2017 Army Run Vimy Challenge Race Recap

Can you believe that I just ran my 8th Army Run?  Army Run 2017 has come and gone – and as always, the race was fantastic. This year I signed up for the Vimy Challenge which is the 5K followed almost immediately by the 10K, which was a new addition to this year’s race weekend since it was the 10th Army Run. Originally I signed up for the Commander’s Challenge (5K + Half Marathon), but once the Vimy Challenge was announced, I switched to that challenge.

The weather for this year’s Army Run was just like this year’s Ottawa Race Weekend – HOT. Most of us had decided earlier in the week that we were just going to take it easy and not try to PB the races. It just wasn’t worth it and for most of us, Army Run is only the start of the Fall Racing Season: why risk ruining your whole season? Kristi and I had decided to run the 5K together and then fellow Run Ottawa Members, Vicki and Suzanne joined us. We did not care what our time was, but wanted to aim for the 30 minute mark.

In the morning I woke up and as usual, my GI system realized it was race day. Luckily, I have figured out a few things that make GI issues worse, so with some Imodium, I was perfectly fine by race time. A few Run Ottawa members met before the race before we settled into our corrals. We originally planned on just jumping into the 2nd corral, but quickly realized that the entire blue corral was filled up with Vimy/Commander’s Challenge people and quickly squeezed into the corral. I conviently forgot my watch at home – so for the first time in a race situation, I was running blind.

The 5K

As predicted, the 5K was so crowded – way too crowded. I understand that the challengers (including myself) want to get the race done quickly so we can have enough time for transitioning to the next race – but still, there is zero need to be right at the front if you cannot run faster than a 22 minute 5K. I saw some race photos of my friends who are in that category and beside them were walkers. That is just so dangerous! The four of us were weaving almost the entire race. I don’t think we were ever not crowded. The race route changed slightly and no longer had us down a downtown street, but instead had an out and back section on Wellington: I did not like this at all! The route change was because of construction, so it was understandable. The problem with this is that it made Wellington packed with runners running in both directions. Normally we get to Wellington and have the whole street, which allows for some spreading out. This time we were unable to move fast and at the turn around had to walk. Vicki said our first KM was at 7:06 and we started laughing. Luckily the crowds made keeping a decent slow pace was super easy. We ended up talking for the entire race. Yes, we were those people….

I mean – look at us having fun (I’m tucked in there – you can see my socks)

We did end up picking up pace and negative split the 5K. When was the last time I negative split the 5K? I actually don’t think I ever have before. We crossed the finish in just over 32 minutes. I had a great time with my fellow runners that morning – it was the funniest 5K ever!


The Vimy and Commander’s Challenge runners had a separate transition area to go through, rather than going to the recovery area. But here is another example of over crowding. There were so many challengers running that morning that the transition area line was larger than the 5K recovery line. It took awhile to get through and by the time I found P and Max, the gun was going off for the 10K. I wanted to try a bit harder for the 10K, so I wanted to get out in the 1st corral to try and avoid some of the crowd. Looking at my finish and start times – I crossed the finish of the 5K at 8:35 and was in the start of the 10K by 8:47.  I ended up taking off my tank top and running in just my sports bra/shorts. Best.decision.ever.

The 10K

The 10K was meant to be more of a race for me, but controlled. Because I did not have a watch on, I just went by feel. I knew I would not PB that day because, like most people, I tend to run a bit slower in the heat. Instead, I wanted to try and negative split the race – not walk – and be in control the entire time. The 10K had the same out and back portion that the 5K had, but this time the crowd wasn’t as bad. It was still crowded and I did a significant amount of weaving. I did manage to get in the back of the 1st corral which is supposed to be faster, but again, there were runners of all abilities in the mix. I even heard one group complain than people were zooming past them (including me – as I was passing them) and I honestly wanted to yell, “why are you in the front corral then?!”. The 10K did spread out by the time we hit Sussex Drive and after that point we had more than enough room.

Unlike my other race reports – I have no splits for you other than the 5K ones. Going up Sussex Drive wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I made it up the small hill and looked to see that Lindsay was in the lead – I did stop for 2 seconds to yell at her 😉

I crossed the 5K mat in 28:32 – but I had no idea what I was running. At that point, I just dumped water on my head and my sunglasses fogged up.  I resisted asking someone with a Garmin what pace we were at and just kept going. I ate a gel at 5K and made sure to drink Nuun and water at every station. Lots of sections of the course had shade, so the sun did not really bother me for the first 5K. Soon we were heading to the Rideau Canal loop, which we knew (as someone yelled “last shady section people! as we went past the mall) would be the sunniest portion of the course. At this point my legs were getting tired but I was still feeling good cardio wise. I was basically in tempo mode for the entire race and felt very comfortable.

Soon I made the trek back towards downtown and I just concentrated on not stopping to walk. Once I saw the flags that signified the finish was near, I took off and finished strong. It is always funny to look at the finish line videos afterwards and see that yourself not “sprinting” (I really need to work on my knee drive).

The clock was just over 1 hour but I knew I was under 60 minutes as it took awhile to get to the start line mats. I eventually found out that I ran a 57:28 10K. Not bad for the heat! I placed in the top 10% for females and was 30th/168 for my age group for the Vimy Challenge.

Once the race was completed, you got your 10K dog tags, but then had to make your way to a special table to pick up the Vimy Challenge coin. Such a sweet thing to get after a challenge-race! I have to figure out how to display the coin as it is quite unique. Getting through the recovery zone was super quick this time and I was in the car and heading home before I knew it!

Another great Army Run year – I’m already looking forward to the 2018 version (please have the 10K back!)


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  1. Kat

    I love that you have such amazing pictures along the way. My pictures are mostly at times I took a walk break or I look like death lol.

    1. ~Rebecca~ (Post author)

      Lol – these are the good ones – honestly not bad. One time the only photo I got was of me shoving a gel down my throat

  2. Suzanne

    was the hardest part running in the heat of without your watch!?! 😜 Thank you for making the 5km be such a fun race for us…we’re going to have to plan for next years finish line photo!


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