Trail Runners hear my cry – help clean

Hi Everyone

This Saturday, Parks Toronto along with the U of T Mountain Biking Club are hosting a clean up of our beloved Don trails. The trilliums are blooming, there are flowers everywhere and I passed an amazing cherry tree in bloom on my run tonight. So much beauty half hidden by mounds of trash. Please give back at least an hour to the trails we love. I will be there for my 6th clean up of this year. We will have all/some of our Don’t Mess with the Don group, who are fighting to solve this issue once and for all, out as well. My run tonight was amazing, I haven’t felt this strong since Boston and so much of it was because I could run in the peace and beauty of the Don trails.

Saturday, 10 to 1 pm at Thorncliffe, everything’s provided except you. Please come out.



Little acts of Boston kindness

Hi Everyone

A marathon race unlike any other in conditions foul and challenging. Trembling and shivering at the thought of the race before us, we sat in tents, damp already and holding excuses aplenty. Run smart, be brave , don’t fall, as many thoughts as miles before us. What never entered my head was that I was alone in this journey. I knew we were all in this together. With 15 Boston’s and hundreds of other races behind me, I felt, as always that we were in it as one.

A few thank you’s then  to my fellow runners and the people of Boston on a day we had to be strong.  As on every  third Monday in April, we stepped up for each other and were stronger together.

To the fellow at the BAA information tent near the start – thank you for letting me stay dry and then finding me a couple safety pins which weirdly were not in my race packet.

Thank you to the two runners who stopped to literarily pick me up after my somersault over another runner who suddenly stopped and bent over to pick something up.

Thank you so much to the two kind ladies who were concerned enough about my condition, I was shivering like a soaked kitten, to offer me their umbrella and then to follow up by insisting on putting their warm jacket around me.

Thank you to the woman at about mile 17 handing out dry gloves in plastic ziplock bags. That was amazing, my hands were frozen solid.

Thank you so very much to the runner from North Brooklyn Runners who paced me in the last 8 miles or so. He said he would do his best for me and he certainly did.

Thank you to all. Everyone who drove a bus, handed out a cup of water, all the folks who stood in the rain cheering, all the people who said “nice job”because that’s what you say for some reason and to everyone else who made the day special., Thank you from the bottom of my Boston heart. Thanks also to Nancy, she always makes it special.


We can do better and I can do better

Hi Everyone

Below the photos of the deer is the post I wrote a couple nights ago (in bold). I wanted to add this paragraph. I went back to the trails yesterday planning to take some photos for this post and do a repeat cleanup of the area I clean just two weeks ago. I was feeling somewhat discouraged. More than a few people have asked me why bother. The trash is never ending. I respond with the “ we can throw the one starfish back in the ocean” type of reasoning or that I believe a little bit of change brings more change answer. So I trudged into the woods reminding myself that this can be done with a scowl or a smile. I bucked up and smiled. I walked along the trail from Thorncliffe expecting to see the hills covered in garbage but a huge section was spotless. Something had happened or someone(s) had happened. My smile became  a look of bemusement. Not far along the trail I encountered 3 people with gloves and bags. I asked them if they had cleaned this up and they said they had. I thanked them for what must have been at least 6 hours or more work, judging on my past experience. I thanked them again and again. I must have sounded a little silly. They told me they lived in the apartments which seemed doubly wonderful to me. It felt like the battle had been joined. I moved on, deeper into the trails where I had been a couple weeks before and seen the worst of the trash. I began cleaning and filling bags of recycling. An hour or so in a runner called out, I came up and we chatted. After a bit, Stephen/Steven was heading onward but offered to carry two bags of recycling out to the parking lot. Awesome. Another runner, Peder, paused on his way, yelling out from the trail he was grabbing two more bags to carry out and then on his way back grabbed two more. Amazing. I grabbed 4 more garbage bags that been blown into the valley and filled those. I worked an hour past what I had planned, envigorated by the help. In all, 7 bags of garbage and 5 bags of recycling. As I was cleaning I had one more surprise:



The single track trails of Crothers Woods and the whole Don Valley are more than a secret space I hold dear to my heart. They are a refuge, a place to be whole, a place that is safe. I often worry about the trails, the spread of invasive plants like the dog choking vine is a real threat as well as the scary thought that someday soon ticks may be an unwelcomed visitor to these precious woods. I have spent hours pulling the vine from different spots and freeing tree and bushes choked to near death. Over the many years I have run the trails I have believed firmly in giving back to the forest. Regular trail clean ups and brush removal, like after Wednesday’s wicked winds are a part of being a steward. Spring is a challenge for garbage in the city and particularly so in the Don. The trees and plants are unfortunate collectors of blown discarded trash. Gravity sends crud from the surrounding neighbourhoods tumbling  into to our watershed.

Pointing fingers and doing nothing is just complaining and doesn’t move anything forward. I have done five large clean ups this year already. My wife, Nancy and I spent a lot of time cleaning the top of Pottery Road where the road crests near the apartments and the DQ. We are happy to give back. I know many others who do the same.

The woods are failing. The trash is becoming insurmountable. The vast garbage shadows created by the apartments that back on to the part known as “ the Ridge”, between the Millwood bridge and the Thorncliffe access road are obscene. Beyond Thorncliffe heading towards the Overlea Bridge is equally disgusting. I have emailed the TRCA and am awaiting an answer. The owners and managers of these apartments have to be held accountable for this pollution as well as the residents who are throwing their trash without thought or care to the effect it has. Of course this can not be every resident or perhaps even most but the number of plastic bags, plastic water bottles, plastic containers, plastic plastics and more plastics is not the careless product of just a few hands. The effort to collect and then carry out by hand is quite hard. I have carried out 14 bags over the past 2 weeks. We can do so much better. We owe this to our city and ourselves. I am not writing this to whine, I will continue to collect and clean. I am not writing to this raise awareness, we know the effects of litter and the damage we do to our ecosystems. We can do better by doing better. P.S. whoever picks up their dog poop and then throws the bag on the trails is a complete knucklehead, just saying.

So, yes my post above is somewhat pessimistic and angry. I now add many thanks to a whole bunch of people and I realize I should be more hopeful. Here are a couple more photos of the work ahead.