Toronto is a modern and vibrant city located right on the shores of Lake Ontario which makes for spectacular and scenic running routes. I moved here three years ago and one of my favorite ways to see the city has always been through running. This is why I love taking guests running around the city; so that they can see Toronto in a different light.
Toronto experiences four proper seasons and you will find temperatures that reach over 30 degrees Celsius in the height of summer and temperatures that can drop to as low as -30 degrees Celsius in the depths of winter. There are two main rivers that run on either side of the city. The Humber River on the west side and the Don River on the east side. Both of these have paved recreational trails that are great to run, bike or walk on. There is also the Martin Goodman Trail that runs along the Toronto waterfront and is approximately 20km long. It is a runner’s haven and parts of the trail are maintained and salted during the winter, so can be used all year around. In addition, you’ll find water fountains and seasonal washrooms at certain points along this trail.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know if you’re going for a run in Toronto:
- Sightrunning Tours
- Running Races
- Running Routes
- Running Clubs
- Running Stores
- Running Climate
Sightrunning Tours in Toronto
Sightrunning is still a relatively new concept, especially in Toronto, but it has been met with great enthusiasm by those that have tried it out. It is an eco-friendly, fun and easy way to see a new city and fortunately, Toronto is one of those cities that offers sightrunning. I run and manage Go! Running Tours and we currently offer four tours. There is also the option to have customized and corporate tours.
The tours currently range from 6km to 10km and they are mostly private tours. My current favorites are the 6km Early Downtown Run and the 8k Toronto Skyline Views. The running pace is adjusted to suit each guest’s needs and we make several stops to snap a few photos or just take a quick break if needed. If you happen to be in a rush but would like a crash course tour then there’s also the option to whizz through the city 😉.
Toronto Running Races
There are several races that take place in the city throughout the year. The majority happen between the months of April and October, with popular ‘Personal Best’ races happening in the Spring and Fall as the sweltering summer temperatures can prove too extreme. An excellent website that lists most, if not all major races is Run Guides Toronto.
A challenging and fun race is the Race Roster Spring Run-Off. It offers 5km and 8km race distances and takes place in High Park. There is an infamous hill at the end and this portion also has its own challenge known as the ‘Kill The Hill Challenge’ and is timed separately.
A great charity race is the Shoppers Run For Women race that takes place early June. It offers a 5km walk/run and also a 10km run. This run aims to tackle and address mental health challenges and all funds raised go towards programs designed to help women on their first steps to recovery.
Finally, there’s the famous Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, that takes place in mid-October. The distances include a full and half marathon and also a 5km. The weather is usually perfect for running around this time of the year and the event usually has over 20,000 participants. The atmosphere and crowd are absolutely amazing, so if you’re looking to try out a race in a new city this could be for you.
Running Routes in Toronto
Running in Toronto is generally safe, but as always if you are new to the city, it’s good to do a little investigating about the best areas to run in. The waterfront trail is one of the best places to run uninterrupted within the city and there you’ll pass several other runners, cyclists, and pedestrians. Whether you decide to run east or west from the downtown core on the trail, you will easily do a quick out-and-back 5km or 10km run. If you are looking for a route that exposes you to a bit more culture within the city, then a great route would be to explore this fun West End 5km. You’ll pass cute boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants on Queen Street, run through Trinity Bellwoods Park, Little Italy and finally end off in Kensington Market.
Toronto Running Clubs
Night Terrors Run Crew – This fun and cool group meets four times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The weekday sessions take place in the evenings and the weekend long run takes place in the morning. The workouts also vary in intensity during the week to incorporate tempo, speed and social runs. Whether you’re a hardcore runner or just enjoy the social aspect or running, there’s something for everyone at this club.
Running Room – This Canadian family owned running apparel business was founded in 1984 and has a presence in most major towns and cities in Canada. In Toronto alone, there are over ten locations and they host free run-clubs on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm and Sunday mornings at 8:30 am. The distances vary from store to store and they run at a fun social pace.
Running Stores in Toronto
If you fancy a spot of running gear shopping or just happen to arrive in Toronto and have forgotten your running apparel, there are several options for shopping.
The Runners Shop is a great independent running store to visit. Located in trendy Yorkville, you’ll get a personalized and unique shopping experience there.
The Running Room, as mentioned previously boosts a wide selection of running gear and accessories and there are several locations within the city to choose from.
If you prefer some brand-specific shopping, there is an Asics store located near Spadina and Queen street. There is also a Nike store located within the Eaton Centre, a very popular shopping centre in downtown Toronto.
Toronto Running Climate
The best time to run in Toronto is from mid-March to early December before the extreme cold kicks in. The running clubs will continue to host runs during the winter months, but specific winter running gear will definitely be required in order to have a pleasant and fun running experience. The stores mentioned above will all carry very good quality winter running apparel.
Toronto is a city of runners and most runners do not let the Canadian weather deter them from their training goals. If you’re in the city why not take a running tour, drop in at one of the running clubs, explore the city individually or do a bit of running gear shopping? 😊 Whatever your style of running is; whether its group or solo runs, morning or evening runs, there is something for you in this great vibrant city!
Thanks for reading and I look forward to running with you!
City Manager of Go! Running Tours Toronto