Dear Ottawa Marathoners, You're here. You've made it. We are so happy to have you in town. We know it's a big year for Canada, and that's why this is one of the best years to run Canada's largest marathon weekend. By now you've taken a look at the route, you will see the many sites you'll pass on your 42.2K journey this Sunday.
7:00 am will come quickly and all of a sudden you'll be running up the start chute past the National War Memorial. After a few quick turns, you'll nestle into the first 5K by running along the Rideau Canal. Did you know it's the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America? In fact, in 2007, the Rideau Canal was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As an Ottawa based runner, I've logged a few hundred kilometres along this stretch. It never gets old.
As you carry on along the Rideau Canal towards Dows Lake, you'll have cheers from the Glebe, Preston Street and then Wellington West and Westboro Village! We have the BEST community support. I had a chance to run with Jeff Leiper, the councillor for Kitchissippi Ward, along Wellington Street. It's safe to say they are excited to see you around 8-10K!
You will carry on from Wellington onto Richmond Road, where you will turn onto Athlone Street. This side street always has a great crew out cheering. An unconfirmed rumour is that there is a house who makes pancakes for the cheer squad that is out there bright and early for the marathoners. Regardless, you're likely feeling good at this portion of the race. With the crowds along Wellington, I hope you're on a high (that's why we do this after all).
You will then turn into Tunney's Pasture and head down to Sir John A. Parkway. You'll run a few kilometres out and back along this stretch. This is a good time to put your speed into cruise control. Take in the view of the Ottawa River as you come back towards the city and past Canada's War Museum. Sponge stations will be located at 16K, 25K and 36K. H2O and nuun hydration stations are set up every 3K for the Marathon.
You will then travel over Chaudiere Bridge into Gatineau, Quebec. I always think it's cool that we get to run a race that crosses two provinces. Fun Canada 150 fact, Ontario and Quebec are two of the four provinces to first join Confederation in 1867. As you run through Gatineau, you will experience some of the best crowd support and catch a glimpse of Gatineau Park. You will also hit the HALFWAY mark.
For those of you from out of town, Gatineau was recently hit with some of the worst flooding in years, with many homes devastated. With 45% of Tamarack Race Weekend participants coming from Quebec, this tragedy is very close to home. We are grateful for all the community support during this time.
As you progress from the halfway point, I find something changes in the race. A sense that this is where the real race begins. You've hung on for 21+ kilometres, and now will begin to test yourself as you make your way through the final 21K. Don't let your mind get ahead of you. Run the kilometre you're in.
Just before the Alexandra Bridge, you will find yourself in the midst of one of the loudest cheering and aid stations. They're cheering for you. To your right will the Canada's Museum of History. Pro-tip: The best photo spot to have Parliament in your backdrop is behind the museum.
As you're crossing the Alexandra Bridge, take a moment to breathe it all in. You are running a marathon today, and OMG look at this view. It really doesn't get any better than this. When things get tough, smile. You're about to head into one of the wildest cheering stations in the entire race. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.
You will pass through the screaming crows at the National Art Gallery and likely get chills. I remember running through this stretch last year and feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It was a hot day out there, but man was I happy to be running 42.2K that day. THANK YOU to every single person who comes out to cheer runners on. Your words of encouragement, your cowbells, your signs, your sticky high fives mean the world.
You will then run along Sussex pass the Royal Canadian Mint, run along the Trans Canada Trail, and past 24 Sussex and Rideau Hall. You will see portions of this stretch again one your way back, but let's not think about that for now. You have 28-36K to run. Put your head down and keep moving (ideally towards the finish). You will have entertainment, water and sponge stations to support you. If the voice in your head gets the best of you, holler at one of the members of the Extra Mile Crew to run with you for a bit. Before you know it, you will be running along Beechwood, back up towards Sussex.
As you head back to the finish, you will start to see the crowds lining the streets grow. Feed off their energy. This is what you've been training for. You will pass the Byward Market, the Shaw Centre and complete your last few kilometres along the Rideau Canal. Does this look familiar? It should. You can see the finish from across the Canal and hear the crowds cheering. In minutes you will be running along Queen Elizabeth towards the finish.
As for me, this year I will be out volunteering at the start and on the course (literally) all weekend. If you see me, please say hi! If you're running, HAVE A GREAT RACE.
Are you running Ottawa Race Weekend?