Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is the largest running event in Canada with some 40,000 participants taking part in six races over the course of two days.
Starting Thursday and continuing through Saturday, the expo to Canada’s largest running event opens to the public. An estimated 75,000 people will visit Ottawa’s Shaw Centre including many of the event’s 40,000 plus participants.
The expo is a small but significant part of the Ottawa Race Weekend experience. And what an experience it truly is. Races begin on Saturday afternoon with the 2K, 5K and IAAF Gold Label 10K and continue Sunday morning with the marathon (also an IAAF Gold Label event), kids marathon for CHEO and half-marathon.
The event offers something for everyone and in order to make the most of it, we’ve summarized a few ways to capitalize:
Make it a long weekend
Ottawa is our nation’s capital and offers no shortage of incredible cultural experiences, amazing restaurants and charming neighbourhoods. Why not stay a few extra days and soak up the atmosphere of a city that is truly at its best during race weekend.
Take your time
With 40,000 plus participants, do expect things to be busy at times. Traffic can be bad in and around the downtown so walk, bike or use public transport as often as possible. Allocate extra time to get to and from where you need to be. If you can, make restaurant reservations well in advance.
As Canada’s largest race expo with an abundance of sponsors, suppliers and industry exhibitors, picking up your race kit can be as nerve-racking as the race itself. Again, take your time, be patient and know what you’re in for. There are some 100 plus retailers present at the expo and many great deals to be had. Go early (Thursday or Friday) if you can when crowds are smaller and try to not to spend too much time on your feet.
Beat the heat
*This is particularly applicable this year: 2016* Ottawa can get hot at the end of May. As temperatures and humidity starts to rise, you’ll want to take extra precautions both before, during and after your race. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids in the days leading up to the event. Wear cool, light and loose fitting clothing. Apply sunscreen and consider a hat to cover your face. You may need to adjust your pace and effort for the conditions. Unfortunately that could mean lowering your expectations and time related goals. Hydrate during the race and use water or sponges to keep cool. Be smart and stay safe.
Be a super spectator as well as a participant
One of the best things about Ottawa Race Weekend is that it takes place over two days. The 10K and 5K are Saturday evening while the marathon and half run Sunday morning. This means you can go out and watch the races you’re not involved in. The crowds in Ottawa are some of the best around. Be a part of them and cheer on your fellow participants and experience the joy of racing in a different way.
Know your surroundings
If you’re not from the area (and many are not), it’s wise to familiarize yourself with important parts of the city especially as they pertain to the event. Know how to get to and from the expo (which is centrally located at the Shaw Centre), where the start and finish area is, where you’ll be staying as well as important landmarks.
Know the race course
The courses of all the races do an exceptional job of showcasing the city of Ottawa including many of it’s signature attractions, landmarks, parks and neighbourhoods. Courses are clearly marked, marshaled and have excellent aid and medical stations along the way. Although you’re in good hands, it doesn’t hurt to take a peek at the course map before you run so you have an idea of what you’re in for.
Hydration is essential
As mentioned before, staying well hydrated regardless of conditions is an important part of racing. Being sufficiently hydrated before, drinking during and rehydrating after a race is good practice and will make for a more enjoyable experience. Aim to take some fluid at every (or at least every other) aid station, choosing between water and an energy/electrolyte beverage. the latter is particularly important in longer races such as the half and marathon.
Have a post-race party plan
Once the race is finished, you’ve collected your hard-earned finisher’s medal and begun your recovery, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishment with family, friends and teammates. Have a plan as where to meet, at what time and also where you’re going. Make reservations in advance if you can. You worked hard to get to where you are now so be proud of what you’ve done and how far you’ve come.