This year, I set out to do my second international race. I went to our neighboring country of Canada to tackle the Toronto Marathon for a weekend run-girls trip on a budget. We travel, shopped, ran and conquered new records in Tonrot and had a great time! Here is your guide to traveling to Toronto and running the Toronto Marathon.
Where to Fly
I flew both American and AirCanada and honestly because AirCanda is so large, I recommend flying it. It’s much better in service, food, and cost. Additionally, the AirCanada terminals are way better than what I experienced with American Airlines, which I was returning from Toronto to the USA. The American area was depressing and barely had anything for us. Toronto’s airport is very nice, organized and clean. Additionally, they allow you free carts for your luggage and various accommodations for those traveling with families/kids. For my United States folks, this is International so I recommend having global entry or at one of the other international trusted travel programs like Nexus if you have that to avoid the customs lines. Because I have global entry it took me 90 seconds to get through customs compared to my friend Alex which was over an hour.
Where to Stay in Toronto for the Toronto Marathon
Since this right before the summer break, flights are cheap and tons of options for traveling. So your hotel won’t cost nearly as much as most races ($200-$300 a night) During my stay, I choose the Hilton hotel, which was also the host hotel. The main reason is due to the service and also centrally located to everything. The shuttle for the race also picks up outside the front of the hotel and thus you can roll out of bed easily and without much stress. You will have to pay the additional $30 bucks or so for the shuttle to make sure you do ahead of time. It’s cheaper and seems to be less of a hassle. Pricing was affordable and it’s connected to a variety of other areas within the area to walk too. I picked out a few other popular housing that many runners also recommend and close to the city.
- Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre
- Residence Inn Toronto Downtown
- City*Stay Condos – Simcoe Street
- The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar
- Toronto Luxury Accommodations – University Plaza
Where to Eat & Dine In Toronto for the Toronto Marathon
Don’t forget that your dollars go a lot longer as the currency situation works to our benefit. For one American dollar is equal to .70 Canadian cents. This means you can budget very easily on everything from hotel to dining especially when splitting it between two people. If you get lost, one thing I noticed is that we consistently hit the street Queens so when in doubt, try to head on this street and you can venture to most places from or to there. While you are on Queens don’t be surprised to see fries being served everywhere. It’s a thing in Toronto.
- Titos: Since this race takes place around or during Cinco De Mayo, you must have a margarita, or tequila or some chips and salsa. Go here to have it all and a band and much more.
- Vegandale Brewery –Toronto’s Only All Vegan Brewery and Restaurant. This was a great pre or post race place for the race.
- Donatello: We went here for our pre-carb/race meal and had a great authentic pasta.
- Juice: There are several juice spots and bubble tea in the city but one popular place is Revitalize. Fresh juice was amazing there and a great variety of flavors and sizes.
- Bacon Nation: When you finish a race and want to demolish all your calories, this is one place that you can indulge. Candian Comfort food is the slogan and thus it lives up to it.
- Assembly: Don’t know what to eat? Go here. We went at least twice because we didn’t know what we wanted. From vegan cupcakes to the Gnocchi that Beat Bobby Flay, we ate everything we wanted while surrounded by great DJs, a nice projector displaying the latest news and sports and loads more celebration.
- Toronto’s City Hall: On our way to the Mall, we ran into Oosege hall, which is a part of Toronto’s city hall. It’s a great place to quickly learn some history and a nice area to get on the streetcar.
What to Do & See In Toronto For Toronto Marathon
- Biking: Easily grab a bike and ride around town, which is great before or after the race.
- The Mall: Enough said. Everything you need and then some. Great mall within a few blocks of the hotels downtown. We shopped, ate and even had bubble tea while there.
- Diverge Virtual Playground, which is awesome to do if you can plan accordingly with a group.
- Sports: You have a variety of sports to pick from such as baseball, basketball and the beloved hockey. Take a day to enjoy and celebrate!
- CN Tower: Completed your race and then head over to the CN Tower the following day. Take the tour and then take the picture of your medal over the entire city. You gotta do it for the gram!
- Bricktown: Shop, chill and eat in this cool part of the city. This is also a great spot for local “relaxation” if you get my drift.
- Chinatown & Kensington Avenue: These two places are next to each other so grab your wallets, put on your shoes and take a walk up and down these two unique towns. Don’t forget to grab your camera to stop and take tons of photos for the gram. Graffiti walls around all around these towns as they are truly town art.
Toronto Marathon Review, Tips & Recap
No matter when you go to Toronto, I highly recommend the Toronto Marathon race in May. It’s the perfect weather for anyone traveling to Toronto and the best times too. For runners, the race doesn’t have a bunch of hills and the weather is perfect conditions for marathoners. Here are a few notes about the race if you are scheduling for it.
- Only two major hills but at the beginning of the race. Elevation was great for all runners especially beginners
- Optional Walk Half-Marathon and plenty of time for walkers to complete
- Expo open the day of the event after the race
- Great weather but towards the end of the race it was a bit hot so be careful
- Free massages for half and full only with 10-15 min wait.
- All races start on the same date and finish at the same area
- Great crowd support around the city ‘but I would note that you do run into some cars, bikes, and strollers as you run into the downtown part of the race
- Great race photos that are in Canadian currency (so very cheap to purchase)
- Make sure you stay hydrated and refill often. Not a lot of water stations towards the end of the race.
- No fuel other than liquids so keep that in mind when training and running. I didn’t see any gels or “food.”
- The race begins in a different location for half and full marathons so do not forget this. I did.
- The race ends at the same place as the 5 & 10k, which means you also finish with them. This was a bit crazy at the end but it is nice to end at the same place as everyone else.