01 July 2012, 7am
Sun 27 May 2012
Without that the breathtaking scenery means little, although it is all around you, offering a subconsciously calming effect and inspiration to greatness. Even though you don’t think about the crowds they are there: thousands of spectators holding up signs of support, banging pots and pans, urging you on. The dutiful pace bunny you’ve been trailing for the past 40km is also shouting encouragement. It feels like the whole city of Ottawa is behind you, moving you forward, celebrating your achievement. This is what it feels like to run the Ottawa Marathon.
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. Built along the south bank of the Ottawa River in 1826, it has grown into a city of just under a million, and is one of the cleanest and most livable cities in the world. Partly this has to do with its unique blend of the old and the new, the rugged and refined, reflected in the people who live here.
Ottawa is a vibrant, modern city surrounded by beautiful waterways and Gatineau Park’s lush forests. It’s a city in which the gothic revival architecture of Canada’s Parliament Hill (which visitors have likened to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter movies) stands only a few blocks away from the elegant glass geometry of the National Gallery of Canada.
You can look out across the river to the Gatineau hills in Quebec and breathe in the ancient history of the landscape, then turn around and dine on world-class contemporary cuisine at one of the many bustling restaurants in the Byward Market. A dizzying variety of shops, farmers’ markets, restaurants and live music venues fill the streets with fresh sights, sounds, aromas and flavours.
Ottawa is home to Canada’s National Arts Centre, which features top-notch dance and theatre productions, as well as the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that wends through the heart of the city and extends all the way to Lake Ontario. It is also home to Canada’s largest marathon, which takes place during the Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend every May.
The Ottawa Marathon offers an exciting journey that encompasses all of the city’s unique culture and impressive geography, including the historic downtown, Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, Gatineau Park and the Ottawa River. The courses have been designed to be scenic, flat and fast. Perfect for personal bests and Boston qualification.
Ottawa is one of the two IAAF “Silver Label” marathons in Canada, and the 10km race held the day before has similar status. Both are world-class events, but even if you’re no more than a casual marathoner, or if you happen to be travelling with family and/or friends who prefer a different sort of challenge, a full range of events has you covered. Apart from the Marathon the weekend features a family run, a half-marathon and 2km, 5km and 10km races, plus a 10km race for vision-impaired runners.
All the events continue to grow in popularity, selling out earlier each year as more and more distance athletes come to run and soak up the festive atmosphere they’ve heard so much about. That’s why RunTri.com ranks Ottawa as the best marathon event in Canada. It’s a testament to all the thought and care that goes into planning the races and all the various people who participate in one way or another – runners, volunteers, and the legions of spectators who fill the cheering sections each year, screaming encouragement and bearing witness to the many gutsy performances.
That’s what race weekend is all about: distance runners coming together to test themselves while sharing the joy of endurance sport – from record-smashing elites to first-timers just aiming to cross the finish line. There’s a sense of community and fun that surrounds the entire weekend. And given all the camaraderie, new gear, good meals and exhausted/satisfied athletes by the end of the weekend, some Race Weekend veterans have even compared the experience to Christmas for distance runners. That’s what it feels like to be a part of the Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend.