On Tuesday night in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood, it was business as usual for community builders Quinton Jacobs. Jacobs and his team of 13 runners departed on their four-day, 904.5-kilometre journey from Toronto to the historic Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston St.
The team left Toronto on April 11, at 8 pm and plan to arrive in Boston on Saturday–two days before the start of the 127th Boston Marathon.
Jacobs’s Escape project started out as a ridiculous idea with his friend Anoke Dunston on a 2019 trip to New York. “We saw the first Escape to NYC as a challenge,” he says. But Jacobs ended up tearing his Achilles playing basketball before the journey started, so he didn’t get to run in New York City.
After Escape to NYC, Jacobs and Dunston knew that the project had the potential to turn into something extraordinary. In 2021, the two men ran to Chicago for the Chicago Marathon with a team of 12 runners from different backgrounds. “We decided that Chicago was our canvas, and we wanted to create something entirely new,” says Jacobs.
Their past two destination ultras to New York and Chicago have been done in the fall, and Boston is their final major, facing their hardest Escape route to date, encountering the Appalachian Mountains of upstate New York and western Massachusetts.
“Escape is about celebrating the diversity of our running community,” says Dunston. “Our goal is to bring people together, no matter their background.”
The team aspect is special for Jacobs, who met his teammates through volunteering in the running community. “We have a team of people from Toronto, Montreal, New Orleans and Chicago,” says Jacobs. “People are all tapped into our ground for all different reasons–it’s special.”
Jacobs is a familiar face to many in the Toronto running scene, as he has been giving back to the city as a volunteer for seven years. He was named community builder of the year by canadian running in 2021.
This year Jacobs, Dunston and Hamilton’s Andre Morgan launched their own not-for-profit charity, Ubuntu, which gives back to underprivileged communities in Toronto. Ubuntu is a Zulu word meaning that we are all connected and that one’s sense of self is shaped by relationships with others. “I love to bring people together, where they can enjoy each other’s company.”
Toronto filmmaker and videographer Jason Dam of Tenfold Productions will accompany Jacobs, Dunston and the 11 other runners, capturing all the emotions and moments from their Boston journey into a documentary.
“Running isn’t the hard part,” says Dunston. “The hardest part is battling your body on sleep deprivation and trying to be the best version of yourself for the team.”
“There’s a beauty and a struggle to all our Escape challenges,” Dunston says. “But I think the triumph to battle through means everything.”
You can follow their journey from Toronto to Boston via their Instagram page, @escape_to___. The Escape to Boston team is projected to arrive in Boston on the morning of April 15, and is hosting a panel discussion at the Boston Marathon expo on Saturday at 4 pm on how ultra running is changing.