BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
The sounds of Soca music emanating from Lakeshore Boulevard is quite unusual for any Saturday morning unless it’s the morning of Toronto Caribbean Carnival. But on an overcast and seemingly ordinary Saturday morning, there was lots of running and dancing down the road to see. This was an entirely different kind of Toronto Carnival.
The Annual Toronto Carnival Run had yet another successful year as it greeted marathoners into its second run. The second annual run, which took place on July 22nd, gathered hundreds in the early morning, as they prepared to run in one of three races.
Marathoners were up and ready as early as 7:00 am at Toronto’s Inukshuk Park on Lakeshore Boulevard. Runners had a chance to register into one of three runs: the 5k run, the 10k run, and the children’s 1k run.
The morning began at 7:00 am with a baggage check for the runners and the chance for last minute registration. It then continued with an opening ceremony at 7:45 am, where all the runners were greeted and acknowledged, and shortly followed by a pre warm-up to bring the carnival spirit.
At 8:00 am the first set of runners taking part in the 10k race bolted down the road, as they were cheered on by many spectators. Runners were able to catch a beautiful glimpse of the water, as they ran along the shores of Lake Ontario. Up next at 8:15 am, runners taking part in the 5k run made their way down the road, as they jogged, ran or walked to the beat of the Soca music.
The children’s 1k race took off at 8:25 am, as the excited children hopped down the road with their parents and guardians by their sides. As spectators and supporters patiently awaited the arrival of the runners, they enjoyed a selection of the best Soca music provided by popular Toronto DJ Dr. Jay, also known as the “Soca Prince”.
As the runners began pouring back in from their marathons, they were awarded medals by the staff and cheered on by their supporters.
Kataisee Richardson, a runner taking part in the 5k race said she had a great time, especially since this was her first time taking part in such an event. “I had a really great time, it was my first time running a 5k, or running any type of race, and I thought it was really well organized, and really welcoming,” she said. Richardson added, “definitely going to be here next year.”
Many of those taking part in the Toronto Carnival Run were in it for the very first time or were also taking part in their first run. The event was welcoming and inclusive to make sure runners of all levels were included.
Gail Purcell traveled all the way from Grenada to be a part of the race, and although it was a last minute suggestion from some of her girlfriends, she’s glad she made the choice to participate. Purcell said, “I thought it was well organized and well planned, the route was good, it’s a good day, the weather was excellent for running.” She also noted that it was not intimidating at all. “Sometimes if you’re not a runner or not athletic, you think you won’t be able to make it. I think it’s good for walkers, for runners, for anyone.”
But the event was also a haven for those experienced in running and doing marathons. Gareth Allison has experience in a variety of different runs, but he noted that the atmosphere at this run was simply incomparable.
“I usually do 5k,10k and 15k runs, I’ve done a half and a couple of fulls [marathons], but this one is special,” said Allison.
Allison also noted that this was something he wanted to be a part of since it kicked off last year. “I heard about it too late last year, so I made sure to get here this year and every other year that they do it.”
Race director Dionne Mason took all measures to ensure that runners were able to have a good time and enjoy being active. Prior to the event while doing registrations at the Ajax Caribbean Festival, Mason noted the event raises money for the foundation. “This event is to promote health and wellness, and also to raise money for my foundation which is called the Simunye Foundation. Simunye is a Zulu word which means ‘we are one, union and strength’.”
The main goal of Mason’s foundation is to build a center that will preserve African and Caribbean Culture and also build a lifestyle center to promote health and wellness. Mason noted that her goal of building such cultural center would be a precedent in Toronto.
The Toronto Carnival Run came to a close around 9:15 am as the race winners were announced and awarded with prizes. All runners were treated to a Caribbean inspired healthy breakfast as the Soca music provided the perfect background music to an active morning. More information on the event and information on upcoming runs can be found on torontocarnivalrun.com.