Written by Race Director Alan Brookes


Woodfine and Sexton Win 41st Annual Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k in High Park on a great day for the community

Tristan Woodfine of Cobden, ON successfully defended his Race Roster Spring Run Off 8km title on Saturday, while the women’s race went to London, Ontario’s Leslie Sexton.A sold-out crowd of 4,000 runners and walkers participated in the 8k (2,200), the 5k (1,500) and the Children’s Run (300) in a chilly High Park, for the 41st edition of Toronto’s oldest, continuously-held road race. The event was also “opening day” for Canada Running Series, Canada’s most-prestigious running circuit. Spring itself, however, was in hiding, with temperatures hovering around zero and a crisp wind. M.P. for Parkdale-High Park, Hon. Arif Virani was on hand to start the races, and himself joined in to run the 5k, in what was also an important fundraiser for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the High Park Nature Centre. Fortified by the tunes of Piper Dave McGonigal, and with a pancake breakfast and lashings of fresh maple syrup from Madawaska Maple Products waiting after the finish line, Spring-fever was everywhere in evidence.  Brave early front running from Guelph athlete Kyle Grieve set up a fine men’s race in the signature 8k contest. The 24-year-old towed the field through the halfway point in 12:27 with Woodfine, current Canadian Marathon Champion Trevor Hofbauer, and a half dozen other ambitious contenders two seconds behind. But over the next two kilometers Hofbauer, who was using the race as both a workout and a fitness test before racing the Prague Marathon next month, took command.The Spring Run Off finishes atop a steep 352-meter climb and it was just before the foot of this hill (Spring road) that Woodfine made a decisive move. Charging past the tall figure of Hofbauer he eventually squeezed out a ten-second margin of victory stopping the clock at 24:36 to earn $2,000 first place prize money. Hofbauer held on to second while Grieve was an impressive third in 24:52.Sexton’s victory in the women’s race was impressive. By the  Centre Road Hill at three kilometers she had a commanding lead. The expected challenge from University of Toronto’s Sasha Gollish never materialized as the 36 year old Canadian international stepped off the course, unable to overcome the ‘flu.By 4km, which she reached in 13:55, Sexton had an advantage of more than twenty seconds. At the finish, she had stretched that to 59 seconds, finishing in 27:53 with Laura Desjardins of the Newmarket Huskies second in 28:52. Rachel Hannah of New Balance, the 2015 Pan Am Games marathon bronze medalist who had also been suffering from a cold, finished third in 29:21. Jack Djondric-Powell (17:05) and Olivia Roussel (18:46) won the 5k race. It was also a great day for the community as well as the sport. The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation took home a cheque for $42,000 – taking their 10-year total raised at the run to over $3 million. The High Park Nature Centre hosted their best-ever pancake breakfast, taking in more than $3,000, that will go to support this year’s Family Nature Walks programme in the park. The next Canada Running Series event in Toronto will be the Toronto Waterfront 10k on Saturday, June 16th. See www.RunCRS.ca for details.