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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Run Ottawa’s no-medal option at Canada Day Road Races benefits charities

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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

One of the rewards a successful amateur runner receives at the end of a five-kilometre road race, a marathon or any distance in between is a commemorative medal.

If you become a keen racer, you’ll collect a fist full of medals that can be hung on a wall, buried in a chest of drawers, recycled or cherished as if they were Olympic gold.

But what if you entered a road race and there was the option not to receive a medal at the end and to see the cost of that medal donated to a local charity?

No sense dreaming about that because it’s already in place for the Canada Day Road Races on Friday in Kanata. The one-, five- and 10-kilometre races will start and finish at the Earl of March Secondary School. The first race goes at 8 a.m.

Run Ottawa, the organizer of the Canada Day Road Races, has introduced the Green Bib option so runners can help their community and reduce their environmental footprint instead of receiving a finely-crafted medal. By registering for the Green Bib program runners will see $10 of their entrance fee directed to the Perley Health Foundation.

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Runners also are given the option to increase their donation to the foundation. Registration remains open on-line for the Canada Day Road Races and runners also can register on site on the day of the race – Friday, July 1.

The Green Bib program seems to be catching on with the running community. As of Thursday morning, Run Ottawa had registered 1,327 runners and about 30 per cent of that field have agreed to pass on a medal to benefit the Perley Health Foundation. That amounts to about a $4,000 gift to the foundation at this point.

“We started doing that for the (2022) Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend as an environmental, forward-looking plan,” said Ian Fraser, the Run Ottawa executive director and race director.

“Not everyone wants a medal. You either put them in a drawer or recycle them. We wanted to give people an option. Our goal is to give dollars to charity, the Perley Health Foundation. One of the reasons is they have increased their indigenous section.”

Fraser added the Canada Day Road Races will have an indigenous theme reflecting on reconciliation and what it means to Canadians.

During the Ottawa Race Weekend, runners were given the option of declining a medal or any mailed amenities in favour of having part of their registration fee shifted to the race program’s Charity Challenge.

Fraser said about 23 per cent of the Ottawa Race Weekend’s registered runners said no to a medal. There were more than 27,000 runners in the multi-race weekend program.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Fraser said about the number of Ottawa Race Weekend participants taking the no-medal option. “I’ve done so many races and they (medals) all go into a bucket. It’s an option.”

Fraser, who added that other road races have started to follow its no-medal lead, hopes to have 1,500 runners enter the three races on Canada Day. The record entry is 1,642 from 2017.

The Canada Day Road Races were co-founded by Joe DuVall and Dave Pedley in 1987. Previously, they organized Wednesday night races on residential streets in Kanata, but couldn’t convince the Ontario Track and Field Association (now Athletics Ontario) to become part of its provincial road race series.

When they created the Canada Day Road Races, which had a greater appeal, DuVall and Pedley achieved their goal of being on the Ontario series schedule, which lasted until the early 2000s.

From 2016-18, the Canada Day Road Races shifted to the Kanata Recreation Complex from the Earl of March Secondary School. But after three years, which included a torrential downpour of rain one year, the race didn’t have the same feeling being centred at the KRC and the course was considered difficult.

In 2019, the race returned to the Earl of March site and the men’s and women’s races produced dramatic finishes.

Ottawa’s Jean Marie Vianney-Uwajeneza edged two-time defending champion Yves Sikubwabo by two-tenths of a second in the men’s 10-kilometre race. Vianney-Uwajeneza’s winning time was 30 minutes, 48.8 seconds.

The women’s race was a carbon copy as Salome Nyirarukundo of Ottawa narrowly defeated Nishimwe Beatha by an identical two-tenths of a second. Nyirarukundo had a best time of 36:19.3.

The five-kilometre winners were Thomas Csisztu of Pembroke, 16:07.8, and Julie Basiliadis of Prescott, 19:52.6.

The Canada Day Road Races were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 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

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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