We were shocked and greatly saddened this morning to receive the news that Danny Kassap passed away at Sunnybrook Hospital overnight. It is so very sad and tragic, and a great loss to the Canadian running community — especially those of us in Toronto who were a close and intimate part of Danny’s “running family”.
Our thoughts will be of him today and in the days to come. Especially the Danny smile. With the smile came a zest for life, and particularly for running. Running was what had given him his road of escape from persecution in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001. The Francophone Games in Canada gave him the opportunity for a new life in Canada, and he never looked back. It was a new life that began modestly at Covenant House with the struggles confronting many new Canadians just to get by. But his great talent for running soon connected him with Ross Rustica and the University of Toronto Track Club, that became his “new family”. His passion for running, and his positive, enthusiastic personality were infectious. They immediately touched all his training partners at UTTC. I believe he ran his first race with us at Canada Running Series [CRS] at our “Powerbar Rock ‘n Roll 5K’ in July of 2002 where he placed 5th in 14:46 [running as Danny Tshindid]. Perhaps his greatest moment was his unexpected victory at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2004 in 2:14:50. It was a victory that took three minutes off the Course Record of the fledgling Waterfront event and gained it further “respectability” following Ed Whitlock and Fauja Singh’s age-group World Records the year before. It gave us an unlikely Toronto champion and Canadian hero. It propelled both the event and a young refugee who was working in a fish and chip shop to get by, to national and some international recognition.