A blogger in eastern Canada was wondering whether the downhills at the Mississauga Marathon are of the quad-pounding variety. I’ve run Mississauga twice, in 2004 (3:14) and 2005 (3:12) and found that the downhills are very evenly spread over the first half of the course. So no, this course does not beat up your quads.
I feel a time run on this course gives you a 2-3 minute advantage over a flat course even with the section of rolling hills which comes in the last 10K, along with a somewhat winding lakefront path. In 2004 & 2005, the path was crowded with back-of-the-pack finishers in the half-marathon although that may only affect runners finishing under 3 hours and 30 minutes. In 2003, the inaugural year I ran the 10K in 39:39 a time which I am very proud of as the 10K is run on the slowest section of the marathon course. In its entirety, the route is not especially scenic but it is fast and is a great community event infused with a positive spirit.
The Goodlife Toronto Marathon which will be on the same day as Mississauga this year, is also a net downhill course, but some of the downhills, like the Rosedale Valley Road section, are steep enough to beat you up, and after that downhill you face a stretch on one of the bleakest roads in Toronto, the southern section of the Bayview extension. A drawback of the finish, is that it is a very long and gradual uphill going north on University Avenue, with intersections often punctuated by by angry motorists. I’ve often joked that the racers should wear t-shirts that read, Saving You Health Tax dollars! to appease these impatient citizens.
To finish you must run three-quarters of the way around Queen’s Park Circle, which means you only see the finish line when you are about 150 meters away. Nothing beats a long straightaway to the finish line of a marathon, such as turning the corner onto Boylston Street with 800 meters to go in the Boston marathon. I can feel myself getting a little teary as I remember and write about the sensation of seeing the finish line banner of the Boston Marathon.
In the battle of the Toronto fall marathons, Mississauga was most certainly the loser. Said Mississauga Mayor, now 90 year old, Hazel McCallion “That’s what you call co-operation.” in reference to the Goodlife Toronto Marathon being moved from the fall to the same day as the Mississauga Marathon, and as an indicator of the general process of coordination and cooperation between Toronto and Mississauga.
As a runner looking to run a spring marathon, I have not yet ruled out Mississauga. However The Goodlife Toronto Marathon does not appear on my long list as the distribution of the downhills, makes it difficult to capitalize, time wise on the net downhill factor. I ran the fall version of this marathon in 1996 when the course had fewer uphills and path running than it does now, so it is unlikely that I would give this newer version a try. I do like the Toronto Marathon, 5K course run the same day as the marathon as it has only one turn.
For fast times, the Missisauga Marathon & half-marathon are my picks for running in the Greater Toronto Area the weekend of May 15, 2011.