Media Advisory: Mayor Olivia Chow and Ehab El Sandali return to the Spring Run-Off 8K & 5K in High Park this weekend: it’s Opening Day for Canada Running Series in 2024!

TORONTO, April 1, 2024 – It’s Opening Day for running in Toronto this weekend featuring the return of Mayor Olivia Chow and Ehab El Sandali to the Spring Run-Off in beautiful High Park, the first race in 2024 for Canada Running Series. As Toronto’s oldest race still on the roads, it is an iconic beacon that Spring is finally here in the city. A sold-out crowd of 3,800 will participate in the 8K, 5K and 800m kids race, all steeped in tradition.  As always, piper Dave McGonigal will lead runners to the Start Lines of this 47th edition, there will be fresh maple syrup from Madawaska Maple products as prizing, and a delicious post-race pancake breakfast served up by Ubuntu Community Collective.

Back again, the “Kill The Hill challenge” is a race within a race. Just before participants cross the finish line they will fly up the final 365m of Spring Road Hill with the champions being proclaimed “Heroes of the Hill” for 2024! For the 2nd consecutive year, participants will also be going the distance to raise a much needed $35,000 for the Parkdale Community Foodbank that supports more than 6,000 families every month across the Downtown and West End.

Mayor Chow and Ehab El Sandali will return to challenge the hills of Toronto’s most scenic park after a 10-year hiatus. In 2014, they both competed in the Spring Run-Off 5K, Ehab crossing the finish line first in 16:39 with then “Olivia Chow” an impressive 701st of 1,346 participants. What a difference a decade makes! Toronto native Ehab went on to win the 5K again in 2015 and place 2nd in the 8K in 2016. A stellar 6-year career at Iona College followed, where he led his team to 6 NCAA Conference cross-country championships. He has represented Canada twice, turned professional with the Puma Elite team based in North Carolina in late 2022, and has lowered his 5K best time to 13:25 and 10,000m to 28:50.  And of course, “Olivia Chow” has become mayor of Canada’s largest city, showing leadership in many ways throughout our country and community, and championing a healthy city for its people. 

The women’s 8K race will offer an exciting three-way challenge between Erin Mawhinney, the champion at last year’s Under Armour Toronto 10K,  Toronto’s Alex Lucki who was 2nd at the 2022 Spring Run-Off after a strong cross-country career at the University of Maryland, and the experienced Laura Desjardins who was 3rd at Spring Run-Off 2023, 2nd at the race in 2018; and champion at last year’s 21K de Montreal which earned her a place on Canada’s national team to the NACAC Half Marathon. All three raced each other in the Athletics Canada 10K Championships in Ottawa last May with Mawhinney placing 9th overall, Lucki 12th and Desjardins 13th.

The men’s 8K race promises to be a tasty battle between Ehab and Thamesford’s Jeremy Coughler, the defending champion who has owned the race for the past 2 years.  Dundas’ Rob Kanko, who was 2nd last year, will also be on the Start Line plus strong up-and-coming talents Max Turek and Mitch Ubene. Turek was the 2022 U-Sports cross-country national champion and placed 8th at the Athletics Canada National Cross last November with Coughler 10th, Kanko 13th and Ubene 16th.

For those not fortunate to have grabbed a place on one of the start lines, everyone is invited to come out and cheer along with more than a dozen Toronto run crews at six official cheer sites around the picturesque courses. The run crew representation further reinforces Canada Running Series’ commitment to diversity and inclusion at the events and in the city, including Black Runners of the GTA, Chix Run the Six, Frontrunners, Pride TO, Parkdale Road Runners, High Park Rogue Runners, Kardia and RUNTOBEER. It’s a fun morning with great weather promised in a good cause; Spring has arrived in our city and Toronto will put its best foot forward. Together.

What: Spring Run-Off

Where: High Park, Toronto, ON

When: Saturday April 6, 2024

  • 10:00 a.m. 8K Race Starts
  • 11:15 a.m.5K Race Starts
  • 11:45 a.m. Kids Race Starts

Who: Canada Running Series Race Director, Alan Brookes, will be available for interviews. Interviews with select athletes may also be available upon request.

Where to park:

Please note that parking is not available within High Park on race day and the park is closed to vehicles on the weekends. Limited parking is available on side streets outside the park. For a list of Green P parking lots in the area, visit