The Return of In-Person Races

Yorkville Run Women

With the events of the last year and a half, many in the running community are excited this fall.

There is a return to in-person races all over the world and especially in Toronto.

While the the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be hosting a 10K later this month, one of the first races to be back this fall in person was the Yorkville Run, a 5K starting in Yorkville and run through the streets of downtown Toronto.

In-person races mark the start of normalcy and the excitement and rush that comes from lining up at a starting line with a group of like-minded individuals. For Nadya Stewart, this particular race was special as she ran it for the first time about a decade ago and had set up hopes of a personal record for the course.

Prior to the pandemic, Stewart’s last races included the TO Women’s Run, Bridget’s Run and the Barrie Resolution Run. During the pandemic, Stewart continued to race, pivoting to virtual races including the Pride and Remembrance Run as a member of the Black Runners of the GTA team, the Asics World Ekiden, and the Run for Women.

Today she shares with us her experience with her first in-person race in over a year and a half.

How did you feel when you heard that you would be running your first in-person race?

I was hoping for an in person race but I wasn’t sure if it would be possible. I signed up for the Yorkville Run as a bit of a full circle moment for me as I ran in this race 10 years ago. When they announced the race would be in person I was over the moon! 

Tell us about the race experience

Arriving in Toronto for the race was magic. On one hand, it’s been FOREVER since an in-person race and on the other hand… seemingly didn’t miss a beat. Volunteers, organizers, tents with swag and checklists! All of a sudden, the atmosphere in the air was “BACK LIKE WE NEVER LEFT” The. Thrill. Whew! 

I remember running this race 10 years ago thinking it was so well organized and the same rings true this past weekend. Safety measures were in place and the waves were staggered. We wore masks in the designated areas and when that countdown started… Game. Time. Having @runlikeasavage by my side really helped my nerves and I was able to relax, slightly.

I took in the sights, feelings and emotions. It was almost otherworldly! Once the race began, my body was going at a pace I don’t usually run at because I was chasing that Personal Best (PB). Painful? I’ll let my race photos decide  but the vibes…

Nadya Stewart at the 2021 Constantine Yorkville Run Photo Credit: Nadya Stewart Family and Friends

What were some of the things you enjoyed about returning to in-person racing?

There were people around me running in teams for their chosen charities. There was laughter, joy, camaraderie. It. Was. NICE! Did I mention I got to meet some @chixrunthe6ix members for the first time because they left their homes and came to cheer their hearts out for myself @run_sue_run and @runlikeasavage.

@run_sue_run, @_nadyaruns, and @runlikeasavage Photo Credit: Nadya Stewart Family and Friends

What are your hopes for races for 2021 into 2022?

I’m glad I was able to participate in this run and I’m so excited for my next in person race next month! Virtual races have kept a lot of us going over the course of this pandemic and while I’m so grateful to have had those options, there is something about that in person feeling. Truly , [I hope] that things continue to move in a direction where more races ARE in person.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, all that matters is you are a part of this collective, coming together to run. No feeling like it. 

Lead Photo Credit: Family and Friends of Nadya Stewart