8 years ago, two buddies accidentally started Parkdale Roadrunners, a crew that would go on to shape running culture in Toronto. Large in numbers and diverse in running style and pace, Parkdale continues to imbibe the energy and community that I’ve seen here in the states. I took a moment with its co-founder Mike Krupica, to find out how the Toronto running culture has evolved, and how unsanctioned racing is a part of that drive.
GIVE US A LITTLE HISTORY ON HOW PARKDALE ROADRUNNERS STARTED.
PDRR really started as a joke in 2010 from a café that I owned, The Mascot. A friend and I had just started running and we made t-shirts that read, I’d rather be smoking on the front with The Mascot Running Club on the back. People started to see us wearing the shirts along popular running routes and would come into the café asking what days the runs were and how they could join. Eventually we decided to actually start a crew and the rest is history…
Parkdale is where the café was located. It meant a lot for us to open a business in an area that wasn’t known to bring community together, which is why we named it The Mascot. We wanted to rally around a part of the city that we saw beauty in but still held a negative connotation to the rest of the city.
Over the years gentrification started happening in the area but Parkdale still holds true to its roots that’s it’s been known for. It’s a melting pot of cultures with mom and pop stores situated beside incredible restaurants and bars.
Eventually we changed the name - from The Mascot Running Club to Parkdale Roadrunners. We wanted to show our pride in the neighborhood to the athletes from all over the city who were coming to Parkdale to run with us.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREW
We have an extremely creative and inspiring group of people that have found their extended family with PDRR. From small business owners, to bartenders, artists, nurses and everything in between. Right off the bat we knew that we wanted it to be open and inclusive and that brought some really colorful people out of the woodwork.
Not being founded on speed or distance goals, we were able to attract runners that were new to the sport and didn’t take it so seriously. Over time, training groups started to form, and runners started to travel and experience different races. We started to incorporate more runs like long distance Friday nights in the winter and Track workouts in the summer to accommodate our runners’ needs.
WHAT WAS THE RUNNING CULTURE IN TORONTO LIKE WHEN PDRR FIRST STARTED? HOW HAS IT EVOLVED?
There were a few run clubs in the city mostly started by big brands, a running specialty store or groups that had been around for decades. What we looked to start was something that could resonate with our friends. It was less about PR’s and more about connecting with inspiring people in the city through running.
Over the years quite a few clubs and crews have popped up, all doing their own thing to build community and support runners in Toronto.
I feel like you always have to respect the pioneers - LongBoat runners were in this game before all of us. More of a club than a crew, they have helped countless runners get to their goals.
Mocca is doing some great work incorporating art, running and connection. That’s a crew that I find a lot of inspiration in watching grow.
Crews like Manic, NightTerrors and Black Lungs all have helped grow the scene in Toronto too.
HAS PDRR EVER HOSTED AN UNSANCTIONED RACE?
Yes, for years we have hosted an annual Labor Day half marathon. It’s a 3 day event of consisting of parties, carb-load dinners, karaoke and a trip to the Toronto island with a half marathon thrown in the middle.
Also, we hold the Nuit Blanche Scramble, an alley-cat style race during an all-night art festival in the downtown core. It’s a fun way to add to the energy of Nuit Blanche and to see some great artist exhibits along the way.
WHAT DOES UNSANCTIONED RACING MEAN TO TORONTO?
It’s still relatively new to the city with more races popping up every year. The Black Lungs hold their annual Ekiden race on the longest day of the year. Unsanctioned races really bring out a great mix of really fast runners as well as local crews and clubs ready to experience something new.
WHAT DOES THE SCOTIABANK TORONTO WATERFRONT MARATHON AND ITS RACES MEAN TO THE PDRR FAMILY?
Our crew loves to travel, so it really depends on the year. With Chicago and Berlin being so close to the STWM our numbers tend to vary. One thing that we can guarantee is you will feel our presence at the cheer squad. It’s our time to show up for the city and if we’re not racing or pacing, you will definitely hear us along the course. We’re excited to be able to offer the community 3 days of activations from partnering with TTB to a carb-load dinner on Saturday and cheer squad on Sunday. It’s our way to give back to the city we love to run in.
FAVORITE RUNNING ROUTES
Pre-injury, my runs were spent between early morning solo runs and Tuesday/long runs with the crew. I’ve always enjoyed running through the city while most people were sleeping. For the long runs, we have some great paths and trails just outside of the downtown. It’s always nice to head out there once I get tired of the waterfront.
I have a love hate relationship with ladder workouts on the track.
POST WORKOUT COFFEE OR BEER?
Coffee! Capital Espresso and Major Treat are definitely crew favorites.
FAVORITE POST WORKOUT HANG?
416 Snackbar, co-owned by a Parkdale Roadrunner. It highlights food from different areas of Toronto with snack sized portions.
FAVORITE CARBO LOADING SPOT?
We used to have a spot called One of a Kind Pasta, nothing fancy but it did the trick. Looking forward to starting a new carb-loading relationship with Sugo Pasta.