Thursday, June 6, 2013

Toronto International Track & Field Games

Heading to the Toronto International Track & Field Games at University of Toronto's Varsity Stadium on June 11? Here are some tips to make your experience even better.

Please note: these are personal tips from my past experience. I am not affiliated with the TITF Games. Things may be different this year.

Following the Games twitter account is a start to get up to date news: @TOTFGames.
The website is It has the full list of competitors and the race schedule.


Click here to see directions (and parking) to the stadium. The entrance is on Bloor Street.

The St. George Subway station is really convenient. Use the Bedford Street exit towards the east side of the station. You can see the stadium on your right when you exit the station.

What to bring:
  • camera (SLR allowed)
  • binoculars
  • sharpie/paper if you want autographs (or preferred item)
  • sunglasses/hat if it's sunny (sun will be setting facing the stands)
  • sweater - it will be cooler when the sun sets
  • your ticket!

The event starts at 6:00pm with the Men's Shot Put and Women's Hammer. You have to exit the stadium on the south side in order to see these events. Get a wristband for re-entry.

The women's high jump is at 6:30pm on the north side of the stadium.

The first track events are the Pro-Am Relay Heats at 6:30pm. Three amateurs will run the first three legs of the relay with a professional running the anchor. So far, Olympic triathlon champion Simon Whitfield and Paralympian wheelchair tennis Joel Dembe are among the anchors. The Pro-Am Final will be held at 8:05pm.

The 200m blind, 400m, 400m hurdles and 800m will be run before 8pm.

The women's pole vault starts at 7:45pm followed by the men's high jump. Not to take attention away from the high school athletes who will be running from 8:15 to 8:45pm but with the men's high jump starting at 8:10pm - moving to the north sections of the stadium may be worth it to see Canadian record holder and Olympic bronze medallist Derek Drouin perform in the high jump.

The 100m and hurdles events will be held after 8:45pm.

Olympian Perdita Felicien and Farley Flex will be in the commentary booth this year.

Athletes to Watch:

Olympic bronze medallist Derek Drouin just broke the Canadian high jump record this past weekend. He will be competing in the high jump competition at 8:10pm

At the 2012 Olympics, Justyn Warner crossed the finish line 3rd running an amazing anchor leg in the men's relay. The team's disqualification meant they didn't get a medal but it doesn't take away from his incredible run. He won the 100m at the Toronto International Track & Field Games last year in a time of 10.15. Will he match or better it?

Sheila Reid beat her personal best by 4 seconds in the 1500m last week at the Prefontaine Classic reaching the A Standard for the distance. In Toronto, she will be running the 800m. Will she beat her personal best time of 2:04.60? Click here for the Prefontaine Classic race video and here for an informative and entertaining post race interview.

Decathlete Damian Warner had an amazing performance at the London 2012 Olympics finishing 5th while setting 6 personal bests. He will run the 110m hurdles in Toronto that he won last year.

Although I took photos last year, perhaps it's best to just watch and cheer this late in the evening as the lighting is not ideal for photography. This photo was captured with Aperture Priority setting (f/5.6) and ISO of 1600.

It is worth staying for the last event of the evening. Competing in the 100m women's hurdles are two Canadian finalists from the 2012 Olympics Phylicia George (6th) and Jessica Zelinka (7th). Jessica also finished 7th in the heptathlon in London. The 100m hurdles race is named after the late Randy Starkman who was a very much respected sports reporter for The Toronto Star. Last year, his wife and brother were present for the awards ceremony.

Canadian Olympians Competing:

Men's 100m:
Justyn Warner (2012)
Aaron Brown (2012)

Women's 100m:
Crystal Emmanuel (2012)

Blind 200m:
Jon Dunkerley (2008 & 2012 Paralympics)
Brandon King (2012 Paralympics)

Women's 400m:
Jenna Martin (2012)

Men's 800m:
Geoff Harris (2012)

Women's 800m:
Melissa Bishop (2012)
Jessica Smith (2012)
Sheila Reid (2012)
Nicole Sifuentes (2012)

Men's 1500m:
Taylor Milne (2008) [update: no longer on start list]
Nate Brannen (2008 & 2012)
Alex Genest (2012) [update: added to start list]

Men's 110m hurdles:
Segun Makinde (2012 alternate 4x100m relay)
Damian Warner (2012) 
Massimo Bertocchi (2008) 

Women's 100m hurdles:
Jessica Zelinka (2008 & 2012) 
Phylicia George (2012)

Women's 400m hurdles:
Sarah Wells (2012)

Men's Shot Put:
Justin Rodhe

Men's High Jump:
Derek Drouin (2012) bronze medallist
Mike Mason (2008 & 2012)

Women's Hammer:
Sultana Frizell (2008 & 2012)
Heather Steacy (2012)

Women's Pole Vault:
Melanie Blouin (2012)

Click here for full start list

Seat selection:

Here are some pros and cons for the various locations in the stands. Choose according to your priorities.

For example, are you wanting to get great photos of the action or of the athletes? Are you wanting to see the action at the finish line? Are you wanting to see a specific athlete? Where is that athlete at the beginning of his/her race and at the end? Do you want to see the athletes on the podium?

  • Near finish line (Sections C/D)
    • Advantages
      • see every race finish
      • start of 400m and 800m
      • close to pole vault and high jump
    • Disadvantages
      • not great view of start line for sprints (especially in lower rows)
      • many people stand at the finish of races which can make it difficult to see
  • Near centre (Sections F/G) [updated: these sections now sold out]
    • Advantages
      • great view of podium
      • good view of start and finish
      • good view of jumping
    • Disadvantages
      • see back view of athletes at finish line
      • athletes always moving fast on track (no pre/post race activity)
  • Near start line (Sections L/M) [updated: these sections now sold out]
    • Advantages
      • great view of start line (and preparation) for 100m races and hurdle races
      • great view of last exchange in relays (professional athletes run anchor leg with amateurs running first 3 legs)
      • great view of athletes running towards you (rather than side view) as they come round the bend
    • Disadvantages
      • not great view of finish
      • not great view of pole vault and high jump
  • Lower rows (Row 1)
    • Advantages
      • closer to the action, closer to the athletes
    • Disadvantages
      • view may be blocked by people coming up the stairs or standing at the top of the stairs (see photo ** below)
      • don't get view of entire field (side view is blocked by people)
      • if you stand, you block someone's view behind you
  • Higher rows
    • Advantages
      • last year the upper rows were quite empty so you can move around to find a better spot
      • great view of entire field
      • last row allows you to stand without blocking others.
    • Disadvantages
      • further away from the action
** People seem to linger in the stairs and at the top of the stairs that can block the view in the lower rows. The following photo shows the layout of the stairs.

Photo not mine. Photo credit.

Photo Opportunities:

The best events to get photos are the 800m and 400m running events and the field events which are held before 8pm. From 8pm to 8:45pm the pro-am relay final and high school races are held.

Here are examples of photos I captured last year from Section B top row (with D-SLR 200mm zoom). Click here to see last year's post (with extra photos and names of athletes).

This photo would be even more special from Section L or M. You get an opportunity to see the athletes get ready for the 100m and hurdle races.

Section A or B are ideal to catch a start (but to catch the finish, section C would be better).

The later it gets, the harder it is to get photos as the lighting gets tricky. It's a chance to get an artistic looking shot like this:

After the races, the athletes will congratulate each other and sometimes get interviewed or pose for photos.

Sections A-C are ideal for the pole vaulting and high jump (on the right). 

The podium is in the middle of the field so sections F & G would be best to get head-on shots. 

I moved down to the middle after the last race. This would be the view of the podium (although the presentations were over by this point). 

Last year, athletes signed autographs after the meet. I'm not sure if there was a VIP reception last year so perhaps there won't be as much time for autograph signing. You can buy a VIP ticket for $75 that includes a $50 seat plus a ticket to the VIP reception which includes athletes, drinks and snacks.

Hope you found this post helpful. Enjoy the meet!

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