6 Reasons To Run The Durham Quarter Marathon


Every year, my race calendar is a combination of the old and the new. Although I like exploring new races and new challenges, there are a handful of events that I put into my calendar every year. One of these is the Durham Quarter Marathon, or DQM. This event has all of the right ingredients, like great organization, a scenic course and a great cause.

This year I was kind of bummed, because I came down with a nasty cold several days before the race. For most of the week, it looked doubtful that I would be able to run, and it and touch and go right up until the night before the race. Fortunately, though, my immune system did what it does best, and I woke up on the morning of the race feeling  just a tiny bit congested but otherwise fine.

I’ve missed races due to illness or injury before, and it’s never fun. This event in particular is one that I never want to miss (the only race that I hate missing even more is my annual autism fundraising run). Here are some reasons why I love this race so much, and why I believe all runners in the GTA need to try it out at least once.

1. DQM raises funds for a cause that I am absolutely in love with. The Refuge is a place in Oshawa that helps homeless youth. They provide meals, basic supplies, clean clothing and a place for homeless teens to go. DQM does not merely support this cause by putting logos everywhere. The organizers provide a very practical way for runners to make a real difference. Instead of getting one of those reusable shopping bags that runners already have too many of, you get the race kit in a small cardboard box, which you can then fill with supplies and return to The Refuge at a later date.


2. DQM is one of the smaller events. It does not have the massive numbers of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, or the Yonge Street 10K. This means two things: you don’t have to fight ridiculous crowds in order to be squeezed into your corral, and the race has a wonderful community feel. When you run DQM, you feel like you’re running with friends. That community spirit travels with you along the entire course.

3. The course is absolutely marvelous. The run starts at the Oshawa City Hall (just a block away from free covered parking), and it runs along the Oshawa Creek and the Waterfront Trail. The last little bit offers a lovely unimpeded view of the lake. It’s a net downhill course, which means that the start is at a higher elevation than the finish. There’s something in it for runners of all levels – a nice combination of ease and challenge. There are a couple of decent uphill stretches in the second half, and a lovely little downhill right at the end, so that runners can build up good momentum for a sprint to the finish line.

4. The logistics of this race are so well organized that it’s impossible not to enjoy the experience. The 6K and 7K markers may have been slightly off, but apart from that, the course was well marked. There were four aid stations along the course, spaced fairly evenly. The organizers also provide bag check facilities, and for runners needing to get back to the start area, a free shuttle bus. Not one of those old school buses that make you feel like you’re being spanked whenever you go over a bump in the road, but a nice comfy city bus.

5. There’s a great finish line vibe. This year I loved the finish line announcer. He was announcing and encouraging runners as they sprinted down the final stretch, and he managed to make everyone feel like a champion. The atmosphere was one of support and celebration. I felt a tremendous sense of collective goodwill as I wandered around the finish line area picking up my bag and getting my post-race banana.

6. I appreciate a good coincidence as much as the next person, but how could you not love a race where you can take a picture of last year’s bib and this year’s bib that looks like this? Who knows – maybe if I run this race often enough, I’ll have a nice little collection of Lucky Number 7’s.


This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Finish line shot is credited to the organizers of DQM. Shots of the bibs and the race kit box label are credited to the author.


My Birthday Race: Tannenbaum 10K

Photo credit: Rob Tripp

Photo credit: Rob Tripp

When I sat down at the beginning of 2013 to plan this year’s race calendar, there were three or four races that I knew I had to include. The Tannenbaum 10K was one of them. I ran this race in 2012 (in the pouring rain, I might add), and had a fantastic time. Also, this year’s race was going to happen on my 44th birthday. Anyone who’s a runner will know there is no better way to spend a birthday than by running a race.

I stalked the race website throughout the year, and about five minutes after seeing the announcement that registrations had opened, I was signed up. I sent an email to the race director asking if I could please, pretty please, have bib number 44. He replied on the same day, promising to try. When I went to pick up my race kit on the eve of the race, I was delighted to see that I had, in fact, been given bib 44. I was also given a race kit with some nice goodies, including a super-cool winter hat that has already become an essential part of my winter wardrobe. I never leave the house without it.


Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle

On the morning of the race, I found a parking spot (a free parking spot!) about a minute’s walk from the start line. This, along with the gorgeous winter weather, boded well. I went to check my bag and ran into my friend Phaedra. We chatted for a while, then it was time to check my bag and line up at the start line.

I got off to as good a start as I could. I started far back in the pack and got caught behind slower runners (a deliberate tactic to avoid starting too fast). During the first kilometre, my dollar store earbuds gave up the ghost. I didn’t have a spare pair of earbuds with me, so I had to run the race without music. I realised that I have become far too dependent on music for setting my pace, because I struggled to find my rhythm after that.

In spite of this, I managed to keep a reasonably consistent pace, and I didn’t do too badly running up the Spit. Usually I hate running up the Spit. I find it lonely and soul-destroying. However, the race only took us a short distance up the Spit and back. At the 5K turnaround point I sped up a little, knowing that I was now heading back the way I had come. A wave of exhaustion hit me somewhere around the 7K mark, but I forced myself on, telling myself that I only had about 20 minutes left.

I crossed the finish line in a little over 1:04:00 – not my best time, but well within what I was hoping for. I collected my finisher’s medal, and then went to get a post-race snack. Instead of the usual bananas and bagels, there were these sinfully delicious scone-pastry type things. They were so good that I had two of them.


Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle

Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle

I met up with Phaedra again, and we headed to the awards presentation area. Not only was Phaedra the first Masters woman over the finish line, she broke the women’s Masters course record. She collected her award, and I picked up a draw prize (a hat and a voucher for a Road ID, which is already on its way to me).

Just like last year, I found this event to be well-organised and festive. There was a community spirit that sometimes gets lost in the larger events. And the cause – giving Christmas to families who cannot afford it – is absolutely fantastic. After two years of running this race, I can say with confidence that it has earned a permanent spot on my annual race calendar.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle.