2014 Digital Champions
The 2014 TYS10k Digital Champions are a group of diverse, dedicated and enthusiastic athletes; each with a unique story and running history. Follow their journeys, their ups and downs, motivations and challenges, as they train for Toronto's Premier Spring Road Race!
Read our Champions' latest blog posts here.
Jean-Paul starting running a little over 16 years ago when he entered a treatment program for an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He trained for his first marathon, The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, with two other men from the treatment program. All three men qualified for Boston in their first marathon.
Since that time, Jean-Paul has gone on to complete over 75 marathons and quite a few ultra marathons. In 2012, he represented Canada in the prestigious Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Jean-Paul is currently training for a "double-Boston" in April 2014 which will see him run from the finish line to the start, and then join the rest of the runners to complete the marathon. Jean-Paul is dedicating his 2014 race schedule to raising funds for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and he can't wait to race down Yonge St at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K in the spring and across Toronto in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in the fall.
Lisa was introduced to the world of running as a child by her father. When she was 12, she joined her school track team. She put her running on hold when she started competing in dance, which led her to a professional career. It was while she was performing on board cruise ships that she laced up again, started doing laps and fell back in love with running. Once Lisa said goodbye to her performing days, she fell in love with yoga, became a certified yoga instructor and started training for a variety of races, including STWM twice, 5K's, 10K's, and half marathons. Lisa is thrilled to be a part of the DC team for the third time (TYS10K 2013, and STWM 2013). As the mother of a very active two year old boy, Lisa has turned a portion of playtime into training time by pushing her son in a jogging stroller on a regular basis.
Lisa believes in the importance of both mental and physical well-being for leading a happy and healthy life, and strives to inspire others to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. As a Lole ambassador she is able to share her passion on a daily basis.
Looking for a great way to complement your run training? Join Lisa at Chopra Yoga Toronto. You can find Lisa on twitter @TorontoFitMom and remember, "Limitations only exist if you let them".
Laurie Ann March
Laurie is mother of two, an author, and business owner. If you ask her how she balances her hectic life with her love of running, she'll tell you that she treats being active as a priority and with good reason. Laurie changed her lifestyle drastically in order to successfully lose 180 lbs. In 2009, partway through that journey, she was diagnosed with diabetes. She stayed the course and was able to move from being insulin dependent to living free of all diabetes medications. Two years ago Laurie decided to become a runner. Her goal was to give back so she booked a 5K race in support of the JDRF. One race. Little did she know that crossing a finish line would become much more.
Since then Laurie has run 5K and 10K events, arduous trail relays, and her first half marathon. She loves challenges especially when she can combine her love of the outdoors with trail running. It's more than just running for Laurie. In 2013 she created Team Tyrel, a virtual 5K to help the family of a Guelph boy awaiting kidney transplant. Spring 2014 will be a busy one for Laurie. Not only is she participating in TYS10K, she plans to run two half marathons and 25K at Sulphur Springs.
If you would like to chat about your running aspirations you'll find Laurie on twitter and DailyMile. Her enthusiasm is contagious and if you haven't run your first race yet she will surely try to talk you into it. You can read more about her journey on her blog at www.innerpossible.com.
In the spring of 2011, months after a life-changing experience, Jean-Paul signed up for a Learn-to-Run clinic at a local Running Room store, promising his son he would make changes to his life. Quickly rediscovering his love of running, he went from his first 5K race to signing up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half-marathon later that fall. From then on, he's run numerous 5, 8 & 10K races, as well as longer distance races such as the Longboat Island Run, the Midsummer's Night Race, and the Around the Bay Race 30K races plus five more half-marathons. He also ran his first race with his son in the summer of 2012 — that race is most close to his heart. In October 2013, JP ran his first full marathon at STWM. Wanting to make his first full memorable, JP ran the FULL 42.2K distance dressed at "Batman" in support of the Sick Kids Foundation for the Hospital for Sick Children, an organization that saved his life 30 years ago.
Inspired by the true heroes who endure at Sick Kids, JP will be running 2014 as part of the "Justice League Runners', a group of dedicated runners who contacted him following the STWM to form a team of costumed 'super heroes' to inspire others and help charities. Their first stop as a team will be the Toronto Yonge Street 10K in April, and he can't wait to see the expression on the faces of the crowd as "a group of ordinary runners achieve an inspiring endeavour… together."
JP's favourite mantra? No surprise that it comes from the film 'Batman Begins': "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me."
Tina is delighted to be a Digital Champion with the Canada Running Series again! In October 2013, she ran her third full marathon as a Digital Champion for STWM. Tina started running in 2009 for cognitive and emotional well-being, as well as physical health. As her ability improved, she gained more confidence. Several months later, her perspective on running changed when her sister was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma (bone cancer) in her femur, which meant she would not be able to walk, let alone run, for quite some time. Tina was reminded of how we can so easily take our health for granted. Since then she has run 3 half marathons, 3 full marathons and a few shorter races. Her best race time is from the 10K she ran last year. She's aiming to get a personal best in this year's TYS10K! Follow Tina as she reflects on her training and life events at www.tinainstride.com.
Jeremy Foreshew is a personal trainer, fitness/lifestyle writer and the founder of GET Out! Canada — a sports and leisure club for Toronto's LGBT community. This is his second time running in TYS10K as a Digital Champion and will be his first to proudly run alongside a team from the GET Out! run club. As an entrepreneur, father to 3 fur-babies, blogger and social butterfly - Jeremy uses running to help him find clarity and stay focused. After a 6 month hiatus from running after injury, Jeremy is eager to train for TYS10K and get back into his run groove for a strong run in April.
Follow Jeremy on twitter @jeremyforeshew or connect with the GET Out! running group on Facebook.
Jessica Kuepfer started running in high school because she didn't think she had the coordination for team sports. Since then, she has tackled every distance from varsity 5 km to her first 100 miler in April 2013. Jessica ran her first marathon at Scotiabank Waterfront in 2013 with a Boston Qualifying time and is looking forward to a strong 2014 season.
When she is not training for her next race or racing for CLIPPED Outdoors, she is a certified fitness instructor, health blogger over at lacesandlattes.com and probably drinking a Starbucks latte. Jessica is a firm believer that vacations and running belong together, so she is completing the TransRockies 120 Miler in Colorado and the Rim2Rim2Rim run in Arizona among other local races in her 2014 racing schedule.
Jessica is happy to chat about all things training, running and racing on social media. She is happy to be held accountable for her goals of PRing the TTY10K this year on dailymile. She loves to make new friends, so follow her training and share your own.
Running has figured into Myron's fitness and social regime since he first got hooked on the activity in 2005. Thus far he has completed 20 full marathons and a number of other distance races, including one previous TYS10K (which, incidentally, remains his fastest 10K race time to date). Currently coming off a broken toe injury which kept him off the streets and trails for over two months, he is totally pumped about getting out there for the Toronto Yonge St 10k in 2014. One of Myron's greatest pleasures is participating in community runs of this nature, supporting the running community and the many causes that it helps to fund and promote. He loves to see people get off the couch and get active, and hopes that his example influences those who know him in a positive way. Follow him on Twitter at @ultramyron for all things related to running.
- Twitter: @ultramyron
"Believe." It was the word that inspired Jodi throughout 2013 as she raced at 5K, 10K, 21.1K and 30K distances to prepare for the main event: her first 42.2K, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which she finished in Boston-qualifying time. Jodi took up running after a long hiatus to exercise her energetic dog, Tilda, and her passion for the sport was rekindled as she connected with the running community and discovered what a positive impact being a physically fit and mentally tough runner had on her overall well-being. She believes running is a key that helps people unlock their true potential.
You'll often find Jodi and Tilda fording streams, vaulting logs and following wending paths as they run Toronto's extensive and beautiful trail system, which is Jodi's favourite place to train. Running makes Jodi happy, keeps her sane, and allows her to believe that anything is possible.
Jodi blogs about her running journey (as well as her kitchen adventures — cooking is her other passion) and is active daily on Twitter and Instagram. Drop by and say hello — the experience is more fun when shared!
As a recovering alcoholic Christa uses running to stay sober.
Christa celebrates 3 years sobriety on January 15 2014 and credits her success to lacing up and pounding the pavement.
Inspiring others to set and achieve their running goals is something she is passionate about. The spirit of the running community is contagious and she is proud to be part of it.
Linda is an avid runner and obstacle course racer. After fracturing her right ankle pretty badly during an obstacle race in October 2012, and missing out on her first half-marathon opportunity at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Linda started running again in February 2013. She crushed her 2013 fitness goals completing 12 road races and 5 obstacle races with some notable achievements including having completed her first half marathon, running 25k (her longest race), completing Tough Mudder in a snow and hail storm and becoming a member of the Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe. Not bad for someone who was hopping around on crutches a year earlier.
2014 will be a big year for Linda. She hopes to PB the Toronto Yonge Street 10k race, achieve two Trifecta medals and run her first full marathon at STWM.
- Twitter: @lindamnguyen
Miranda MacDonald has been an avid runner for the last 3 years. After running a number of 10K races, she was challenged by Nike Running Canada to tackle a half marathon in 2011 and blog about it. After that, she was hooked. Since then, she has completed several half marathons, two 30K races, and this past October, she completed her first full marathon at STWM with a time of 4:33:42.
Originally from a small town called Kincardine, Miranda now lives in Toronto where she works as a Social Media Strategist. In her free time, she travels, rocks out to 80s tunes and writes about her running adventures on her blog thoughtsandpavement.com. She typically avoids treadmills and hills, but loves runs along the waterfront or in cottage country. You can also find her on Twitter. She's @MirandaMac
When Andrew ran his first 10K two and half years ago, he felt like a hero. The city streets were closed just for his run. People cheered him on like he was an Olympian. He got a sparkly medal that he could keep wearing for days. And he had all-you-can-eat bagels at the finish. He was hooked.
That first 10K lead to another 10K, and then a 15K, and then a half-marathon, and then all the way to five marathons. You could say that Andrew was a little obsessed. In fact, he won a blogging contest with iRun.ca and is now their “Obssessive Running” blogger. Andrew is obsessed with running for the best schwag, finding the absolute softest tech shirt, and lacing up with running shoes that not only feel fast, but look fast too.
The Toronto Yonge Street 10K was that very first race that he ran two and a half years ago. He's thrilled to be a race ambassador and to be able to encourage others to run this race as either their first 10K or for those seeking a personal best time. In other words, he just wants others to feel like a hero too.
You can read about Andrew's running obsessions on his Obsessive Runner blog on iRun.ca or follow him on Twitter @AndrewChak.
Back for a second year as a #TYS10K Digital Champion, Christopher is a 37-year-old Dad of four (two girls, two boys) ages 9, 7, 3 and 2. A 15-year sports marketing executive with past experience working at media companies TSN and Insight Sports, he presently works at CBC Sports (including Hockey Night in Canada, the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and more). He lives with his young family in Whitby, but still manages to find time to run at least four times a week. Being a Digital Champion for #TYS10K last year led him to running his first full marathon this past Fall, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Between work and family, he finds time to tweet (and laugh) about it all @chrisdoyle.
- Twitter: @chrisdoyle
Stephanie is an avid runner who started running to get back into shape after university. She has run what she calls the full circuit in the following distances: 5k, 10k, 15k, half marathon, 30k, and a full marathon. Last year the Toronto Yonge Street 10K was her first race running pregnant and this year she looks forward to running post pregnancy to keep sane and to get back into shape.
- Twitter: @stephanieruns
Until last summer, running was always a "maybe later" thing for Danielle. She finally signed up for her first Running Room clinic in August 2012 and has been running ever since. After a jam-packed 2013 — which included ten races — she recently completed her first 42.2km at the Chicago Marathon. She runs in the west end of Toronto, where the parks are abundant (and so are the hills!). She is looking forward to racing down Yonge at the TYS10K, where she hopes to break the 50-minute mark. This is her second year as a Digital Champion.
Danielle's race plans for 2014 include two marathons, a 30km race, and a few shorter distance events. 2014 will be a year for improving form, pacing, and stride.
You can follow her training on Twitter and Instagram at @dohanley.
- Twitter: @dohanley
After watching runners in 2012 run passed her house during the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Alyssa told herself “I am going to run a marathon one day”. Little did she know that “one day” was going to be the following year. In 2013 Alyssa ran her first 10k at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K, her first half in May and finally a full marathon during STWM. It was one of the toughest yet most rewarding experiences in her life.
In her first year of running Alyssa has learnt about dedication, determination and the importance of setting goals. She is currently a second year student at Ryerson University studying Business Management and uses running not only to stay in shape but also a way to spend time alone doing something she loves. She also hopes to inspire other students to find their passion and love for running.
With her first year as a “runner” in the books, Alyssa is training hard to break personal records and ultimately Boston Qualify in the coming year. Completing a marathon was supposed to be just a bucket list item, but it has become her passion and being a runner is a lifestyle now.
An athlete most of her life, Heather has a passion for enjoyable movement to promote healthy, active living and build community. As the owner of Tribe Fitness, a Toronto fitness community with the goal of sweating for social good, Heather believes the true benefits of fitness go beyond doing a body good, to the enhanced state of mind which allows us to open our hearts, connect, and find the beauty in the everyday. Heather has been chasing pavement as a marathon runner for the past seven years, originally getting into running when she found herself working a desk job and having the need to move! As an ambassador for Oakley Canada and Team Vega, Heather provides her fitness tribe with the opportunity to find their personal challenge and stretch the boundaries of what they thought possible.
Krysten Siba Bishop
Krysten is the author of the health and wellness blog The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail, where she chronicles her attempt to literally outrun all of her genetic shortcomings. Krysten was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a rare cardiac arrthymia, at 17. She was fitted with her first pacemaker/defibrillator at 18. By 19, she had decided it was time to take up running and has been running throughout her medical misadventures ever since.
After testing positive for "breast cancer gene" BRCA1, Krysten set out to make health her priority and strive for marathon glory. Krysten ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, as her first marathon in 2012, just 7 months after a prophylactic double mastectomy. It was a painful 42.2km, but she caught the long distance bug. Since then she has completed 5 half marathon, her 2nd Ironman. She is excited to race the Toronto Yonge Street 10K in April and then go back to the place where it all began and cross the STWM finish line healthy, happy, and strong in October.
Jennifer started running in the summer of 2010, completing her first race ever at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. After crossing that accomplishment off her list, she resolved to never run again. Luckily, that one didn't stick, and with the help of a good running buddy, she got off the treadmill and into the streets and never looked back, finishing a variety of races including mud runs, colour runs, 10Ks, halfs, 30Ks, and, last year, her first marathon. Jennifer is thrilled to be a TYS10K Digital Champion this year as she also trains for what will hopefully be a sub-four 42.2K and her first triathlon. Jennifer blogs about her adventures in fitness, food and travel and is always happy to chat about running!
In 2010 Emily cheered on runners at mile 22 of the New York City Marathon, and cried. Inspiration had hit, and she knew she had to get involved somehow. When early 2011 rolled around, on a whim, she signed up for her first half marathon and in August 2011 bit the bullet and signed up to run the 2011 NYC Marathon as a guide for a disabled athlete with Achilles. Halfway through the marathon, Emily thought "Oh no...I'll never do this again...why do my feet hurt so much? I wonder if it's ok to lay down?" Fast forward to 2014, and there are two full marathons on Emily's race agenda, among other races. Fully addicted to training and racing, Emily has raced 5k, 10k, 30k half and full marathons, numerous obstacle races, and is learning to swim to complete a half Ironman in 2016.
Running keeps Emily fit, sane, healthy, happy and inspired on a daily basis. She is always looking to push her own limits, run her best, and learn from every race. You can often find Emily running all over Toronto (join her! Or at least wave to her), or hitting up every gym out there to try every workout in the city. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, indoor cycling and group fitness instructor, and run coach.
- Twitter: @EmilyMcGray
This year, Darren is returning to the race that started it all. His first organized run was with Canada Running Series along the same 10 km route down Yonge Street. At the time, he was incredibly nervous — worrying he might literally die by doing the run — but also exhilarated by the sound of the starting horn blast and the sight of thousands of heads bopping as the participants began running. He was hooked and has since ran seven half marathons and many shorter distance races.
Darren combines his loves of running and cycling by racing in duathlons and is a proud 2014 ambassador for Ignition Fitness, a running, duathlon and triathlon coaching group. Darren joined this team to push his boundaries — setting tough new goals and creating the plans to achieve them.
Even though he wasn't naturally athletically-inclined growing up (quite the opposite), success in endurance sports has taught Darren we can accomplish pretty much anything, if we put our mind to it and break down big goals into manageable milestones. He's pumped about being a digital champion and is looking forward to meeting other runners online and in-person in the lead up to the TYS10K.
- Twitter: @DarrenToronto
Mark's love for running started when was selected for the track team in elementary school. It was a short lived love though, because, much to his disappointment, he didn't make the team in high school. With his competitive nature, Mark didn't think he would ever be interested in running again, unless he was one of the fastest, so he focused his time on other sports. In 2012, a close friend invited him to join some local runs and just like that, his passion for running was reignited.
For Mark, running has been a way to learn more about himself and his abilities. He's met so many amazing people and looks forward to meeting more as a TYS10K Digital Champion. Mark will be running the TYS10K in costume as part of the Justice League Runners, and will run his first full marathon this fall in the STWM. His goal is to run a half or full marathon in most of the provinces in Canada over the next few years. To kick off this bucket list item, he'll be at Seawheeze in August. Mark currently runs with Tribe Fitness on Wednesday nights and would love to see you there.
When not running or number crunching during his 9 to 5, Mark can be found volunteering with YouthWithoutShelter and New Circles. His goals this year are to achieve PBs in his 5km, 10km, and half marathon. Mark is thrilled to be a TYS10K Digital Champion and looks forward to sharing this experience with others.
- Twitter: @Mark_Sawh
Christina is the author behind The Athletarian, a blog about running, health, wellness, and ramblings of her daily life. She was not always into fitness and only started becoming active in university when she had access to a full gym and indoor track. She used the track to train for her first 10K and after crossing that finish line, became hooked. She has since then completed several races ranging from 5K to a full marathon. Christina has set the lofty goal of running 14 races in 2014 and is hoping to PR at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K.
Jenna Pettinato, Digital Champions Manager
If you have any inquiries regarding the Digital Champions Program, or are interested in being a future Digital Champion, please contact Jenna at .