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Ottawa woman to run 71K at Ottawa Race Weekend in memory of her father

Jessica Halsall will add distance to commemorate her father's 71st birthday

Ottawa runner and librarian Jessica Halsall, who took up running after her father died suddenly of a heart attack in late 2020, is tackling a big running project at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Halsall will race the Lumberjack Challenge in her father’s memory, but in addition to the challenge’s almost-60 kilometres, Halsall will add 11 more to make 71, since May 31 would have marked her dad’s 71st birthday. 

Ottawa 10K 2018 finish line. Photo: Rémi Theriault studio

The Lumberjack Challenge consists of the Ottawa 2K and 5K (both presented by ASICS Runkeeper), the Ottawa 10K (presented by Otto’s Ottawa) and the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon–four races over three days, covering 59.2K in total distance. Halsall will add on to achieve her desired total. Her fundraising efforts have all gone toward the Ottawa Heart Institute.

Photo: Instagram

Halsall ran her first-ever marathon October 2021, and was just under a minute short of her Boston qualifying time. She wrote on Instagram, “The fall colours were outstanding, the spectators were wildly enthusiastic and my support crew of my mom and husband were the best! Marathon training taught me so much about planning and reassessing goals, looking towards the long-term and finding inner strength, motivation and courage. I’m looking forward to the running off-season to build strength and spend more time on my yoga practice. This is my first, but definitely not my last marathon.”

In 2021, Halsall raised over $2,000 for the Ottawa Heart Institute, and she’s looking to raise money again this year. If you’re interested in donating, you can find all of the information here

Race weekend starts Saturday at 2 p.m. with the Kids Marathon.