Toronto Yonge Street 10K Digital Champions

The 2015 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!

Matt Small

Matt Small

Why did you start running? I started running in 2006 when I was challenged by a supervisor at work to participate in a charity run. From there I was hooked from the excitement of the crowds! Both participants and volunteers!

What is your favourite racing distance? I have run more half marathons than any other distance, so I would have to say the half marathon is my favourite. I am starting to get a real love for the full marathon distance however!

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment would have to be when I ran my first sub 2:00 hour half marathon. My previous best time was 2:07. When I crossed the line at 1:46 I was overcome with emotion and had to get the 'bugs that flew into my eyes' out by veering away from the crowds! I will never forget that day!

What is your favourite inspirational quote? "If you really want something, you will find a way; otherwise, you will find an excuse."

What do you do when you're not running? I am a police officer. My hobbies include running, reading, social media and travelling but not necessarily in that order.

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Lauren Simmons

Lauren Simmons

Why did you start running? I ran cross-country in grade 7 and 8, because my Dad, a sub-3 Boston marathoner, wanted me to, but it wasn't for me — I think I actually placed last in more than one race. In university, I lived near the Mt.Royal in Montreal, so I started running as a way to explore my own backyard. Since I was already active, going to the gym a few times a week, it was easy to fall in love with running, and it's been my singular pursuit ever since. I've always been a solo runner — I love going on rambling long runs to get back in touch with myself after a long week.

What is your favourite racing distance? While I run half-marathons and 15ks, the 10k is my favourite running distance. My first racing experiences were in 10k races — it's a distance I am comfortable with, but also a distance where I can really push my own limits. Last year I ran a PB (by 7 minutes!) at TYS10K, so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do this year!

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? This was my first year running injury-free. I ran the Around the Bay 30k and improved my half-marathon PB by 22 minutes in the spring. What I'm most proud of, however, is my time in the Midsummer Nights' 15k, which I ran in 1:20:19, just a week after another 10k race. I was fresh off two weeks of travel and I had never run a nighttime race, and despite it all, I ran a perfect race.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “Pain is Inevitable; Suffering Is Optional.” — Haruki Murakami

What do you do when you're not running? I'm a high school music teacher and librarian, and I'm active in service with my union, OSSTF. I'm also involved with #WiTOPoli (Women in Toronto Politics), a grassroots, non-partisan group that aims to increase diversity in our civic discourse. I'm passionate about local food and wine, and love supporting local restaurants, wineries and craft breweries, particularly in Toronto's east end, which I call home.

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Melissa Doldron

Melissa Doldron

Why did you start running? I initially started running to keep fit for boxing (insert Rocky theme here!). After sustaining a shoulder injury, I decided to continue running with more focus to stay in shape. A new love was born soon after!

What is your favourite racing distance? 10km

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? Completing my second half marathon last year, 8 years after my first and smashing my personal best time!

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “Never set limits, go after your dreams, don't be afraid to push the boundaries, and laugh a lot, it's good for you!” — Paula Radcliffe

What do you do when you're not running? I'm a registered sports massage therapist, so when I'm not running, I'm working with athletes and talking about running! I'm a big sport junkie so you can often find me with friends watching or playing football, baseball, boxing and UFC, and always eating and laughing.

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Laurie McCann

Laurie McCann

Why did you start running? I started running after I had competed in a fitness competition. I was asked by a good friend to run the Niagara Half Marathon with her. Once I started training, I was hooked. Running really is my therapy. I do my best thinking while running.

What is your favourite racing distance? My favorite race distance is the Half Marathon. I love that it challenges me and with each race I want to beat my PB.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment to date is running the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where at 43 years old I beat my PB by 7 minutes. I was trending on social media as well because of my tweeting about the event and my running!

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about, be KIND” and “Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”

What do you do when you're not running? I have been a police officer with The Toronto Police Service for 17 years. I am also a member of a competitive Syncro Figure Skating team, but what I enjoy most is hanging out with my 2 little girls.

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Jess Collins

Jess Collins

Why did you start running? I initially began running to complement my strength training workouts with some cardio, but only ever for short distances. In 2011, I decided to challenge myself to run the Terry Fox Run (something I'd long wanted to do) when I was getting over a breakup, in order to focus my energy on a positive goal and raise money to fight cancer. I got hooked on running, and completed my first timed 10K race in March 2012.

What is your favourite racing distance? It's hard just to pick one! I really like half-marathons, but it's also fun to run a speedy 10K. Both will help me in my goal to become faster at longer distances.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment my first marathon in October 2014, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

What do you do when you're not running? I work in marketing; when I'm not running or working, I bake (a lot!) and brew beer.

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Mike van Mil

Mike van Mil

Why did you start running? I have always been aware of the benefits of physical activity on the body, mind and soul, but it was seeing and hearing of my runner friends achievements and the comradery of the running world that did it for me. A year ago my wife and I set a goal of running the Wine and Dine half marathon at Walt Disney World and began training for it. We haven't looked back since!

What is your favourite racing distance? 15k.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? Crossing the finish line of the Walt Disney World Wine and Dine half marathon, hand in hand with my wife, and us both still smiling is my most memorable running achievement.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “All dreams can come if we have the courage to pursue them” — Walt Disney

What do you do when you're not running? I work full and part time as a paramedic for 2 GTA services. When I'm not on shift you can find me ?at the hockey rink and dance studio cheering on my two children or enjoying family trips to Disney.

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Robert Broulliette

Robert Broulliette

Why did you start running? I started running 6 years ago because I was looking for a sport to fit into. Running put me in an environment where I could make new friends and it was challenging, yet fun at the same time. I felt free with no limits or pressure, and best of all I had a passion for it. Running always left me wanting to come back for more. Now that I have become very comfortable with running in my life, I don't think I will ever want, or know how to stop — I simply love all the benefits that it offers me.

What is your favourite racing distance? Currently I have raced from 1 mile all the way up to full marathon, but am really focusing on the 10K this year. My favourite racing distance is the marathon because I see myself as a long distance athlete. I love all the challenges it throws at me, the sense of accomplishment of running for 42.2K after months of dedicated training, and the fact that you get out of it what you put in it. There are no shortcuts in the marathon.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment is training in Kenya where I would wake up every morning to run alongside some of the greatest runners in the world. I ran in the hot sun, with my lungs burning at high altitude, but I stayed mentally strong because in my heart I knew it would all pay off on race day. This is important to me because I always dreamed about running in the place where some of the best runners ever came from and so I made it a reality. I even had the chance to meet famous professional runners such as Mo Farah, Wilson Kipsang, Jake and Zane Robertson, and many more who helped teach me things about running that helped make me the athlete I am today.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” — Steve Prefontaine

What do you do when you're not running? Running takes up a big chunk of my life and I wouldn't want it any other way. When I'm not running you'll find me either working at the Running Room in both Guelph and Kitchener, out for a ride on the bike, in the water swimming, recreational sports of all sorts, adventuring around beautiful Kenya, or putting my legs up to rest while enjoying a movie.

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Carmen Do

Carmen Do

Why did you start running? I started running in high school after my friend convinced me to go to practices with her. Running up and down hills afterschool was hardly what I wanted to do but I continued running because over time, I fell in love with it. Running has helped me through the rough patches in my life and helped me grow as a person.

What is your favourite racing distance? My favourite racing distance is the half marathon. It's perfect for me, not too short that you have to go all out right away, but just long enough that you have make up the time for any errors you've made pacing.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment was my very first half marathon. I was barely 18 and was running on and off with no plan or training. Going in, my estimated finish time was 2:30 but somehow I managed to finish in 2:17! I was shocked and since then I've been hooked on racing.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “I may not be the strongest. I may not be the fastest. But I'll be damned if I'm not trying my hardest.” This quote pretty much sums me up! I've never been the fastest girl around but I always try my best and train my hardest.

What do you do when you're not running? When I'm not running, I'm either blogging or at school studying, but even then I'm blogging about running and thinking about my next run while studying!

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Allison Miceli

Allison Miceli

Why did you start running? I started running after I relocated to Toronto this spring. I wanted to start running for a while, but I didn't have the motivation or support in suburbia. I heard a lot of great things about Tribe Fitness through my social media network and decided to join their 'Couch to 10K' program this summer, with the goal of signing up for a triathlon or obstacle race in 2015.

What is your favourite racing distance? Distance? Any distance! I am slowly learning to love longer distances as I become more aware of what my body is capable of. To date, my favourite and only racing distance is 10K, but I am hoping that within' the next few months of winter training I can learn to find a love for the half-marathon and maybe even 30K.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment is running my first race this October — the MEC Series Race 10K in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. It took 3 months of training to get me there and I set myself an ambitious goal of running my first ever 10K race in under an hour. I knew I had made it to race day as prepared as I could be. This race was memorable for me because I was running alongside my fellow Tribe members, it was in my hometown, and I was off my goal time by only 24 seconds!

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.” This quote has carried me through my yoga practice for the last 4 years, and it now carries me through my training as a runner. In today's busy world we often get wrapped up in the end result and overlook the small triumphs and victories that we make along the way to our final goal. These are the moments that are to be celebrated on the way to your next race.

What do you do when you're not running? When I'm not running, I'm working. I work in advertising and that does take up a lot of my time, but I love it! I am also an avid traveller, music junkie, yogi, cyclist, foodie/baker, sports fanatic, lover of family and fan of great books.

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Paul Silva

Paul Silva

Why did you start running? The real answer is that I started running because I woke up one day and just decided to do it! The truer answer is I felt that I needed to get my body moving in a meaningful way and knew that running would touch all parts of the mind-body-spirit connection, and it hasn't failed to do that yet.

What is your favourite racing distance? I haven't run a lot of races so far, but I would have to say my favourite one so far has also been one of my hardest — 10K. I enjoy it because it's done within an hour (I still have most of the day!), but the effort required makes me feel like I've run a lot further and I feel gloriously spent after it. A sustained sprint is really what it is, and that's pretty groovy.

What is your most memorable running accomplishment? My most memorable running accomplishment so far has to be running and completing my first marathon last October at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I never thought I could do it, considering it came only 13 months after I started running! I persevered and it was much more difficult, physically and mentally, than I had expected. And that is what made it so memorable — I was able to overcome it all and challenge myself in a way I never had before. Looking back at it now, I probably was a combination insane and naive to run it so early in my running journey!

What is your favourite inspirational quote? “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” — Anonymous

What do you do when you're not running? When I am not running, I am fussing over my family, blogging, reading or helping others in their recovery from addiction. In my blog, Message in a Bottle, I am very honest and open about my own journey in recovery, and often cite my running as an important part of my life and my healing process.

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Jenna Pettinato, Digital Champions Manager

Jenna Pettinato

If you have any inquiries regarding the Digital Champions Program, or are interested in being a future Digital Champion, please contact Jenna at .

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