many criteria which a race must meet in order to be granted an IAAF label. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has proven that they are capable of meeting these criteria and have thus been awarded the highest level of road race recognition granted by the IAAF – an IAAF Gold Label.”
As the procedure would suggest it is not an easy task to meet qualification for Gold Label status. In order to do so the race must have a minimum of five men and five women from the very top of IAAF road race rankings and they must represent a minimum of five countries. In addition the race must adhere to stringent targets involving anti-doping, course measurement, fueling stations, road closures and media services as well as a requirement to broadcast the race around the world.
A year ago the STWM was the first marathon globally to Livestream the entire race on YouTube thanks to a groundbreaking partnership with Google. Respected international commentator, Tim Hutchings was brought in to anchor the coverage which was viewed by running fans in 110 countries. (see Highlights).
For Race Director Alan Brookes the Gold Label is the culmination of a career long dream. At the time he first became a race director many Canadian road race courses were inaccurately measured, few runners, apart from the leaders, received their finish times and support along the route was erratic. Over the years he set about harmonising race organisation to ensure quality races for runners of all abilities. Thereafter began the Canada Running Series.
“The Gold Label is the highest-level recognition for 30 years of hard work,” says Brookes pointing out that credit must be shared, “with the amazing volunteers, Toronto area running clubs and community, Athletics Canada, the City of Toronto, our charities and sponsors. We have an amazing title sponsor.”
Brookes singles out title sponsor Scotiabank which has been associated with the event for an unprecedented eighteen years.
“We’ve always had the goal of building top-quality, international road races in Toronto and across Canada,” Brookes admits. “When we started thirty years ago people used to tell us, “If you want a decent race you’ll have to go to the States.” It drove me nuts. And, I remember about 7 or 8 years ago, one of the major athletic brands telling us they weren’t interested in sponsorship, because ‘Toronto will never have a major marathon.’ So we had a fair bit of motivation.”
With pride the race management team point to 2014 when 27,000 runners took part in the race weekend, which also includes a 5km and a Half Marathon distance. Together they raised over $3.6 million for local charities. Brookes is especially pleased with the event’s association with local neighbourhoods, and leading running personalities over the years.
Canadian international runners Krista DuChene (2:28:32) and Lanni Marchant (2:28:00) broke the 28 year old Canadian women’s marathon record two years ago in Toronto while Canadian Olympians Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis have run their personal best times against the world class competition Brookes and his team bring in every year.
Brookes obviously has a soft spot for 83 year old Ed Whitlock who has become a celebrity within the world running community after setting two world age class records in Toronto. But it was seeing the Canadian All Comers’ men’s record lowered four times in the past seven years and the women’s All Comers’ record twice in the same period, that has helped the race deserve international attention.
The current Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon course records are held by Ethiopia’s Deressa Chimsa (2:07:05) and Koren Jelela Yal (2:22:43). The latter record remains the fastest time ever run on Canadian soil.
The 2015 edition of the race is scheduled for Sunday October 18th and will also serve as the Canadian National Championship for the first time. Buoyed by such wonderful news the management team can surely be expected to produce yet another world class race worthy of its new IAAF Gold Label status.
About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, and the Grand Finale of the 8-race Canada Running Series. In 2014 it attracted more than 26,000 participants from 60 countries, raised $3.67 million for 173 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. In 2014 it also became the first marathon to be livestreamed globally on YouTube, attracting viewers from 115 countries. In 2015 it will host the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships and the international Bridge The Gap movement. www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com.