The history of the Harriers is a story of the heart, of passing the torch from one vibrant beating centre to another. Before we were Harriers we were MBP (Megan Brown Performance), a group of dedicated runners on a quest to better our times, performances, and ourselves. Guided by Megan’s enormous talent, times dropped, PBs were legion, and transformation was not only possible but par for the course. From her own elite running career to her coaching, Megan insisted on sport as a vehicle for personal growth, for building community and for forming deep, meaningful connections with each other and ourselves. She also maintained that “play” is an integral part of sport no matter how competitive the athlete or the goal.
In 2018 Megan announced her move away from coaching to focus on her therapeutic practice. At that moment the dynamic community she built came together to honour her legacy by forming a new iteration of MBP: Toronto Harriers, led by head coach Alistair Munro and team president Carrie Scace, both of whose own nurturing, insightful, and motivating leadership has cultivated a new collective that still maintains the ethos of holistic performance espoused by Megan. Symbolically we keep this tribute alive by continuing to meet at Megan’s bench—a run of the mill bench at the corner of Merton and the Beltline displaying a plaque for Megan. When we presented the plaque to Megan upon her retirement from coaching, the history, futurity, and kinship of the Harriers was captured in our tribute:
The bench doesn’t make a big deal out of itself. It’s always there if someone needs to stretch a tight hamstring, maybe tie a shoe. I don’t think I’ve ever actually sat on the bench: after all, we runners aren’t much for sitting. But it’s there, strong and unyielding, supporting us when we need it. And every week, the bench witnesses the friendship, the camaraderie and the downright love that we all bring to this sport and to each other.
Words feel inadequate to express the gratitude that’s in all our hearts. Through sheer Megan-ness, you’ve provided this space for deep relationships, a place to play out plenty of internal struggles but also just a place to play. You are our bench: strong, unyielding, supportive. Forget the hamstrings; it’s our limits that have been stretched. From all of us, every athlete that has ever been lucky enough to call you coach: thank you. We are the community we are because of you, because of your power, your heart and your pulse.
The heart of the Harriers beats strong. If you listen closely most mornings and evenings in midtown Toronto, you might hear the echo of our rhythm: heartbeat, footfall, breathline. Watch out, here we come.