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Kibor turns focus on Ottawa Marathon after ruling Kapsabet race

After winning the inaugural Kapsabet Half Marathon, Marion Kibor's next stop will be the Ottawa Marathon on May 26 in Canada.

Kibor, also the 2023 Paris Half Marathon silver medalist, said the Kapsabet race was part of her build-up ahead of the Ottawa Marathon, where she will seek her maiden win in the 42km distance.

“ I am trying to work on my endurance by racing in some of these events. Last year, I competed in the Amsterdam Marathon and finished eighth. I want to improve on that,” said Kibor.

Kibor won the Kapsabet Half Marathon in 71:34.56 ahead of Gladys Songol (73:29.31) and Joan Chepkosgei (74:03.39).

She said she won easily because she trains on the same course. “Since I train here, it was easy for me despite the hilly course posing challenges. I was prepared for this race and the victory did not come as a surprise,” She said.

She said such local races are good for the upcoming athletes to build careers. These are the kinds of races they are supposed to use to showcase their talents.

(04/01/2024) Views: 270 ⚡AMP
by Emmanuel Sabuni
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Things you didn’t know about the Ottawa International Marathon

The Ottawa Marathon turns 50 in 2024, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to be a part of Canada’s largest and most historic spring marathon, which will take place on May 26. Through the years, the marathon has seen everything from warm temperatures to course records and Olympic dreams, not to mention all the Boston qualifiers. But there’s a lot you might not know about Canada’s capital city marathon. 

1975: Only 3 women ran the first Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa has always been one of Canada’s premier running cities, and on May 25, 1975, a 42.2 km route was designed, starting and finishing at Carleton University. The race’s beginnings were modest, with only 146 runners finishing the inaugural marathon. Compared to recent registration numbers (30,000 plus), it’s next to nothing, but in 1975, it was already Canada’s biggest marathon.

The race was called the National Capital Marathon and was won “by accident” by Quebec middle-distance runner Mehdi Jaouhar, who entered the race with his roommate. Only three of the 146 finishers were women.

1976: The Ottawa Marathon champion had lunch with the Queen

This year was a special one for athletics in Canada, as the country hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics (still the only Summer Olympics our nation has hosted to date). The marathon quadrupled in size from the previous year, and the stakes and competition rose accordingly. The race was selected as the location for the 1976 Olympic Trials for the Canadian marathon team, attracting some of Canada’s top marathoners.

Toronto’s Wayne Yetman set a new course record of 2:16:32, earning a spot on the Canadian Olympic team for Montreal. Also included in his Olympic moment was lunch with Queen Elizabeth. Eleanor Thomas won the women’s marathon for the second year in a row, yet she didn’t take in any water or electrolytes on the course. Thomas was a smoker at the time, and famously said “quitting smoking was harder than running a marathon.”

1983: Man in Motion Rick Hansen raced the Ottawa Marathon

In preparation for his famous Man in Motion World Tour, Rick Hansen won the inaugural wheelchair division at the Ottawa Marathon in 1983. Previously, wheelchair athletes competed in the open field. Hansen was the pioneer of the wheelchair division in Canada after winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the 1980 Paralympic Games. He became the first Canadian Para athlete to win the wheelchair division at the 1982 Boston Marathon.

Between 1985 and 1987, Hansen wheeled more than 40,000 kilometers around the world through 34 countries to raise awareness about people with disabilities. The world tour started and ended on the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver.

1986: The marathon almost ended

After a major decline in numbers in 1984 and 1985, race organizers and the board of directors voted to cancel the event. The marathon faced new competition with the Montreal Marathon earlier in the spring, and Ottawa was having trouble attracting sponsors. However, after the cancellation announcement new sponsors emerged and organizers were able to move forward and add a 10K race.

The first Ottawa 10K attracted just fewer than 1,000 participants, but by 1988, that number doubled and continues to grow today as the premier event on Saturday of Ottawa Race Weekend.

4: Montreal’s Jean Lagarde won 4 straight marathons between 1993 and 1996

Lagarde had come to Ottawa to cheer on his friend in the marathon, but when he got there, the friend persuaded him to sign up. Lagarde thought, “Why not?” By eight kilometres, Lagarde was out front and on his own, and he held on to win his first of four straight Ottawa Marathons. Lagarde trained for the marathon by running 35 km every Sunday.

Lagarde’s best time in Ottawa was in 1994, when he ran 2:19:00. He also holds another impressive record, winning both the warmest and the coldest Ottawa Marathon to date (25 C and 1 C). Keep in mind that the date of the marathon at the time was the second week of May. He is still the only man to win four consecutive Ottawa Marathons.

Russian-Canadian runner Lioudmila Kortchaguina has also won the marathon four times, holding the record for the most women’s titles. She has raced the Ottawa Marathon more than 20 times, and she was the last Canadian woman to win (in 2007) until Kinsey Middleton won in 2022.

1995: The race weekend had an inline skating race

To boost registration numbers and add a Canadian twist to Ottawa Race Weekend, organizers held the inaugural inline skating 8K at the 1995 Ottawa Marathon. Hundreds of participants signed up with their skates, gloves and helmets to skate a timed portion of the course.

The inline 8K race didn’t last long; it was canceled the next year due to frosty conditions.

1998: Ottawa was the first Canadian marathon to have pace bunnies

Where did pace bunnies come from? Well, the Chicago Marathon was the first race to implement pace bunnies in North America. After Hilda Beauregard of Ottawa participated in the 1997 Chicago Marathon, she noticed that the race had provided pace bunnies in the mass field to help runners achieve their goal times. The runner brought the idea back to Ottawa, and the 1998 Ottawa Marathon became the first Canadian marathon to use pace bunnies.

Every year since, pace bunnies have been a regular component of the marathon, wearing caps with rabbit ears while holding marked signs with the projected finishing time, helping runners hit their goals.

1996: There was a blizzard during the marathon

Though temperatures are typically warm for the Ottawa Marathon, which is in late May, there was snow for the 1996 race. Four thousand runners experienced below-zero temperatures and 35 km/h winds, with snow squalls. The 1996 race still stands as the coldest marathon in the event’s history.

2010: Paralympian Rick Ball achieved a single-leg amputee marathon world record in Ottawa 

At the 2010 Ottawa Marathon, Rick Ball of Orillia, Ont., became the first single-leg amputee athlete to run a sub-three-hour marathon. Ball clocked 2:57:48 to break the world record. He held onto that record for seven years, until it was broken in 2017 by Lebanon’s Eitan Hermon at the 2017 Vienna Marathon, who finished in 2:56.53.

49 years of Ottawa Marathons

Ottawa’s Howard Cohen has completed his local race every year since the inaugural marathon in 1975. The retired physician has never missed a race, overcoming various challenges such as the 30 C heat threat that almost canceled the marathon in 2016, enduring a snowstorm in 1996, and even completing the 42.2K race with canes due to a torn hamstring injury.

Cohen has consistently found a way to make it to the start line and cross the finish. At 73, he has participated in the event virtually for the past four years, with his last in-person race dating back to 2019. Cohen was the first runner to register for the 2024 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon virtually, which will mark his remarkable 50th race.

(12/29/2023) Views: 354 ⚡AMP
by Marley Dickinson
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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96-year-old eyes world record at Ottawa Race Weekend

Last May, Réjeanne Fairhead laced her Keds and started walking.

Fifty-eight minutes and 52 seconds later, she crossed the 5k finish line at the Ottawa Race Weekend.

Despite entering her first-ever road race without any training, Fairhead set a new Canadian record in the event's 95-99 age category.

Now 96, Fairhead is targeting the world record for women in that age group. To do so, she'll have to shave about three minutes from last year's time.

"I'll do my best," she said. "If it doesn't rain, I have a better chance."

Rain or shine, Fairhead said the record isn't her top priority.

Her main goal is to raise money for Ottawa's Perley Health long-term care home, where she's volunteered for the last 27 years. Her second is to inspire other older adults to stay active.

"A lot of people, when they get older, they don't want to do anything," she said. "If you're able — not saying if you're sick, that's different — but if you're able to, do something."

Moves 'effortlessly'

Unlike last year, when she entered the race cold, Fairhead has been training with Ottawa-based physiotherapist Richelle Weeks since February.

Weeks said she's worked with seniors in the past, but Fairhead's fitness is "far above and beyond" most of her former clients.

"She moves around like she's in her 40s or 30s," Weeks said. "She just moves around very effortlessly."

Weeks said Fairhead grew up on a farm and has stayed active her whole life while raising six children. As a result, she's managed to stay spry into her 90s, Weeks added.

Fairhead's training regimen started light and gently ramped up in difficulty. She started by walking at her projected race pace — first two kilometres at a time, then building toward the full distance.

Weeks also prescribed some simple strength training exercises, such as sit-to-stands and weighted glute bridges.

To break the record, Fairhead will have to hold a pace of just over 11 minutes per kilometre — a speed Weeks said is "bordering on breaking into a trot."

"She's kind of speed walking," Weeks said. "Now, with formalized training, I think we could definitely take those three minutes off."

The Ottawa Race Weekend 5k kicks off at 4 p.m Saturday.

By about 4:55 p.m., Fairhead will know whether she's captured the record.

"I'm anxious for it to be over," she said. "There's been so much commotion."

(05/27/2023) Views: 522 ⚡AMP
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe to run Tartan Ottawa International Marathon

In his first year in office, Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe looks to become the city’s first sitting mayor to run the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon Sunday.

Sutcliffe will be one of 3,000 participants in this year’s marathon, running through Ottawa and Gatineau, finishing on the banks of the historic Rideau Canal. The marathon will be Sutcliffe’s 39th since 2004. The 54-year-old is a two-time Boston Marathon finisher and one of the founders of the Canadian running publication iRun Magazine in 2008. He also sits on the board of Ottawa Race Weekend.

This year, Sutcliffe has chosen to leverage his marathon to raise funds for Salus, a non-profit organization providing supportive housing in the Ottawa region. In February, the organization was devastated by a flood caused by a fire sprinkler that burst, flooding the building and forcing the 40 tenants who lived there, many of whom deal with serious mental health issues, to find alternative housing.

Sutcliffe set a fundraising goal of $20,000, and has already raised upwards of $12,000.

“I toured the Salus building earlier this year, and it was devastating to see the aftermath,” Sutcliffe told the Ottawa Citizen. “Affordable and supportive housing is a big priority for us this term of council, and Salus is a great organization that does amazing work.”

In the interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Sutcliffe said he’s run every single day as mayor of Ottawa, and generally logs 80 to 90 kilometers a week.

Sutcliffe is also the author of three books about running: Why I Run, Canada’s Magnificent Marathon, and Long Road to Boston. 

Long Road to Boston is about his journey to the 2015 Boston Marathon after trying to qualify for many years. He has run Boston twice, with a 3:42:37 in 2015 and 3:49:37 in the 2018 rainstorm. Sutcliffe has also completed marathons in Chicago, London and New York.

Sutcliffe is one of 30,000 runners who will be a part of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Festivities will kick off on Saturday afternoon with the 2K, 5K, and Canadian Championship 10K, followed by the half-marathon and Tartan Ottawa International Marathon on Sunday morning. 

 

(05/24/2023) Views: 634 ⚡AMP
by Marley Dickinson
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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European half-marathon record holder Melat Kejeta to take on Tartan Ottawa International Marathon

The fastest European half-marathoner in history, Germany’s Melat Kejeta, will take on former Canadian marathon record holder Malindi Elmore and other international elites at the 2023 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon on May 28. Kejeta won a silver medal for Germany at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Poland, setting a European half marathon record of 65:18.

Throughout her 12-year professional career, Kejeta has produced a few remarkable results. In 2019, she was sixth at the Berlin Marathon with a personal best time of 2:23:57. She followed up her debut marathon with another sixth-place finish against the world’s best at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 2023 Ottawa Marathon will be Kejeta’s first race since 2021. The 30-year-old runner, who also works as an officer in the German police force, gave birth to her first child in early 2022. “When I ran the Olympic marathon, I was pregnant, but I didn’t know that (at the time). It was not planned. So it was a bit of a surprise,” said Kejeta in an interview with Run Ottawa.

In Ottawa, Kejeta will renew a rivalry from her last marathon, facing off against a fellow mom, Elmore, the top Canadian finisher in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon, who finished three spots behind her for ninth.

Kejeta said the 2023 Ottawa Marathon will be special for her, as it will be her first marathon with her daughter in attendance. “I am looking forward to having her on the sidelines at the halfway point,” she said.

With under two weeks until race day, Kejeta and Elmore are just two of the extensive list of female elites at the 2023 Ottawa Marathon. The Ethiopian contingent of Adanech Anbesa, Waganesh Mekasha and Ayana Mulisa will provide Kejeta and the experienced Elmore with a challenge. All three women have personal bests of 2:24:30 or faster, with Mekasha finishing in the top five at the 2022 Chicago Marathon.

(05/18/2023) Views: 623 ⚡AMP
by Marley Dickinson
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Former Canadian record holder Malindi Elmore will run her first Tartan Ottawa International Marathon

Malindi Elmore will be making her first appearance in the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon leading a star-studded field as part of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on 27–28 May.

Elmore, 43, debuted in the Athens Olympics in 2004 and returned to the Olympics Games in 2021 in Tokyo. In between, Elmore has won Canadian Championships, competed in triathlon, and had two children.

In her 1500m career Elmore won a bronze at the Pan American Games and at the World University Games. She is also 4x Canadian Champion over 1500m.

But Elmore found her stride in the marathon after her debut in Houston in 2019. She proceeded to break the Canadian record in 2020, running her personal best of 2:24:50. In another outstanding run, Elmore was 9th in the 2021 Olympic Games Marathon, the second highest-ever placing for a Canadian woman. She is also the defending Canadian Marathon Champion.

Elmore is running the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon as a stepping stone to a hopeful return to the Olympic Games next year in Paris.

“I can’t wait to see what Canada’s capital has in store for me,” said Elmore. “My goals for the race are to run competitively and finish strong! The marathon is a race that requires a lot of respect so if I can achieve those two goals, I will run fast!”

“We cannot wait to host Malindi in the nation’s capital for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend,” said Dylan Wykes, Elite Athlete Coordinator. “Malindi is such a great role model in our sport as a mom, a coach, and world class marathon runner.”

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is Canada’s biggest race weekend and will run on May 27–28, 2023. You can learn more and register by visiting runottawa.ca.

(04/15/2023) Views: 597 ⚡AMP
by AIMS
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ethiopian Andualem Shiferaw breaks course record to win the Ottawa Marathon

On a sunny Sunday morning in the nation’s capital, Andualem Shiferaw of Ethiopia ran a new course record time of 2:06:03 to win the 2022 Ottawa Marathon. Shiferaw smashed the previous record held by Ethiopia’s Yemane Tsegay of 2:06:54.

Shiferaw, who had the fastest personal best heading into the race of 2:05:52, went out with the lead group of six runners. The group went through half in 1:03:53, which faired to be a bit slow for the 30-year-old Ethiopian. At the 25K mark, Shiferaw put on a surge and developed a bit of a gap on the field.

Once he hit the 30 km mark, race organizers knew they would be witnessing a course record performance from Shiferaw. Once he crossed the finish line, Shiferaw did not stop running– doing a victory lap and high-fiving patrons who were on hand to witness his performance. Abdi Ali Gelchu of Bahrain was the second runner to finish in 2:09:23, while Yuta Shimoda from Japan was third in 2:09:49.

Shiferaw earned himself $24,000 for winning the race and an additional $10,000 for breaking the course record. His win in Ottawa was his fifth win in his last seven marathons. Shiferaw sported the 2021 Nike pro kit for the marathon, despite being dropped for 2022.

Justin Kent of Vancouver was the first Canadian to finish in a new personal best time of 2:13:33. Kent shook almost four minutes off his previous best of 2:17:22 from the Marathon Project, which he ran in 2020. “I am over the moon about my performance,” Kent says. “I haven’t even come to terms with what I have accomplished yet.”

“Being the first Canadian was the big goal,” Kent says. “I owe my training partner (Ben Preisner) a few beverages for helping me out on the course.” Preisner paced Kent through 30K in an hour and 35 minutes.

“I got a taste of Ottawa Race Weekend in 2019 when I competed in the 10K championships,” Kent says. “I knew I had to return to experience the atmosphere for the marathon.”

Kent mentioned he will be taking a down week before ramping up again with his coach Richard Lee for a few summer and fall races.

(05/31/2022) Views: 944 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Canada’s Kinsey Middleton won the Ottawa Marathon, she is the first Canadian to win the race since Lioudmila Kortchaguina in 2007

It was the perfect race and the perfect day for Kinsey Middleton at the 2022 Ottawa Marathon. She became the first Canadian woman to win the race since Lioudmila Kortchaguina in 2007, in a personal best time of 2:30:08.

Middleton, 29, who lives and trains south of the border in Idaho, sat in sixth place at the halfway mark in 1:14:19 but stuck to her pace and moved up as a few runners dropped from the front pack. At 30K, she discovered she was leading the race when the lead vehicle pulled in front of her. Middleton’s pace slowed a bit over the final 5K but she managed to hold on for the win. 

This was a day beyond my wildest dreams,” Middleton says. “I was shooting for a top-five finish but to end up with a personal best and the win, I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Lee Wesselius, who was fifth in the Canadian 10K championships yesterday, paced Middleton for the entire race. It was a successful weekend for Middleton, who will now head back to Boise with a race purse of $29,000 for winning the race and being the first Canadian to cross the finish line.

Middleton grew up in the U.S. but her mother is from Canada and her father is American. Middleton is a dual citizen and chose to compete for Canada after graduating from Oregon State University.

Thirteen women from Kenya and Ethiopia, who were on the elite list, were not able to run the marathon due to visa issues required for entering Canada. The list of women includes 2:19 marathoner Tigist Girma and 2019 Paris Marathon champion Gelete Burka from Ethiopia.

Elissa Legault of Montreal was the second woman to finish in a huge personal best time of 2:33:26. Her previous best came at the 2o21 Berlin Marathon where she ran 2:38:13. Legault negative split the final half of the race in 1:16:19 after covering the first half in 1:17:07. Katja Goldring of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the third runner to finish in 2:33:57.

(05/30/2022) Views: 1,050 ⚡AMP
by Marley Dickinson
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is aiming to go ahead as planned this weekend following last Saturday’s devastating storm

The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend aiming to go ahead this weekend.

In an email to participants, organizers say they are working with the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau to ensure the race weekend can proceed May 28 and 29.

“As it stands right now, there will be no course changes, and the races will start at their originally scheduled times. Should things change, we will share information as soon as possible,” Race Director Ian Fraser said.

Fraser encouraged participants to donate to charity to help the community recover from the storm, which killed at least 10 people across Ontario and Quebec and caused widespread damage and lengthy power outages.

“If every participant donated $20 to a participant or charity in the Desjardins Charity Challenge, together we could raise an additional $500,000 for our communities. $20 is all it takes,” Fraser said.

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is Canada’s largest running and walking festival with six races, including the Ottawa Marathon. The annual event was virtual in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is back in person this year.

(05/25/2022) Views: 993 ⚡AMP
by Ted Raymond
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ethiopians will be vying for course records at 2022 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon

Ethiopia will again be favored to win when the Ottawa International Marathon returns to an in-person event on Sunday, May 29th.

Indeed, the Ethiopian women are expected to extend their 10-year winning streak as they vye to break the course record (CR) of 2:22:17, set in 2018 by returning champion Geleta Burka. Burka will be challenged by the 2019 defending champion, Tigist Girma, who has since run twice under 2:20

These blistering fast women will be challenged by countrywoman Bruktayit Eshetu who finished 2nd in the 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a personal best of 2:22:40 and Juliet Chekwel of Uganda, who recorded a national record of 2:23:13 in her marathon debut two years ago.

Returning to Ottawa will be Lanni Marchant who broke the 28-year-old national record in 2013 by running it in exactly 2:28:00. Marchant will be heading off against Dayna Pidhoreski, the 2019 Canadian marathon champion with a personal best of 2:29:03.

Unprecedented depth of field in the men’s event

On the men’s side, Ottawa’s new Elite Athlete Coordinator Dylan Wykes, a 2012 Canadian Olympian, has assembled an unprecedented depth of field on Canadian soil. No fewer than eight of the men lining up on the start line will be boasting personal bests under 2:08, with three of them having recently run 2:06 or faster. The course record, set by fellow Ethiopian Yemane Tsegaye in 2014 is 2:06:54.

Wykes will be looking for return competitor Adugna Takele (2:05:57) and his fellow Ethiopian competitors Tsegaye Getachew Kebede (2:05:11) and Andualem Belay Shiferaw (2:05:52) to compete for that CR. The Ethiopians could see a fight from Kenyan Alex Kibet who recently won the Berlin Half Marathon with a personal best of 58:55, indicating his preparations are going well.

“It’s been an interesting challenge to build this start list with so little in-person competition over the past two years,” said Dylan Wykes, the Elite Athlete Coordinator. “Based on what we’ve seen recently with these athletes, and with how fast road races have been generally, I think we are quite likely to see some very fast times on May 29th. I can’t wait.”

The top Canadian in the men’s field is Tristan Woodfine, who was 10th in the 2018 Ottawa Marathon and will be seeking a top 10 finish.

(05/05/2022) Views: 876 ⚡AMP
by Paul Gains
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ethiopian Gelete Burka announces a return to Ottawa, she broke the Canadian All Comers record in 2018, and she will be aiming for a sub-2:20 marathon on May 29

Gelete Burka is smiling warmly as she moves about her house in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital city. She’s looking into her mobile phone during a WhatsApp video call in which she confirmed her return to the newly renamed Tamarack Ottawa International Marathon, Sunday, May 29th.

The World Athletic Gold-label event will be held in person again after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

On her previous visit in 2018, Gelete – Ethiopians prefer to use their first names – broke the Canadian All Comers’ record (the fastest time recorded on Canadian soil) with a stunning 2 hours 22 minutes 17 seconds despite conditions that weren’t exactly agreeable.

“Of course that time everything was hard,” she remembers still smiling. “The weather! I had been training here in Ethiopia and it was so very hot and also the (strong) wind and I also had stomach cramps. Anyway, God is good and, for me that day, helped me for that victory. I was so very happy.”

The margin of victory despite stomach cramps, the wind and the cooler temperatures (it was a cool 13 degrees Celsius at 7am that day) was roughly four minutes such was the effort she expended.

“Ottawa is a good memory for me,” she continues. “When I was training I had a bit of a leg problem with an injury to my calf and I came to Ottawa with that injury. It was not easy. That was why I smiled when I came to the finish.”

Although she rarely leaves the hotel at a marathon – preferring to totally focus on the race at hand – after her Ottawa victory she attended an Ethiopian church with Ottawa friends to give thanks.

In Addis she is both an usher and a member of the forty-member choir at The Glorious Life Church. With two Sunday services, plus another on Tuesday nights, her devotion to the church is exemplary. No wonder she has little time, outside of training and travelling, for herself. When she does have free time she might have tea or coffee with friends.

As she speaks, Gelete shifts position for better light and the contents of her cabinet come into focus.

There is her 1500m gold medal from the 2008 World Indoor Championships, the 2006 World Cross Country gold and the 10,000m silver medal she earned at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Without a second thought she suddenly beckons two children to join her in the picture. They are her young niece and nephew, Deborah and Muse, and she asks them to say hello into her phone.

Family is ever so important. These are her youngest sister’s kids. The financial rewards of being a world class runner – she took CAD 30,000 (USD 24,120) prize money from Ottawa for instance – over two decades has allowed her to take care of both immediate family who live with her, while also contributing to the welfare of children in her home village of Kofele in south central Ethiopia.

Gelete has represented Ethiopia in six successive world outdoor championships and three Olympics. In Rio six years ago, she finished 5th in the 10,000m earning her personal best of 30:26.66. Had it not been for a slight on the part of the Ethiopian federation a year later, she might never have turned to the marathon.

“In 2017 I was in Hengelo (Netherlands) at the Ethiopian trials for the world championships. I won the Ethiopian 10,000m trials (30:40.87), but they never took me to the world championships in London,” she explains, her smile having vanished now.

“After that I stopped track and that is the point when I went to the marathon. So, I trained for the Dubai Marathon where I ran 2:20:45.”

A year later she won the 2019 Paris Marathon in 2:22:47, then finished 3rd in Chicago, one of the ‘World Majors,’ in 2:20:55. The latter result illustrates the importance of pacemakers to marathoners.

“In Paris we had a very nice pacer and also in Chicago, you remember the world record was broken,” she remembers. “The pacemakers went with the Kenyan lady (Brigid Kosgei set the world record of 2:14:04) and after 2km I was all by myself for 40km. Maybe when someone is pushing me I will run under 2:19. I need a good pacemaker. Yes I hope it is arranged (in Ottawa). I want to go under 1:10 the first half.”

Gelete is coached by Getamesay Molla and belongs to a group of strong Ethiopian runners who train together on the dusty roads of Sendafa, Sululta and Entoto outside Addis. Traffic inside the capital makes training there near impossible. Preparations, she says, are going well for Ottawa.

“My training now is very nice,” she allows. “I am happy with my training and I have another two months to get in good shape.”

Racing regularly again following the coronavirus pandemic is a welcome relief for her. Now that she is 36 years old, an age that used to indicate the twilight years of an athletics career, she doesn’t know how much longer she will continue training and racing. The Paris Olympics are two years hence.

“I don’t know about that (Paris) I don’t have an idea about this,” she says carefully.“Even if I run a good time it is not easy with my federation (to win selection). You saw like Kenenisa (Bekele who was controversially left off the Ethiopian Olympic team) last time in Tokyo. I will see what my time is. Sometimes you have the time, but I don’t know why they do this.”

Politics notwithstanding Gelete has several more world-class performances in those legs. Reducing her personal best and getting under the 2 hours 20 minutes barrier remains a target. She would like for that to happen on the streets of Ottawa.

(04/01/2022) Views: 984 ⚡AMP
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ottawa's John Halvorsen directed his last Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon last Sunday, and was inducted into the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame

A week after his final stint as race director of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, Run Ottawa president John Halvorsen was inducted into the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame on Friday evening.

Halvorsen, along with a number of other prominent figures in the sporting life of the nation’s capital, became one of the more than 250 Hall of Fame inductees at a ceremony and dinner at Lansdowne Park’s Horticultural Building.

An Ottawa resident since his early teens, when his family moved there with the Norwegian Embassy, Halvorsen had a stellar running career, winning the Canadian university cross-country championships four times and the Canadian senior men’s title twice, competing at the World Cross Country Championships eight times, winning multiple Canadian 10K (road) championships and making it to the final of the 10,000m for Norway at both the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

The first time Halvorsen won the Ottawa 10K, in 1988 (he would go on to win three more times), he set a course record of 28:12, which stood for 21 years, until it was finally broken by Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga in 2009, lowering it to 27:24.

A graduate of the University of Ottawa in both mechanical engineering and its MBA program, Halvorsen worked in Ottawa’s high-tech sector for 18 years while raising a family with his wife Susan, and running the not-for-profit Run Ottawa for several years on a volunteer basis before it became a full-time gig in 2013.

Over his 20-year tenure as race director, Halvorsen has shepherded the growth of the Ottawa race weekend event from a relatively modest affair involving 10,000 athletes to the biggest running event in Canada, with 40,000 participants and not one, but two IAAF Gold Label designations (for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and the Ottawa 10K).

Halvorsen was in good company on Friday evening, with a number of fellow inductees being honoured in similar fashion, including Glashan Public School coach Rick Desclouds, wheelchair athlete Chantal Benoit, retired Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, and the 1968 and 1969 Ottawa Rough Riders.

(06/04/2019) Views: 1,992 ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Albert Korir was the surprise winner of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on Sunday

Korir and Ethiopia’s Aberu Kuma, who has a personal best of 2:05:50, were running side by side after dropping Ethiopia’s Tsedet Ayana, Kenya’s Martin Kosgey and Ethiopia’s Adugna Takele when Kuma came to a complete stop at the water station. Seizing the opportunity, the tall Kenyan took off and quickly opened up an insurmountable gap.

Kuma eventually finished second in 2:08:14 with Ayana completing the podium with 2:08:53.

“This is a great achievement. It is a dream,” said the winner. “Kuma is a strong guy, I didn’t know I would beat him. But at 40km I saw he somehow stopped so I made a move to go.

“It’s a dream. I was hoping to improve my personal best; I didn’t know that I could improve. The weather was good and the course is flat, good. The first half was hard (1:03:35) but when the pacemakers went out, the pace went down.”

This was the second victory this year for Korir. He was the Houston winner in January and now, understandably, he has huge ambitions.

“I have to improve my athletics career,” he offered, “at least win a World Major and have a better time, 2:04 or 2:03.”

If Kuma was disappointed, he masked it well. With a stellar career to date, he had been the favourite to win the race.

“At 35km I didn’t take any water and so I knew I must drink water at 40km,” he explained in English. “I take water – the guy’s gone. That’s my problem. “The weather really affected my running.”

The women’s race resulted in another Ethiopian victory – the 10th consecutive time – with the ever improving Tigist Girma dropping her compatriots Bethelhem Moges and Etaferahu Temesgen at 28km. She and one of the elite women’s pacemakers opened up a gap and many observers wondered if she had moved too early.

Girma was full of confidence and ran across the line in a personal best of 2:26:34, throwing her arms up in the air in joyful celebration. She earned herself CDN$30,000.

“I was extremely ready for this race,” Girma declared. “I tried my best. Because I was all alone, I couldn’t push because the weather was not good so that’s why the time is slow. I really had good preparation.

(05/27/2019) Views: 1,991 ⚡AMP
by IAAF
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Rachel Hannah and Reid Coolsaet are Canadian headliners for Ottawa Marathon this weekend

Last year’s Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon saw a new female Canadian All-Comers record set at 2:22:17 and the field for the 2019 event could rival that of 2018.

Shuko Gemeno, Abeba-Tekula Gebremeskel and Tigist Girma all have personal bests under 2:27:00 and all have recent wins under their belts. The three Ethiopian women could work together to being each other to new personal bests and challenge the Canadian All-Comers and course record.

The Canadian women’s contingent includes 2:32 marathoner Rachel Hannah, Dayna Pidhoresky and Anne-Marie Comeau. Hannah and Pidhoresky are no strangers to the distance, but Sunday will be Comeau’s debut. The 22-year-old winter Olympian has been dominant on the roads for several years and we’re excited to see what she can do over 42.2K.

In the men’s field, Abera Kuma of Ethiopia has run under 2:06 twice, most recently 2:05:50 at the 2018 Rotterdam Marathon. Joining Kuma is Adugna Takele who was third in Ottawa a year ago, and ran a huge personal best in February at 2:06:32. The fastest man in the field is Getu Feleke at 2:04:50. Kenyan Martin Kosgey is also racing with an incoming time of 2:06:41.

The dark horse in the field is 23-year-old Ayana Tsede who comes in with a recent win at the 2019 Seville Marathon and a new personal best of 2:06:36.

Reid Coolsaet leads the Canadian men on his 10 year anniversary since his debut marathon. “I’m going to try to run as fast as I can on the Ottawa course, which will hopefully give me a solid placing and some points to help with my world ranking.

I’m realistically aiming for a 2:13 on the weekend.” The world championships in Doha this fall are also on Coolsaet’s radar. “Worlds would actually be a great setup for the Olympics. If you finish well at worlds the points could qualify you for Tokyo. It will be very hot in Doha, which will be good training for Tokyo as well.”

Coolsaet is coming off his longest altitude stint yet. “Boulder was really great. I got good training in and I had great people to train with. My son liked it too–any time we did some technical mountain climbing he got really into it.”

(05/25/2019) Views: 2,158 ⚡AMP
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Tirfi Tsegaye was ranked amongst the world’s greatest marathoners is now returning from maternity leave to run the Ottawa Marathon

Three years ago, and prior to giving birth to a baby boy, Tirfi Tsegaye was ranked amongst the world’s greatest marathoners with some incredible performances. Now, after gradually returning to training, the Ethiopian Olympic runner makes her first start at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, May 26th since the arrival of young Tilember Miresa.

Tsegaye, 34, ran the world-leading time of 2:19:41 in January 2016 in Dubai – her personal best time – then three months later finished 2nd in the Boston Marathon. At the Rio Olympics, she missed the podium by 17 seconds finishing 4th in 2:24:47. It was quite a year, indeed.

As if these credentials aren’t impressive enough, consider she also won the both the Tokyo and Berlin Marathons in 2014 and finished 3rd in London. Few athletes have made the podium in one World Marathon Major let alone four.

“Training is going good,” Tsegaye says from her home in Addis Ababa. “But, I’m not like how I was before. It’s been a little different for me coming back but still training. I’ve missed it a lot. I’ve even missed the training more than the actual competitions. I’m pretty excited about the Ottawa marathon.”

Under coach Gemedu Dedefo she has slowly regained her form and counts such stalwarts as Shure Demise, a two-time Toronto winner, and Alia Mohammed, 2018 Ottawa 10k champion amongst her training partners.

During her maternity leave, she split with her husband and is combining motherhood and marathon training, which would cause concern but for the fact she is such a disciplined and highly experienced athlete.

“It’s tough but I manage,” she admits. “I have a nanny and she helps me out with the baby and other errands. When I come back from training I get exhausted, so, it’s really nice to have some help around the house.

“Pregnancy takes a lot from you and the time I had off was really therapeutic. I feel like I’ve recovered enough for now.”

Tirfi grew up in the town of Bekoji, 220 kilometres south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Bekoji was immortalized in a documentary “Town of Runners” as an unusually large number of Olympic champions have ‘graduated’ from the training of local coach Sentayehu Eshetu. These include Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba and Derartu Tulu.

“Growing up in Bekoji was an inspiration in itself,” she admits. “Tulu was a major inspiration for me since we were one of the same. My coach was Sentayehu Eshetu at the time when I was in Bekoji. I moved to Addis in 2008.”

“Yeah, Derartu, Haile (Gebrselassie), Kenenisa and others have inspired me to try and push myself and be my best. I fell in love with their work and dedication when I saw them on television.”

As her impressive curriculum vitae suggests, Tirfi places high expectations upon herself even for this comeback race. Although predicting marathon performances is a difficult proposition at the best of times, it is unlikely she, or coach Gemedu, would confirm her entry unless she was going to be ready. Still, there is that element of the unknown.

Her Italian manager, Gianni DeMadonna, has made her aware that the course record of 2:22:17 was set by her compatriot Gelete Burka last year but for the moment that is secondary to having a successful return.  Victory would bring her $30,000 CDN and the course record is worth an additional $10,000 CDN. That is also a significant factor.

“Ottawa is a big deal for me now because I need to get back to my winning form,” she stresses. “I have big expectations for Ottawa and I will try and do my level best.

“I figure it’s going to be a little hard for me to beat the record set by Gelete last year. But, I think if I try my best I believe that it is beatable. I’m not familiar with the course or the climate. And I have not yet talked with any other athletes about the Ottawa race. But, soon I hope.”

Should she cross the finish line first she would be the tenth consecutive Ethiopian woman to emerge triumphant in this IAAF Gold Label race. There are, without a doubt, plenty of resources then for her to approach when it comes time to seeking advice on how to run the Ottawa course.

(05/09/2019) Views: 2,145 ⚡AMP
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma just might be the most talented runner in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon this year

The 28-year-old has twice bettered 2:06 in his career, most recently when finishing second at the 2018 Rotterdam Marathon in a PB of 2:05:50. The other occasion was at the 2014 Berlin Marathon where Kuma finished third in 2:05:56 in the race in which Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto set a world record of 2:02:57, which has since been broken by Eliud Kipchoge.

In between those two races, Kuma has made his mark across the globe. Now he sets his sights on racing in the Canadian capital.

“I want to win and I want to run fast,” he said. “I hope the conditions will be kind to me. Yes, (the course record is a target) though it all depends on the conditions.”

Compatriot Yemane Tsegay set that record (2:06:54) in 2014.

Kuma’s performance in Rotterdam was all the more startling since he had run, and finished, Japan’s Lake Biwa Marathon (2:09:31) just 35 days earlier – hardly the ideal preparation for a world-class marathon.

“At Lake Biwa I did not feel well and had a bad day at the office,” he explains. “I felt like I ran at 95% without being able to give more than that. After finishing I still felt strong and very disappointed about the race. I needed to take revenge quickly and the gamble paid off.”

Kuma has a level of confidence matching his ability. Unlike many of today’s marathon runners, he took up road racing after a successful career on the track. Twice he represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Championships, finishing fifth in the 5000m in 2011 and fifth in the 10,000m in 2013. With 5000m and 10,000m personal bests of 13:00.15 and 26:52.85, he has basic speed matched by very few road racers.

“I had a short track career but always wanted to go to the road fairly quickly,” he says. “Track has helped me to be a stronger road runner, though.

“I like the endurance that belongs to road running and marathons. Running is fun to do and I enjoy it, but it is also my job. In marathon running the financial aspect is important.”

The lucrative prize money in road racing, coupled with the fact there is a limited number of track races with decent prize money, has seen many young East African athletes go straight to the roads. First place in Ottawa is worth CDN$30,000 with another CDN$10,000 on offer for a course record.

As Kuma says, running is his job. And, he is happy to share his experience with younger up-and-coming Ethiopian runners, many of whom are part of the training group under coach Tessema Abshero, who himself was a 2:08 marathon runner.

“I would advise others to run track but I also know that it is not easy to do that as the track races are scarce these days,” Kuma says.

Training is going well currently he says, despite a mediocre performance at the Mumbai Marathon in January when he finished seventh in 2:13:10.

“I am preparing really well and my last test (a half marathon in Spain where he ran 1:00:41) was good,” he says. “Now I am finalising the endurance part to bounce back strongly after a disappointing race in Mumbai. The conditions in Mumbai were very difficult (heat, air quality) and the course was tough. I was with the lead group for a long part of the way but suffered a lot in the last seven kilometres.

Kuma has a marathon personal best of 2:04:24. There are others of similar quality among Kuma’s training partners. Most significantly, all of this training is done at altitudes of at least 2600m. It’s hard work but with a group sharing the load and the drudgery it is normal. Down time is used to relax and recover and wait for the next workout.

(05/09/2019) Views: 2,041 ⚡AMP
by IAAF
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Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa Marathon

As one of two IAAF Gold Label marathon events in Canada, the race attracts Canada’s largest marathon field (7,000 participants) as well as a world-class contingent of elite athletes every year. Featuring the beautiful scenery of Canada’s capital, the top-notch organization of an IAAF event, the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and a fast course perfect both...

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Ethiopian Gelete Burka breaks course record at Ottawa Marathon

32-year-old Ethiopian’s Gelete Burka set a Canadian All Comers’ marathon record of 2:22:17 to win the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon by almost four minutes on Sunday May 27.  Her superb victory on an overcast breezy day was earned despite suffering stomach cramps in the final 12 kilometers which at one point provided incentive to her compatriot, Hiwot Gebrekidan to attempt a break. But the highly experienced Burka brushed off the pain to earn her first marathon victory. Though she finished 6th in Dubai in 2:20:45 earlier this year, winning this IAAF Gold Label road race on a less than flat course is certainly a far greater achievement. Along with the $40,000 (Canada) first place prize Burka will receive an additional $10,000 (Canada) for the new course record. (05/28/2018) Views: 1,631 ⚡AMP
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Alan Forster is one of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon’s youngest-ever

Before Ottawa’s Alan Forster was even 10 years-old, he was an experienced marathoner. In 1979, Forster completed the National Capital Marathon when he was just nine. Then, he completed the marathon again the following year. “At the time, people couldn’t believe it,” Foster recalls almost 40 years later. “It was a big deal and I got in the newspaper. People still ask me now, ‘Are you still running?’ I am. I hope to run a marathon in every decade of my life." (01/25/2018) Views: 1,678 ⚡AMP
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Ottawa Marathon Man Has Run Them All

Howard Cohen has completed the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, every year, dating back to 1975. The craziest personal moment of adversity he’s overcome in the 43 editions. In 1975, at the inaugural Ottawa Marathon, a small group of runners, including Howard Cohen, raided an ice cream bar vendor just off the race course. They had become so hypoglycemic that the urge for sugar became too strong to resist the fuel. “It was a hot day, needless to say,” he notes. (12/19/2017) Views: 1,694 ⚡AMP
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