Race Review: the Ottawa Marathon, 5K and 2K

This time last we, I was in Ottawa falling asleep after finishing marathon 11. Spring Marathons are always difficult when you live somewhere where you snow and ice all winter. I spent most of February running inside due to Spokane weather if that says anything. After working a 10 day stretch, I flew out to Ottawa the Thursday before race day by going through Salt Lake City and Toronto. I ended up getting to the hotel around 830 after getting through the airport (and finding myself some Tim Horton’s).

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On Friday, I walked over to the Expo that was at the Shaw Center in downtown Ottawa. The poor girl at bib pick up was running around getting my 3 different bibs, since I was running the 2K, 5K and Marathon. 3 shirts (2 of which are the same), 3 bibs, but not a whole lot of swag in the swag bag. I went wandering through the expo and ended up with a fun sweatshirt that was 25% off (and cheaper in USD when compared to CAD). Decent amount of vendors, but a lot of stuff that seems the same when compared to other expos. I spent the rest of Friday walking around Ottawa, exploring the grounds of Parliament and finding some good food.

Saturday was a double race day. If you were being incredibly ambitious, you could sign up for the lumberjack challenge, which involved doing the 2K, 5K and 10K on Saturday plus the Marathon on Sunday. I wasn’t feeling that crazy, so I did everything but the 10K. The 2K took all of 10 minutes and was an easy jaunt around town. I spent it trying to not trip over little kids weaving in and out of people, and it was actually semi obnoxious. After finishing and dashing to bag check to switch out bibs, I headed over to the 5k start, that was a little more organized. Having corrals that were sent off every few minutes helped thin things out. Plenty to see on the 5K including Parliament, downtown Ottawa and the river. Water stops about half way through, but I feel like I had an additional stop due to the 10K being part of the course. After you finished your race, you went through the finisher chute and got fluids, medals and then directed to food, where they handed you a bag with bagels, a banana and some chips

Sunday was the main event. I was up bright and early and out the door around 615/630 to get to the marathon. It was a 7 AM start, 2 hours ahead of the half marathon. The start was in the same location as Saturday’s events downtown and when I got to the start, the energy was buzzing and exciting. Corrals were set up by color and time to keep things smooth. Guns went off at 7 AM, after the Canadian National Anthem. The first few miles of any distance race, I usually get a feel for how I’m feeling and what I want to do. I ended up falling in with the 4 hr 30 min pace group with the goal of staying with them as long as I could and then aiming to beat my NYC Marathon from last year.

The course itself is a mix of city and scenic, relatively flat, though there are some hills. The first 5K was along the Rideau Canal before we weaved through town and towards the Ottawa River. We kept on pushing though and crossed over into Gatiineau for 10K. Along the way, we passed the Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery. It was about here ( just over 14 miles in), that I fell off the 4 hr 30 min pace group and slowed down some. I made the mistake of not having a throw away shirt and then over dressing, so I spent time losing a long sleeved shirt that I ended up tossing because I didn’t want to carry it for the next 11 miles. Definitely sad about that one because it was one of my good shirts. We followed the Ottawa River some more before hitting some more scenic parts of the race, in addition to passing Riddau Hall and 24 Sussex. The last 10k was spent coming back into town and covering some ground we had already seen. The last 3-5K we joined up with the Half Marathon, as we shared part of the course. Final course time was 4:49:04 (approximately)!

On course, water stops seemed to be every 3-4K. It got warm quick, and I wish we had stops every 2K or so to accommodate. Aid stations had water and Nuun, with some that had gels. I’m part of the gatorade/powerade fan club as Nuun doesn’t sit well with my stomach. I was wishing they’d at least alternate to help us out a little bit. One of the big areas to look at is the post race area. We were met by water and medals and then had a good 1/4 mile minimum walk to the runners area. Only downside is that they were essentially handing out half of a bagel and a bag of chips because so much food was out. The only beverage available in the post race area was beer, which doesn’t go well with me. I wish there was more bottled water and something like chocolate milk for runners because I was dying. After you exited, there were food trucks available, but I feel like there should have been more available for runners that you didn’t have to pay for.

Overall, a fun race and definitely one to consider. Fun bibs, fun crowds and good medals!

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