Another Ottawa Race Weekend Post – Today’s post will feature a bit of information about the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon routes. If you missed yesterday’s post – click here for some tips about the weekend. I will be attending the expo on Thursday after work if anyone is interested in joining in on the expo fun.
The Ottawa Race Weekend routes are probably my favorite routes to run: flat, fast and full of spectators. I strongly encourage that if you are running the 5/10K races that you leave the headphones at home and soak up all the race energy and crowds. The 5K route is one that is usually lined completely with people cheering you on for the entire race. The only part that is iffy in terms of crowds is the part downtown – but after that, everyone is out watching the races!
HTG Sports 5K
This 5K route is the same route that has been in use by TORW and Army Run for years – I know it so well I could run the race with my eyes closed.
The race starts with a quick dash up Elgin which is a bit up-hill stretch towards the War Memorial. The crowds are intense at this part – both watching and running. Last year, my students and I ran as fast as we could through this section which resulted in that 4:41 first KM. You then make a sharp left turn onto Queen. I’m hoping that there is no more construction, as that was not fun with the Army Run! Now please make sure this time everyone that we turn up O’CONNOR not a street early like in the Army Run 😉 Once you go up O’Connor (a bit up hill again), you will run by the Parliament Buildings. Out of the 10+ times I’ve run this route, I’ve never actually looked at the buildings. You then past Chateau Laurier and go downhill on to Colonel By Drive. The run on Colonel By takes you onto the Rideau Canal running route, which is a fave of many Ottawa Runners. This section is as flat as flat can be. You after a bit you will then hit Pretoria bridge and make the turn onto Catherine and then Queen Elizabeth Drive. The bridge is nothing – so do not worry about it. Queen Elizabeth Drive is the final road you will run on. Look out for water hose man who will be on his lawn chair soaking people. I love water hose man! Now – if you are running a full out 5K, you will definitely feel it on this last KM. Every time I run this section, I feel like the run will never end. The road turns a bit and you think that after every slight turn, you will see the finish line. It is a LONG last KM. But – it is shaded and full of people. Soak up the energy during this section. Soon enough you will be at the finish. If you can get past the crowds, you CAN PB on this race. I have on two occasions.
Lowertown Brewery 10K
I have run the full 10K route once – but have run on these roads in many different races and training runs. Again, like the 5K – it is relatively flat, very scenic and covered with crowds. You will also have the opportunity to touch “The Shoe” which is usually around the 5-6K mark (I think…). You are probably asking what the shoe is all about – but you will see it! Touch the shoe!
The 10K route starts in the opposite direction of the 5K. You go down towards the 417 on Elgin, past the popular bars and pubs. Lots of crowds at this point, and also lots of poutine spots if you have a hankering for a poutine while racing. Once you get past Elgin you will head onto the Rideau Canal route, running on Queen Elizabeth Drive first. If you are a 6:00/km runner like me (or aiming for a sub-60) – look to your left once you pass Pretoria Bridge and look at Colonel By Drive – You will see the elites already running towards the finish at this point. I saw Geoffrey Mutai last running two years ago! The go fast! Mutai is probably going to run a sub-28 10K. I remember two years ago people going “what the hell?!?” and slowing down to watch them go by – too funny! The run on Queen Elizabeth is very nice and flat – you will have a water station at KM4 which will seem like 8K if it is hot. Once you get to Bronson, you will run up some side streets in the Glebe (which are slightly up-hill) and run on Bronson for maybe 200m or so before you take the on-ramp onto Colonel By Drive. Be careful with the on-ramp as it is fairly steep! You then head down Colonel By Drive for a large part of the course – some slight rises in elevation here, but nothing big. I personally find this stretch to be the worst. You will soon see Pretoria bridge which marks the last little bit before the finish. You will cross the bridge, go under the highway and then onto Argyle before being put back onto Queen Elizabeth Drive. Same as the 5K – this last KM will seem super long as you are aware of how close you are to the finish. I do not remember if there are the 800m, 600m, 400m signs up – but those signs are also killer! Again – super fun 10K route that I find to not be too busy. The only thing I do not like about the route is the placement of the water stations since you don’t get a water station til 4K in – and then two more fairly close together. I usually end up skipping the last water station.
The Scotiabank Half Marathon
The Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon differs slightly than the Army Run Half – but pretty much features the same roads.
Like the 10K, you will start this race heading down Elgin Street towards the highway. Make sure to take this section slow! Don’t speed up right away. After Elgin you will head around the canal via Queen Elizabeth Drive – a nice scenic part of the course. Rather than head up to Bronson at Dow’s Lake – you will go around the top of Dow’s Lake and head onto Carling. This is the part of the race I have no run on yet – but Carling might have a slight downhill section. You will then head towards Wellington (also known as the Westboro area) via Sherwood and Fairmont. Wellington should have lots of crowds and is fairly flat. You are on Wellington for a little bit and then head up Island Park Drive for a brief run. You will then make your way to Sir John A. Parkway via Scott, Parkdale and Frederick Banting. All of these routes are fairly flat in an urban setting. Once you make it to the parkway, you will encounter another little hill. I struggled with this hill during the Winterman 5K back years ago but found it OK for the Army Run – but in the Army Run we were only 8K or so in – not 12K in. We will see what happens. You will see the War Museum on the left and you will make your way into Quebec via Booth- small bridge with little incline on the Bridge, but once in Quebec, there are some slight hills. You will make your way through downtown Gatineau and head towards the Museum of History (or Civilization? whatever its called now). Once at the Museum, your tour of Quebec is done and you will head back into Ottawa via Alexandra Bridge. The Bridge is kind of awful as it does have an incline. This is the section that will be toughest for me and probably lots of other runners – thing is, the bridge is one part, but you head up another hill right after. If you want to snap a picture of people’s ‘race faces’ – this is the zone (please don’t though). After this section, it is all about finishing, unlike the Army Run where we had to go to Rockcliffe and back (ugh awful!). You will head down McKenzie, past the US Embassy and back onto Rideau onwards to Colonel By Drive – the rest is the same as the 5K. Colonel By to Pretoria Bridge and straight down Queen Elizabeth (no turns on side streets). I remember being slightly miserable going down Colonel By – but once I was on Queen Elizabeth, it was all about the finish and knowing you have less than a KM to go. Easy right?? (ha!)
Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with a large part of the Marathon course – so I cannot write much. BUT – lots of the above routes are the same, so read the 5K, 10K and half marathon routes if you wish.
Please let me know if you are running any of the races! I hope to cheer on the 10K runners at Pretoria Bridge!