News / London

Rock the Road rumbles into big second year

Brandon Laan has travelled around the world to compete in road races.

Needless to say, the 38-year-old Londoner knows a thing or to about what draws runners to events — a healthy of mix of competition and fun.

With that in mind, Laan organized the city’s inaugural Rock the Road in 2011, attracting about 250 racers for a 10K run featuring live music along the course and something akin to a party at the finishing line.

“We realized there was kind of a hole in London,” Laan said, explaining his mindset when the race was born. “We needed something that was full of fun — music, cheerleaders and a strong sense of community.”

If participation numbers are any indication, Laan’s approach is working. Sunday’s second annual Rock the Road saw about 400 runners — nearly double last year’s count — tackle the course that ran roughly from Fanshawe Park Road and Richmond Street, through Old North and along Adelaide Street before ending at Masonville Place mall.

Along with drawing more runners, this year’s event also brought in more money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Organizers expect to donate about $7,000 to the non-profit, up about $3,000 from the amount raised in 2011.

Laan expects the success to continue.

“We really want to grow this to 5,000 or 10,000 people,” he said Sunday. “That seems pretty far-fetched right now, but people are responding.

“I think it’s about creating a product and giving back to the community. That energy comes right back to us on race day.”

Photo Gallery

  • Metro/Angela Mullins

    Runners lineup for free pizza after completing Sunday’s Rock the Road race in London. The race took runners on a 10K trek through Old North, ending at Masonville Place mall. About 400 people competed up in the second annual event, up from last year’s 250 racers.

  • Metro/Angela Mullins

    Annette Mellor, co-owner of Moksha Yoga London, helps Jan Shillington, 58, of London, stretch after Sunday’s Rock the Road 10K race.

  • Metro/Angela Mullins/

    Art Richards, a vocalist with Boler Mountain Overdrive, performs on a stage at Masonville Place mall after Sunday’s Rock the Road 10K. Music was a big part of the event with bands stationed along the race course and at the finish line.

  • Metro/Angela Mullins

    Bethany McChesney, 27, of London, right, gets a checque from a race volunteer during an awards ceremony at Sunday’s Rock the Road 10K. McChesney was the third place overall female finisher with a time of 37:50.

  • Metro/Angela Mullins

    Josephat Ongeri, 33, of Hamilton, right, is congratulated by a race volunteer during awards ceremony at Sunday’s Rock the Road 10K. Ongeri was the top overall finisher with a time of 30:09.

  • Metro/ Angela Mullins

    Brandon Laan, 28, of London, director of the Rock the Road 10K, thanks supporters during an awards ceremony after Sunday’s race. Laan started the race the last year with hopes of creating an annual event that mixed running with fun, something he says the city was lacking.

Top 5 overall*

— Josephat Ongeri, 33, Hamilton, 30:09

— Thomas Omwenga, 32, Hamilton, 31:10

— Terence Attema, 22, Smithville, 31:16

— Alex Garriock, 22, Auburn, 32:55

— Jeff Dill, 23, St. Davids, 33:01

Top 5 women overall

— Krista DuChene, 35, Brantford, 34:07

— Anna Jelegat Kibor, 37, Hamilton, 36:15

—Bethany McChesney, 27, London, 37:52

— Kate Reid, 34, London, 38:18

— Deborah Buhlers, 38, Simcoe, 38:42

*Race organizers are posting a full list of results at

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