This past weekend I finished up my version of the 2020 run the TTC Challenge.
The TTC Challenge was created by Canada Running Series with the goal of inspiring people to run the 76.5km of the TTC subway system from November 16 to December 16, 2020.
I first heard about the event shortly after completing the virtual edition of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon and quickly dismissed it. Paying for another virtual event, to run a distance I’ll run anyways, for me, just wasn’t inspiring.
It was shortly after launch, and registration sold out, that I realized my perspective and approach was all wrong. Through the magic of social media and Instagram in particular, I discovered an amazing twist that many runners were doing, not just running the distance of the TTC, but actually running past every stop, on every line, of it.
Only two challenges remained, the first, despite enjoying endurance events, I hate long training runs. The second, with increases COVID cases, I didn’t want to actually ride the TTC, meaning my version would require a consistent loop back to the start, doubling the distance, and basically requiring a half-marathon every week for over a month.
The funny thing is, with the quest now over, I’ve discovered it’s not the long run I hate, but the sameness of running the same route, every week, every month, every year.
By taking on this challenge, I’ve discovered just how diverse our city is, and that for me to enjoy the long run, discovery and exploration are key.
Now, onto new challenges, like what to run next, perhaps the future stops along the Eglinton LRT or the Ontario Line, or perhaps, like some people are doing, attempt to run every street in some part of the city.
If you have any other ideas please let me know.
2020-11-21 – Eglinton West to Eglinton
Day 1 of the journey was a 21.15km loop that started on the north end of Chaplin Cres, including the western extension of the Beltline Trail to the Allen, south through the impressive, and previously unknown to me Cedarvale Ravine, before the real excitement began with the constant dopamine hit of stops through the southern section of Line 1.
2020-11-22 – Finch to Don Mills
Fresh off the excitement of day 1 I decided to knock off the next section of the challenge, this time running the 16.5km from Finch Station to Don Mills, and back.
It’s amazing how much difference a day can make in a Toronto winter, from pleasant on Saturday, to snowing on Sunday.
As I ran down Sheppard to Don Mills, the one thing that stood out, was how often I drive Sheppard, and how, when driving, I barely notice the constant rolling hills along the way.
2020-11-29 Sheppard West to Sheppard Loop
Day 3 of the TTC Challenge was the slightly more complicated 22.75km route from Sheppard West to Sheppard and back. Starting near Bathurst and Sheppard I first headed west before navigating south to Yorkdale, then winding my way through parts unknown including Lawrence Heights, Glencairn, and the LRT construction along Eglinton.
2020-12-6 – Bathurst to Kipling
The fourth day of the TTC Challenge took me 26.5km west along Line 2 from Bathurst to Kipling and back along Dundas. Although not a fast route, with constant lights along the way, this route really showcased all Toronto has to offer, passing through Koreatown, Christie Pitts, Bloordale, High Park, Bloor West Village, and many more.
2020-12-13 – Bathurst to Victoria Park
Another excellent, albeit slow route, once again starting at Bathurst Station, this time a 23.2km route running east towards Victoria Park with extraordinary views of the Toronto skyline from the Bloor Viaduct, and the diverse sights and sounds along the Danforth.
2020-12-20 – Sheppard West to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
My second to last run was a 21.25km journey, exploring the new stations along line 1 from Sheppard West and into Vaughan. By no means was this the most exciting route, but the stations were architectural wonders to be seen.
2021-1-4 – McCowan to Victoria Park
At 26.5km the final stage of my person TTC Challenge had a little bit of everything with rain, sleet, snow, slush, plus a bit of ice thrown in for good measure.