Toronto. October 25th. The winners of the 2011 Neighbourhood Challenge at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon were announced today in Toronto. Twelve dynamic neighbourhoods, their runner-Champions, their charities and supporters duked it out last Sunday (October 16th) to see who could create the best spectator cheering section, to claim not only bragging rights from the Humber to The Beach, but to take home some major prize money for their local causes, too.
“This year’s Challenge was just outstanding, by far the best we’ve ever had,”said Race Director, Alan Brookes. “I don’t know if it was the cumulative momentum of the last few years, some great neighbourhood rivalries, or the fact that we were all on national TV with CBC, but our neighbourhoods did us proud on the world stage. The crowds, the decor, the entertainment and the energy were fantastic across the 42k course. I’m just glad I didn’t have to be a judge — I think they had the toughest job of all on race day!”
After extensive post-race deliberations that included reviewing TV footage and race-day photos as well as their own reports, this years’ four celebrity judges awarded the title of “Neighbourhood Champions” to St.Lawrence, by “the narrowest of margins” over GreekTown. The $6,000 first-prize claimed by St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association – who had been champions in 2009 – will all go to support the Nutrition Program at Market Lane School, Downtown Alternative School and St. Michael’s Schools. The program provides breakfasts and lunches for students “to feed young minds”.
GreekTown, located at Eastern Avenue and Broadview (39.5km mark), will share their $3,000 second prize award, along with the fundraising efforts of their runner-Champions, amongst the Greek communities of Toronto, Mississauga and Markham, the Hellenic Hope Centre and the Hellenic Home for the Aged. GreekTown was organized by the Greek communities of the GTA with the support of Consul General Dimitris Azemopoulos and Councillor Mary Fragedakis.
This year’s Neighbourhood Challenge was so hotly contested that the judges have announced a tie for 3rdplace between last year’s champions, Swansea, and The Beach. They will each receive $2,000 awards that will go to 4 groups in Swansea: the Ratepayers Association, the Community Recreation Centre, the Swansea Legion Branch #46 and the Town Hall; and to the Christmas Hamper Campaign at Community Centre 55 in The Beach. The West and East End friendly rivalry was also driven by a personal challenge between Councillors Sarah Doucette and Mary Margaret McMahon who were both out in person to exhort on the runners and their spectator groups.
In addition, a “Most Honourable Mention” ($1,250) goes to St.Christopher House for a wonderful display, replete with Brazilian Carnival Dancers, representing King West/Liberty Village; and Honourable Mentions ($1,000 each) have been awarded to PARC: Parkdale Activity & Recreation Centre and Cabbagetown Youth Centre.
“We are SO proud of the outstanding participation by all our neighbourhoods this year,” said Brookes. “Both Canada Running Series as the organizers and Scotiabank as the sponsors, are totally committed to giving back to the communities we run through, to support their programs on a year-round basis. And the event is made so much more of an enormous success because of the engagement and support of the community.”
Awards and cheques will be handed out at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Awards night, on November 29th, where the various neighbourhoods will also report their total fundraising achievements.