Meet Paula James, Canada's next masters marathon star

And now you can run across Ontario this summer (virtually), if you want


Another week, another newsletter.

I hope you’re staying safe and hanging in there.

This issue looks at all the updates of the world marathon majors, introduces you to Canada’s next masters marathon star and includes the regular collection of news, notes and podcasts I thought were worth sharing.

If you want to reach out for any reason, you can email me at

Let’s get to it.

— Erin @ Run the North

There’s now a run across Ontario, but you can do it as a team relay

Running across a specific geographical location virtually is the thing to do this summer. There are already races across Tennessee, New York and Nova Scotia.

And now Beaches Running Series, which organizes several local races in Toronto all year long, have announced a virtual team relay event across Ontario.

New this to #beachesjazzrun besides it being virtual is the opportunity to virtually#run across #Ontario !
The Jazz Run has an exciting new event!
"THE PROVINCIAL PASS 1,568 km Team Run"
This event starts June 1st and can be completed at your pace. This event is for teams of 4 persons maximum* [any mix of genders]
The distance to travel across Ontario at the longest point is 1,568 kms. That makes it 7 km per person avg. to complete this event between June 1st and end of day July 26, 2020.*
For the Team Event, all 4 individuals sign up separately and choose their Team Name. There will be a web page (TBA) where teams can update their progress.
The winners are, the first team to reach the goal of 1568 combined kms. Additional award goes to the team that has the most total kms combined at the end of day July 26, 2020.
There will be prizes for this event**. To be eligible for prizes, you (and/or your team must have all of your runs viewable on any publicly viewable run tracking site ( #Strava, #Runkeeper , #Garmin Connect, #MapMyRun etc). You may still do this challenge if you do not log your #runs on a publicly viewable site but will not be eligible for prizes. *Teams of 2 or 3 may also compete but will remain in the same category as all teams.
** Prizes to be announced soon

Entering the Provincial Pass allows you to enter a time for another event as well. You may also enter either the 5k, 10k or 21.1k)* (*Only one race kit & medal provided per entry)
May 20, 2020

Teams of up to four people can tackle the 1,568km course from June 1 to July 26.

You can get more details or sign up here.

There is also virtual options for 5K, 10K and half-marathon races ⁠— the usual distances offered at the Beaches Jazz Run every July.

Hoka One One and Black Toe partner to donate shoes to frontline hospital workers

Black Toe, a speciality running store in Toronto, posted this good news story on their Instagram. They partnered with Hoka One One to deliver 30 pairs of Hoka Bondis to respiratory therapists at St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre in Toronto:

Tonight we had the privilege of being able to thank the team of Respiratory Therapists who work in the ICU at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, by providing them with Hoka shoes. They work so hard to keep us all safe and healthy. Being able to show our appreciation to a few of them in person, and make all 30 of them a little more comfortable by delivering Hoka Bondi’s, was a really special moment. These frontline workers are very humble about what they do, but we know they are putting themselves at risk for the sake of us all. It was really wonderful of Hoka One One to step up and partner with us on this and we are very grateful for their support with this initiative. There are a lot of good people in the world and we should take a moment to thank them whenever we can. Stay safe everyone.
May 22, 2020

Paula James: Canada’s next masters marathon star

Nova Scotia masters runner Paula James ran her marathon debut as a solo time trial on May 17, 2020. The 46-year-old’s time was an impressive 2:47:50.

The run was on Strava, but it has since been deleted.

The time is within seven minutes of the Canadian women’s marathon 45+ record, which is currently held by Catherine Watkins.

Paula was supposed to run the Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine, which was cancelled due to COVI-19. But she didn’t want to waste her fitness, according to an interview with Canadian Running:

She jokes, “When you’re 46 years old and in the best shape of your life, you take advantage. Also, with the world today, we have no idea when and where the next real start line will be.”

Sunday’s run was a big victory for James, but she believes there’s more in the tank. “I’m so much faster than I was when I was 20 years old. I ran a 5,000m indoor race on the track this winter, and it was one of my best 5K times ever. I wore my old Dalhousie singlet. I still have lots of ties to the track, but the road is so great. Right now I’ll take some downtime, but then I want to keep pushing for personal bests, especially in the 5K and 10K.”

Her son Noah made a video about her time trial attempt, calling it “Breaking 3:”

James has been a fixture on the Canadian running scene for nearly 30 years. She ran track at Dalhousie University and won several local races in Nova Scotia, once she started road racing in her 30s.

In 2016, Canadian Running profiled her entire impressively fast family:

NP: What are are current running goals?

Ed: I now spend most of my time off-road on trails, obstacle course races or orienteering as my feet cannot handle the roads. I’m waiting until I’m fifty and the sprint hurdles get 3 inches lower so I can do another sprint hurdle race.

Paula: I started road running in my mid thirties and I love it. My goal is to set Nova Scotia masters records in every track distance and bring more enthusiasm to the masters track and field scene here. I’m currently a middle distance coach at a track club, head coach of a middle school track team and assistant coach at a high school. We coach four times per week and are loving it. Our goal is to bring track and field to the town of Windsor, N.S. We knew we were going to be coaching our kids so we decided to give that opportunity to the other kids in the community.

In 2019, she answered five fun questions for Maritime Race Weekend, a Sept. event in Nova Scotia she has won:

Q: Anything you like to eat before a race?

A: I am all about peanut butter and bananas. All the time. Pre-run, post-run, race day breakfast and snacks. I go through a 5-pound bucket of all natural peanut butter ⁠— has to be crunchy ⁠— every month. I’ve been known to actually sell it out of the trunk of my car. And I don’t buy storm chips but I always stock up on bananas when there’s a storm in the forecast.

Finally, Paula was the latest guest on Canadian Running’s podcast The Shakeout. She talks about her entire running career and keeping the love of the sport alive for so long and more.

Fall & rescheduled world majors: Any news?

🇺🇸There will be an announcement about the Boston marathon, which is schedule for Sept. 14, in the next week or so, according to the city’s mayor Martin Walsh. Walsh is “cautiously optimistic” about the race going forward in some capacity, but recognizes there are a lot of unknowns and challenges at this time. From

Walsh noted that it’s not a decision organizers are taking lightly, given the economic impact that the race has on the area. But public health officials have consistently said that large gatherings like concerts and sporting events with fans are untenable until either testing is dramatically increased or an effective treatment for the disease is developed, which likely won’t happen in 2020.

“The Boston Athletic Association continues to work closely with local and state officials as we consider what September 14 looks like for the Boston Marathon,” the BAA said in a statement this week. “Guided by public officials, we are actively exploring all options for this year’s race and will continue to follow public health and safety guidance.”

It’s not a great sign that the Erie marathon in Pennsylvania, which was scheduled for the day before Boston, has been cancelled for 2020.

🇩🇪There have been no official updates on Berlin’s plan beyond the race not taking place “as planned.” It’s still unclear whether that means a postponement, an elite-only event or an outright cancellation.

🇬🇧The London marathon, which was rescheduled to Oct. 4, released an update that basically said they have no idea what is going to happen. On May 20, race director Hugh Brasher wrote an open letter to registered runners:

As you know, the rescheduled date for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon is Sunday 4 October. At this point, we cannot be certain if the event can go ahead or, if it can, in what form it can take place.

We know that you would like certainty. We understand and acknowledge that you want to know if you should start serious training or restart your fundraising campaign.

However, much as we would like to, we cannot offer you certainty.

The next London marathon update will take place on June 21.

The RideLondon cycling events, which are organized by the same team, have cancelled all their 2020 events.

🇺🇸Chicago is offering deferrals for 2020 runners, but no announcements have been made about the Oct. 11 race. There have been no official updates from the race since March 20.

🗽The New York City marathon, which is scheduled for Nov. 1, is still scheduled to proceed as planned.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s too early to make a decision regarding the fate of the race, and that the city is working with New York Road Runners, which organizes the marathon, on various scenarios. From Runner’s World:

The logistics of the event, however, are still up in the air at this moment. The mayor hinted that it is possible that the marathon will be offered as a virtual event, similar to the New York City Half Marathon, which was conducted virtually by the NYRR in March. As of now, NYRR has canceled all in-person events until August 15, but it has not yet made any further announcements on the NYC Marathon, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

“The NYRR team is exploring alternatives, modifications, and new approaches, all of which would need to follow government guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our runners for our in-person events and programs to return,” NYRR said in a press release on May 14. “We appreciate how difficult it is for runners to plan your participation given all the uncertainty and thank you for your support and patience.”

Strides: Stuff worth checking out

  • CBC Sports has the story about retired Canadian sprinter Justyn Warner isolating apart from his family in Toronto due to bad luck and timing. His wife Natasha is not a Canadian citizen and got stuck in the U.S. after the border closed:

    Every evening at around 7:30, Justyn Warner curls up with a stack of storybooks to read to his three-year-old daughter Parys until she falls asleep.

    Her favourite is The Little Red Caboose, and so every evening begins with that book.

    Warner reads from his bedroom in Toronto. Parys is tucked into her bed in New Haven, Conn., watching and listening to her dad thanks to FaceTime and an iPad propped up on the bedside table.

    When Warner, a retired Olympic sprinter, moved home to Toronto a few weeks ago ahead of his wife Natasha and their daughter, little did he know COVID-19 would see them separated for two months and counting.

  • CBC Sports spent the weekend highlighting Canadian sports in the 1990s, including Donovan Bailey’s record setting gold medal 100m performance at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and Canada’s 4x100m gold medal.

  • The most recent episode of the Strides Forward podcast is about Canadian Cathy Hopkins, a nine-time Comrades marathon finisher and is the Canadian ambassador for Comrades.

  • The Terry Fox capsule collection for Adidas — which is a fundraiser for cancer research — sold out in minutes when it went on sale this week. Adidas promises there will be more drops of limited edition merchandise throughout the summer.

  • Endurance Odyssey talked to Canadian marathon record holder Malindi Elmore:

    Steve Weiler: Hey Malindi, tell me something nice!

    Malindi Elmore: I always have said that my priority in life is my kids – but the reality of two working parents, my running goals, and kids in activities, school, etc, we find our days and weeks fly by very quickly and as a consequence, we miss out on some opportunities to slow down and really live in slow motion. Like everyone across Canada, my family has had to make significant changes to our lives in the last few months. I am working on home learning for my older son and I can’t believe how fun it is to work with him and see what kind of learner he is because I actually see it day to day now. I see him learning to read and doing math and I am right now such an active part of this growth so it is so rewarding for both of us. I could honestly say my kids have never been happier and healthier – and it is such a joy for me to be part of this positive experience with them (despite the seriousness of the disease in many parts of the country and world). We spend an hour or two in the morning with focussed learning skills (reading, writing, math) and then the rest of the day outside exploring and playing. We have had the most amazing adventures – my 5 year old walked almost 12 km the other day for a geo-caching hike. We dusted off the old camera and took some nature shots last week and developed the photos. We have also been building a “secret hideout” in the woods which a bunch of kids in the neighbourhood add to when they pass by. We have had water fights and built amazing creative projects – we are doing stuff that we are normally too busy and tired to do in normal living. In so many ways it has me considering what life changes and priorities I need to make going forward to hold on to some of these positive changes. So as much as I look forward to racing again and life more “normal”, I will look back on this current time as a really nice time to re-connect to what truly matters most to me.

  • In her latest column for iRun, Krista DuChene wrote about gratitude and those she admires, including Jo Pavey, Krista Goucher and Silvia Ruegger:

    My most meaningful interaction with Silvia was a few years later, in 2013 when I wanted to break her record, but did so after Lanni Marchant. On route to the awards ceremony when I told her I was disappointed, Silvia comforted me with the words, “It takes more grace than I can tell to play the second fiddle well.” I asked her to repeat it because I knew it would be a defining moment in my life. And it was. Choosing to celebrate being
    second fastest Canadian became a key message at my public speaking engagements, particularly at schools. It kept me grounded and humbled. It allowed me to keep working and encouraging others that they can be their best even if it’s not the best. I think of her and am grateful for knowing her when I read 1 Peter 3:15: “Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.”

  • The latest Andersen Talks Q&A was with Becky Wade Firth, author of the book Run the World and an elite American runner that ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October:

That’s it for this week!

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Run the North comes out every Monday morning.

I’ll see you next week. Until then, stay safe and run alone.

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