Team Awesome

What is Team Awesome?

Team Awesome is a group of enthusiastic runners (and social media fanatics) who are participating in the 2018 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (TORW) and want to share updates about their training and race weekend information, as well as support other runners along the way.

Here are the members for 2018.

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Amanda Belliveau | Marathon

Ottawa

Amanda Belliveau

Amanda is from Ottawa. She is married to a great guy and they have a 6-year-old rescue dog named Lucky. She loves coffee, craft beer and a good plate of nachos after a long run.

Amanda started running in 2011 as a way to get healthy. In 2014 she quit smoking and signed up for her first half-marathon. She is still smoke free and has completed several 5k and 10k races, seven half marathons, two trail races and one full marathon.

In 2016, Amanda got gutsy and decided it was time to train for and run her first and only marathon, or so she thought. She crossed the finish line at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in 2017 and within 48 hours knew she had unfinished business with that distance. Amanda is looking forward to sharing her redemption marathon training and race through #TeamAwesome2018 and hoping to inspire and challenge others to do things outside their comfort zone.

See you on the road!

Karl Bolduc | Marathon

Lévis

Karl Bolduc

Originally from Lévis, Karl Bolduc has always been passionate about physical activity. In 2012 he decided to tackle a new challenge and participate in his very first half-marathon.

Karl is energized by new challenges and by exceeding his limits. He has taken part in nearly 15 official sporting events of all sorts, including 10 half-marathons and one triathlon.

He has truly enjoyed all of his races, but the most memorable will always be his first marathon in Ottawa in 2015.

He is repeating the experience this year by participating in the same race! Follow him on social media to keep track of his preparations.

Celia Bond | 10K

Richmond ON

Celia Bond

As a wife and mother of two, Celia has had a love for running since her elementary cross-country days. After having her children, Celia turned back to running as a way to get back into shape and to connect with others in the running community.

Celia has since run the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend 5 times, running the 5k, 10K and half marathon distances, and will be participating for the sixth time in 2018 running the 10K race. When not pounding the pavement, you can find Celia discovering the trail systems within the Ottawa area, and camping in Algonquin Park with her family.

Celia is excited to be joining Team Awesome for 2018 and spreading her love of the sport within the running community.

Katrina Byrd | Half-Marathon

Ottawa

Katrina Byrd

Katrina has been inspired to run by her mother, Catherine, who sets out for a 4.5km run 5 days a week. Catherine completed the half-marathon at the Ottawa Race Weekend in 2007, which inspired Katrina to do the same. Katrina completed her first half-marathon in 2012 at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

At the time, Katrina wanted to prove to herself that she could complete a half-marathon, so she set out to walk the race with a friend. She completed the race in 3 hours and 15 minutes, while only running for photos and the last couple kilometers. Running was not something that was part of her daily routine, but after completing her first half, she thought running might be something of interest.

Since 2012, Katrina has completed 19 half-marathons and has a goal to complete 30 before she turns 30. Running has become a stress reliever for Katrina who finds herself running most days of the week. Over the past couple years, Katrina has also enjoyed the social aspects involved with running through Run Ottawa, Ottawa City Run Club, and the online run community.

Katrina is honoured to be selected as a member of this year’s Team Awesome.  She looks forward to sharing her running stories, and encouraging other runners leading up to the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

Roch Courcy | Half-marathon

Gatineau

Roch Courcy

Roch is back with Team Awesome for the fourth year in a row and is the team’s new Francophone co-captain. He is the father to a five-year-old girl who also likes to run, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and Instagram, partly because of his work. 😉

Roch has been running for four years and he likes to inspire others by sharing his experience as a runner. He completed his first half-marathon in 2016. In 2017, he decided to try the Voyageur Challenge. For 2018, he will be participating for the fifth time in Ottawa, but this time he is going to do the half-marathon with his brother, who is trying his first 21.1K!

Roch doesn’t think of himself as an athlete; he likes to run for the fun of it and as a form of tourism. Roch always says that Ottawa is where the race atmosphere is the most fun!

Julie Cousineau | Half-Marathon

Gatineau

Julie Cousineau

Forty-something, late motherhood, declining energy level, her mother’s breast cancer, desk-bound days as a civil servant: these five factors made Julie realize that it was time to get into shape. After a revelatory meeting with the group Hoplavie, Julie’s first goals were to get in 10,000 steps a day and understand the subtleties between diet and wellness. Results followed: 40 lbs lighter, a network of sports-minded friends and her first 5K with Run Ottawa in 2015.

Since then she keeps running longer, faster and farther. Julie is well-known in the Gatineau area and participates in 30 or more races each year. Radio-Canada will broadcast a documentary on her experience in 2018. As an ambassador, she wants to answer your practical questions and show that you can become an athlete later in life. Julie is married and has two young children.

David Dazé | Marathon

Ottawa

David Dazé

David is a husband and father of two daughters in university who will be running his 18th consecutive Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and 28th marathon overall at this year’s Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

“Ottawa has a beautiful marathon course”, he says, “and it’s a real treat to see so many friendly faces cheering you on in the homestretch to the finish line. It’s my favourite race.”

In addition to Ottawa, David has also run marathons in Toronto, Chicago, New York, and Boston. David, who just retired after 34 years of teaching elementary school in Ottawa, enjoys sharing his passion for running with others and is very happy to be back for another year with Team Awesome.

Tracy DeWolfe | Half-Marathon

Halifax

Tracy DeWolfe

Tracy started running 7 years ago to try to understand what her friends were talking about. She didn’t love it right away but it grew on her. As someone who didn’t understand why you would want to run more than 5K, she now gets it. She has since completed 3 marathons, 12 half marathons, and numerous 5 and 10Ks. She also co-instructed her first marathon Running Room clinic in Bedford, NS in 2017. She recently ended her running streak, stopping at 1,441 days of running in a row.

One of the best parts of running for Tracy is going on runcations with her friends. After running the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend the last three years, she’s excited to start planning her 2018 trip. This year, she’s going to take on the half-marathon route. She’s looking forward to sharing her training during the Nova Scotia winter with Team Awesome and the other participants of the weekend.

Henri Do | Marathon

Montreal

Henri Do

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Henri is a firm believer that anything is possible. He ran his first 5K back in 2014 and thought it was the hardest thing he had to do. He could barely run for more than a minute before he had to resign and walk. Nonetheless, Henri was driven and motivated to surpass himself. Six months later, he ran his first full marathon without stopping once!

The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is one of Henri’s favourite weekends of the year. It is the first big event of the year where many athletes from all around the world come out of winter hiding and start their season. This weekend has been on Henri’s annual to-do list for the last 3 years and will continue being so for the many years to come!

Angela Drystek | Marathon

Guelph

Angela Drystek

When Angela was in Grade 5, her cross-country running coach told her that she “didn’t have the knees to be a runner.” She promptly quit the team. Later, as an adult, she experimented with running to train for Roller Derby. After hanging up her quad skates, running began to fill her free time.

In fall of 2016, Angela got heat stroke and a DNF in her first half marathon attempt, at Canada Army Run. A year later, after much hard work, she has fully completed several half-marathons, and has fallen in love with running.

Now, she is ready for a bigger challenge. The Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon will be Angela’s first full marathon, and she couldn’t be more excited! Returning to Ottawa to redeem her first failed race will be all too sweet. Angela is so proud to be selected as part of Team Awesome, and sharing the training journey with her fellow runners!

Mireille Durand | 10K

Ottawa

Mireille Durand

Growing up, Mireille hated running, partly because she was so slow. However 4 years ago, after her 2nd child, she needed motivation to get into shape. To the astonishment of her family and friends, Mireille signed up for her first 5K race, and at the time couldn’t even run for a minute. She not only successfully completed a few 5K races that year, but the following year she ran 10K races, and the year after that completed two half-marathons. Last year, she even ventured into the world of triathlons.

She has come to realize that being slow or fast doesn’t matter. If you run – you are a runner! By sharing her accomplishments, Mireille has empowered others to take up running as well, including her 67-year-old father, who she accompanied during his first 10km race last fall. Running has changed her life, mentally and physically and has enabled her to meet truly amazing people.

Jeremy Dutton | 10K

Lisbon NY

Jeremy Dutton

Jeremy Dutton is 37 years old and 2018 will mark his 3rd year doing running activities. Jeremy started his running career with a simple 5k; he ended that year having run a 10k and tried two entry-level triathlons. In 2017, Jeremy aimed high and I completed four half-marathons along with several 5Ks and sprint length triathlons.

One of Jeremy’s favourite half-marathons was the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, which he completed in 2017. The most important thing he learned while doing running events is no one cares about how big or how slow you are out there running. All that matters is that you’re out there. Jeremy is a back of the pack runner so this year at Ottawa 10K, he plans to be at the back their cheering everyone on.

Tanya Frye | 10K

Ottawa

Tanya Frye

Tanya started running the summer of 2009 after joining a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room. She ran her first 3km race in August and then a 5K race at the Canada Army Run that September, and officially caught the running bug. One year later, she ran her first half-marathon during the Army Run in Ottawa. After a few more half-marathons, she tackled her first marathon during Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend in 2013. Since then, she has added three more full marathons!

When she hears the words, “I’m not a runner,” she is happy to have the chance to change someone’s mind. Everyone can be a runner!

Tanya is super excited to join Team Awesome. Her goal is to motivate people through the cold winter as she trains for the 10K race. Also look for her smiling face at the end of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon as she volunteers for the Extra Mile Crew!

Sylvain Gatti | Marathon

Québec City

Sylvain Gatti

Sylvain just moved to Québec City with his wife and daughter. They are originally from France and spent five years in the US. That’s where he started running in 2013. His last race had been a cross-country meet at school, and he hadn’t finished it.

When he saw runners in fitness rooms, something clicked. He started going out a few times: 1.9K, then 3.4K, 5K … He and his wife rapidly racked up longer and longer distances.

After running various marathons (Big Sur, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York) he decided to try road ultramarathons.

With Loup, his Husky, he trained for a year to run the New York 100 km, then took on the TGNY100 miles the next year.

Ottawa will be an opportunity for him to discover this beautiful city with his family and to run his first marathon in Canada.

Martin Jacques | Marathon

Joliette

Martin Jacques

Martin has been running regularly for six or seven years now, over longer and longer distances. In 2014-2015 he couldn’t run more than 5 km, yet he participated in his first half marathon in Ottawa in 2017 and went on to complete two more the same year. In 2018 he will push on to the mythical goal of a full marathon.

Linda Lambert | 10K

Gatineau

Linda Lambert

At 55, Linda Lambert is a young grandma to five little darlings! Barely a year ago, she was 90 lbs overweight and had just barely started to take short walks on her break at work.

She had always dreamed of being able to run someday! So step by step, short distances at a time, she made her first dream come true and started to run. In less than a year, she has finished (official) races over 5K, 10K, 15K and 21.1K distances!! Her dream is now a passion!!

Éveric Lauzière | Marathon

Verdun

Éveric Lauzière

Éveric used to be fairly sedentary, but when his first child was born in 2011 he used a long parental leave to get back into shape by running. This resulted in the discovery of a true passion for this sport and for the community that gravitates around the running universe, whether near or far.

In 2012, he ran his first half-marathon, followed by a first marathon… And a first ultra-marathon! This is how the sport has become a real way of life.

Éveric, who now has three children, has become a run commuter. This way he manages to get a lot of running in during the week without sacrificing any precious time with his family. He has always had a minimalist approach, and now he runs about half of his kilometres barefoot. He swears this is how he avoids serious injuries!

His challenge in the 2018 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon will be completing his first marathon barefoot. Make sure you follow the progress of this extraordinary runner.

Robert Lejeune | Marathon

Québec

Robert Lejeune

Robert started as a cyclist and moved on to the triathlon, which is where he discovered running. Two years ago, Robert abandoned triathlon to devote himself to his new favourite sport, running. On the road or on a trail, the important thing is to run!

In 2018, Robert will celebrate his tenth year as a runner. What better way to celebrate this milestone than to come back to one of his favourite races? After having the thrill of participating in the first Lumberjack Challenge in 2017, Robert will return to Ottawa for the seventh time in 2018 and the fifth time over the marathon distance.

Robert is honoured to have been chosen as a member of #TeamAwesome2018. He hopes to have a chance to introduce all of you to the best race in Canada!

Mei Ling | Half-Marathon

Toronto

Mei Ling

Growing up, Mei was not athletic and never dreamed she’d become a runner. A friend convinced Mei to run their first half-marathon together in Disney World in 2012. Her friend still jokes that she “created a running monster.” As of October 2017, Mei has completed 20 half-marathons and four marathons, including the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in 2016. Although the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon was her most challenging race, due to the extreme heat, it was also one of her best race experiences. Ottawa is an incredible place to run and the crowd support was amazing. She looks forward to running the half at #RunOttawa2018.

Mei lives in Toronto with her husband and their four pound Chihuahua Daisy, where she enjoys watching sunsets, and taking runfies (running selfies) and jumping pictures. Mei is excited to be part of #TeamAwesome2018 and looks forward to connecting with others online to share this experience.

Angela Maciocia | Marathon

Beaconsfield

Angela Maciocia

Angela and her husband are the parents of two wonderful boys with special needs and a standard poodle named Comet. She is an adult special education teacher. Professionally and personally she strongly advocates for proper care of those with Special Needs.

Angela’s first race was the Scotiabank Ottawa half-marathon in 2014. The atmosphere of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend was electric. She immediately caught the running bug! In 2015 she returned to Ottawa for the marathon and qualified for Boston – a dream of her’s.

In a stroke of bad luck in late 2015, running downhill in the rain with 2k left in a half-marathon Angela tore her plantar fascia. She was told she may never run again. Undeterred, she pursued all therapy options. One year later she resumed running.

In 2017, she set PBs in races from the Mile to the 10k. In 2018, the marathon is in her sights. And what better venue that the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend where it all started for her.

Angela lives by the principle that you can achieve anything if you believe in yourself. Find the right support. Strive to get the best out of yourself every single day. And you can achieve amazing things. Angela blogs to share her journey, life experiences, training, meals & health/wellness tips in hopes of connecting with others.

Hannah Manning | Voyageur Challenge

Ottawa

Hannah Manning

Hannah signed up for her first half-marathon in 2012 as a way to commit to making time for herself and her fitness. Fourteen half marathons later, including runs in Washington DC, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto, she is still going strong. Hannah finds running helps bring balance to her life and embraces getting outdoors, whether on her own or with others. The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is one of her favourite events.

Moving from BC to Ottawa almost 10 years ago, she enjoys all that the city has to offer and loves sharing her adventures through social media. Running, rowing on the Ottawa River, yoga and cycling are some of Hannah’s passions. She thinks being fit and feeling good about ourselves can be incorporated into the little things we do every day. Following Team Awesome is a great place to start!

Hannah is very excited to be a part of Team Awesome 2018! She hopes that she can help others to get inspired and participate in this year’s race weekend. Hannah will be participating in the Voyageur Challenge and invites others who want to challenge themselves at any level to follow along.

Jennifer McCrea | Half-Marathon

Toronto

Jennifer McCrea

Jennifer’s love of running started in elementary school with track and cross-country. She ran the 400m and 1500m, including her first 5K. She figured out early on that she prefers to run longer distances. Unfortunately, her running ended once she started high school.

In 2009, Jennifer joined a learn-to-run clinic at her local Running Room. She ran her first 5K as an adult. It was tough but she was proud of what she had accomplished. She continued and completed her first 10K in Mississauga the following year. She decided to take a break from running in 2011 to pursue her social work degree while working full-time. In 2014, she returned to running for stress management. She completed a few 5K and 10K races. In 2015, she wanted to commemorate her 40th birthday by challenging herself to run her first half-marathon. She trained from spring to fall and had a blast running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon.  Since then, she has completed six half-marathons. She will be challenging herself yet again by running her first full marathon on December 3, 2017 in Barbados.

She is very excited to be a part of Team Awesome. She looks forward to sharing her journey to her 7th half-marathon in Ottawa and connecting with fellow running from all over Ontario and Quebec.

Maxime Mc Gee | Half-Marathon

Québec City

Maxime Mc Gee

Maxime McGee discovered running in 2010. His sister had started to run during the summer and he told himself that he could do the same. That same year, he signed up for his first 10 km race. It became the first of many. Since then he has attacked distances from 5 km to marathons. In 2018, Maxime will participate for a second time in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. He may even set a new personal record.

Maxime is proud to be part of Team Awesome 2018. It’s another way for him to give back to the wide community of runners. For the past three years he has been a pace bunny. He wants to use his role as ambassador to encourage a large number of runners to participate in this wonderful race weekend in Ottawa.

André Mollema | Half-Marathon

Aylmer

André Mollema

André is passionate about life, and his life just isn’t worth living unless he runs nearly every day. Since he was a boy, sports and active living have always been an integral part of his lifestyle.

As a husband and father of three growing children, running and triathlons are now a family affair. It’s a tradition for the Mollema family to be at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend every May. In their opinion, there is no better place to have fun than Race Weekend.

During the lead-up to and weekend of the race, André will be delighted to give you valuable advice about health and prevention of injuries and other ailments in his role as a paramedic for the City of Ottawa.

Hufsa Mushtaq | 10K

Mississauga

Hufsa Mushtaq

Hufsa is an avid athlete who started her journey as a runner in October 2013 by participating in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and completing her first 5K. Since then, she has completed 62 races ranging from 5-15K in multiple cities across Canada and the US, including four half marathons and a triathlon in 2016.

In 2015, she decided to take her interest to the next level and became a coach at Running Room. She has since mentored multiple groups of students across a broad range of ages and athletic abilities. Her students recently completed the Scotiabank half marathon under her guidance. She also leads an ever-growing social user group called “The Clinic Crew” for aspiring runners, where she provides guidance and tips to first time runners and organizes informal running events.

Hufsa is proud to be a member of #TeamAwesome, this will be her 2nd time running the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

Alexandra Ouzas | Half-marathon

Ottawa

Alexandra Ouzas

Alexandra started running to pass time in the summer of 2012 and did her first race the same year (Canada Army Run half marathon). This sparked her love for running and she has since competed in many races of varying distance from 5k to marathons. Alexandra enjoys the challenge of running because although you’re racing with other people, you are only really racing yourself. Running is a sport where you get out of it exactly what you put in.

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend showcases all of the best things in Ottawa. As an Ottawa native, it will always have a special place in her heart. It is a beautiful course with outstanding crowd support.

Alexandra will be running the half marathon at Race Weekend with a goal of finally breaking 2 hours. She is very excited to have been selected as a member of Team Awesome and is eager to share her journey with you!

Soo Owens | Voyageur Challenge

Barrie

Soo Owens

Soo has been a runner for almost 20 years – kick-started in earnest with her very first half-marathon run in Ottawa, which continues to this day to be one of her best race memories.

Since then, with 8 marathons (including two times at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon) and over 60 shorter distance races completed, her enthusiasm for running has grown even more. Running continues to be her main stress reliever when balancing her family time and her career as a Canadian Armed Forces officer.

For 2018, armed with new goals, she returns to Ottawa for a 4th time to race in both the 10K and Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon as part of her road to the World Multisport Championships as an age group Team Canada duathlete in July. She is thrilled to be a part of Team Awesome in sharing with fellow athletes her passion for running in leading up to her favourite Canadian race!

Jarek Pachocki | Marathon

Hamilton

Jarek Pachocki

Jarek is a Catholic Priest, member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate international religious congregation. He is currently working in the inner-city parish in Hamilton, ON. He is passionate about ministry with the poor and marginalized, as well as with the youth.

Jarek started running a few years ago to exercise his highly energetic dog, black Labrador Retriever. At the age of 40, he ran his first marathon at Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon. Since then he has run a number of marathons, half-marathons and other races. Running has become a part of his lifestyle, since he sees it not only as a physical exercise, but also as a way to bring mental and spiritual balance into his life. Currently he’s pursuing his “bucket list” dream to reach the Six Stars of Abbott World Marathon Majors. So far he’s done Chicago (2016) and Berlin (2017).

He is looking forward to this journey with the amazing and inspiring #TeamAwesome2018 athletes. Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon will be his first race in our Canadian Capital. How exciting is this?!

Dan Pak | Voyageur Challenge

Stittsville

Dan Pak

Dan is originally from Thunder Bay, ON but his roots are now embedded in Stittsville, a suburb just West of Ottawa. Dan has been there since 2010 with his wife and two teenage daughters. Dan has always been active and ran track and cross country in high school. His first exposure to Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend was back in 2013 when he thought it would be a good idea for he and his wife to do the 5K and walk. In 2014, Dan ran the 5K and in 2015 he took a leap into a half-marathon. In 2017, for Canada’s 150th, he ran his first marathon and enjoyed the event. The journey was long and although his plan derailed, he still finished upright and smiling! 2017 has been a huge year of running both on and off the road as he’s discovered the many trails of the National Capital that really work the body.

Dan is proud to be a member of Team Awesome and looks forward to encouraging each and every person participating in #RunOttawa2018 to follow their running goals and bucket lists.

Emma Paulson | Marathon

Barrie

Emma Paulson

Emma took up running and cycling in 2015 as an easy way to stay active while travelling a lot for work. That summer she drove all over Northern Ontario with her bike in the car and discovered how many amazing sights there are in our country that you would miss if you weren’t on foot. She promptly signed up for her first half-marathon and hasn’t stopped since.

The Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon will be her 3rd marathon. Her goal is to run a marathon in every province/territory and the capital. So far, she has completed Ontario and British Columbia and is hoping to add at least one more to that in 2018.

When not running, Emma is an aspiring CPA who works in the construction industry. She also loves triathlons, horseback riding, yoga and skiing. Travel is her passion and she often tries to sneak in a race everywhere she goes. Her recommendation would definitely be a trail race in Hawaii!

Emma is honoured to be on Team Awesome for 2018 and can’t wait to share her journey with you on Instagram!

Chantal Provost | Half-Marathon

Repentigny

Chantal Provost

Lots of small steps really do add up! That is what has motivated Chantal since 2015, when she decided to let go of her sedentary lifestyle. It would have been easy to find plenty of excuses, but day after day she has shown steadfast determination to reach her goals. Two years later, despite a few health concerns early on, she is 100 lbs lighter both physically and psychologically, she has completed two half-marathons, and every day she proves that anything is possible when you put energy into it! If she can succeed, so can you! This is why she wanted to be part of Team Awesome, despite the fact that she has only been running for 16 months and isn’t all that fast! All you need is the will to get up: you can do great things at your own pace.

Kristi Raz | Marathon

Woodlawn

Kristi Raz

Kristi took up running at 42 years old and has never looked back.  Despite thinking she could never be a runner, she has now run 5k’s to marathons on the road, plus 50k’s, two 50 milers and a 100k race on trails.  Races have taken her to a number of places, including New York City, Vancouver, Toronto, Philadelphia, Prague and Salt Lake City.  Most of the time she can be found running the streets and trails of Ottawa, often doing her long runs on the trails of Gatineau Park.  She can also be found running with a map and compass in hand, competing in local orienteering meets.  Kristi has been a marathon pace bunny the last two years for the Ottawa Marathon and is hoping to take on this role again in 2018.

Ben Richard | Marathon

Pickering

Ben Richard

Stories tell of a young man who grew up in Northern Ontario and who was 12 feet tall, over 300 lbs, and extremely handsome.  Once this legendary man moved to the big city, and was introduced to fast food, everything seemed to change for Ben. The first few months of enjoying culinary simplicities saw Ben increase by 40 lbs. The pounds continued to pile on until the eventual breaking point in 2012 when Ben decided he couldn’t take it anymore, and started the Couch to 5K program.

In the following year, Ben ran and ran and ran and ran. The tranquility and freedom he gained from running kept him going. In the process, Ben shed over 130 lbs and ran his first marathon. What was supposed to be a couch to 5k program, turned into a couch to marathon quest!

In 2017, Ben was introduced to the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon by a very pretty Ottawa Team Awesome member. As a result he ran the half-marathon. The city was so beautiful, so full of energy, and the crowds so enthusiastic, that Ben knew he needed to come back to tackle the full marathon.

This race is truly one of the greatest races on the planet, and Ben is really looking forward to sharing his journey with other runners looking to run this one of a kind race!  Goooooo Team Awesome!

Leanne Richardson | Marathon

Orléans

Leanne Richardson

Leanne started running less than 10 years ago and very quickly appreciated the mental/emotional benefits to running. She completed her first marathon in 2013 and in 2016 tackled and finished her first multi-day stage race in the Grand Canyon. In 2017, she had a goal of completing her first 100km race and successfully completed three!! She has discovered she loves trails and distance running!

Leanne likely would give up road running if it wasn’t for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. “TORW allows you to take in all the beautiful parts of our great city”, says Leanne. “There is an energy that cannot be explained, but instead needs to be experienced”.

She believes if you set a goal, make a plan and work hard anything is possible! Leanne loves everything that Team Awesome represents. It’s about sharing our running experiences as we train for race weekend. Encouraging, supporting, and cheering one another on so we can all get to the finish line!

Joe Rios | Voyageur Challenge

Orleans

Joe Rios

Joe works at Export Development Canada (EDC) but in his spare time he is a fitness instructor and ultra-marathoner. Running for a cause is part of his DNA.

His fitness journey started in 2009 when he challenged himself to run a half-marathon for Team Diabetes followed by the 2010 Ottawa Marathon. The challenges continued and in 2015 he completed his goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents while raising $50,000 for a variety of charities.

Joe loves helping others find a way to do good while challenging themselves with their running goals. In 2016, he travelled to Nepal to run a marathon in the Himalayas and build a 5K water pipeline. In 2018, he is set to take a team to Guatemala to run a race in the volcano region and build solar panels for a housing community.

Joe is pumped to be part of Team Awesome! Running for a charity? Ask him for fundraising ideas.

Jodi Snowdon | Half-Marathon

Kingston

Jodi Snowdon

Jodi Snowdon is an avid runner based in Kingston, ON. This mom of two started running 6 years ago when she discovered Disney’s Princess Half-Marathon in Walt Disney World – she chased that tiara all the way to her first half-marathon finish line and has not looked back.

She has since run 16 half-marathons, two 30Ks and a full marathon, along with multiple shorter distance races and relays. She is currently training for the Dopey Challenge at Disney World where she will run the 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon on 4 consecutive days. Motivated by bling and destination travel, her running mantra is “She believed she could, so she did”. Jodi is looking forward to a spring race closer to home to keep her active and motivated during the winter months. This will be her first time running the Nation’s capital.

Sandi Swan | Voyageur Challenge

Kitchener

Sandi Swan

As an elementary student, Sandi was a competitive cross-country and track runner. She stopped running after high school and let life stresses get in the way.

After having her second child in 2009, Sandi had extra weight and no self-esteem. She posted on Facebook that she planned on using her treadmill daily. Her friend asked her to run a half-marathon with her. Having no idea how far that was, she agreed!

She ran her first half-marathon in 2012! She has now completed 7 half-marathons and 2 marathons!

Sandi runs for therapy and to stay healthy. Her running has motivated her 8-year-old son to run as well. Already, he has run eight 5Ks! To know she can motivate and inspire him and others is rewarding.

Sandi has recently received her diploma and certification in fitness and nutrition. She did this for her health after her 3rd round of kidney surgeries.

Never give up on yourself you’re worth the hard work!

Jordan Thoms | Lumberjack Challenge

Ottawa

Jordan Thoms

As a teacher Jordan’s dream is for everyone to find what makes them truly passionate; to be happy for life. As a personal trainer his dream is for everyone to find a physical activity they love to do; to be active for life. As a runner, it’s within these journeys that we continue to grow; to step outside the comfort zone of life!

The valuable life lessons of endurance, resilience, perseverance, teamwork, and community can all be learned on the run, one step at a time. Whether the distance is 5K, a half-marathon, or a multi-day adventure race, Jordan loves the lesson running teaches, that with hard work anything is possible!

Being part of #TeamAwesome2018 is going to be AWESOME! All of our goals are relative, but we all have one thing in common: to reach beyond our perceived limits. Jordan takes in much inspiration from others embarking on their own incredible journeys, and he hopes he can provide the same as he trains for his favourite event of the year: the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon!

Karen van Mil | Half-Marathon

Oshawa

Karen van Mil

Karen never thought she could run. Diagnosed with a heart condition as a child, she never participated in many sports or strenuous activities. So when her husband challenged her to a run Disney half-marathon, she thought she was destined to fail. It wasn’t until she started believing in herself that she found a strength like no other. Since her first half-marathon in 2014, Karen has completed several half and full marathons, including the Dopey Challenge.

Karen had open-heart surgery in September of 2016. She ran the Ottawa half-marathon 8 months and 1 day later. It was in Ottawa where she started to believe that anything is possible. She now wants to share this experience with others so they can see that limitations can sometimes come from within and that when you start believing in yourself, you can truly be awesome.

Patrick Woodbury | Marathon

Gatineau

Patrick Woodbury

Patrick Woodbury has been a press photographer for the daily Le Droit in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since 2000. This dad loves to run and play soccer with his two daughters.

Patrick started running in 2014 and since then has enjoyed setting challenges for himself. In 2018, he’ll be running his first marathon. He’s done several half-marathons and enjoys doing 5K with his seven-year-old daughter, while his wife runs 1 km races with their youngest.

On top of sports and photography, Patrick has a passion for Lego. He relaxes by building a Lego village in his basement.

Patrick is delighted to be part of Team Awesome 2018.