HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The Ottawa running community is springing back to life, heading for the start line and ready to apply its dedicated training to achieving new personal goals.
Harrison and Robert Tesselaar of Ottawa sprung into action last weekend by completing the 10-kilometre race during the Stewart McKelvey Fredericton (N.B.) Marathon with respective times of 52:46 (37th place) and 54:50 (47th).
Hyder Rifai of Orleans also got his adrenaline pumping as he tackled the Fredericton marathon and finished 52nd overall in 3:25:30. He was 16th in the men’s 40-49 age class. The three-day run festival had 883 participants.
The Winnipeg Marathon, which was originally scheduled for June, played out on Labour Day weekend as 3,000 runners, instead of the traditional 12,000, tested themselves on the marathon and half-marathon courses.
If you’re looking for a 42.195-kilometre challenge and a Boston Marathon qualifier this fall, try the Georgina, ON., Marathon, which will take marathoners and half-marathoners along the shores of Lake Simcoe (45 minutes north of Toronto).
All of that to say, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is back in action and has opened its registration for the May 28-29, 2022, running and walking festival. It is scheduled to be a live and in-person event for the first time in three years.
Local, national and international runners were robbed of competing in Canada’s largest running/walking event in the spring of 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual races were held, but it just doesn’t quite feel the same.
“We’re so excited to welcome participants back to the start line in Ottawa,” Run Ottawa executive director Ian Fraser said in a press release. “We’re opening registration with a limited number of spots given the ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic. We feel really positive about being able to play host to a live, in-person event in May, 2022.”
For now, race weekend organizers have put a cap on registration at 5,000 participants for all weekend events – marathon, half-marathon, 10-, five- and two-kilometre races, kids’ marathon and Lumberjack, Voyageur and Bytown challenges.
If public health measures improve over the next eight months, race weekend organizers hope to allow more participants in all or some of the distance races.
Runners and walkers can register at the race weekend’s website: http://www.runottawa.ca. The registration process started on Tuesday. Almost 50,000 people participated in 2015 and 30,000 were registered before it was postponed in 2020.
Race weekend organizers also expect to attract elite runners as they have posted their prize purse for the best marathoners. The top three male and female runners in the marathon will earn $30,000 (Cdn), $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.
There also will be a top-three prize money chart for the best Canadian male and female marathoners: $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000. The elite runners also can earn more money through time bonuses and breaking event and national records.
The 10-kilometre race will serve as the Canadian championship for men and women with prize money going to the top 10. The podium finishers will receive $6,000, $4,000 and $3,000 each.
The 2021 race weekend was replaced by virtual races and those participants raised a record-breaking $1,064,163.58 for local and national charities through the Charity Challenge.
In 2020, title sponsor Tamarack Homes was named the Sport Tourism Canada’s Canadian Sport Event Sponsorship Initiative of the Year award winner. Tamarack also will return as Ottawa Race Weekend’s sponsor for the next 10 years.
The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend also was selected the Event of the Year at the 2019 Canadian Tourism Awards.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.