Army Run 5K – 2013 Recap

Happy Monday!

I am at home today – taking a much needed day off from work as I have a million things that need doing. I am back to supply teaching so arranging a day off isn’t that hard 🙂


Yesterday was my fourth year running in the Canada Army Run. The Army Run is a race that I have run every year since I’ve lived in Ottawa – including when I was pregnant (I walked that year). It is an important race for many Canadians, since it revolves around supporting our armed forces. Many families run the race together – and many soldiers who have been wounded while serving for our country run/walk the race as well. This makes the race extra special for all those involved.

The Army Run 5K is a fairly early race – starting at 8am, with wounded runners going at 7:45. This means that I have to get up extra early for the race! I packed my bag the night before that I could essentially wake up, wash my face, change and go. We also got all of Max’s things together so that we would not spend 30 minutes packing snacks and the chariot for him. Because of the weather  forecast- I packed my bag with an outfit if it was warmer out, as well as an outfit to change in after if it was cold (sweat and cold = not fun times after). I am an over-packer when it comes to races, so I had my bag filled with everything I could possibly need. I had my iPod shuffle, headphones, K-tape, my iPhone holder in case I was running without P and Max there, fuel, gloves and an assortment of other things.


When we woke up, it was raining outside and Max was still sleeping, so we actually decided at 6:30 that I was going to go by myself and let Max sleep in. He must of heard that so he woke up! I orginally wanted to leave at 6:45, but we actually left at 6:55. After a stop at Tim Hortons (which took forever and they also gave the wrong change back), we arrived at the University of Ottawa parking lot at 7:15. The U of O parking lot was almost full, but we managed to get a spot. Although I paid a premium for parking ($9), we were only a 5 minute walk from the start line, but far enough away that when we were done, we wouldn’t be stuck waiting for roads to clear. After we arrived at Laurier Street Bridge, I did a small warm up while P and Max when to look at army vehicles.

After my warm up, I went to use the washroom and then took off my sweats. The temperature was about 10 degrees C (50F) and there was a brisk wind, so it was chilly! I decided to wear my standard MEC shorts with my purple Moving Comfort top. I was a bit chilly just standing around, but when I was in the corral, I was at a perfect temperature. I think the temperature was great for a nice 5K. At 7:45 I made my way to the start. As usual, I could not get into the corrals because the crowd was insane. I was in the second corral and it was completely full by the time I got there. I position myself close to the front of the start of the orange corral (putting me hopefully around the 25 minute runners) and got ready to jump the fence. There were lots of complaining heard by people trying to get it. I don’t know if it will ever be possible – but I wonder if these types of events could block off the corral area to only bib holders? Part of the issue is that there are thousands of spectators lined up as well. But,  once the event organizers moved the front corral to the front, a bunch of us were able to jump over the barrier and get in place.

For most races, I plan on standing close to the front at the start. The cannon went off and we all started running. I had my sunglasses on my head (because it was cloudy), and went to put them on at the start. But when I put them on, they felt really weird. So I took them off to look at them and realized I had grabbed P’s sunglasses. I hoped that the sun would stay away and cursed the large sunglasses. The hope is to try and not get stuck behind a massive crowd of people who run a bit more slowly. I don’t know what it was, but I felt a little bit more crowded in the initial first 200m than I did with the Ottawa Race Weekend (which uses the exact same route). Anyway, my plan was to NOT weave like crazy and add extra metres to my run. I also tried to go the most direct route as I turned to downtown.

Once we turned left – chaos happened.

As we turned onto Queen Street everyone realized that the street was under construction. The Army Run 5K was completely sold out and therefore had thousands upon thousands of runners. Now try putting those thousands of runners onto a street that is now half its size because the rest of it is torn up. There were barriers, holes, pylons – you name it. Although I had my headphones in my ears, I did not have music on – so I heard everyone’s reactions to the construction. I think the funniest was “What is this, the obstacle run?”. My plan to not weave went completely out the window as everyone was darting back and forth trying to find a direct path. It wasn’t good. At one point, a police motorcycle jerked around and flashed its lights, apparently because a car tried to come onto the route. That resulted in a whole pile of runners jumping out of the way. At one point I SWEAR I saw runners running down a side street where they shouldn’t have been running – I heard the people beside me say something about double-backing and “what the? Are we cheating or something” – so I’m not 100% sure that that was about. Maybe they turned right too soon?

3pm Edit – it is true, some runners went the wrong way. Confirmed by a couple of people – I must have just run up to that street just in time for the chaos!

6pm edit – The Canada Army Run people did post a comment on Facebook that the runners at the front of the pack did indeed turn right too soon. Interesting debate going on there. But I saw a whole pile of runners, so I think lots of people turned prematurely. 

When I turned left on O’Connor, there was still construction. More darting in front of me, more swerving by me. I got hit by runners at least three times, and hit at least one myself. Pure chaos! Thankfully when we turned onto Wellington in front of the Parliament buildings, the construction was finished. I also had to dead-stop twice because of all of this. At the Parliament buildings, my Garmin flashed 6:00 for my first KM. If you happened to be around me at that point, I may have said a very bad word, fairly loudly. I knew at this point, any chance of a PB was gone. I needed to maintain a 5:10 pace, and trying to make up 50 seconds would be next to impossible, especially considering I am a serial positive splitter. When I talked to a couple of friends later, they all said that their first KM were also in the 6 minute range. I just took a look at my pace chart from Gamin Connect and the first KM was all up and down, all over the place!

The second KM has a nice downhill stretch, so I took the opportunity to go a bit faster at this point. I finished this KM in 5:01, which was significantly faster! My new plan was to run a nice steady 5K, so I slowed it down at this point and just concentrated on maintaining a good pace throughout the race. By the 2KM mark, we had caught up to many of the wounded soldiers who had a fifteen minute head start. As I said in my Army Run Tips – I clapped and cheered for every single wounded soldier and amputee that I passed. Lots of other runners were doing the same (the rest of you should do it too!).

Km 3 ticked away at 5:18, which was a bit slower, but it didn’t really matter. The water station came up next, and I grabbed a water for the go. I made sure not to stop this time. I went over Pretoria Bridge and by this time the crowd had definitely spread out. Everyone was steadily running. I never saw the 25:00 pace bunny (or any pace bunny for that matter), but I did see a couple of funny signs. The one sign that showed up quite a bit on Twitter yesterday was “Run Now – Poop Later. Never Trust a Fart – this means you Katie!”. FUNNY. I saw the Zoom Photo guy at this point, and realized that I wasn’t smiling – I’m sure those pictures are going to turn out awesome! (not)

I started to get a bit tired at this point. I looked at my watch just as the 4th KM was coming to a close, and realized to PB, I would have to run something like a 5:00 last KM. That wasn’t going to happen. So I just looked around and enjoyed the last part of the race. KM 4 was run at 5:25 and KM 5 was run at 5:25 – how is that for being steady? I made sure to smile at the camera this time as I crossed the finish line. I crossed the line at clock time 28:25, but chip time was 27:32. My garmin hit the 5K mark about 150m from the finish at 27:12. I think my new standard 5K time will be around the 27:00 mark!

I went through the finishing chute very quickly. I got my dog tag medal and went to grab some water and snacks. I of course had to stop and high five some volunteers and Army personnel first. I also saw P and Max by a fence, so I went and saw them before heading off. I did grab some water, but the only snacks were powerbar trail mix bars and yoghurt – no thanks! So I went on my way. Apparently the half marathon food wasn’t much better. I’ve said this before, but yoghurt is so not something I should be eating right after a race, unless I want to use the washroom really badly. The beauty of being done a race before the main crowd hits, is that I can get out of the finishing area fairly quickly. When we passed over  the finishing chute a few minutes later, the area was totally clogged as the 30:00 runners flew in. The downtown Ottawa races use Confederation Park as a finishing area, and it only has a few exit points. It gets super congested, very quickly!

So – looking at my KM splits – I ran a much stronger second half than any other 5K race I’ve run this year, including the race I PB’d in. If I had even a slightly better first KM, a PB would have been possible. If I knew I was close to a PB, I would have booked it for the first KM. BUT, a PB wasn’t in the cards this time around. However, I still ran a pretty great race considering. When I was home, I looked at the official results and was rather surprised.

My official cross time was 28:25, chip 27:32. This placed me as:

1347th out of 10,445

70th in my category out of 826

426th Female across out of 6,237

Those are some might fine standings for an event of this size. I usually aim to be in the top half!

The only other thing worth mentioning in my race recap was that for the first time in awhile, I did not bump into anyone that I knew. I did know a few people who were running the 5K and the half, but didn’t run into anyone! Even in the Ottawa Race Weekend 5K, I found some people halfway through the race. This time – nothing. But, knowing the times of a few of my friends, we were all within 1 minute of each other! Next time I have to wear the bright orange top again!

So that is another year at the Army Run in the books. I will always sign up for this race! It is a fun race for a great cause. Over $300,000 for the Solider On and Military Families Fund. Sounds like a good race to me!

Did you run the Army Run this year?

If you didn’t, Do you have a race like this where you are from?

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  1. Kristi

    Congratulations! Given how messy the start sounded, that is a very good time! And it is race so worth running.

    We told Evan to just follow the crowd. This was only his second time running a 5k alone, his first time doing it in a really crowded race. We figured he couldn’t go wrong following a crowd. But apparently he followed those people who turned too early. He said a marshall started yelling at everyone to go the other way and he doesn’t think he was off course for too long. So much for the crowd following advice!

    I’m with you about yogurt after a race, not my first choice. I ended up having one only because I was starving and I hate power bars and bananas!

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      Oh no!! Was Evan in the orange corral? I think a huge part of the front of the orange/back of the blue corral are the ones who turned early. Or maybe it was multiple groups? Funny enough, in my training for how to be a water station captain, there was a discussion about how runners will follow whatever the person does immediately in front of them. So somebody must have decided to turn left too soon – surprised there wasn’t more volunteers on the side streets – it was super congested due to the construction!

      1. Kristi

        Yep, he was orange corral 🙂 He still managed to do his best time ever – first time he was under 29 minutes – so it all worked out in the end. Kind of funny though considering the advice we gave him. And I can totally see how a couple of people make a wrong turn and suddenly a whole crowd is following. Maybe with all the construction cones someone got confused?
        A similar thing happened on Colonel By. I guess a few people decided to get out of the crowd on the road and run along the path instead, only to be followed by a few hundred people. It made it a bit interesting for me since I was finishing up my pre run to Dow’s Lake and returning along that path to the Convention Centre. I made the assumption everyone would stay on the road and the path would be free. I ended up running into a huge crowd on the path so I literally had to run against race traffic. I even had a bib on, must have looked like an idiot who couldn’t figure out which way the race was running!

        1. Rebecca (Post author)

          He must have been just in front of me – I was in the orange corral, kind of near the front and I think I approached the street just as that group came barreling down the wrong street – which is why so many of us who were right near me (my friends were apparently right behind me) experienced chaos which meant we slowed right down.

          LOL – that would have been funny to see. I don’t know what runners do that – the path is NOT a race area. Technically it is cheating – it is like the inside lane of a track – shorter distance!

  2. Amy

    Congrats on a great race! That sounds like mass chaos and I’m not sure I would do well in that situation. I have only run 2 5K races and both were too crowded for me to make it a good, solid race. At least that is the excuse I give….

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      Thanks 🙂
      Usually, as long as I’m close to the front, the big 5K’s are not that bad – if you are in the middle of the pack, then it is insanely crowded!

      This weekend’s race was just crazy!

  3. Nikki

    I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis so dropped myself fairly far back to stay out of the way as I knew I would have to walk part of the course. Fortunately that meant the crowd was taking the correct turn by the time we got there, but I was trapped in the finish line chaos for almost 30 minutes. It was crazy. And all that was left was yogurt by the time we got to the food – definitely not much choice of finish line food either!
    That said, it is still an awesome, inspiring race and I’ll be back next year.

    1. Rebecca (Post author)

      Yup – regardless of how the race goes, it is great to support the armed forces and I will run this race every year!

      I went by the finishing chute on my way back to the car – WOW the crowds! I made it through with no problem, in and out in about 5 minutes. But it was so crowded only 5-10 minutes after!


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