As fast as Michal Kapral runs in tomorrow's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, he won't be the first member of his family over the finish line.
Mr. Kapral, 32, will charge through the tape at Metro Hall one step behind his daughter, who won't even be breathing hard. Annika Kapral, 20 months old, will get to ride in a stroller, bouncing along in front as her father tries to get the pair inscribed in the Guinness world record bookfor the fastest pram-pushing marathon. He's aiming to finish in less than three hours.
"Most runners' checklists include things like bandages for blisters or water bottles or power gels. Mine includes juice, raisins, cheese, crackers and cookies for Annika. I hope neither of us needs a diaper change along the way," said Mr. Kapral, a senior editor of Captivate Network, the Canadian-born company that replaced elevator music with newscasts and ads.
The Kaprals are one of the quirky entries in a running festival that will see more than 8,000 people take to the flat Lake Shore Boulevard course to run a variety of distances, from a five-kilometre jog to a half-marathon to the classic 42.2-kilometre ordeal. The waterfront marathon, which cuts across seven wards and neighbourhoods, has become a popular fixture on the running circuit for elite athletes, charity runners -- there are 44 charities seeking support on the marathon's Internet site -- and families.
At the other end of the age spectrum from Annika Kapral is Britain's Fauja Singh, 93, who will run in the half-marathon. Last year, he finished the full marathon course in five hours, 40 minutes, to be the first nonagenarian to run a marathon in less than six hours.
Ed Whitlock of Milton, Ont., at 73, is out to repeat his world-record feat of last year when he became the first man over 70 to break the three-hour barrier. And when it comes to running the long haul, few can rival Toronto dentist Rick Rayman, who tomorrow logs his eighth marathon of the year, and marks 9,422 consecutive days of distance running, almost 26 years.
Mr. Kapral is raising money for the Hospital for Sick Children as he lopes along pushing his daughter (via website http://www.rememberliane.com). In 2002, he was fastest Canadian at the Boston Marathon, which he ran with wife Dianne. Later that summer, Mr. Kapral became champion of the Canadian International Marathon in Toronto, with Mrs. Kapral, who was pregnant with Annika, looking on.
"But after Annika was born, I was exhausted and sleep-deprived and struggling to do any training," Mr. Kapral said.
"The baby jogger [stroller]was my saviour, my escape. It was a way to salvage my running and have time with my family. I found I was doing a good portion of training while pushing and joked that there should be a separate category for running with a stroller. Lo, and behold, I called the Guinness folks and found out there's even a world record."
The official Guinness world record for a "pram-pushing marathon" is listed at 3:54:36, set in April, 2003, by Han Frenken of the Netherlands in Utrecht. But two months ago, Curtis Sampson of Calgary covered the Burnco Calgary Marathon in 3:05:12, a mark not yet ratified.
Among the better-known charity runners, Sharon Hampson of Sharon, Lois & Bram TV fame is running for Willow Breast Cancer Support & Resource Services; Olympic boxing silver medalist Egerton Marcus is raising money for the Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre; George Smitherman, Ontario Minister of Health, will run the half-marathon for Easter Seals; and New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton is running for the White Ribbon Campaign team to end violence against women.