2 marathons too much for Toronto: report

Toronto's two fall marathons should be merged into one big race, says a city report.
A runner crosses the finish line at the 2009 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. ((Kathy Nicholaichuk))

Toronto's two marathons may have to compete for one spot.

A report from city bureaucrats released Tuesday says the change should take place starting in 2011.

One of Toronto's marathons is run in late September and sponsored by Scotiabank, while the other is run in the middle of October and sponsored by Goodlife Fitness.

The report says the dates are too close. Local politicians have also been fielding complaints about traffic disruptions, closed roads and business losses because of the races.

Sean Van Dongen, a Toronto marathoner, said that if a choice needs to be made, then Toronto should keep the Scotiabank marathon, which he feels is the stronger of the two.

"The one is really good and the other one isn't that good," he said. 

"The second one just doesn't get the same draw and I don't know if it's because of funding, or if it's the purse, or what it is, but the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront [marathon is] definitely the race to keep." 

But the Goodlife race has a longer history, and the head of that event said he had warned that this competition for a space would happen when the Scotiabank marathon started. 

According to Jay Glassman, the Goodlife marathon has been taking place in the city for 32 years, and unlike its competitor is a grassroots event meant for local runners. 

The Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, by comparison, offers cash prizes and attracts some of the best runners in the world.

Glenn De Baeremaeker, a city councillor and part of the committee looking into the issue of the two marathons, said that holding just one race will mean fewer road closures.

He also hopes merging the two races will put Toronto on the map for runners.

"The famous Boston marathon, you have 500,000 spectators watching this incredible marathon. So the City of Toronto has decided to kick it up a notch and have one major event, hopefully with thousands upon thousands of people," he said. 

The Toronto works committee will consider the report at its next meeting on Feb. 2.