A WEEKEND WITH NIKE WOMEN

THIS PAST JUNE I HEADED TO TORONTO FOR A WEEKEND WITH NIKE WOMEN. EACH YEAR, NIKE WOMEN HOSTS SEVERAL DISCRETE RACES IN U.S. ALL BENEFITING THE LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA SOCIETY. THIS YEAR, NIKE WOMEN SET THEIR SIGHTS ON A WORLD TOUR, PLANNING STOPS IN PARIS, ROME, ISTANBUL AND EVEN TAIPEI, TO NAME A FEW. THE MOST TANGIBLE STOP FOR ME WAS TORONTO, SO I ENTERED THE DRAWING BACK IN APRIL AND CROSSED MY FINGERS. MY NAME WAS CHOSEN AT RANDOM AND I STARTED PLANNING THE TRIP SOON THERE AFTER. HAVING ALREADY PARTICIPATED IN A NIKE WOMEN'S EVENT LAST APRIL, MY EXPECTATIONS WERE HIGH. NIKE JUST DOES IT RIGHT.

LIKE EVERY RACE, THERE WAS AN EXPO. BUT NOT EVERY RACE HAS AN EXPO PLUS A FLOATING BARGE WITH AN NTC STUDIO BUILT ON TOP OF IT. FROM WEDNESDAY TO SUNDAY, NIKE HOSTED TRAINING CLASSES AND YOGA ON THE NTC STUDIO BARGE. IN ADDITION TO THE CLASSES, NRC OF TORONTO HOSTED A BUNDLE OF SHAKEOUT RUNS AND TOURS OF THE CITY FOR ANY AND ALL TO SIGN UP. AT THE EXPO, I SNATCHED UP MY RACE BIB, MET UP WITH A HOMETOWN FRIEND, SIGNED THE WALL OF NIKE WOMEN (A GIANT DRY-ERASE-LIKE-BOARD FULL OF WELL WISHES AND SIGNATURES WHICH IS PLACED AT THE FINISH LINE OF THE RACE) AND SCORED SOME NEW NIKE GEAR. 

IN ADDITION TO FINDING SOME NEW GEAR, I FOUND THIS GUY. IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT SOULMATES LOOK LIKE, THIS IS IT. @RORYTHEDOWNTOWNDANE IS A LOCAL CELEBRITY IN TORONTO. I WAS HONORED TO HAVE SUCH A CONNECTION.   

THE RACE ITSELF TOOK PLACE ON THE TORONTO ISLANDS. ONE SIDE FACES THE TORONTO HARBOR FRONT AND THE OTHER BOASTS INCREDIBLE VIEWS OF LAKE ONTARIO. THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO GET TO THE ISLANDS, TAKE A FERRY OR FLY INTO THE AIRPORT LOCATED ON THE SOUTH END OF THE ISLANDS. NIKE ARRANGED FOR FERRY BOATS TO TAKE RUNNERS AND SPECTATORS BACK AND FORTH PRE/POST RACE. 

ABOVE RACE PHOTOS COURTESY OF NIKE

THE RACE ITSELF WAS 15 KILOMETERS, ROUGHLY 9.3 MILES. HAVING JUST RAN THE VERMONT CITY MARATHON, THIS RACE WAS A BREEZE. IT WAS A RATHER WET START, BUT ONCE WE WERE OFF, THE RAIN SEEMED TO DISSIPATE. WE TOURED THE ISLANDS AND SOAKED IN THE CROWDS THAT DEVELOPED ALONG SIDE THE NARROW DIRT COURSE. IT FELT LIKE A CROSS COUNTRY MEET IN THE COOLEST LOCATION EVER. 

JUST AS I WAS APPROACHING THE FINISH LINE, I STARTED TO LOOK FOR DAVE. HE CAME WITH ME FOR THE WEEKEND. HE TOLD ME HE'D BE WAITING SOMEWHERE AT THE END. ALL I REMEMBER WAS HEARING MY NAME COMING FROM THE CROWD BEHIND ME. I TURNED AROUND AND THERE HE WAS, CAMERA IN HAND. DAVE CAPTURED ONE OF MY FAVORITE PHOTOS, AND EXPRESSIONS, TO DATE. UPON CROSSING THE FINISH LINE, REFRESHMENTS AND FRUIT WERE IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE. THE BEST PART OF FINISHING? THE MEDAL. IT'S NOT A BULKY METAL DISC HANGING FROM A LANYARD. IT'S A TIFFANY NECKLACE ENGRAVED WITH AN EXTRA SPECIAL SWOOSH. AGAIN, NIKE JUST DOES IT RIGHT. I NOW HAVE TWO IN MY COLLECTION.

I SNAPPED THIS LAST PHOTO OF THE SKYLINE ON THE FERRY BACK TO THE HARBOR FRONT AS IT STARTED RAINING AGAIN. TORONTO IS A COOL CITY. IT IS A NEAR PERFECT BLEND OF LOWER MANHATTAN, SOUTH STREET IN PHILLY AND THE NORTH END OF BOSTON. I THROUGHLY ENJOYED THE TRIP.

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