Toronto’s vibrant running community came together at Exhibition Place on Friday night for a unique event called The Rev & Run 5000, which combined the excitement of racing with the thrill of speed. Five-hundred runners, including some of the city’s fastest athletes, took on a challenging 5K course on the historic Indycar circuit, competing for prize money and the chance to experience the exhilaration of racing at the Honda Indy Festival.
The event drew inspiration from a similar 5K race held at the renowned Daytona Speedway. “We wanted to create a super cool experience that showcased the fusion of running and the racing world,” says Rev & Run race co-ordinator Heather Page. “When we realized that so many runners frequent the Exhibition grounds in Toronto, which is often interrupted for two weeks during the setup for the Toronto Indy, we thought Rev & Run would be a cool way to bring the two worlds together.”
WeatherTech, a brand that encompasses both automotive and lifestyle elements, enthusiastically supported the event, making it even more special.
Page says that what began as a casual conversation among friends turned into a one-of-a-kind event that raised money for Toronto’s Parkdale Foodbank while offering an unforgettable experience for runners and race enthusiasts. Another vital piece of the puzzle was the events collaboration with Canada Running Series (CRS). “The support and dedication of Charlotte Brookes and her CRS team were instrumental in making the event a seamless reality,” says Page.
“Getting those on board to understand the vision was the toughest part,” says Page. “Since we only began planning the event in February 2023, many sponsors suggested that we should postpone the event to 2024 for better planning.” Page and her husband Kevin Silva gave it some thought, and after seeing the countless lines of those in need at the Parkdale Foodbank, they wanted to make an impact now and were determined to make it work.
Also supporting this commitment, FreshStone Foods generously donated $5,000 worth of food to Parkdale Foodbank and became a sponsor, ensuring participants were well fed after the race.
One of the challenges the organizers faced was securing the involvement of Jeff Atkinson, president of the Toronto Honda Indy. Silva’s connection to the automotive industry and the WeatherTech brand were helpful in bringing Atkinson on board. “He became an incredible partner and immediately understood our vision,” says Page.
The community aspect was also a key component of Rev & Run. Quinton Jacobs, a prominent figure in the Toronto run community, made efforts to spread the word and engage various run crews and cheer squads from around the city to the event. “Without the numerous volunteers and race officials and their friendly and welcoming energy, the race wouldn’t have been possible.”
Culture Athletics, an independent running store in Toronto, added an exciting twist to the event by offering cash prizes to the top finishers. The first-place male and female winners received $500 each, with $300 awarded to the second-place finishers and $200 to the third-place finishers.
In a thrilling race, Matthew Lozano of Ajax, Ont., emerged as the overall winner in a tactical affair, finishing in an impressive time of 15:07. eric bang of Toronto secured second place with a time of 15:25, followed closely by Julius Mwangi of Kenya at 15:32. In the women’s field, it was a sweep by Toronto’s BlackToe Running team, with Sarah Donaldson taking the top spot at 18:09, Sophia Walter securing second place at 19:05 and Dana Cantarutti rounding out the podium with a time of 19:26.
“Running on a race track, you’ve gotta have a bit of speed involved,” emphasized Page. “We had to make sure the race was competitive.”
As Page and Silva look back on the inaugural Rev & Run 5000 at the 2023 Toronto Honda Indy, they hope to expand the event next year and bring in more sponsors to showcase the power of collaboration, passion, dedication and community spirit.