The Mississauga Marathon


Move over Toronto, as you're not the only ones who know how to host a race, a marathon-size race at that. This weekend marks Mississauga's ninth annual event and one that will have the whole city watching.

OK, maybe not watching, but definitely being involved. How could they not, as this three-day event will have almost the whole city shut down, or delayed, to allow thousands of participants to help raise money for some great Canadian charities.

We here at understand the importance of staying fit and having fun, and see this marathon as a way to do both. As such, we have asked three participants of this year's race what the marathon means to them and how they prepared themselves for such a challenging task. We hope that their stories will inspire you to get up and get involved too. Before we get to their stories though, here's a bit more about Mississauga's biggest race.

With over seven events being held over a two-day race period, and a Runner’s Expo that is sure to knock your running socks off, this is shaping up to be one of Mississauga's biggest events yet. In fact, it has become a "can't miss" event on the Canadian running calendar. It also continues to attract runners from all over Canada, the US and internationally.

The affair got started in 2004, when President of the Landmark Sports Group, Elliott Kerr, who organizes the marathon, ran the Toronto race. While there, he thought, "Why doesn't the sixth largest city in Canada have an event like this?"

"So he talked to Hazel [McCallion] and kind of threw one together," said event coordinator Krystal Duz.

It's nine years later and the run is more popular than ever.

"In our first year, we had 5,000 participants and now we get over 10,000" said Duz, which is a great accomplishment for such a young event.

This year's events included: The Subway 2K Fun Run/Walk, the Petrillo Law Corporate and Team Relay, the 10K Student Relay, the Starbucks Coffee Hazel 5K, the Valeant Pharmaceuticals 10K, the Half Marathon and of course the Full Marathon.

What is interesting about this marathon is that the full is not the biggest race.

"Seeing as we are called the Mississauga Marathon, and our full marathon is the whole point of the event, our half marathon is actually our most popular race," said Duz.

Despite the numbers growing overall, there seems to be a massive decline to the full marathon. The reason seems to be competition from the race that started it all, the Toronto Marathon.

"Last year we were down in numbers, because of the Toronto Marathon choosing the same day, and they got the same day again this year," said nine time Mississauga runner Lorna Comacchio. Consequently, this means that there will only be about 500 full marathon runners this year. Though Comacchio herself has participated in the Toronto run, she has chosen to run in Mississauga. After all, "Mississauga is my home and this is my home marathon," said Comacchio.

On the upside, many Toronto-based runners are also choosing Mississauga over Toronto. This is the case for Christina Laflamme, who has lived in Toronto for the past 19 years. 

"The first year it [the Mississauga Marathon] came out, I ran the half marathon, and it was just so scenic and so nice," said Laflamme. "Now, we have to choose, basically Mississauga or Toronto, and I've been choosing Mississauga."

If you are participating, we want to know what the Mississauga Marathon mean to you?Bios:

Lorna Comacchio
Full Marathon

Reason for Running: "Never in my life, did I plan on doing a Full Marathon. It wasn't until my mom had brain surgery in November 2003 and suffered a major stroke, post-surgery. It left her unable to walk, talk, eat, drink or swallow. That was 8 and a half years ago, and she remains confined to a wheelchair, with a feeding tube permanently in place and lives in a Nursing Home requiring full care. It is so difficult to see her this way. She was such a sociable, friendly person. My mom will never be the same. She will never walk, or talk again!  I think of what she's been through and what she is still going through. When I show her my medals, I don't even know if she realizes what they're all about, but I do know that if she could talk, she would be really excited and proud of me. I know that she would love to come to see me run a marathon and she would absolutely love to join in the excitement of race day! She is the reason I ran that first Full Mississauga Marathon in 2004, and why I continue to run."

Other Inspirations:
"My wonderful father who visits my mother every day, as he is so dedicated to her. My husband, John, and my two daughters, Blaire & Brenna, also give me inspiration."

Training Method: "To properly train for a marathon, you have to start four months ahead of time. I go by John, my husband, he's kind of my trainer. He's a runner too, though he hasn't run a marathon, he works so hard, so he hasn't been able to train as much. But he does guide me saying when I've done too much or whatever. But I follow this one he got online that he dug up years back. It goes through an 18-week schedule. So basically, to help you prevent getting injuries, it tells you to run one day the rest the next. Some people do [run everyday], I used to do it like that and I think that's why I was getting injuries. And I wasn't following anything down pat. For this one, you always do a long run on Sunday, then Monday you rest. Tuesday you do about 9-10K, and then another 9-10K on Thursday. Saturday is always around 6-8K, with Sunday being your long run. When you start in week one you do 16K on Sunday, then the next week you do 19K, then 22K and so on. The whole gist of it is that you build up until the last month before the marathon, where you taper down."

Fun fact: The year Comacchio's husband pushed her the hardest, was also the year she qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Thoughts about finishing the race: "I know I'm glad to cross that line, but I think of my mom and wish that she could be there. Then I look for John and my girls, 'cause they come over and give me a big hug."

"The very first year I thought: I am never doing this again."
Nine years later and Comacchio is still going strong!Christina Laflamme
Age: 37
Race: Full Marathon

Reason for Running: "I've been running marathons for almost 10 years. I ran the Toronto marathon several times, so when the Mississauga Marathon came out, the first year it came out, I ran the half marathon, and it was just so scenic and nice. And so I've come back and I ran the full marathon. And now we have to choose, basically Mississauga or Toronto, and I've been choosing Mississauga, because it's just so nice! I actually had no idea that Mississauga had such nice neighbourhoods. I was really surprised, so for me it was really good. It was an eye-opener."

Other Reasons: Another reason is the fitness factor.

Training Method: "I have the advantage that this is not my first marathon of the year. You know, I ran the Boston Marathon last month, and then I ran a half marathon in Montreal and then the Mississauga one. So they are all training for each other. But in training, and especially for these ones that are in April and May, we are just coming out of winter. So, you have to suck it up and go out in that cold weather, which sucks. But you just build your kilometers per week. Start off in January doing 10-12K runs that week. Then building up about 3K per week, until I get up to about 21-24K. I don't really run longer than that. Then I might start breaking it up, so I might do two 15K runs that next week, then maybe two 18K. By the end of the training, I'll be running anywhere from 65-100K a week."

Lessons Learned: "I know for my first marathon I built up the number of kilometers per week until I got up to 36K, and I just think it's too much. It's too taxing for the body. Save that kind of energy for the actual race. As long as your actual numbers per week are one and half times what the race is then you should be OK. And so far, that has served me well."

Other training: Laflamme recommends that you do some speed training as well on the treadmill. This is good when practicing for races that require uphill battles.

Fun fact 1: This will also be her 50th marathon, so Mississauga, I hope you feel the love.

Thoughts about finishing the race: "Because I run so many marathons, my family is kind of like 'oh you know Christina ran another marathon.' I think they think it's easy for me, or something, because I do so many of them. That's not true, they are all challenges. So, it's not like they come out to every single one or anything, but they are all going to come out for this one. Even just thinking about it, I'm getting all choked up, so I know I'll get emotional. It'll mean a lot to me that my family is there."

Joe and Christy Evangelista
(husband and wife combo)

Age: Both 30
Race: 10K

Reason for Running: "We recently moved back to Mississauga from Toronto, so we thought it would be nice to run in our own community."

"This is also the first time that I, personally [Christy], have been 100 percent committed to it and followed through. I had actually signed up for two other 10K races in the past two years, but in one of them I got sick. And the other one, when I was training, my shoelaces became untied, so I fell and injured my knee. So I've been trying to do this for three years now."

Training Method: "I basically get most of my information online. I found a pretty generic 10K running plan for someone who is intermediate. And we are actually training at our new gym, Life Time Fitness, which just opened," said Christy. 

Running with a partner: "I say it gives you motivation to continue on. I know there have been times where I didn't really want to go out and run. And Christy says 'yeah lets go', and we'll go. So it just gives you the added pressure to continue training, 'cause you know someone else is there. It's very infrequent that we both will say we don't want to go," said Joe.

"You're being held accountable to the other person. So, for me, it was a little more real. I was more motivated," said Christy.

Thoughts about finishing the race: "I finally did it!" said Christy. As for Joe, he's just happy to be there to see his wife realize her goal.


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