The Ottawa 10K is arguably a runner’s ideal night out. The early-evening start time means the city is cooling off instead of heating up, and you’ll finish with plenty of time for a more conventional night out. The IAAF Gold Label 10K gets underway on Saturday evening, May 25 at 6:30 p.m. and takes runners along the Rideau Canal, one of the capital’s most attractive routes.

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Ottawa 10K. Photo: Rémi Theriault studio

 A little history

The Ottawa 10K started in 1986 and since it doubles as the Canadian championship, it draws a large international elite field, which makes for an exciting race experience. John Halvorsen, who is now president and race director for RunOttawa/Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, set a course record of 28:12 in 1988, and it stood for more than 20 years until Deriba Merga of Ethiopia ran 27:24 in 2009. Gladys Cherono of Kenya holds the women’s course record, set at 30:55 in 2015. (Cherono won her third Berlin Marathon in 2018, and holds that course record also, at 2:18:35.)

Ottawa 10K finish line. Photo: Rémi Theriault studio

What makes this 10K so special?

This is an IAAF Gold Label race, which means excellent support and an overall fantastic race experience for runners. The 10K has a wave start and there are three water stations, all with tables on both sides of the route, misting stations and porta-potties. Women in particular will feel very comfortable racing in Ottawa, since as of 2006, women’s participation has overtaken that of men in all distances except the marathon.

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Ottawa 10K. Photo: Rémi Theriault studio

The course

The race starts on Elgin Street just below Laurier, following Queen Elizabeth Drive past the leafy streets of the Glebe to Dow’s Lake, a lovely spot in the early evening. The course then loops back over the Bronson St. bridge to head back towards downtown via Colonel By Drive. After crossing the canal again at the Pretoria Bridge, you’ll take two more right turns, and it’s on to the finish line in the Golden Triangle. The kayak and canoe rentals at Dow’s Lake open in May, so your cheer squad could even rent a boat and send good vibes from the water.

(UPDATE: On April 23 we learned that the Ottawa 10K will now start on Colonel By Drive, on the east side of the Rideau Canal, south of the Laurier Street bridge, due to road construction on Elgin Street.)

And now for the post-race celebration!

After sprinting across the finish line, the post-race celebration vibe is yours to enjoy, and the night is young. 10K runners can start replacing carbs right away with a free pint from Kichesippi, Race Weekend’s official beer sponsor, and spectators can enjoy a cool one at the Kichesippi Beer Garden throughout the weekend. (And remember, the winner of the Kichesippi Workplace Run-Off team challenge gets a VIP experience.)

Celebration spots you can walk to from the finish line

As for your post-race meal and celebration offerings, the choices are plentiful. Waller St. Brewing is a short walk from the finish line, and comes highly recommended. It opened in 2014 during the huge boom of microbreweries in Ottawa and has maintained its status as one of the city’s coolest spots.

Brothers Beer Bistro at 366 Dalhousie St. in the Byward Market does a late-night menu as well as dinner, beer and cocktails.

Play Food and Wine at 1 York Street in the Market offers a slightly more upscale casual-chic vibe, sharing plates, a great selection of wines by the glass, and vegan menu options. (Note, it closes at 10 p.m.)

El Camino, with two locations (81 Clarence St. in the Market and 380 Elgin Street between Gladstone and Frank) offers casual Mexican plus beer and cocktails. No reservations.

A few other spots to consider

The Whalesbone on Bank, which bills itself as Ottawa’s original oyster house, at Bank and Gladstone (reservations recommended–call 613-231-8569), plus two other locations at 231 Elgin Street between Cooper and Lisgar (which is much bigger–613-505-4300) and 1084 Wellington St. W. in Hintonburg (613-728-2848).

Sutherland Restaurant, Bar and Coffee House at 224 Beechwood Ave. on the edge of Rockcliffe, has a casual & cool atmosphere, a great beer selection, and changes up the menu seasonally.

Fauna (425 Bank St. between Gladstone Ave. and Florence St.) is family-friendly, offers great food from local farmers growers, and stays open later on weekends.