Having grown up on the outskirts of Ottawa, Ottawa Race Weekend has a special place in my heart. It was where I did my first half-marathon, and where I completed my second full marathon last Spring. I’ve been a runner for about 5 years, and I’ve run in Ottawa Race Weekend for the last four of those years.
This year I decided to try one of the shorter distance night races instead of getting up painfully early to do the full or the half, so I settled on the 10K and before I knew it, I had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR partners in crime for the distance. Race Weekend has become kind of a thing for one friend and I, and it is now an annual road trip to spend the weekend with my rents and run at Race Weekend.
For week’s in advance, I fretted over the potential of hot, humid weather. I spectated the 10K last year and watched as thousands of people struggled with the extreme heat and humidity, and it was not something I was looking forward to. Luckily, the day of forecast kept getting cooler and cooler as the week went on. On race day, we were looking at about 12 degrees and overcast, though the winds were forecasted to be a little higher than I would have liked.
The race started at 6:30 pm, and I always struggle with fueling for night races, because I run so few of them. We spent the day doing very little and eating, packing up and leaving to get downtown for about an hour before the race was to start, just in case we had trouble with parking, which we never do, but I’m a worrier.
As it was colder than expected, the inside of the main entrance of City Hall was rammed with people attempting to stay warm. We joined them and waited, squishing ourselves into a corner of City Hall, after a quick trip to the porta-potties outside. When there were about 15 minutes left to the start, we headed outside to the corrals and huddled for warmth for a few minutes before separating. A few more minutes in the corrals and we were off!
From the start until you get off of Elgin, and then some, you are literally rammed in between people, side-to-side and front-to-back. I spent most of this time squeezing past slower runners and walkers, just trying to get some space where I wasn’t practically touching elbows with someone else. The course widens a little, only to narrow again going around the water, on this part, I actually couldn’t find any space gaps to move around for a good kilometer. At about this point, I found a man in front of me who I thought was going about the pace I wanted to go, and decided to stick with him for the next little while. He was great at bobbing in and out of traffic so following his every move helped in that nature. Around 6K, I started to tire out and he pulled ahead, that was the last I saw of my little friend. Apparently his pace was a little too fast for my body that day.
I took a walk break just before 7K, and again around 9K when I felt like I needed it before I gave a final push. I began picking it up a little too early as I thought the new (i think its new anyway, as I don’t remember it being there before) pedestrian bridge over the course was the finish line…until I got there and realized I still had 200m to go. Nothing left in my legs to sprint any harder, I ran it in at that pace, crossing in 1:01:20. An improvement over my Sporting Life 10K time this year, but a good four minutes slower than my PR in this distance. (Pretty sure I’m never getting back to that PR).
While the course was packed, it was a nice, relatively flat course to run on and the weather was dead on. The crowds in Ottawa never cease to amaze me, they put on a really good show for every distance.
Would I run this again? Absolutely. I don’t see the annual trips to Race Weekend slowing down anytime soon, though who knows what distance I’ll be running next year!
- Flat course
- Great spectator crowds
- The shirt is nice this year! Orange!
- Pretty crowded in spots