TORONTO, Ont. – A total of 25,000 runners of all levels will hit the pavement for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday.
The event is a massive undertaking, with more than 3,000 volunteers, over 4,000 metres of fencing and barricades, 314 port-a-potties, 76 tents and 2,000 traffic cones.
Many elite athletes will be taking part in the event, including two-time Olympian and the seventh fastest Canadian in history Eric Gillis, who says the crowd makes all the difference.
“[I've got] tons of Canadians rooting for me along the Lake Shore when we turn around. I hear my name a ton out there, so that’s really special,” Gillis told 680News. “Nowhere else could I do that or hear that.”
This year, he’s hoping to smash his own personal best time of 2:11:38.
“We have neighbourhoods that are out cheering for us, so that’s important too, and the competition that Toronto brings in.”
Krista Duchene, dubbed ‘Marathon-Mom’, has three children between the ages of two and seven, and is also the 10th fastest Canadian marathoner in history, finishing fourth overall last year.
“Every marathon hurts, so it’s not like there’s one that’s easier than another,” the 36-year-old Brantford woman told 680News. “Obviously, marathons like Boston are hilly and that can be difficult in itself, but it’s a great race – especially for the crowds to cheer.”
Toronto-born fitness trainer Virginia Lee is only one of two people to have run every single Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront marathon. The other is Rick Rayman, with this year marking their 14th full marathons at the event.
Meantime, Ed Whitlock, 82, holds many world records for his age group, including one for runners over age 80 back in 2011.
“I don’t know how many races I’ve run,” he said. “I’m not even sure exactly how many marathons I’ve run. This is probably about my 40th marathon.”
However, he’s not expecting any records this year because he’s currently recovering from a cold.
“I’m going to have to run somewhat cautiously on Sunday, and hopefully things won’t go too badly.”
There will also be several runners lacing up for charity, including a firefighter running in full gear, a man in full lacrosse gear, a dentist running his 300th marathon, and David Hiddleston, who will be running dressed as a banana.
“It’s just something different, plus I’m raising money for charity at Princess Margaret,” he said. “In the Chicago marathon last week that was serious, and this is just fun.”
However, there is a bit of seriousness to his run this time. He’s trying to break the world record for a runner dressed as a fruit. For that, he will need to finish in less than 1:31:44.
Last year’s winner, Sahle Warga – from Ethiopia – says he’s feeling good about his chances this year, and believes the weather will be drier.
“Not good weather,” he said, speaking of the rainy conditions he faced in 2012. “Very tough.”
He’s expecting a faster race this year if the weather holds.
680′s own Irene Preklet will be running the half marathon. She will be documenting her experience on-air post-race, Sunday.