The Constantine Yorkville Run is took place on Sunday, September 12th, marking the first road run since the pandemic. Located in the heart of Toronto, the Yorkville Run gave participating runners a special opportunity to choose one of over 30 charities to support. T
This 5K event was also known for its post-run ceremony featuring booths of participating charities and food vendors. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Yorkville Run was dedicated to executing the race virtually to continue to support their organizations, which proved to be very successful.
This year, runners had the option to run in-person or virtually on their own time. The Yorkville Run has a goal to raise $1 million in support of 35 charities, including Black Women in Motion, Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youthline, and East York Meals on Wheels. Director Kelly Foss is passionate about staying true to the core value of giving back to the community. The non-profit organizations are at the heart of the Yorkville Run.
“Our charities really put a lot into our run, and some of them even rely on our run each year. That’s why when we went through COVID, it was difficult for certain organizations. There was a point where we asked “do we continue?” and I said “absolutely we do”. OnSide Media spoke to Foss about the excitement of hosting the first road run, the challenges of planning around our new social landscape, and what makes the Yorkville Run special.
OS: How long have you been director of the Yorkville Run? What makes this athletic event different?
Kelly Foss: I have been the race director for 3 years, so this will be my third run but only my second road race. My first road race was in 2019, and in 2020 it was the first time we executed a virtual option. This year, we have both virtual and in-person options for runners. I formally sponsored the event when I was working for Air Canada, and then I took it over as Race Director.
What makes this event different is that it is a fundraising event more than anything. We cap our participants at 1200, so it is a very small event for those who are really excited to fundraise for their charity of choice. Unlike most runs, where all of the funds go to one charity, participants have the opportunity to choose one of our 35 charities on behalf of their run. Its only 5k, so it is less challenging than other options out there. We are also known for our premium race kits and prizes. We have an incredible post-race ceremony and food festival. This year we can not have that same event post-race, but we will have refreshments and bags that people can grab after their run.
OS: The Yorkville Run is planning on raising $1,000,000 for 35 local charities. What was the criteria for the charities that you chose to support?
KF: Originally, we started with 6 or 7 charities. Each year, our founder Jordan said “why don’t we open it up to more?”. So, when I came on board in 2018, that was the first time we increased the number of charities to 34. Last year we supported 36 organizations and this year we have 35 charities.
Basically, we really want to bring charities on board who are excited to motivate their networks to fundraise. We’re not looking for the average runner, we are looking for the runner who is motivated to fundraise. We look for charities that also want to put in an effort to raise awareness about the work that they do. Obviously, we have our own run network of those who have run in the past, and we promote all of our charities to choose from. At the same time, the organizations have to also need to put that effort in. So, we look for charities who are excited to be a part of our run.
OS: How does it feel to be hosting the first in-person race since the pandemic? How did you handle the pivot due to the lockdowns?
KF: It is very exciting that we are the first road race back. Our course director, Albert, and I have been working tirelessly to communicate with the city regarding public protocols and how this race would would. When we got the green light, it was the most memorable moments since the pandemic started. It was a very exciting moment for us. Then it sunk in, “oh gosh! We need to plan a road race in a month!” Reality hit us and we faced all sorts of obstacles, but we were quickly able to problem-solve and we learned new lessons along the way. We have grown a lot this past year planning a virtual and a road race.
The best part of it all is that we have a goal to raise $1m every year. It has never changed. We haven’t reached that number yet, the closest we got was in 2019 when we raised $851 000. Again, we are planning in a pandemic. We are doing the best we can in support of all our charities. I’m especially thankful that our runners and local businesses have stepped up to support us.
OS: What does it mean to you to be running alongside Alex Bono and Kendra Fischer?
KF: We have a few exciting athletes participating in our run this year. Each year, we have a group of elite athletes start our run off. Bono and Kendra are local celebrity figures, and we usually get a few celebrity figures out at our run each year. Especially being close to TIFF taking place. It brings attention to the charities, and a lot of local celebrities support one of our 35 charities. Its really nice to have people with a larger following participate in our run because it builds more awareness.
Personally, I am a big sport fan, so I get really excited by these local celebrities. This year, we have 10 ways to spread out our runners based on their finish time. So, certain runners will not be able to run with their friends. Hopefully for 2022, we will be able to have one big group of people running together.
OS: What do you want people to know about the Constantine Yorkville Run?
KF: I want people to know that our mission is to make a big difference in our community. We have really executed this event to help our charities. That is why our founder created this run, because he wanted to give back to the community. The fact that we are able to support over 30 charities just goes to show how big of an impact we can make.
Opening it up to that many organizations is exciting for people, because everybody has a charity that is important to them. We are not just a 5K run, we are a fundraising event that raises the most amount of money per participant in Canada. We’re focused on helping these charities continue to do the great work that they do.
For more information, visit https://yorkvillerun.com/