As it says on the signs, this is no ordinary race and these are not ordinary runners (well some of them are not). Army Run is the second biggest running event held in Ottawa each year. There is a 5k and a ½ marathon. Both races start by city hall and the ½ marathon in particular takes a scenic tour of the nation’s capital.
The race expo, which gets better every year, is held in a large tent in front of city hall. It’s a great talking point and it holds with the military theme. My day job had me at the expo the entire time it was open so I had plenty of time to check it out. Being in a tent full of electrical wires in the rain on Saturday was exciting but it only leaked a little and we figured lightning would hit the tanks before it hit us. This is the best expo ever for kids because the tent is surrounded by various cool military trucks, guns and tanks which kids can climb on to and into. In fact I would highly recommend borrowing a friend’s children if you don’t have any of your own so you have an excuse to climb too. There is also a most excellent bouncy castle but I don’t think they let us big kids on it.
Both races include an ill, injured and disabled division which starts 15 minutes ahead and includes athletes with artificial limbs, wheelchairs, service animals and other disabilities. Watching these athletes complete the event is motivation for the rest of us to make it across the finish line.
Race morning the first event is the 5k. This year there were 14,619 finishers. The start is done by coral with a gap between each coral to prevent crowding on the course and at the finish. As a result the winner actually crosses the finish line before the last runners cross the start line!
The first of the 5k runners
The half marathon had just under 10, 000 runners this year. It started at 9:30am a little late if the weather is warm but this year is was pretty reasonable. The half follows a very scenic but not entirely flat route which passes Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian War Museum in Ontario. You then cross the river into Quebec and pass the Canadian Museum of History at the 10k mark. After that you cross back into Ontario, pass 24 Sussex Drive (no sign of the Prime Minister) and run through the grounds of Rideau Hall where the Governor General is usually on hand to cheer on the runners along with the Regimental Band of the Governor Generals Foot Guards who also play at the start.
Then it’s back along Sussex Drive to the Rideau Canal and the finish line. Another unique feature of the event is the finisher medals which are dog tags. In the early years the postrace food was some sort of army ration themed box of odd food no one liked (hopefully it’s not what we actually serve our nation’s military!) It is now a more traditional banana, granola bar, and chocolate milk sort of snack.
The race day organization is done by Run Ottawa the same group that runs the Ottawa Race Weekend it is very well done. The race also includes a team competition which has lots of potential but it needs some attention (it’s been over two weeks since the race and the results are not out yet).
If you have never run it this race should definitely be on your list. It’s well run and the course is one of the best tours of Ottawa around!
There were 44 K2J runners in the ½ marathon and 10 in the 5K. Lots of PBs, 3 age group wins, 2 2nd’s and a 3rd. I ran the half. I was not sure how it would go so I started at a conservative pace. That worked for the first km but the second was way too fast (in my defense it is downhill) after that I settled into a comfortable pace. John T and I ran together for a couple of km. We got lots of Go K2J shouts from the spectators the shirts really stand out in a crowd! The temperature was Ok but I still found I needed to pour water on myself at the rest stops. I actually picked it up around the 15k mark and passed the 1:35 bunny. Mike Y followed me past the bunny for a PB.
Full results are below:
JudyAndrew Piel1.33.531st w50-54
Vincent AndyFong30.0030 minute bunny