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How one elite athlete trains to “kill the hill” at the Race Roster Spring Run Off

Dayna Pidhoresky

This year’s Race Roster Spring Run Off is sure to be one heck of an uphill battle… 

By Paul Gains

The annual Spring Run Off, which happens in Toronto’s High Park ever year, is seeing some changes this year. With less than a month to go, runners planning to line up at the start line are likely getting some serious hill training under their belts.

Along with signing with a new sponsor– Race Roster– this event (which is Canada’s oldest consecutive race) is inviting runners to take part in the “kill the hill” challenge. That’s a timing challenge taking place on the course’s infamous hill. Runners are timed going up the hill and can then compare times to elites and training partners.


One of those elites who will be present on the April 9 race is Dayna Pidhoresky.

Pidhoresky returns to the 8K race confident and feeling stronger than the start of any previous season. This is a race she won in 2011, the same year she was crowned the overall Canada Running Series champion, and one in which she placed third in both 2012 and 2013.

The 29-year-old native of Tecumseh, Ont. is now living in Vancouver and like many athletes, has her sights set on achieving the Olympic marathon qualifying standard this spring in Ottawa. The April race will be a test of her fitness– and hill work.

“This will be my fourth time running this 8K race, presuming it’s the same course,” she says. “I just remember it being hilly and that last hill… I feel now I am living in Vancouver, which is much hillier than Windsor, maybe I am going to feel more prepared for this race. In the past I have just not been the best hill runner.”

Pidhoresky was delighted to hear about the race’s new “kill the hill” challenge. It has helped her increase her hill training– a type of workout for which she is ideally situated.

“We actually live on top of a hill so every run I do down on the beaches and Spanish Banks I am always running uphill,” she says. “So I feel I am naturally incorporating more hills. I probably won’t do anything specific as far as workouts for hills just rely on the strength I have gained by running them.”

She would however recommend tackling hill sprints at the end of a normal, easy run. Or, for runners who really want to improve their “kill the hill” time, running six to eight repeats of a 100m hill.

“I do a longer hill, maybe 300-500 metres, sort of a sprint up, then an easy jog down, and repeat,” she says. “That definitely helps with strength. That I have done in the past, usually at the beginning of the buildup, when I haven’t started doing any timed intervals yet.”

The Race Roster Spring Run Off starts at 11:00 a.m. The event also gives runners a 5K option and has a race for kids.