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12. Jamal Burger: Founder of Kickback Connect

This week we speak with Jamal Burger, Founder of Kickback Connect. We discuss Jamal’s vision for uplifting youth and how his love for sneakers turned into a youth-led organization whose impact is felt around the globe. Unlike traditional programs, the Kickback aims to empower underserved youth dreams to change their world.

Are you actually really making a change if you just jump into a system that’s been running the same way for 30 years?

Jamal Burger

Jamal’s passion for connecting people is not only visible in the name of his organization, it comes through in his messaging throughout the interview. We’ll also discuss how Jamal applied the same thinking to start Tier Zero, a toronto-based production company, with a group of friends who share the common passion of producing work at a premium.

There’s no question Jamal is a connector, but what also comes through in our conversation is his passion for empowering others to become leaders in the community; whether they’re youth in one of his many programs or business partners and friends.

To learn more about Jamal, you can follow him on Instagram at: @jayscale

To learn more about The Kickback, you can follow them on Instagram at: @kickbackconnect

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11. Sasha Gollish

This week we chat with Sasha Gollish, one of Canada’s most decorated competitive runners. Sasha opens up about the impact her parents had on her childhood and ultimately her decision to quit her job to pursue a career as a professional runner.

At an early age, Sasha grew up on a healthy diet of sports, which included field hockey, cross country running, nordic skiing, downhill skiing, swimming, water polo, and track and field. By the time she entered the University of Toronto, Sasha fell out of love with running and ultimately applied to the University of Western to pursue a degree in Engineering. Thankfully, Sasha would return to the sport and hasn’t looked back!

I was surrounded by this incredibly talented group of women, but more importantly, I was surrounded by women that made me feel like I belong

Sasha Gollish

We’ll also cover Sasha’s incredible running resume, which includes her dominating performance at the 2015 CIS Championships, her views on women in sports, and the truly inspiring work she’s doing in the community to uplift women.

As an added bonus, we’ll also hear from Harper, Sasha’s adorable rescue pup!

To learn more about Sasha, you can follow her on Instagram at: @sgollishruns

To learn more about Fast and Female, you can follow them on Instagram at @fastisfemale

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10. Chris “Hawaii” DeKoning

In our 10th episode, we chat with Toronto’s running ambassador, Chris DeKoning about skateboarding, cats, and the hilarious (we think so!) story behind the nickname, “Hawaii.”

We were joking that year, we were like, why don’t we do the half Sunday and make it 101km. The next year half of us went back to do it, but then in the morning, everyone was like, ‘no, I’m good. I don’t want to do it.

Chris “Hawaii” DeKoning

We also discuss Chris’ progression as a runner as well as his experience as the assistant director of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Broadcast. Chris also shares his thoughts on the Toronto running community, the future of racing, and his experience trying to keep up with kids on a track.

To learn more about Chris, you can follow him on Instagram at: @misterhawaii

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9. Richard Kuchinsky

In this week’s episode, Richard Kuchinsky from the Directive Collective tells us how designing running shoes for 10 years led to him becoming a runner and ultimately one of the most sought after race experience designers in the Toronto running community.

My job as either the creative consultant or strategic consultant is to make that race the best of what that race’s potential can be.

Richard Kuchinsky

Richard’s designs can be found on the shirts of many races in the GTA, but perhaps one of his proudest design moments came last year when he was named the Creative Director for the Pride Run in Toronto. In his capacity, Richard designed everything from the shirts to medals and everything in between! Richard shares his design process, his experience working with different race directors, and his approach to collaborating with various brands; specifically the work he’s doing with RunToBeer.

Richard’s designs aren’t the only thing getting attention in the running community; his progression from casual runner to sub-3 marathoner is equally inspiring!

To learn more about this Richard, you can follow him on Instagram at: @rkuchinsky

To learn more about Directive Collective, you can follow them on Instagram at: @directivecollective

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8. Forbidden 5

This week we’re speaking with the organizers of the Forbidden 5 race and we get them to spill the beans on everything we wanted to know about their popular race, except their names!

It’s a race, so you get this really good race mentality, but you get to go out without the pressure of a race day.

Forbidden 2

When the global pandemic forced race directors to postpone or cancel races, two friends in the GTA running community came together to give runners a reason to keep training; while the name of the race may give the impression runners were participating in the some sort of illegal activity, the race encourages runners to “come together while staying apart” to hit their fastest times.

We’ll discuss how the race organizers selected the distances, the courses, and how they track the runners to identify the male and female winners!

To learn more about this race, you can follow them on Instagram at: @forbiddenfive

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7. Quinton Jacobs

If you search for the word “community” in the dictionary, you’ll likely find a picture of Quinton Jacobs and his captivating smile. Q, as his friends call him, is a community builder, a connector, and advocate for promoting the health and wellness of children in the Greater Toronto Area.

As bad as you have it, there’s always someone who has it worse, and sometimes you Just need to step back and have that perspective.

Quinton Jacobs

In this episode, Q opens up about his life growing up in subsidized housing and later on becoming a father with three kids. We’ll then discuss how a difficult time in his life changed his perspective and ignited a passion to help others. Q also shares his approach to working with charities and brands and the time he convinced a bunch of runners to run from Toronto to NYC!

Q’s impact on the running community can be seen in the many programs he started or supports, but it’s even more evident in the faces of the children he coaches to run.

It was a real privilege speaking with Q and we couldn’t help feeling inspired throughout the episode!

To learn more about Q, you can follow him on Instagram at: @quinton_jacobs

To learn more about Start2Finish, you can follow them on Instagram at: @s2fonline

To learn more about Lead Up Crew, you can follow them on Instagram at: @leadupcrew

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6. Intersectionality and Running

This week we chat with Olivia Levy and Kahle Richardson, two BIPOC runners in the Toronto running community, about the social intersectionality of gender, race, and class in running. Olivia and Kahle may both be runners of color, but they have their own social identities which create a unique running experience. We discuss how the generalization of BIPOC runners in conversations might be leaving out other aspects of their identity.

Within the BIPOC community, we all have different social identities even though we all may be people of color, so that means we all have different experiences within it.

Olivia Levy

We’ll also discuss how to make running and races more accessible to BIPOC runners and how run crews, race directors, run brands, and others can help.

To learn more about Olivia, you can follow her on Instagram at: @liv_levy

To learn more about Kahle, you can follow him on Instagram at: @sweetleaf83

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5. The Art of Running Recovery

This week we’re speaking with a panel of paramedical professionals about running injuries from prevention to treatment and everything in between! What we love about these guests is they’re not only treating the running community, they’re members of the running community! Melissa, Nate, and Brittany may provide different paramedical services to runners, but they all have a common goal; educating runners so they can avoid injuries in the future.

You just have to kind of take a step back and take a look at your whole self, your whole situation, at that time and take into account those external things that can be having an impact.

Brittany Moran

We’ll cover why they chose their respective career paths, the services they offer to their clients, and the importance of listening to your body. Our guests will also share how Covid-19 has impacted their practices and the precautions they are taking to ensure their patients are safe while getting treated at their respective places of business.

To learn more about Melissa, you can follow her on Instagram at: @melissad_rmt

To learn more about Nate, you can follow him on Instagram at: @torunningphysio

To learn more about Brittany, you can follow her on Instagram at: @torunningchiro

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4. Lyndsay Tessier

Lyndsay Tessier discovered she loved running at an early age and, when she didn’t make the cross country team in elementary school, Lyndsay continued to watch the other runners practice solely because she loved the sport so much. The cross country coach would eventually agree to allow Lyndsay to participate in an inter-school fun run where she went on to win, resulting in an invite to join the team. Lyndsay would continue to have success running cross country, but would eventually stop running in High School when the expectations of placing took away from her love of the sport.

You’re putting one leg in front of the other and that’s something to be proud of. No matter what.

Lyndsay Tessier

Lyndsay wouldn’t return to the sport until her early 30s when a childhood friend joined a Running Room half marathon clinic and convinced her to do the same. Lyndsay would go on to finish her first half marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the passion and love for the sport was rekindled.

In this episode we’ll discuss Lyndsay’s road race success and her truly inspiring rise to become one of Canada’s fastest long distance runners. We’ll also discuss how running influences her work as an elementary school teacher and how she emphasizes the importance of having fun as the school’s cross country coach.

To learn more about Lyndsay, you can follow her on Instagram at @lyndsaytessier

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3. Moe Bsat

Moe Bsat is as equally passionate about running as he is about bringing awareness to diversity in the running community. In this episode, Moe share’s how he got his start as a runner, his experience as a BIPOC runner, and his thoughts on diversity in the Toronto running community and beyond.

In 2018, Moe left Toronto for Hamilton and soon recognized a need to create a space for runners that reflected his vision of how a run crew could be, so he created The Air Up There Run Crew (@air_up_there_rc) with his Co-Founder Brad, a runner he met on Strava!

When you partner with the right people, they’ll inspire you to keep going

Moe Bsat

This past June, drawing inspiration from a yoga studio owner in Hamilton who created a BIPOC only yoga class, Moe dedicated a day of the week for an Air Up There BIPOC only run to serve as a place of healing and the results paid off immediately. Moe also draws parallels between running and social justice in a way that listeners can truly understand and explains why he is working so hard as a lawyer with the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and member of the Anti-Racism – Anti-Oppression board to keep fighting for social justice and why you should too!

To learn more about Moe, you can follow him on Instagram at: @elginsdiner

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