Alan’s Journal: #PANAMANIA. We did it! But was it a Tipping Point?

By August 4, 2015Alan's Journal

TORONTO August 4th 2015

Hey fellow runners;

Wow! What a month we’ve had since my last Journal edition on July 7th! It was a remarkable month, overwhelmingly dominated by the Pan Am Games, and I think we are all enormously impressed with the way the Games brought us all together. #UnidosJugamos! As well, the Games showcased sport, and our sport of running and athletics in particular, as never before in Toronto.

HUGE thanks to TO2015, and to all of you who gave of your time, energy and passion to bring our city alive for a month! Special shout outs to:

  • The Canada Running Series team – the extended family, not just the full-time crew — who organized 5 road events in 8 days, on top of the regular, gruelling CRS season. There were plenty of 3am Crew Calls, plus a few all-nighters for some. BIG ups to Heather and Chris who have put in MAJOR hours over the last 2 years in preparation. Thanks to Toronto Olympic and other club members, plus our regular support teams who stepped up big time!
  • 08-04-IMG_5657ALL of you who came out to cheer, especially our awesome Toronto run crews who set up CHEER SITES on-course for both Women’s & Men’s Marathons: Pace & Mind, Night Terrors, Parkdale RR, Tribe Fitness, plus a number of other clubs. YOU WERE GREAT! The first thing Catherine Watkins said to me after her finish, was how amazing the support was for her out there. Catherine’s post-Pan Am blog is a must-read: “Running the marathon for Team Canada on home soil was definitely a highlight in my life.“.
  • 08-04-IMG_5337The athletes: our current CRS Women’s champion Rachel Hannah and Catherine Watkins; Rob Watson and Kip Kangogo; and Evan Dunfee and Inaki Gomez who brought home Gold and Silver in the 20K Walk. I think we were all so thrilled to see our regular CRS friends on the world stage, in our hometown, in an event(s) that we were all part of! And on the track too, with SO many fine performances up at York! While Lanni’s bronze in the 10,000m and Alex Genest’s Silver in the 3000m steeplechase were huge highlights for me, there were just so many others. It was an electrifying week on the track in between the 2 marathon and race walk weekends.
  • 08-04-IMG_4537The neighbourhoods, the broader community that was “IGNITED”, like our own St. Lawrence ‘hood, through TO2015’s “Ignite” programme and PanAmania. St. Lawrence’s 41 Neighbours book is a great example, and a special, unique souvenir that we were able to share. There are still a few copies left to buy on Amazon! 
  • Our friends from The Americas who came to visit us in our town! It was really special for me to see friends and strengthen ties with Mexico and Peru and our neighbours from USA – bienvenidos y gracias Gus Borges, Rodolfo Gomez, Gladys, Raul, Vianey for all the special moments. THANKS Mike Nishi and Stan Coburn for being part of it all!

What was YOUR highlight?

08-04-IMG_5684It was glorious to see sport taking centre stage, in Canada’s largest metropolis, in a city known globally for arts and culture, for TIFF or Luminato or Nuit Blanche rather than sport. The City’s support has traditionally been given to these deserving, iconic cultural events, but with scant attention paid to sport [other than pro sports like the Leafs, Jays or Raptors]. I’d like to think this past month has more than adequately demonstrated that “SPORT MATTERS”, and that we can have both arts/culture and sport/healthy lifestyles. As the ASICS name represents: Anima Sana In Corpore Sano—a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Were the Pan Am Games a “Tipping Point”?

We’ve heard lots about the “LEGACY of the Games”. For the most part, I think it’s safe to say, the conversation has been about infrastructure legacy – – the fabulous new neighbourhood of Corktown, including a brand new Y and Corktown Common; the high-speed train link to Pearson; the outstanding renovation of Queen’s Quay to showcase Toronto’s waterfront; Union Station expansion. I hope, I think, it is much more than that. I’d like to believe that the Games got our city moving and brought it ALIVE, through a marvellous combination of sport, culture and activation. For sure, we have a new Y, a new track, a new field hockey field, a new velodrome, a new pool. But there’s something new in the air as well – -the “SPIRIT OF THE GAMES”. And that is perhaps the greatest legacy.

I hope we can keep hold of this spirit, and carry the momentum forward to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. STWM is a wonderful vehicle for sustaining the momentum. It is a truly world class sports/athletics/running event that is with us every year. It brings 25,000+ participants from 60+ countries. It brings top international competition to race against Canada’s best. It ignites a dozen of our great Waterfront neighbourhoods. It generates over $30 million of economic activity annually for Toronto, and raises ~$4 million a year for our local charities.

08-04-IMG_5510For ALL of you involved in the Pan Ams, I offer an invitation to keep the momentum going at STWM this October. Join our CRS gang, and our Canadian stars like Krista and Eric. Come RUN [or walk] one of the STWM distances – they cover the range, from 5K to 42k. VOLUNTEER. We need more than 3,000 every year to make it a success. And in the words of run crew legend Charlie Dark, “IF YOU DON’T RUN, YOU MUST CHEER!!” Let’s line the Course with hundreds of thousands of awesome cheer squads! It’s only through our combined energy that we can sustain the pace, build a true legacy for the Games, and show the world what a great running city Toronto is – we’re NOT a one-hit wonder! As Vancouver’s Catherine Watkins wrote in her post-Pan Am blog, “Running the marathon for Team Canada on home soil was definitely a highlight in my life.” There’s something VERY special about having a hometown, CANADIAN big-city marathon! TORONTO, we CAN do it!

Enough. I need to sleep, recover. As the mantra on the new STWM training singlets from ASICS says, “EAT, SLEEP, TRAIN, REPEAT.”

ps. Let’s stay connected on social media! Twitter & Instagram @alnbrookes
pps. I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer the Insider Tip of the month! For everyone building up your long runs, Steve Lennon’s latest video blog is a MUST WATCH!