Scotiabank Charity Challenge » Digital Champions
The STWM Digital Champions are a group of diverse, dedicated and enthusiastic athletes; each with a unique story and running history. Follow their journeys, their ups and downs, motivations and challenges, as they train for the 25th Anniversary of Canada's #1 Big-City Marathon!
Ravi savours the constant affirmation provided by putting on foot in front of the other. When he started running near the end of graduate school three years ago, he noticed a gradual shedding of self-doubt (and pounds), a growth in confidence, and sense of achievement that he never quite knew previously.
Ravi documents his journey as a runner on Twitter as @ravimatsingh and on his blog. As a writer, Ravi naturally loves stories, so he is excited to be inspired by other Digital Champions and to hopefully inspire others to get moving. For the 2014 STWM, Ravi is hoping to drag others into his insanity by sharing the experience of race day with his father, who will complete his first 5K twelve years after suffering a heart attack.
Ravi's first race was the Toronto Island 10K in 2012, which he ran in a long-sleeved cotton shirt and basketball shorts on a hot September day. He has since completed two half-marathons (including STWM in 2013), some 10Ks, and the Around the Bay 30K. Ravi's secret weapon for success at STWM 2014, which will be his first full marathon, is the love and support of Tribe Fitness (@Tribe_Fitness on Twitter), a wonderfully diverse and optimistic group of Toronto runners.
Sally lives and trains just north of Toronto in Barrie. Being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle has always been an important part of her life and running has played an integral role in that. As a wife and mother of two with a demanding career and aspirations to complete a graduate degree, the opportunities to consistently train are few and far between. Diagnosed almost ten years ago with hypothyroidism also presented a new set of physical challenges for Sally and running has certainly helped her manage the ups and downs.
Committed to make her physical and mental well-being a priority, running has served a greater purpose and over the past two years Sally has been able to take on opportunities for competitive running as well. Sally is honoured to be a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and determined to go the distance in 2014.
Prasheel Gopal is a relatively new runner, starting up in August 2013, after reuniting with and watching his South African cousins at the ITU World Duathlon Championships held in Ottawa last year. Working full time as a mechanical engineer in Burlington, he gets up early to get his runs in while watching the sunrise along Lakeshore before work. Along with the engineering, he is also a professional flatland BMX rider and has performed and competed in seven countries.
With only a few races under his belt (Around the Bay 30K, Mississauga Half Marathon, MEC Burlington 5k), he attributes hitting his ambitious race goals to his newly adopted positive mental attitude (after dealing with depression and seasonal affected disorder for several years). He is excited to take on the challenge that is the full marathon, and has chosen the goal of a Boston-qualifying time or a sub 3:05 finish for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Karen was always an avid hockey player and the only running she ever did was on her coach's orders. It wasn't until she entered university and quit hockey that running became something that she decided to do on her own. It didn't take long for Karen to fall in love with running and she soon set her sights on completing a half marathon. Since starting running in 2011, Karen has now completed numerous half marathons, three full marathons, and looks to tackle a 50km next fall and eventually an Ironman.
Karen was able to cheer on her mum, her biggest running inspiration, at the 2012 STWM and since then has had the course on her race bucket list. After being derailed by an MCL injury in 2013, she is focused on achieving a marathon personal best this year and believes STWM is the perfect venue to accomplish that!
Karen currently studies Political Science at Brock University and can often be found running the waterfront trails in Niagara. Being a "tweetaholic" you can follow Karen on her personal twitter @kdancey as well as her health & fitness specific account @livefitandfree. Karen can be found uploading her post-run selfies to her Instagram account @kdancey. If you want to find out more about her latest antics check out her blog kdancey.tumblr.com.
Mandy has been running since her track and cross country days in elementary school. She picked it up again in 2010 after a rather lengthy break, inspired by her marathon-running dad with whom she ran her first full marathon - STWM in 2011. She is a trail running enthusiast and recently completed her first 50K ultra-marathon. Mandy's next distance goal is a 50-mile trail race, which she aims to complete before the end of the year. STWM 2014 will be Mandy's third 42.2K. Besides running, she is a fan of the mental and physical benefits of regular yoga practice, walking everywhere, fuelling a day with a near-absurd amount of good coffee, and having one-sided conversations with her animals.
Karyn began running in 2011 when she randomly decided to run a few laps at a local gym. It was a stressful time, having struggled for years with infertility and miscarriage. Running those few laps seemed to lighten the stress and frustration. She then set a goal to train for and complete a 5k race. After crossing that finish line, she was hooked.
Since becoming a mom in 2012, running became an even bigger part of her daily life. She has since completed several 5k's, several 10k's, and the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon. Running allows Karyn to relieve stress, take time for herself, feel more confident, and be a healthy role model for her young son.
Aside from running, Karyn has worked for over 10 years in the HIV/AIDS field and enjoys spending time with her husband and son.
Lara is a 40-something former federal public servant, now part time personal trainer and yoga instructor from Ottawa, and full time mom of 2 children under 10. Lara LOVES running and is excited to share her love of running with others as a 2014 STWM Digital Champion training for her first full marathon.
Lara competed in track and cross country in school but stopped doing sports and dance in her teenage years. Fast forward 20 years and running helped Lara get back in shape after starting her family. Running was instrumental to maintaining her sanity as a working mom but in 2010 it took on a more meaningful role in assisting with her recovery and emotional well-being after sustaining various injuries in a car accident including a traumatic brain injury which left her unable to continue her career in government.
After her accident, Lara started from the beginning all over again. She still deals with chronic issues from her accident on a daily basis, but is committed to keep moving forward. While her life looks different now, running has helped her realize that while loss shapes us it does not have to define us. We can still strive to have an amazing life! Sometimes it just requires a shift in perspective and expectations.
Growing up with a state cross country champion sister and a father who, still at the age of 75 years young, continues to beat competitors well below his age group, running was the something that Petja Taivassalo stayed as far away from as possible. However, since lacing up his first pair of "real" running shoes to start running with his wife 4 years ago, it didn't take long for Petja to become addicted to the enjoyment of getting lost in thought on long runs and giving/receiving the "runner's nod" of acceptance along the trails in Newmarket, Ontario.
Already having completed 2 full marathons and a handful of Around the Bay Road Races, Petja is excited to take part in his first STWM before he is no longer in his 30's. As a husband, father of 2 children, Brayden and Kesa, and high school physical educator, Petja lives each day determined to make not only himself but those around him have fun while being active.
Patrick Girard is a father of two young daughters who he hopes will grow up to love running as much as he does. His love for running began when his wife convinced him to register for a 5 km clinic at the Running Room in 2006. From there his obsession with running took off. He ran his first marathon in Ottawa in 2009 and has run a total of 10 marathons, including the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — only four weeks after a serious ankle sprain on the soccer pitch. Patrick is currently focused on qualifying for the Boston Marathon and hopes to do so this fall. On weekends you will often find him pushing a Chariot stroller as he as he takes one of his two girls on an adventure around Ottawa in order to fit in his longer runs.
Relatively speaking, Alan is new to running road races. The first one that he trained for with friends was the Sporting Life 10K in 2013. This opportunity to run alongside such an astounding amount of runners down Yonge Street was inspiring to say the least. In September of last year, Alan ran the Oasis Zoo Run 10K. The hills and rain were very challenging and he ran it alone. He started the race just metres away from Reid Coolsaet and Lanni Marchant, then finished a few kilometres behind them. Nevertheless, it was an experience to remember. It marked the moment he knew he wanted to run further and faster. On the heels of running his first half-marathon in May and under the coaching of Rejean Chiasson and the support of Black Toe Running Inc. training partners, he is excited to make STWM his first full marathon.
Training with Rejean's newly formed run crew, Pace & Mind, Alan's goal is to complete the Fall race in an ambitious time with some of his teammates. Along the way, he hopes to engage with as many runners as he can. He believes that everyone has a story to share and something to teach him. He will have to run his own race, but he is looking forward to making many friends while getting there; enough to replace the non-running ones he will lose due to a stubborn dedication to training.
Leanne's greatest passion is being a wife and mother of her 3 amazing kids! She officially started running after participating in Ottawa's Weekend To End Breast Cancer 60K Walk. Since then she has completed several 5K's, 10K's, half marathons and her first marathon at last year's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She recognizes that setting goals, signing up for races and sharing her journey with others is the best way for her to stay focussed and be accountable to achieve her goals.
Leanne experienced every runner's worst nightmare when she realized after travelling to Toronto on the eve of her first marathon, that she had forgotten all of her running gear back in Ottawa. That didn't stop her—she pushed through and completed the marathon in all new gear! No was never an option, rather, her response to this challenge was simply what do I need to do to get to the finish line! Leanne hopes to inspire and encourage other runners to train hard, trust their training and enjoy the journey along the way!
Amber has had an on-again, off-again relationship with running throughout most of her life. It wasn't until about a year ago that she started running regularly to improve and maintain her mental health. Being an overly emotional individual and somewhat of a workaholic, she found running helped clear her head and de-stress after the work day. Running has also helped make healthy changes in her life like cutting down her work hours, sleeping more and learning to enjoy the outdoors again.
Amber was one of those individuals who often looked at marathoners and thought they were 'crazy'. After running her first half, she was hooked and had that burning desire to keep going! She knew she wanted to be 'crazy' too. After having to put her marathon dreams on hold because of an injury this past spring, she's strengthening up and getting ready to conquer STWM this fall!
Originally from a small, northern town called South Porcupine (Yes, that's a real place), Amber now lives in Toronto and works as a Respiratory Therapist. She is a plant based runner who excessively tweets about her pets, diet and journey to 42.2! She is hoping to motivate, encourage and help other fellow first marathoners cross that finish line by sharing her training experiences.
Why does Michael run? To be more awesome, that's why. His philosophy on life is: Why keep doing what you're doing if you can be doing something better or doing more? That's how he's approached his running. Starting with 5k obstacle runs and progressively adding distance and difficulty each year for greater challenge. Now he joins our group of Digital Champions doing the full marathon at this years Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.
You'll be able to find Michael throughout the many trails and paths in Taylor Creek, the Don Valley and the Beaches this summer. When he's not out there training for STWM, he's probably out there walking his dog or just enjoying the sun. Michael (aka. Superman) was a proud member of the Justice League Runners at this year's TYS10K where they collectively raised $1500 for Sickkids Hospital.
Janine is a married mom of two who started running in 2011 after her youngest was born. Once barely able to run to the streetcar she found a program and has been building distance ever since. 5k's, 10k's, half marathons and most recently a 30k, running started as a way to get in shape but quickly became her stress relief, confidence and peace. This year Janine's motto is a 'Full in '14' and she's dedicated to completing her first full marathon.
On top of running this busy mom works full time and is also pursuing a CGA designation. Focusing on being a positive role model for her children Janine also spends her time ensuring they are nearly as active as she is.
Janine could not do all this alone and relies heavily on her amazing husband David, friends and family. You can follow her along the way as she works her way to 42.2k.
Aly has been passionate about running for a long time, although for many years she pushed her passion aside for other commitments. In April 2013, Aly finished her Masters and decided that she had neglected running for too long. She joined a running club and hasn't looked back.
While those other commitments haven't subsided, Aly is committed to making running a priority. In the last year, she has completed distances of 6km, half marathon, 30km, and a full marathon, all with personal best times from her renewed dedication.
Aly still struggles to find balance between work, other extra-curricular activities, and enjoying summer with friends all while getting in training runs, cross-training, proper nutrition, and rest. Aly is committed to sharing that struggle via social media. Follow her adventure to STWM via Twitter, and her blog. Aly's ready to make 2014 her fastest year yet!
Wally has always been an athletic person, growing up playing all sorts of sports such as basketball and fighting amateur Muay Thai. He ran his first full marathon in 2011 at STWM without any training and finished in over 4 hours and 30 minutes. Since then his goal has been to redeem himself and do better in 2014.
Within 2 years, he has ran numerous half marathons and ran the TYS10K as The Flash with the Justice League Runners in support of Sick Kid's Hospital. Recently he completed a 50 mile (80km) ultra marathon to get him ready for his redemption. This year at STWM Wally is running to raise awareness and funds for Nellie's Women's Shelter, which helps abused women and children in the Toronto area.
Mike started running a little more than three years ago. Like many others, he started to run to better himself physically and mentally. After getting into the best shape of his life, Mike decided to take on his first 10k. Pleased with a top 10 finish in a local race, he continued on to take on several half-marathons and even a 30k course. The 2013 edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was Mike's first full 42.2k race. Unfortunately, while running with an injury, he completed the race, but not in the time he had hoped for. With his past experience and new found knowledge in hand, this year Mike will take on STWM again in hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
What draws Mike to running is bettering one's self. Running is a sport in which he has not only found athletic ability and confidence, but he is continually learning more about himself and others the more he runs. Attaining these goals has made Mike a stronger person and he encourages anyone who wants to change and challenge themselves to lace up. When he is not running, Mike works as a commercial pilot. Fitting marathon training around a busy work schedule while travelling can be tough, but it keeps him sane. Mike also enjoys running as a member of the Brant Death Racers Running Club.
Almost 2 years ago, a friend of Bridget's talked her into signing up for the Canada Army Run half-marathon. 'Ah yes, that running thing. I've seen people do that...' There was just one catch: she had never run before. Now: four half-marathons & an Around The Bay 30K later, she decided the next logical step with this newfound obsession would be to run a full marathon. Though she currently lives in Ottawa, she chose the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as her first marathon because Toronto was the first place she moved out on her own, away from her hometown of Cornwall, Ontario. STWM seemed like a fitting idea to attempt another big first!
During her spare 9-to-5 time, Bridget works in an administrative position with a local non-profit and recently ran the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon as part of the 'I Love Lungs' team to raise money for The Lung Association. As she genuinely enjoys helping people on an everyday basis, she is going to use her time as Digital Champion to show self-doubters that you do not need to have years of athletic experience to start running, you do not need to be in top shape starting out, and you do not have to sacrifice relationships, your job or other hobbies you love. But do know this: you've gotta work!
Carol Levesque has been an avid runner for the past nine years. After running a few 5K races, she graduated to 8 and 10K races, before challenging herself in 2009 with the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. She was hooked. Since that time, she's completed five half marathons, three full marathons, and in September 2013 completed her first half Ironman Triathlon.
2014 will see Carol compete in six races, her most ambitious year yet. Having already completed a 10K and sprint triathlon, she's looking forward to another half Iron-distance triathlon, two Olympic triathlons and intends on finishing the season with the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Noel Paine is a distance runner with over 26 years or running and racing experience. He has run everything from the 100m hurdles to 100km ultra marathons. In 2013 he ran solo across the Grand Canyon after a month before running a 100km trail ultra in Tuscany Italy.
Aside from a passion for running, Noel also likes to share the stories of other Canadian runners via his personal blog along with one he writes for Canadian Running magazine.
Josh Labove isn't sure he's a runner, but someone who loves the feeling of a finish line and the weight of a medal around his neck. Calling Vancouver home, he enjoys training with runs along the seawall, and taking his kicks for a tour whenever he's in a new city. Happily a half marathoner, Josh is ready to return to marathons with the STWM this fall. When not running, Josh is a doctoral candidate in geography at Simon Fraser University, where he teaches and researches the Canada-US border.
Janice Smith is a full time working mom of three very active little girls ages 9, 7 and 3 who is desperately trying to live by her motto: Live active, eat healthy and enjoy life.
Janice began running in the fall of 2001 by training for her first half marathon in order to lose and manage her weight. Along the way she fell in love with running and lost 30 lbs. Unfortunately once she started a family in 2005, she found it impossible to find the time to train, suffered from post-partum depression and gained back all the weight. After a 5 year break from running, Janice returned to running in 2010 to get out of the fog of past-partum depression. Since her first half marathon she has run 13 half marathons, 3 full marathons, finished 4 triathlons and numerous other race distances, including a 200 mile team relay race.
After an 11 year hiatus from the full marathon distance, Janice is ready to make her come back to marathon running at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she hopes to fulfill her lifelong dream of qualifying for the 2016 Boston Marathon for her 40th birthday.
Cory is excited to have been invited back as Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (#STWM) Digital Champion for the 2014 season.
He first laced up in 2008 for the annual Pride and Remembrance Run and immediately was caught up in the spirit of running community through Frontrunners, an international LGBT organization. He enjoyed both the encouragement to push himself physically, as well as the ability to forge friendships on and off the trail.
As he continued to increase the distances he ran, he also upped his fundraising efforts for a variety of causes that helped him add meaning to his miles and met fellow STWM Digital Champion Tina Beningo. This year, he is dedicating his run to one of STWM's Official Charities: Supporting Our Youth (SOY), a program of Sherbourne Health Centre. The aim of this program is to improve the lives o lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth in Toronto. With his love of food and contributions to the blog Fellowship of Food, he also likes to joke that he measures his miles in mouthfuls.
One other aspect of running that Cory seeks to promote is the benefits for mental health. Having battled with several depressive episodes over the last six years, including one that led to him dropping out of last year's STWM, he tries to be grateful for each day that his feet feel the earth beneath him — even if there are inches of snow in between the two.
Jessica is the author behind the blog Laces and Lattes, a website on everything to do with running from training and nutrition to sports psychology. She started running in high school because she didn't think she had the coordination for team sports. Since then, Jessica has tackled every distance from varsity 5 km to her first 100 miler in April 2013. She ran her first marathon at Scotiabank Waterfront in 2013 with a Boston Qualifying time.
When she is not working in PR at her day job, she is tackling her long list of races for 2014, leading running clinics and fitness classes or drinking a latte.
Jessica is happy to chat about all things training, running and racing on social media. She is excited to shave some time off this year's STWM and looking forward to running it with you! She loves to make new friends, so follow her training and share your own.
Linda is an avid runner and obstacle course racer. After fracturing her right ankle pretty badly during an obstacle race in October 2012, and missing out on her first half-marathon opportunity at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Linda started running again in February 2013. She crushed her 2013 fitness goals completing 12 road races and 5 obstacle races with some notable achievements including having completed her first half marathon, running 25k (her longest race), completing Tough Mudder in a snow and hail storm and becoming a member of the Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe. Not bad for someone who was hopping around on crutches a year earlier.
2014 will be a big year for Linda as she will be running her first marathon at STWM on October 19th.
"Believe." It was the word that inspired Jodi throughout 2013, the year she turned 40 and tackled her first 42.2K race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which she finished in Boston-qualifying time. Jodi took up running after a long hiatus to exercise her energetic dog, Tilda, and her passion for the sport was rekindled as she connected with the running community and discovered what a positive impact being a physically fit and mentally tough runner had on her overall well-being. She believes running is a key that helps people unlock their true potential.
You'll often find Jodi and Tilda fording streams, vaulting logs and following winding paths as they run Toronto's extensive and beautiful trail system, which is Jodi's favourite place to train. Running makes Jodi happy, keeps her sane, and allows her to believe that anything is possible.
For 2014, Jodi's goal is to run sub-3:30 at STWM and to use the Digital Champions program to give back to the running community in appreciation for all it has given to her.
Tina is thrilled to be back as a STWM digital champion! She will be running her fourth full marathon this fall at STWM. In 2009, she started running, but before then, she couldn't for the life of her understand why people would do that to themselves! As her running ability improved, she gained more confidence and started to feel a greater sense of self-efficacy. Several months later, her perspective on running changed when her sister was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma (bone cancer) in her femur, which meant she would not be able to walk, let alone run, for quite some time. Tina was reminded of how we can so easily take our health and abilities for granted (and she still needs to remind herself of this at times). She has run 3 half marathons, 3 full marathons and a few shorter races. Tina's first race was the STWM half marathon in 2010.
In 2010 Emily cheered on runners at mile 22 of the New York City Marathon, and cried. Inspiration had hit, and she knew she had to get involved somehow. When early 2011 rolled around, on a whim, she signed up for her first half marathon and in August 2011 bit the bullet and signed up to run the 2011 NYC Marathon as a guide for a disabled athlete with Achilles. Halfway through the marathon, Emily thought "Oh no...I'll never do this again...why do my feet hurt so much? I wonder if it's ok to lie down?" Fast forward to 2014 and her 3rd marathon is on the race agenda, along with her first triathlon. Fully addicted to training and racing, Emily has raced 5k, 10k, 30k half and full marathons, numerous obstacle races, and is learning to swim to complete a half Ironman in 2016.
Running keeps Emily fit, sane, healthy, happy and inspired on a daily basis. She is always looking to push her own limits, run her best, and learn from every race. You can often find Emily running all over Toronto (join her! Or at least wave to her), or hitting up every gym out there to try every workout in the city. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, indoor cycling and group fitness instructor, and run coach.
Lisa was introduced to the world of running as a child by her father. When she was 12, she joined her school track team. She put her running on hold when she started competing in dance, which led her to a professional career. It was while she was performing on board cruise ships that she laced up again, started doing laps and fell back in love with running. Once Lisa said goodbye to her performing days, she fell in love with yoga, became a certified yoga instructor and started training for a variety of races, including STWM twice, 5K's, 10K's, and half marathons. Lisa is thrilled to be a part of the DC team for the fourth time (TYS10K 2013, 2014 and STWM 2013).
Lisa believes in the importance of both mental and physical well-being for leading a happy and healthy life, and strives to inspire others to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, starting with her very active, three year old boy.
Remember, "Limitations only exist if you let them".
When Andrew ran his first 10K two and half years ago, he felt like a hero. The city streets were closed just for his run. People cheered him on like he was an Olympian. He got a sparkly medal that he could keep wearing for days. And he had all-you-can-eat bagels at the finish. He was hooked.
That first 10K lead to another 10K, and then a 15K, and then a half-marathon, and then all the way to six marathons. You could say that Andrew was a little obsessed. In fact, he won a blogging contest with iRun.ca and is now their "Obsessive Running" blogger. Andrew is obsessed with running for the best swag, finding the absolute softest tech shirt, and lacing up with running shoes that not only feel fast, but look fast too.
With STWM, Andrew has run the 5K, half-marathon, and full-marathon races and he can't wait to connect with others to talk all things running as a Digital Champion for this event. So if you're stuck in a rut, need a little motivation or even a little laugh, feel free to tweet Andrew and he'll be sure to cheer you on.
You can read about Andrew's running obsessions on his Obsessive Runner blog on iRun.ca or follow him on Twitter.
Krysten is the author of the health and wellness blog The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail, where she chronicles her attempt to literally outrun all of her genetic shortcomings. Krysten was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a rare cardiac arrthymia, at 17. She was fitted with her first pacemaker/defibrillator at 18. By 19, she had decided it was time to take up running and has been running throughout her medical misadventures ever since.
After testing positive for "breast cancer gene" BRCA1, Krysten set out to make health her priority and strive for marathon glory. Krysten ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, as her first marathon in 2012, just 7 months after a prophylactic double mastectomy. It was a painful 42.2km, but she caught the long distance bug. She is excited to go back to the place where it all began and cross the STWM finish line again, healthy, happy, and strong in October.
An athlete most of her life, Heather is passionate for expressive and enjoyable movement to promote healthy, active living and building community. As a run coach, certified yoga instructor, and indoor cycling coach, Heather has nearly two decades of experience in group and personal fitness. Heather's leadership within the Toronto fitness community has provided her with the opportunities to be affiliated with high-profile brands such as Oakley Canada, and Lululemon.
Heather can be seen on a monthly television segment with CHCH Morning Live as their resident fitness expert, in online video excerpts as a run coach with Canadian Running Magazine, and has been identified as Canada's top fitness blogger 2013 by Best Health Magazine. As the creator of Tribe Fitness, a fitness community with the goal of sweating for social good, Heather is dedicated to the development of community and connectedness through free and pay-what-you-can fitness experiences.
After watching runners in 2012 run passed her house during the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Alyssa told herself "I am going to run a marathon one day". Little did she know that "one day" was going to be the following year. In 2013 Alyssa ran her first 10k at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K, her first half in May and finally a full marathon during STWM. It was one of the toughest yet most rewarding experiences in her life.
In her first year of running Alyssa has learnt about dedication, determination and the importance of setting goals. She is currently a second year student at Ryerson University studying Business Management and uses running not only to stay in shape but also a way to spend time alone doing something she loves. She also hopes to inspire other students to find their passion and love for running.
With her first year as a "runner" in the books, Alyssa is training hard to break personal records and ultimately Boston Qualify in the coming year. Completing a marathon was supposed to be just a bucket list item, but it has become her passion and being a runner is a lifestyle now.
A lot of things make up who Christa is, but underlying all of these things is the most important thing: that she is a runner. As Christa says, "Running is not simply something I do, it is what makes me who I am."
As a mother to her two children Tucker and Tilley, and a wife to her husband Mike, Christa knows that being the best for her family, the best version of herself, is sustained by the kilometres she runs. Christa is a recovering alcoholic of three and a half years and she has used running as a way to stay sober; instead of drinking she runs. On her particularly challenging days, she just runs farther.
STWM 2014 will be Christa's third marathon in a year and she is being coached by Rejean Chiasson at Pace and Mind. She is excited to share her training progress with the #STWM community and is passionate about inspiring others to achieve their running goals.
Follow Christa and be sure to say 'hi'; she will be more than happy to support your running journey via social media.
Stephanie is an avid runner who started running to get back into shape after university. She has been running approximately five years now. She doesn't have a favourite distance but is excited to tackle another marathon. Now that Stephanie is a mom to a busy mobile 8 month old baby girl she uses running to help stay sane after all those sleepless nights.
Jean-Paul starting running a little over 16 years ago when he entered a treatment program for an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He trained for his first marathon, The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, with two other men from the treatment program. All three men qualified for Boston in their first marathon.
Since that time, Jean-Paul has gone on to complete over 80 marathons and quite a few ultra-marathons. In 2012, he represented Canada in the prestigious Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Most recently, Jean-Paul completed a "double-Boston Marathon" in April 2014 which saw him run from the finish line to the start, and then join the rest of the runners to complete the marathon. Jean-Paul is dedicating his 2014 race schedule to raising funds and awareness for other survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
JP Hernandez has been an avid runner for over three years and while he trains out of the High Park area in Toronto, he calls the entire city "one giant road to run." Last year, he ran his first marathon but did so in a memorable way — choosing to run for the Sick Kids Foundation and dressed as 'Batman'. Since then, he's run a half dozen times as the Dark Knight Runner in other races — from small flash runs to 5k races, half marathons and recently at April's Toronto Yonge Street 10K, which saw him tackle the course alongside members of the 'Justice League Runners', a group of runners who run as dressed as famous heroes such as Superman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, among others.
He draws inspiration from not only the causes he runs for, but from the everyday runners he has met and come across ever since he became a runner, calling them the true heroes because "it takes such inner power to overcome a distance that you once thought you could not do."
Keeping a quiet promise that he made to himself, JP will once again run this fall's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon distance for the Sick Kids Foundation as Batman. He's running for the children at Sick Kids Hospital, whom he sees as true superheroes for their courageous fight every day. He is also running to leave an example of hope for his kids, to show that "embodied within that hope is the fundamental belief in the potential of every person to be a force for good."
Michelle has always been a runner and in recent years has moved from middle distance racing to the marathon distance. She has run numerous 5km's, 10km's and half marathons but after completing her first Marathon in New York in 2008 she decided she wanted to go for a sub 3 hour marathon. Two years later she did that at the STWM with a 2:57 marathon.
In 2013 Michelle completed 4 marathons. She ran Los Angeles, Boston and Big Sur — going on to win the Boston to Big Sur challenge. After a few months of training and taking a step back from racing she went on to win The North Face Endurance Challenge Trail Marathon in San Francisco. Her goals for 2014 are to diversify her running on both the road and the trails and attempt another PB returning to the STWM.
Dan Way is a familiar face among the Toronto running community. He started running and training seriously in 2010 after moving to the city to attend graduate school. Like many people, Dan started running to lose weight and take greater control of his body and health. Now, Dan runs for self-improvement (PBs), competition, camaraderie with teammates as well as for the love of the sport.
Dan is currently a proud member of Black Lungs Toronto, a performance-based running club and works for Canadian Running magazine as the editor of the Canadian Race Guide and mobile app.
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2014 will be Dan's 7th marathon. It was also his debut/first marathon back in 2011. Since then he has been steadily improving his 42.2K time and recently set a PB of 2:34 at the Chicago Marathon in 2013. Dan considers STWM to be his "hometown" race and is working hard to run another PB in 2014. Of the event, Dan says: "It's a fast course with great support and organization. If I succeed [in setting a PB], I would love to do it with family and friends to witness and celebrate together."
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be Mark's first marathon. Something that once seemed impossible.
For Mark, running has been a way to learn more about himself and his abilities. He's met so many amazing people and looks forward to meeting more as a SWTM Digital Champion. Mark ran the TYS10K in costume as part of the Justice League Runners to raise money for charity. His goal is to run a half or full marathon in most of the provinces in Canada over the next few years. To kick off this bucket list item, he will also be running Seawheeze in in British Columbia in August. Mark currently runs with different run groups in Toronto such as Parkdale RoadRunners, Tribe Fitness and NightTerrors during the week.
When not running or number crunching during his 9 to 5, Mark can be found volunteering with Youth Without Shelter and New Circles. His goals this year are to achieve PBs in his 5km, 10km, and half marathon. Mark is thrilled to be a SWTM Digital Champion and looks forward to sharing this experience with others.
Back for a second year as a #STWM Digital Champion, Christopher is a 38-year-old Dad of four (two girls, two boys) ages 9, 8, 4 and 2. Head of sports for Twitter Canada, he lives with his young family in Whitby, but still manages to find time to run and spin at least four times a week.
Successful completion of this Fall's #STWM will be his third full marathon in 365 days, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Between work and family, he finds time to tweet (and laugh) about it all @chrisdoyle.
After cheering on friends at the 2007 New York City Marathon, Hideki Kinoshita aka Kino, made it a goal to attempt a marathon within the next year. It turns out that Kino ran his first 3 marathons in less than 3 months at the end of 2008, and then ran another 20 full marathons (including a couple ultramarathons) in 2009. This Marathon Maniacs member did not slow down, running his 100th marathon/ultra at the 2012 Comrades Marathon in South Africa, followed by his 150th at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He is on pace to reach lifetime 100 sub-4 marathons and 200 marathons in 2015.
Kino completed the 50sub4 goal of running a sub-4 hour marathon in all 50 states in America in 2013. His next goals are to shave more than 5 minutes off his marathon PB by running a sub-3:10 Boston Qualifier, completing a sub-3:30 in all 50 states and 10 provinces (27 states and 8 provinces to go), finish running a marathon on all Seven Continents (2 more to go), and to PB at the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Along with his passion for running long distance races, Kino is adamant about raising awareness and funding for a host of underrepresented causes. He has raised $83,000 for seven charities through participation in marathon and ultra events. He encourages his friends to partake in endurance activities and fundraising, leading to his friends coining this phenomenon as #kinosfault. Kino lives in NYC, works in Washington DC, and frequents Toronto (where he once lived.)
Steve used to eat too much, eat the wrong things, and work long hours until his unhealthy lifestyle caught up with him. Obese and tired of it, Steve changed jobs, sleep habits and his diet for the better. During the journey to reclaim his health he found running as his outlet of choice. Running offered the perfect balance of activity, exploring the outdoors and with races, the challenge that he needed to keep motivated to improve.
Four years later Steve is fitter, healthier and happier and a proud member of the running community! He regularly encourages anyone that does not know where to start on the road to health / activity to do so by picking a goal event. Sign up for it months to a year in advance. Then tell everyone you know you are doing it so that you stick with the training.
Steve is thrilled to be running his 4th marathon at STWM and is honoured to do it again as #STWM #DigitalChampion enabling him to encourage others to test their boundaries and try running a marathon or other outdoor activities as way to get active and improve their life.
By day, Kenny Yum is the managing editor at The Huffington Post Canada. On his off hours, he's a run blogger at A Whole Lot Of Soles, which has been documenting his marathoning since 2006. He's run 27 marathons and is running in his 10th straight year at STWM with an aim to get even faster, recently qualifying for Boston as a member of the Black Toe running team.
After two marathons, three 30Ks and countless halfs, 10s and fun runs, Jennifer has finally embraced identifying herself as a runner — four years after completing her first race in 2010 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. She's also training for her first triathlon with the mantra: Survive the Swim. In her downtime, Jennifer drags friends out for runs and blogs, tweets and Instagrams about her adventures in fitness, food and travel. Jennifer has run an event at #SWTM every year since that first race and looks forward to tackling the full course this year with this inspiring group of Digital Champions.
Catherine was given a second chance at running after a long hiatus due to major back surgery. Wanting to return to running and make a difference, she joined Team in Training in 2010 to raise money for a great cause, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, became a mentor and trained to run both her first half and full marathons.
Since 2010 Catherine has successfully completed numerous 10km races as well as 34 half marathons and 5 full marathons and most recently the 120th edition of the Around the Bay 30km road race and The San Francisco Marathon. Catherine is looking forward to running her second Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon event on October 19th 2014 as part of her training for the New York Marathon which she will run two weeks later as well as the Paris Marathon on April 2015.
Running is a vital and integral part of Catherine's life and when she not in a courtroom trying a case, she is promoting and spreading her love and passion for running by coaching and training beginner and intermediate level runners to run short and long distances as well as giving clinics on running related topics such as motivation. She is currently completing her certification in sports nutrition and hopes to combine her knowledge and experience to help motivate other runners, no matter their goals.
Catherine never misses the opportunity to remind herself as well as others that running is truly a gift and blessed are those who are lucky enough to have the choice to run. Catherine lives and trains in Montreal. Connect with Catherine on Twitter @marathoner514.