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Episode

The Sprint 1. Host Hot Seat: Q&A with Jonathan + Dre

We’re back! For our first episode of Season Two, we’re introducing a format called, “The Sprint.” The Sprint is a short distance episode (see what we did there?) where we cover various topics throughout Season Two. Don’t worry, we’ll still bring you the marathon full length interviews with inspiring runners as well!

For our first sprint, the hosts become the guests and past guest, Olivia Levy will be asking the tough questions. We’ll share our experience starting a podcast and our future plans. We’ll also answer questions from previous guests!

Feels good to be back!

André and Jonathan

Episode

25. Mike Krupica, Co-Founder Parkdale Roadrunners

As we close out our first season of the podcast, it’s only fitting we invite someone who, together with a few friends, was responsible for putting the Toronto running community on the map and kicking off the groundswell of running crews who make our running community one of the best in the world. 

Mike Krupica is the co-founder of Parkdale Roadrunners and if you’re a runner in Toronto who has been following the run scene, you’ll know it was just ten years ago when the explosion of Toronto run crews took place. Longboat Runners were already on the scene since 1980 and you can even go back further than to 1954 when the Toronto Olympic Club got its start, but the likes of Parkdale Runners, Night Terrors, and Tribe (now Kardia Athletica) helped pave the way and inspired those who would follow afterwards.

Before we even knew what the crew thing was, it always came from this code and this ethic and this respect for community.

Mike Krupica

Mike takes us back to the start, when a few friends would meet at The Mascot, a cafe located in the Parkdale neighborhood of Toronto. We’ll also discuss Parkdale Roadrunners’ purpose and how they managed to stick around for ten years. Mike pays homage to some of the great run crews in NYC and London and finally, discusses how the crew made the most of their ten year anniversary, with support from some really cool brands, despite the global pandemic.

To learn more about Mike, you can follow him on Instagram at: @mike_krupica


To learn more about Parkdale Roadrunners, you can follow them on Instagram at: @parkdaleroadrunners

Episode

24. Pedro Malvar

In this episode we chat with Pedro Malvar about his impact on the Toronto Running Community. We look back at Pedro’s introduction to athletics as a competitive curler and soccer player. When his curling team started to see some success, competing at the highest levels through High School and University. After graduating University, Pedro set his sights on the Toronto running scene.

Pedro’s first introduction to the run crew culture occurred when he started running with Bond Running, a now retired run crew. Pedro eventually channeled his competitive spirit and joined Unleashed Running, a run crew led by Coach Devon Liversidge that helps runners see their true potential and run their best race. 

When we move, we kind of unlock these parts of ourselves that we know help us and make us better people and I think Running is a movement style that allows us to access it very easily and very freely.

Pedro Malvar

Community has always been Pedro’s greatest passion, whether he was leading runs for Lululemon or leading the community for Myodetox, a full-body treatment that improves the way people move and helps them live pain-free. There’s no question Pedro’s impact on the community is seen and felt and considering the current events impacting the world, it’s great to know people like Pedro are continuing their mission to build and cultivate the Toronto running community.

To learn more about Pedro, you can follow him on Instagram at: @peddywap

Episode

23. Lisa Sweetman

Ten years ago, Lisa Sweetman had an MRI following a year of ill health and no clear answers to explain why. It was then that doctors identified a tumor in Lisa’s pituitary gland. On December 6th, 2010 Lisa underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor in what Lisa describes as a difficult, eventful surgery. Lisa would then spend the next ten days in the hospital recovering.

When I realized I couldn’t have a party, I wanted to find another way to celebrate and mark this momentous occasion and being the runner that I am and being the big dreamer that I am, I quickly cooked up I could do 100K.

Lisa Sweetman

Lisa considers her life after surgery as a bonus life and has lived the past ten years as if she was reborn. Lisa ran her first marathon in 2016, saying she would never run the distance again and shortly after traded her road shoes for trail shoes. In 2017, Lisa attended the screening of “Where Dreams Go to Die,” a film documenting Gary Robbin’s multiple attempts to complete the Barkley Marathons. It was then that Lisa decided she would attempt her first ultramarathon and what better race to do it than the Squamish 50, where Gary Robbins himself is the race director. 

We’ll discuss Lisa’s decision to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of her surgery by running 100 kilometers through the streets of Toronto! We’ll also discuss logistics and what the experience meant to her. We hope you find Lisa’s story as incredibly inspiring as we do!


To learn more about Lisa, you can follow her on Instagram at: @thislisasweetman

Episode

22. John Harrison Pockler

Growing up in Germany, John Harrison Pockler’s introduction to running occurred at the age of 18 when his dad received an entry to the Berlin Marathon. John would end up participating in the race, finishing 13th in his age group! The experience made John realize how much he enjoyed running and running long and far was what gave him the greatest satisfaction. John would eventually make the switch from road to trail running where he competed as an ultramarathoner. His running resume includes the Ultra-Trail Cape Town 125 km and placing 1st at the Schinder-Trail Grauer Kopf 125 km.

5 years ago, John moved to Canada for work and set his sights on several great Canadian races including the Canadian Death Race 125 km in Alberta and the North Face Endurance Challenge – Ontario – 50K and Niagara Ultra 50 km in Ontario. 

John set his sights on a big goal for 2020 and with races being canceled, he decided he wanted to create his own race. John heard about the Bruce Trail from friends in the trail running community, so after consulting Christian Flugel, a friend from Germany, the decision was made to attempt the Fastest Known Time running the 890-km Bruce Trail from end to end.

I knew i could do 125k. did, I know i could do 900k, definitely not, but guess what, I tried and it worked out. so knowing that and knowing what that feels like now, well where is the limit? How far can you go?

John Harrison Pockler

We’ll discuss everything from start to finish, including the approach he took to select a crew to support him, some of the challenges he faced, and why he chose to fundraise for The Bruce Trail Conservancy! We hope you’re as inspired as we were chatting with John!

To learn more about John, you can follow his on Instagram at: @jpultra


To learn more about John’s extraordinary accomplishment and support The Bruce Trail Conservancy, you can visit: http://brucetrailultra.com/

Episode

21. Heather Gardner

It’s hard to imagine just 10 years ago the Toronto Running Community barely existed except for the 1 or 2 run crews just appearing on the scene. At the time, Heather Gardner moved from Hamilton to Toronto and would occasionally run past the Lululemon Store on Queen Street, stopping from time to time to chat about running. Eventually, Heather was asked to become an ambassador and help build-up the community by leading group runs. Three years later, Heather’s time with Lululemon ended, but thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit, Tribe Fitness was born. Initially, Heather and the team offered over 500 free community fitness events, but she soon realized they needed a space where the community can come together, so Heather, and her husband Mark, opened a fitness studio on Lower Spadina Avenue. The studio offered yoga, spinning, and running groups (making Heather the first female leader of a Toronto run crew!).

Sure races are cancelled, but community isn’t canceled and coming together and being together is bigger than this.

Heather Gardner

In this episode Heather will share what the Toronto Running Community means to her as one of the founding leaders; she’ll also discuss the decision to rebrand the studio earlier this Summer in response to the global awakening connected to Black Lives Matters.

While the global pandemic may be a challenging time for fitness, Heather and Mark are finding new ways to invite the Toronto community to stay active while staying safe by sweating local.

To learn more about Heather, you can follow her on Instagram at: @catchingheather

To learn more about Kardia, you can follow him on Instagram at: @kardiaathletica

Episode

20. Galan Yousuf

Galan Yousuf’s first exposure to running came at an early age when his Elementary School basketball coach made the team run laps. In High School, Galan was invited to join the XC team and his coach would end up mentoring him; by grade 12, Galan realized he had what it took to compete.

Galan went on to attend the University of Toronto and, because he wasn’t recruited to join the XC and Track team, he was required to attend an open tryout. When he missed the required time, he was dejected, but not to be deterred. Galan joined Longboat Runners and the experience built confidence and strength as a runner. When he attempted the University of Toronto tryouts again, he made the team; it was a dream come true.

Sometimes I get a note from a parent or sometimes the kids will tell me themselves, ‘hey, i didn’t think I could do this before, but i went out and i did this. I feel great and that was amazing’ and when I hear that it just warms my soul and that’s why I do this

Galan Yousuf

While at the University of Toronto, Galan’s friend asked if he would help coach grade 6 and 7 kids attending the University of Toronto Track & Field Junior Development Academy. The experience enriched Galan and he would eventually become a named coach for both the Middle Distance & Cross Country and High Performance Middle Distance programs.

In this episode, we’ll also cover Galan’s road race experience and his latest venture, String Track Club! STC is a way for Galan to give back to the community by providing athletes access to an affordable track club; Galan also created String it Back, a community outreach program where runners can attend free track sessions in exchange for new socks to be donated. 

To learn more about Galan, you can follow him on Instagram at: @strringer

To learn more about String Track Club, you can follow them on Instagram at: @stringtrackclub

Episode

19. Run The Fifty

This week the host becomes the guest as we discuss Jonathan’s recent experience becoming an ultramarathoner when he ran the Happy Trails Racing The Beav 50K course in the Hilton Falls Conservation Area. When the race was canceled due to the global pandemic, Jonathan was determined to cover the distance, even if it meant doing it unsupported (or self-supported). We’ll cover everything from the decision to attempt the distance to the feeling of finishing and everything in between! Every race is an adventure for Jonathan and running 50-kilometers through technical trails was no exception!

The guy is doing so good I dont want to harp on him and tell him ‘dont go too fast, dont go too fast’, cause what if it’s not too fast for him what if this is his day, the stars are aligning, and he’s having a great day.

Jenn Coleman

We wouldn’t want Jonathan to do all the talking, so we invited Jenn Coleman to the podcast to keep him honest and share her experience that day. Jenn is no stranger to trail racing, having recently completed her first 100-miler, so if you’re new to trail running or wonder how trail runners fuel for an ultramarathon, we’ll cover it all in this episode. 

To learn more about Jenn Coleman, you can follow her on Instagram at: @colemania
To learn more about Happy Trails Racing, you can follow them on Instagram at: @happytrailsracing

Episode

18. Ekua Cudjoe

Growing up the youngest of six children, Ekua Cudjoe watched her older siblings participate in various sports. As she got older, Ekua participated in almost every sport imaginable and, in High School, she competed in sprints and hurdles with the Junior Varsity Blues. Prior to graduating High School, Ekua stepped away from sports to focus on her education and upon entering her first year at UoT, she discovered she couldn’t compete on the track at a competitive level given her absence from training. Ekua really wanted to compete on the team, so her coach suggested she try throwing (both shot and weight) and eventually, she moved on to compete internationally in these events with great success.

Folks in the community appreciate that space and that place they can just be themselves and to run and to walk and so from then I decided to keep it going and ensure That I offer that space for anyone who Wants to participate

Ekua Cudjoe

When Ekua finished her varsity career, she turned to recreational running. Initially, Ekua was intimidated by the concept of running with a run crew, thinking she had to be fast or competitive to be welcomed. Ekua was also discouraged by the lack of Black Runners, specifically Black Women in run crews, so she created a space for them called Soleful Runs. The group encourages “movement from the mind to the sole” and offers varying options for runners of all abilities. Ekua encouraged new members to participate by either running, jogging, or walking! 

Realizing early on how much the crew meant to the community, Ekua took it a step further by creating guided runs like Blackhurst Tuesdays and Scenic Saturday with the purpose of connecting with the Black Community and paying tribute to Canadian Black History. 

To learn more about Ekua, you can follow him on Instagram at: @ekuacudjoe

To learn more about Pace & Mind, you can follow them on Instagram at: @solefulruns

Episode

17. Marco Li

When Marco Li noticed he was always one of the last runners to finish Elementary School XC races, he was so determined to improve, he started running every day when school ended. Two years later, he won the TCDSB XC Boys race and the rest is history. Or so he thought.

Marco had some success in High School and eventually attended Queen’s University, making the travelling XC and track teams. While Marco’s times his first year at university were nothing to brag about, he was once again determined to improve. Over the Summer, Marco ran 25 kilometers every day and, when he returned to Queens as a sophomore, Marco was one of the top two runners on the team. Marco would ultimately suffer stress fractures in his shins, ending his running career.

Every day after school I’d go and practice and run to get faster and faster because I didnt want to finish last and…a year or two later, I won the TCDSB XC Senior Boys race in grade 8 and I kind of fell in love with it

Marco Li

More than 10 years would pass before Marco would return to sports, only this time, it was road cycling and cycle cross where he competed on the pro circuit for a period of time before he and his wife started a family; realizing he no longer had the time to compete, Marco started running again.

Marco’s return to running was a series of fortuitous circumstances. Initially, Marco ran as a teacher in the TDSB, while his students trained for XC races and eventually he would get introduced to Seanna Robinson, founder of the Lower East Siders run club in Toronto. From there, his journey would take him to MB Performance, Black Lungs, and eventually, to his latest training partner, Lyndsay Tessier. 

Marco’s success as a runner is astonishing and his journey is a lesson in grit and determination.

To learn more about Marco, you can follow him on Instagram at: @_ocramli_