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Is this 8x5K looped course Canada’s most mind-numbing marathon?

Ottawa's Winterman Marathon is a soul-crushing out-and-back, and yet one runner managed it in under three hours

Winterman Marathon
Photo: Instagram/@swimbikerunkat_

Dubbed ‘Canada’s ultimate winter marathon,’ this past Sunday, Feb. 18, marathoners ran the 42.2K along the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway as part of Ottawa’s annual Winterman Marathon. 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of this event.

No ordinary course, the Winterman consists of a mind-numbing 5.274 kilometer out-and-back loop. That meant that marathon participants ran the route eight times to complete the distance, with bad footing, freezing conditions and a nasty hairpin turn. In 2016, the marathon and half-marathon distances were cancelled due to extreme cold.

Related: A Canadian race a week for all of 2018 

What may not stand as Canada’s most enjoyable course, sub-zero temperatures and the repetition of a 5.274-kilometer loop add to the challenge of the distance. 


This year’s marathon champion was Eric Deshaies from Gatineau, Que., who impressively finished the course in just under three hours. With an official time of 2:59:19, Deshaies won the Winterman Marathon more than 25 minutes, ahead of the second-place runner. He also scored Boston qualifying time by an impressive 25 minutes. 
Taking home first place for women was Viviane Marcotte-L’Heureaux of Montreal, Que. with a finishing time of 3:38:33.
The event includes marathon, marathon relay, half-marathon, 10K, 5K and 3K events and runs annually as part of Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival. 

For a better sense of the typical weather at Winterman, check out this video from a few years back at the finish line.