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April 6, 2013

Sami Jibril, Krista DuChene prevail in exciting battles over the hills at Harry's Spring Run Off 8K

TORONTO. April 6. Athletics Toronto's Sami Jibril claimed victory at this morning's 35th Annual Harry's Spring Run Off 8K to fight Prostate Cancer, in a final lung-busting 50m sprint to the line after cresting the final, infamous Spring Road Hill. His time of 24:24 was a scant 6/10ths of a second ahead of Hamilton's Josephat Ongeri. Athletics TO teammate Rejean Chiasson was 3rd in 24:37. Brantford's Krista DuChene similarly had to battle all the way around to hold off Kate Van Buskirk, 26:59 to 27:04, and Tecumseh's Dayna Pidhoresky (27:31), to claim the Women's title. A sell out crowd of 5,000 toed the lines for the 8K, 5K and Children's runs in excellent if chilly conditions in High Park: sunny, bright, windless, and 4 degrees. The participation of several City Councillors, the “Best Dressed” competition, and a sizeable fundraising component all added to the buoyant atmosphere on “Opening Day” for Canada Running Series in Toronto.

The victory was a marked breakthrough for the 24 year old Jibril, who has been dragged around all winter as Matt Loiselle's principal training partner. Sami was 6th in last year's Spring Run Off, with Ongeri finishing 4th. He was 6th again at Toronto Yonge Street 10K 2012, with Ongeri again besting him for 3rd. Loiselle, who was last year's Men's Champion in High Park was on hand to watch, before he leaves for the Brighton (UK) Marathon on Tuesday, and a last shot at making the 2:15 standard to represent Canada in the World Championships Marathon in Moscow this August. From the starting horn, frontrunner Rejean Chiasson pushed the pace, with Ongeri and Jibril hanging on as they plunged down Spring road Hill at 2km, in what was already a 3-man race. By the time the trio had crested Centre Road Hill and hit halfway in 12:01, Jibril had moved to the front, just two steps ahead of Chiasson, with a 20m gap to Ongeri. “It was tough today,” said a visibly pleased Jibril. “I was working the whole time! The first half I just hung in, then hung in until it was time to go — with about 500m to go up that last hill. That was the hardest hill I've ever done!” Ongeri was similarly pleased with his performance, admitting that he knew his 30 year old legs had little chance again Jibril's 24 year old wheels over the last dash. “The hardest part for me,” said a 'little-bit-disappointed' Rejean Chiasson, “was getting used to running on the pavement again,” after his 9 weeks of altitude training on the trails in Ethiopia. “Sami had a great race,” he graciously conceded. “He showed us how it's done!”

The women's contest was perhaps even more absorbing, with 1500m runner Kate Van Buskirk taking on marathoner and Canada Running Series 2012 Overall Champion, Krista DuChene. Van Buskirk was 2nd in last year's Harry's Toronto Spring Run Off (27:23), and two weeks ago won the sister event, Vancouver Spring Run Off 8K in Stanley Park in 27:40. Dayna Pidhoresky, who was the women's winner in High Park in 2011 (27:42), 3rd last year, then spent the rest of 2012 battling injuries, was the unknown factor. In a surprising turn of events, the marathoner got away from the track runner over the final 500m! “Coach Rick (Mannen) and I knew the hills at the end were my strength,” said DuChene. “I thought if they got away from me on the downhills I might lose them, but I stuck with them. I made my move a little early on the (Centre Road) hill at 3k, then I just thought 'I've got to finish what I started!' But those girls were on me the whole way round. Kate was so close I could almost feel her breath! It wasn't 'til the very end I thought I could win.” While Dayna dropped off a little in the second half, it's clear she's coming back to fitness and with some judicious race-selection, she'll be a force to be reckoned with again on Canadian roads this year.

From here, today's winners take divergent paths. Sami Jibril will race Toronto Yonge Street 10K in Canada Running Series on April 21st, then head for the track, and Kate Van Buskirk will move to the track immediately with the Mt. Sac and Payton Jordan meets in California later this month. Rejean Chiasson, Krista and Dayna will all follow CRS to the Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal National Half marathon Championships on April 28th. Ultimately, Van Buskirk and DuChene have hopes of meeting up again on the Canadian team to the World Championships on Moscow this summer — albeit in the 1500m and the marathon!

There was an equally fine turn out for Harry's Spring Run Off 5K, which showcased some younger talent up front, and a mass of charity runners and walkers. St. Mike's High School's Ian Tramble took the men's title in 16:49, and 14-year old Miranda Thompson the women's in 18:50. In the Councillors' Challenge, Ward 19s Mike Layton bested Ward 29 (The Danforth's) Mary Fragedakis, and “Heather the fairy” won the Best Dressed Award. Some of the biggest smiles of the day, however, belonged to Paul Alofs of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and Doctors Fleshner and Finelli, when Harry Rosen Inc. CFO Conrad Frejlich (47:54 in the 8K) presented them with a cheque for $320,000 for prostate cancer research. This brought the total raised during Harry Rosen's 7-year sponsorship to over $2 million.


April 2, 2011

Eric Gillis, Dayna Pidhoresky have convincing victories at 33rd Annual Harry's Spring Run Off

TORONTO. April 2nd. Eric Gillis of Guelph's NB Speed River Track Club and Windsor's Dayna Pidhoresky both notched convincing early-season victories at the 33rd Annual Harry's Spring Run Off 8K in High Park this morning. Gillis crossed the line in 26:20, almost a minute ahead of club-mate Cleve Thorson. Danny Kassap, returning for his first race in two years, following set-backs from his heart attack in the 2008 Berlin Marathon, was a jubilant 3rd in 25:43. Pidhoresky finished in 27:41, a comfortable 37 seconds in front of runner-up Emily Tallen of Kingston. London's Leslie Sexton was 3rd in 28:27, with defending champion Lucy Njeri, who had won the last 3 years in a row, a disappointing 5th. They were part of a record, sell out crowd of 5,000 that packed into Toronto's most picturesque park on a glorious sunny morning. The 8K had 2,600 participants, the 5K another 2,200, and 200 kids started the new Children's 800m dash. Combined, they raised an impressive $350,000 for prostate cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital, on what was a special morning at "Opening Day" for running in Toronto.

Both Gillis and Pidhoresky took off hard from the opening horn, on the challenging High Park course. It was a perfect morning for running: bright blue, sunny skies, 6 degrees at the start and 10 degrees by the time the mid-packers were finishing and the 5K was starting. "It's always nice to get a win," said Gillis who entered the contest as defending champion. "I took it out at a good effort. I was just supposed to get a 'rust buster' out of this race. I haven't raced since the marathon (Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront, 2:12:08) last September. It was a good solo effort; a good time for me now, for where I'm at." It set up the Spring nicely for Gillis - who was never challenged - to go onto some fast 10Ks at Vancouver SunRun, Sporting Life Toronto 10K and Ottawa Race Weekend 10K. "I'd like to run a PR at 10K this Spring," Eric said. "Definitely to get under 29 minutes - 28-something. Then I'll take a bit of a break, and then start the 200km weeks of marathon training for Scotia Toronto Waterfront in October, and hopefully an Olympic qualifying time (sub 2:11:30)."

Dayna Pidhoresky showed why she is an exciting new talent on the Canada Running Series scene, as she cruised to victory, just 6 days after hammering the field at last Sunday's Around the Bay 30K. "My legs were really sore after Around the Bay," said Pidhoresky. "But by Thursday I started to feel good again, and had a bit of speed back. I was just going for the win today, then ease up in the last bit, to save it for Montreal." Starting her first real year on the roads after a surprise 1:13:15 half marathon debut in Detroit last October, that got everyone's attention, Dayna served notice today. The Canadian Half marathon Championships in Montreal is on April 17th, where it appears she can provide a good challenge to Athletics' Toronto's Megan Brown, for the National title.

Behind Gillis and Pidhoresky, the day unfolded in equally memorable fashion. As Toronto's oldest continuously-held road race, the Spring Run Off is steeped in tradition and a sense of occasion. Today was no exception. In keeping with tradition, Piper Dave McGonigal led the runners to the start. After 30 seconds of silence to remember Mark Dailey, "The Voice of Toronto" and regular MC at the race who lost his battle to prostate and other cancers in December, Councillors Sarah Doucette and Mike Layton sounded the horn. They then went off to flip pancakes at the Pancake Breakfast in support of High Park Nature Centre, a year-round nature-educational programme for kids at the park. As well as the fleet of foot, the field was swelled by charity and fun runners, vying for the "Best Costume" and fundraising awards. Best Costume went to a Sasquatch (a $100 gift certificate to Harry Rosen menswear). The Globe and Mail team, led by Captain, CEO and prostate cancer survivor Phillip Crawley, won the team title, by raising more than $20,000 for the cause. The Survivorship Team came second, raising in excess of $12,000, captained on the day by Councillor Mike Layton representing the Layton family and his father Jack - a prostate cancer survivor - who was absent, engaged in another race. It should be noted that the Globe Team included editor Amberly McAteer, "The Reluctant Runner" columnist, who not only showed up but completed the 5K in 38:14!

A spirited Master's race was won by Montreal's Terry Gehl in 26:21, some 21 seconds clear of Ottawa's Rich Minichiello, who narrowly defeated him for the 2010 Canada Running Series Masters' title, setting the stage for some good head-to-head re-matches throughout 2011. Brockville's Paula Wiltse handily took the Women's Master's crown in 29:50.

The day concluded with a spirited 800m dash for kids 5 to 13 years old. A new addition to the Harry's Spring Run Off tradition, it gave much evidence of the energy, enthusiasm, new talent and bright future this event provides to each Toronto Spring, each Canada Running Series season, to the sport, healthy lifestyles and the fight against prostate cancer.



February 8, 2011

Jack Layton confirmed as Honourary Captain of SURVIVORSHIP TEAM for Harry's Spring Run Off, Toronto. JOIN him April 2nd; put a pledge on him TODAY!

Jack Layton

February 8th. Organizers are pleased to announce the participation of the Hon. Jack Layton, Leader of Canada's New Democratic Party in Harry's Spring Run Off 5K & 8K on Saturday April 2, in beautiful High Park, Toronto. Mr. Layton has also accepted a position as Honourary Captain of the newly-created SURVIVORSHIP TEAM whose goals are to raise funds for the Prostate Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital and promote healthy, active lifestyles. He walked last year's Spring Run Off with his family, as part of his own battle against the disease in 2010.

As a prostate cancer survivor, I'm honoured to be captain of the brand new Survivorship Team at Harry's Spring Run Off 2011. As a survivor, treated marvellously at Princess Margaret Hospital's world-famous Prostate Centre, AND a participant in their Survivorship Exercise Program, I invite EVERYONE to come walk or run with me in High Park on April 2nd, or support the Survivorship Team with a pledge...Together, everyday people can make an extraordinary difference!

— Hon. Jack Layton, MP for Toronto-Danforth, Leader of Canada's New Democratic Party

For a fine account of Jack Layton's personal battle against prostate cancer, and the role of exercise and Princess Margaret's Survivor Exercise Program, see Monique Savin's story, "Studying Exercise and Cancer — with Jack Layton's help.".


April 2, 2010

Gillis, Njeri claim top prizes at Harry's Spring Run-Off

Canada's top marathoner Eric Gillis withstood repeated uphill attacks from Josephat Ongeri to win the eight kilometre event in 23:59, Saturday morning at the 2010 Harry's Spring Run-Off in Toronto's High Park.

Lucy Njeri of Kenya cruised to a relatively easy victory in the women's race, winning in a time of 27:43, beating Toronto's Megan Brown, who finished second in 28:09.

Lisa Harvey of Calgary claimed the bronze in 28:51.

Gillis, who trains in Guelph, Ont., squeaked under the 24-minute barrier, just three seconds ahead of Ongeri, who finished in 24:03.

Toronto's Matt Loiselle, who lives around the corner from High Park and routinely trains on the course, finished third in 24:19.

The men's race boasted a deep field, with five serious contenders to take the top prize of $1000. From the gun, Ongeri, who is originally from Kenya, but now trains and works in Burlington, Ont., attempted to control the race.

Showing very little fatigue from the 30 km race he ran just six days earlier at Hamilton's Around the Bay, Ongeri surged repeatedly going up the hills in High Park.

With each attack, the lead group shrunk — by the 6 km mark, it was just Ongeri and Gillis, who waited patiently, making his move up the final hill, with about 400 metres remaining.

"It's a great victory for me," said Gillis, who ran an impressive 2:13:52 in his marathon debut in January. "Josephat pushed me right to the line. He dropped me a bit at 3 km, but I just picked up the pace and caught back up."

Loiselle, Canada's 2009 half marathon champion, tried to chase down the leaders in the final 2 km, but the gap was too large.

"I'm satisfied, but not entirely happy with the performance," he said.

"I made one little error [in allowing a gap to open up] and runners of that calibre are going to make you pay."

There were many compelling storylines heading into the men's race, which pitted the top marathoner against the 2009 half marathon champ. It was also a showdown between the Guelph-based powerhouse Speed River Track Club — featuring 2008 Olympians Gillis and Taylor Milne — and Loiselle's Toronto-based Brooks Marathon Project.

But in the end, it turned out to be a two-person battle between Gillis and Ongeri, decided on the final hill.

The women's race was less dramatic, with Njeri emerging as the clear leader halfway through the race.

Brown went out hard — splitting 2 km in 6:20 — and seemed to pay the price.

"That was by far the toughest race I've ever run," she said.

"I did myself in at 4 km, and after the next hill, I could feel my body telling me 'uh oh, you're in trouble.'"

Brown has been nothing short of dominant in the CIS cross country and track and field scene, during her five years at the University of Toronto. She's now preparing for next weekend's world university cross country championships in Kingston, Ont.

"This was a good test of my fitness," she said.

For Njeri, the win — and the accompanying $1000 cheque — caps a successful past six days that began last Sunday with a victory in the Around the Bay 30 km.

A total of 4,732 runners and walkers took part in the 8 km and 5 km events at the 2010 Harry's Spring Run-Off, making it a sold-out success once again. The event raised more than $360,000 for prostate cancer research.

The 2010 Harry's Spring Run-Off marks the beginning of road racing season in Ontario and Quebec — it's part of the prestigious Canada Running Series.

The next stop in the series is the Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, Canadian half marathon Championships, Apr. 18.

The Sporting Life 10 km on May 2 is next on Toronto's calendar, with the momentum building towards the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sept. 26.

For more information and complete results, visit

Re-broadcasts of the race can be found at


March 29, 2010

Strongest men's field in years to lace-up for 2010 Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 km in High Park

The 2010 Harry's Spring Run-Off will feature one of the most competitive men's fields in the 32-year history of the event, Saturday, April 3 at Toronto's High Park. The race starts at 10 a.m.

Eric Gillis

Canada's top-ranked marathoner, Eric Gillis fresh off a 2:13:52-clocking at the Chevron Houston marathon in January, will test his speed over the shorter eight-kilometre distance.

Gillis is from Antigonish, NS, but now trains in Guelph, Ont. He represented Canada in the 10,000m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and is now a full-time marathoner with the goal of wearing the Canadian singlet in the event at the 2012 Games in London.

Although Gillis will be racing a distance that many observers might consider to be out of the comfort zone for a marathon runner, don't be fooled. The 30-year-old athlete has some wheels, with personal bests of 13:36 for 5,000m, and 28:07 for 10,000m.

Some of his stiffest competition will come from his teammates at the Guelph-based Speed River Track and Field Club.

Speed River has five runners on the elite start list, Gillis, Taylor Milne, Rob Watson, Cleve Thorson and Alex Genest.

Milne is coming off an impressive 5 km at the Around the Bay race in Hamilton, where he broke the course record with a 14:10 clocking on Sunday. If the race comes down to a sprint finish, Milne will be the odds-on favourite for gold. He represented Canada in the 1500m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has run a world-class 3:36.00 for the distance.

Milne finished second at the 2009 Harry's Spring Run-Off.

Over the past few years, Speed River has dominated the Canadian distance running scene. But Toronto's Matt Loiselle, the 2009 Canadian half marathon champion (1:04:09), will hope to assert his dominance on his home course.

Loiselle is part of the Brooks Marathon Project, a group of elite runners who train and live close to High Park.

Josephat Ongeri, originally from Kenya, but now lives in Burlington, Ont., is also expected to be among the leaders of the 2010 HSRO 8 km. The only question might be fatigue, since he would have had only six days of rest after running a hard 30 km at Around the Bay, where he finished second in 1:35:24.

Ongeri works full-time for a pharmaceutical company in Burlington, but still manages his time to fit in gruelling training sessions with elite marathoners, including 2009 Canadian champion Reid Coolsaet.

Lucy Njeri

The women's race doesn't have the same depth as the men's elite field, but Lucy Njeri of Kenya is the front-runner. She's the defending champion, and is coming off an impressive victory at Around the Bay in 1:48:58.

The top three women's finishers from the 2009 HSRO are all returning this year. Brockville's Paula Wiltse finished second last year, and was just 11 seconds behind Njeri.

The Spring Run-Off was the first Canadian road race to offer prize money for the top finishers.

This year, the winners of the men's and women's races will each earn $1000 — the top five will receive cash awards (2nd - $500, 3rd - $300, 4th - $200, 5th - $100). The course records are held by Daniel Komen (men's 22:35, 1994) and Jill Hunter (women's 25:56, 1990).

The race has been sold-out for weeks, with about 5,000 competitors of all levels ready to run over the hilly and challenging course, entirely on pavement that will be blocked off to traffic.

For the first time, the race will be broadcast online at Commentators Mihira Lakshman and Dave Reid will call the race, and provide post-race interviews with the top finishers and other notable celebrity runners.

The HSRO 8 km is the first event of the 2010 Canada Running Series, a prestigious collection of races, attracting elite and recreational athletes from across Canada.

For further information on the Harry's Spring Run-Off, visit


Jon Brown and Lucy Njeri battle elements for convincing wins at 31st Annual Harry's Spring Run Off 8K in High Park

TORONTO. April 4th. Victoria, BCs Jon Brown and Kenyan Lucy Njeri battled cold, blustery conditions as well as the legendary hills of High Park to record convincing victories in the 31st edition of Harry's Spring Run Off 8K this morning. Both led from Start to Finish to break the tape in 24:12 and 29:49, respectively. Chilly temperatures of 2° celcius and west winds gusting to 60 km/hour couldn't deter the champions, nor the sell-out crowd of 2,500 in the 8K, and another sell out field of 2,000 in the 5K that followed. The event signalled "Opening Day for Running" and the start of the 20th Anniversay season of the Canada Running Series in the East.

Brown, the canny veteran who placed 4th in the Olympic marathons in both 2000 and 2004, was the class of the men's field. He had already won Harry's Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K on March 8th, and produced a professional, workmanlike effort to complete the "Harry's double". "This isn't my kind of weather," said Brownie after the race. "It took me a while to get going with the cold and the wind. I'd gone over the course yesterday, and I figured I'd just keep it steady until after we got up that first big hill at 3km." True to the plan, Brown struck after Centre Road hill, and only fellow-Victorian Ryan Mackenzie went with him. By the 5k mark, Brown was on his own and cruising to a comfortable win, by 15 seconds over the Speed River Club's Taylor Milne, who ran a smart race and came through to overhaul a fading Mackenzie, 24:26 to 24:38. Twenty-five year old Spencer Morrison of UTTC was 4th in 24:41 and Kenyan Edward Tabut 5th in 24:47 in a good battle for the places.

On the women's side, the race was never really in doubt, as last year's champion, Lucy Njeri of Kenya, did what she needed to do, then hung on to repeat, despite fading badly towards the end. As well as the tough conditions, she no doubt had a little of last weekend's Around the Bay 30K still in her legs. Her time was a more than a minute and a half slower than in 2008. Forty-one year old Paula Wiltse of Brockville had a strong run for 2nd, in 30:00, to also claim first Masters Women's title. Twenty-one year old Ayesha Rollinson of UTTC was third in 30:26.

The performance of the day, however, perhaps belonged to another great veteran, Steve Boyd of Kingston, who ran hard, as always. Boyd placed 16th overall today in 26:39 to take the Masters crown by more than a minute over Montreal's Tewfik Recoui and Ottawa's Pete Quinn [27:37 & 27:44]. Looking back over the 31 years of the Spring Run Off, Steve Boyd's name and great career have figured prominently in Toronto's oldest road race. In 1992 he was 2nd overall to Irish international John Doherty in 23:47; he was 2nd again in '93 [24:07] to US Olympian Ed Eyestone. He was SRO champion in '97 [24:19] and again in '98 [24:05], where he edged out now-Ontario Minister of Labour Peter Fonseca. In '99, with marvellous consistency, he ran 24:20 to place 4th behind Kenyan legend Sammy Kipketer who blistered a 22:44 that day. In 2000, Steve was champion again. At 45 years old, it was a treat to see Boyd with another tough SRO performance this morning.

Behind the winners, the record 4,500 participants sported lots of smiles, with perhaps the largest ones belonging to Princess Margaret Hospital that took home a cheque for a record $320,000 for prostate cancer research. HSBC Speedsters took the Team title for most money raised, banking over $26,000 for the cause.

Full results at

The next Canada Running Series event is the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal on April 19th, that also doubles as the Canadian National Half Marathon Championships. Jon Brown will be back to take on the East, where he'll likely face a gentler wind but stiffer competition that will include defending champion Andrew Smith, and Steve Osadiuk. Women's defending champ Tara Quinn-Smith and Lioumila Kortchaguina give promise of a great duel in the women's race. Join the Canadian stars in Parc Jean Drapeau on April 19th. Register TODAY at [the event will sell out again this year!]


Victoria's Jon Brown set to take on "The East" as Harry's Spring Run Off 8K opens 20th Anniversary Canada Running Series in Toronto this Saturday

Jon Brown

TORONTO. March 30th. Harry's Spring Run Off 8K has seen some illustrious names over its 31 year history in High Park, and this year will be no exception as new-Canadian Jon Brown of Victoria is all set to take on the best of "the East". After winning Harry's Spring Run Off Vancouver 8K on March 8th, he'll be going for "the Harry's double" and bragging rights from coast-to-coast. Brown placed 4th in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic marathons in a GB vest, before becoming a Canadian citizen in June 2005, and a full-fledged Canadian athlete in January 2008. A veteran, regular sub-2:10 performer, he most-recently ran a 2:12:27 at the prestigious Fukuoka Marathon in Japan in December, making him Canada's #1 men's marathoner by some distance. "Brownie" has a marathon PR of 2:09:31 run at London in 2005, and a Half Marathon best of 61:49 from the Great North Run in 1997.

Over the years, the rolling, scenic High Park course of Toronto's oldest, continuously-run road race has hosted some of the world's greats, including Kenyan legends Daniel Komen, Sammy Kipketer and Sally Barsosio, Irish Olympians John Treacy and John Doherty, England's Eamon Martin and Jill Hunter, and the USA's Ed Eyestone. It has seen some epic battles on Spring Road Hill between Canadian distance stars like Peter Butler, Dave Edge, Mike Dyon and Dave Reid, Slivia Ruegger, Anne Marie Malone, Sandra Ansheutz, Nancy Tinari and May Allison. Daniel Komen still holds the men's course record, a stunning 22:35 from 1994, and Jill Hunter has the women's mark, an equally impressive 25:56, from 1990.

Brown comfortably won Harry's Spring Run Off 8K Vancouver on March 8th, in 23:58, showing his versatility and class over the shorter distance. To do the "Harry's double", he'll have to battle it out with Canada Running Series '08 champion Josephat Ongeri — a Kenyan now living in Milton — UTTCs Paul Chafe, and Montreal's Bagdad Rachem. Last April, Ongeri placed 2nd in 23:57, so the race should be a close one!

In the women's race, last year's champion, Kenyan Lucy Njeri will be back on the line to defend her title. Toronto's Nicole Stevenson and Kingston's Emily Tallen and Paula Wiltse should provide her main challenges. Tallen was 2nd to Njeri last Spring [28:53 to 28:08], with Wiltse coming 4th last year [29:37].

This year's Harry's Spring Run Off 8K and 5K sold out several weeks ago to record crowds of 2,500 in the 8K and 2,000 in the 5K. Combined, the 4,500 participants are expected to raise more than $200,000 for prostate cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital.

While it's too late to register for this year, it's not to late to come out and cheer; and High Park provides one of the very best spectator venues, with the various loops the runners take. The 8K starts at 10am and the 5K at 11:15am this Saturday, April 4th. Race details, times and course maps are at

For a history of the Spring Run Off, see


Moses Macharia and Lucy Njeri comfortable winners of 30th anniversary of Harry's Spring Run-Off 8k

Kenyans Moses Macharia and Lucy Njeri led a record field of over 4,400 around the 30th Anniversary of Harry's Spring Run-Off. There were 2,400 participants in the 8k, and another 2,000 in the 5k, on a picture-perfect morning in Toronto's High Park.

Macharia was content to sit in behind Guelph's Rob Watson for most of the 8k race, on the traditional, rolling, scenic course, before moving away decisively over the last 2k to win in 23:37. Watson came home 14 seconds back, with other Kenyans Josephat Ongeri third and Henry Githuka fourth in a thrilling sprint — both timed in 23:57.

Lucy Njeri had things more her own way on the women's side, leading from start to finish. She crossed the line at the top of the famous Spring Road Hill in 28:08. Kingston's Emily Tallen finished a strong second in 28:53, with national marathon champ Lioudmila Kortchaguina finishing a tired third on tired legs (29:10).

In addition to the blue skies, sunshine, mild temperatures (+11°Celcius) and warm tunes from the York Lions Steel Band, there was lots to cheer about. The 30th anniversary finishers' medals provided exceptional souvenirs, and the Prostate Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital took home a cheque for $325,000 to aid in the fight against prostate cancer.


2007: Thomas Omwenga and Megan Brown take 29th Harry's Spring Run Off Toronto 8K; event raises $360,000 for prostate cancer and opens Canada Running Series '07 in the East in style

Thomas Omwenga

TORONTO. April 7th, 2007. Kenyan Thomas Omwenga returned to Toronto today with a quality performance and a comfortable win at the 29th Annual Harry's Spring Run Off 8K, on a chilly morning (minus 5°C) in High Park, ahead of a record, sold-out crowd of 2,500 runners. Another sell-out record of 1,500 participated in the 5K that followed. The events marked "Opening Day" for Canada Running Series '07 in the East.

After a poor performance (2:21) at last September's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where he was not fully fit after a summer-time injury, Omwenga returned to town determined to make amends, and did not disappoint. He took charge early and led from start to finish. By the time he completed the first loop on West Road and headed down Spring Road Hill at the 1 mile mark, he already had some separation from a trailing pack that included Ottawa's Joseph Nsengiyumva, Toronto's Danny Kassap, and Montreal's Bagdad Rachem. Omwenga was a comfortable 4:48 at the mile, and he cruised from there at his marathon pace, to finish in 24:24. "Little Joe" Nsengiyumva was the only one who tried to stay close, and his 2nd place finish in 24:49 gave proof that he will be a force to contend with in this year's Series. Kassap finished 3rd, another 9 seconds back (24:58), Rachem 4th in 25:05, and Waterloo's Stephen Drew 5th in 25:13, after a good battle for the places.

Megan Brown

On the women's side, Newmarket Huskies' Megan Brown also had things all her own way, with an easy win in 28:05, from Pauline Githuka (28:36), one of the Kenyans now living and working year-round in Milton, and Kingston's Paula Wiltse a distant 3rd in 29:45.

Besides the record field of 4,000 participants, the biggest winners on the day were perhaps Princess Margaret Hospital, who were the recipients of the $360,000 raised for prostate cancer research by the event. Harry Rosen CEO, Larry Rosen, raised almost $30,000 himself, and "Team Coppley", a supplier to Canada's premier men's wear retailer, raised an impressive $108,000 of the total. Team Pepsi were the fastest Team on the day; and the competition was so deep that a tie (pun intended) had to be declared in the "Best Dressed" category (see photos here and here).

Between the first-edition Harry's Spring Run Off 8K in Vancouver (March 11th), and Harry's Toronto race today, almost half a million dollars has been raised for prostate cancer by Harry Rosen and the first two events of CRS'07—not a bad start!


2007: Harry Rosen Expands Prostate Cancer Fundraiser to National Event

Harry's Spring Run-Off to benefit research at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver

TORONTO, Ontario (January 18, 2007) — With a goal of raising $400,000 for prostate cancer research in Canada this spring, Harry Rosen Inc. is proud to announce that it will expand the successful Harry's Spring Run-Off event to Vancouver, hosting two Runs in 2007. The second annual Harry's Spring Run-Off 8k & 5k to Fight Prostate Cancer in Toronto will take place on April 7, 2007 at High Park, a month after Harry's Spring Run-Off 8K to Fight Prostate Cancer unfolds on March 11, 2007 in Vancouver's Stanley Park.

Once again, proceeds in Toronto will be donated to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation (PMHF), while in Vancouver, proceeds will be donated to the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). In addition to registration fees, runners and walkers are encouraged to sign up for online pledging to raise additional funds for the hospitals.

"We are thrilled to be expanding Harry's Spring Run-Off to the west coast this year" states Larry Rosen, CEO and Chairman of Harry Rosen Inc. "Our fundraising goals of $300,000 in Toronto and $100,000 in Vancouver are lofty but attainable, and we look forward to making an even greater contribution to two of the best prostate cancer research institutions in the world this spring."

"Prostate cancer needn't be the most common cancer among men in Canada," says Dr. Neil Fleshner, Head, Division of Urology in the Department of Surgical Oncology at PMH. "With the research we are allowed to do at the Prostate Center at PMH — in part due to the funds raised from events such as this — we are getting better at prevention and closer to a cure every day."

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer threat to Canadian men. It will afflict one out of six men in their lifetime — approximately 20,500 men this year alone. Men over the age of 45 are urged to speak to their doctors about testing.

Both the Vancouver and Toronto Runs are part of the Canada Running Series, and are among the first Runs of the spring running season in each city, making them a great training opportunity for serious runners and beginners alike. Prizes are awarded for the fastest times in a variety of categories and age groups. The event also hosts a Team Challenge with prizes for Fastest Team ($1,000 in Harry Rosen gift cards) and Most Money Raised ($5,000 in Harry Rosen gift cards). In addition to the money raised by entry fees, participants are urged to sign up for additional pledges online, with those proceeds going directly to each hospital.

The registration fee for Harry's Spring Run-Off, presented by HSBC Bank Canada, ranges from $30 to $50. The 8K Run begins at 10:00 a.m. and the 5K walk/run (Toronto only) at 11:00 a.m. Both events will include refreshments, breakfast, entertainment, gift bags and finishers t-shirts. Participants may sign up at for Toronto and for Vancouver.

HSBC Bank Canada is returning for the second year as Presenting sponsor. In Toronto, key sponsors are Coppley, New Balance and Abbott Laboratories. In Vancouver, the key sponsor is Zegna Sport.

Both Harry's Spring Run-Off events will be supported by extensive marketing campaigns, including Globe and Mail advertising and CBS Outdoor transit shelters as well as in-store and window displays at Harry Rosen's seven Toronto and two Vancouver stores; and extensive use of websites, direct mail and email campaigns.

About Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation

The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation at University Health Network raises funds for research, education and the enhancement of patient care at Canada's leading cancer research hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and its research arm, the Ontario Cancer Institute. For more information, please visit University Health Network consists of Princess Margaret, Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, and is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is a registered charity that raises funds for the latest, most sophisticated medical equipment, world-class research and improvements to patient care for Vancouver General Hospital, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. For more information, please visit

About Harry Rosen Inc.

Harry Rosen Inc., Canada's leading quality men's wear retailer, is celebrating its 53rd year in business in 2007. With 16 stores across the country, accounting for 40 percent of the Canadian market in high-end men's wear, Harry Rosen stores offer extensive collections of the world's finest men's wear labels including Brioni, Canali, Versace Classic, BOSS Hugo Boss, Armani Collezioni, Ermenegildo Zegna, Prada, Etro, Salvatore Ferragamo, Dolce and Gabbana and J.P. Tilford by Samuelsohn. Since 2000, Harry Rosen Inc. has raised money and awareness for prostate cancer in Canada. Through a variety of initiatives, over $700,000 has been donated to organizations across the country.


2006: Tara Quinn-Smith defends title ahead of record field of 3,662 at 28th annual Harry's Spring Run-Off 8K

Tara Quinn-Smith

On an uncharacteristically sunny spring morning, Tara Quinn-Smith, just back from the Melbourne Commonwealth games, proved the class of the field. She led the women's race from wire to wire to retain her crown in 27:36, ahead of Calgary's Lisa Harvey (28:33) and Ottawa's Sarah Dillabaugh (28:58). Husband Andrew Smith came second in the men's race in 24:35, unable to stick Windsor's Ryan McKenzie over the famous uphill, later stages of the race.

There was a generally festive atmosphere amongst the sold out crowd on opening day of Canada Running Series 2006, with lots to cheer about as $208,000 was also raised to fight prostate cancer at Princess Margaret Hospital.


2005: Kassap and Quinn-Smith take weather in their stride at Powerbar Spring Run Off

The tradition continued, at the 27th Annual Powerbar Spring Run [presented by New Balance Toronto—in support of Easter Seals] with almost made-to-order, truly horrible weather.

2005 run

Undeterred by the cold [1°Celcius], and driving rain mixed with occasional wet snow, Danny Kassap and Tara Quinn-Smith were all business, and both had comfortable wins at the opening day for Canada Running Series 2005.

Kassap went to the front from the start, with Andrew Smith on his shoulder, and a gap soon opened up behind them—the following pack led by Montreal's Algerian gang of Dahbi Ammor, Bagdad Retchem, Nourredine Betchim and Oukid Fethi.

Kassap and Smith ran shoulder to shoulder around the challenging, windswept and occasionally waterlogged 8k course, with Kassap finishing decisively up the final, famous, Spring Road Hill to start his CRS season with a 8 second victory [24:42 to 24:50]. Ammor, Retchem, Betchim and Fethi hung on well as a strong Montreal pack, taking 3rd through 6th places.

2005 run

The other half of the Quinn-Smith family had a much easier time of things, with Tara leading from wire to wire, and winning in 28:13 over Ottawa's Sarah Dillabaugh [29 flat] and 1st masters female, Nancy Tinari of Coquitlam [29:31]—who must have thought she'd landed in Inuktituk, not Toronto.

Montreal men's master Recioui Tewfik had an impressive CRS debut, decisively taking out Toronto Olympic's Jerry Koomans for the win, 27:33 to 28:11.

As tradition would have it, this was "Canadian Spring" in High Park, and not a day for the faint hearted. Times were slowed considerably by the conditions [Tara Quinn was 30 seconds slower than her 2004 win]. Well-know local running promoter, Peter Donato of, was so off his usual form jogging home, that announcer Kevin MacKinnon remarked that he must have stopped to hand out flyers around the course!

Undeterred, over 1,500 die-hards made it to the park [another 600 registrants rolled over in bed and thought better of it!]; the cadet band and the pipers played on; and the High Park Initiatives charity team miraculously served hot pancakes with maple syrup and hot chocolate. It was just one of those days that remind us we run in Canada, not South Florida. It was a day that fortified the legend of the Spring Run Off, with its weather and its hills, as a rite of passage as much as a rite of Spring for Canucks. In the end, none of the volunteers ended up with hypothermia, and many of us went home with a smile and enough stories to last through a LOT of long training runs...some good racing, tough runners, a new season, a new Canada Running Series, and unquestionably, better days ahead!


2004: A Stroll in the Park for Bennacer and Quinn at Spring Run Off 8K

Toronto, 3rd April 2004

The 26th Annual Spring Run Off 8K turned out to be a stroll in High Park for Mustapha Bennacer and Tara Quinn, as both were comfortable winners in the opening event of Canada Running Series 2004.

Bennacer, the defending Series Champion from Montreal, showed that he means business for the new season, as he led from wire to wire for the victory with a strong 23:45 clocking—42 seconds clear of Danny Kassap of Toronto, with Andrew Smith another 17 seconds back. It was never close.

After an early duel with teenager Diane Nukuri of Pickering, Quinn also broke away for a 43 second victory, in 27:48.

The 2,000 starters in the 8K, and the almost 500 fitness folks in the Easter Seals 5K enjoyed a beautiful morning in Toronto's finest park. Conditions were ideal, at around 8°C and no wind. And as the Weather Network forecast it last night, "the risk of some sunshine" came true.