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Army Run ~ ½ Marathon Ottawa, Ontario

Army Run ~ ½ Marathon

Ottawa, Ontario

Sept 22, 2013

During the early summer, my running buddies from TRF Orangeville started to discuss fall races to participate in.  Flipping through Get out There Magazine, one comes across many races to choose from.  Last year, a few of us ran the Wassaga beach ½, but unfortunately, this year, the race was cancelled – (bummer, that was a good race!) so we came to a consensus and decided to pound the pavement up at the nation’s capital – Ottawa, Ontario playing host to the ever popular Army Run; a ½ marathon (look here: The Army Run has grown in popularity exponentially.  Yet again, the event sold out.  Proceeds from the registration are distributed to a variety of charities, but critically, financial support for our troops, veterans, disabled, and the families of troops/veterans is provided.

The race route is technical.  There are just enough “ups and downs” that test a runner’s fitness level.  It is very scenic with a good variety of natural, historic and urban landmarks along the way.  Start corrals are provided, sadly however, they are not enforced!  Pace bunnies lace the running field with the fastest bunny helping runners cross the tape in 1:30, additionally, there are aid stations to help hydrate and energize runners along the route.  The course was well marked, and the course distance was very accurate.

We all met at one location. Loaded our rental, looked at the clock, and estimated our driving time.  The funny “voice” coming out of the vehicle’s GPS kept us entertained as we drove east through the rain.  Many of us run for a variety or reason, but I will admit, although I had goal in mind, upon reflection, this “destination” race reinforced the fact that running is more fun with a group of individuals, it’s more than just simple participation and competition.

The five hour trip out to Ottawa wasn’t too tedious.  We frequently shouted out “are we there yet?”, but between sharing running stories, playing interactive electronic games, and the odd gentle sarcastic remark, we found ourselves inside the Marriot’s lobby in no time.  After checking in, we proceeded to the race expo to grab our race kits, and to check out the various offerings peddled by numerous vendors.  The expo is well organized.  We had no trouble collecting our race kits, and in short order, perused through the various displays.

Each year, the race organizers offer a Saturday evening “Pasta Dinner” – unlike traditional pasta dinners, meals are served under huge military tents to trick the senses into believing that you’re eating out in a field of operations.   The meal is generous! Between the main course, and dessert, runners don’t leave hungry.  The pasta dinner is well worth the cost.  Heck, just to add to the experience John Stanton (yes, that John Stanton….) serves the meat balls! I was tempted to grab his autograph – just kidding. I can only imagine the berating my friends would lay on me, not to mention my team manager.

Our only concern Saturday evening was the weather. It had rained hard all day.  Rain was predicted for early Sunday morning, along with cool temps hovering around the +10*C mark, with strong gusty winds blowing at 39-40kph. What would the morning bring?

Sunday morning.

We each proceeded  with our pre-race routines, while enthusiastically downloading the weathernetworks local forecast.  I ate my typical bowl of oatmeal, and sipped my black coffee deliberating with the boys the following questions: “singlet or T-shirt”, “arm warmers or mitts”?  We were fortunate.  We were in for great racing/running weather. The rain had stopped, the cool temps were bearable, and the sun poked its head out over the horizon.  Our only nemesis would be the strong wind.

We reached the starting area, and between all the pushing and shoving, found our way to the appropriate starting corrals.  Like many popular events, the starting area was jammed packed with runners. One finds himself standing shoulder to shoulder with others. Not the best way to start a race, but unless you’re fortunate to be a front runner, this is the typical scenario that you’re faced with.  To complete the “Army” experience, the race is started through the discharging of field artillery – yes, race organizers call in Army to fire a real Howitzer! The bang it produces shocks the eardrums; if you found yourself drowsy from too much Saturday night revelry, rest assured (no pun intended), you were  W I D E awake after hearing that bang.  For fear of sounding too cliché – the rest is history.

All in my group were pleased with the sideline support.  It’s always nice to hear encouraging words directed towards “Team Running Free”.  In short, we all finished the race. Moral was high, no one was injured, and we had a great time.  Lasting memories made with friends – that’s a huge part of the Team Running Free experience.

Team Orangeville at the Ottawa Military start line. Good luck Will, Len, Ray, Andrew and Jarrid!


Avid outdoorsman. Live in small rural community with many opportunities to get outside! Running is my passion, but do frequently get out on my bike, and while up north at the cottage, get my share of swimming in. Look forward to a great 2012 season, and am looking for interested individuals to compete in Adventure racing.

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