5 reasons Ottawa is the perfect place for a destination race

Travelling to run a big time race isn’t anything new.

Whether it’s to tackle a big time race like the Boston Marathon or run in a beautiful locale like Honolulu, runners have been booking hotels and hopping on planes for years so they can experience something new as they cross the finish line.

You’d be forgiven if Ottawa wasn’t the first place you think of when you hear the phrase “destination race.”

We don’t have oceanfront beaches or mountains. And your chances of spotting a celebrity are minor (current Prime Minister notwithstanding, and he might actually run the race).

But this is our run and this is our city—a city with all the pieces you need for an incredible out-of-town running experience.

Here are 5 reasons why Ottawa is the perfect spot for your next runcation.

Big city race with a small town feel

There are only 5 marathon races in North America that hold the coveted IAAF Gold Label, an international mark of distinction with strict criteria for timing, elite athletes and race organisation.

Know which ones?

Boston, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Ottawa.

That means the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon is right up there with the heavy-hitters when it comes to overall race quality.

And if you’re looking for a qualifying time for one of those aforementioned races, Ottawa is a good place to do it.

In 2016, 15% of marathon finishers met their BQ time.

Canada’s most beautiful course

Let’s do a quick rundown of what you will run by on the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon course:

  • A host of national landmarks including the National Art Gallery, Museum of History, and the National War Museum.
  • A UNESCO World Heritage Centre (the Rideau Canal)
  • Two historic bridges that take you through two Canadian provinces
  • The mighty Ottawa River, with its thousands of years of indigenous heritage

And that’s just the start.

But seeing is believing when it comes to Ottawa.


A passionate community that amps up the atmosphere

If you’re a runner, you know how much crowd support matters when you’re deep into a race.

And the people of Ottawa are always there to help you smash through The Wall.

From the 5K to the marathon, you’ll find thousands of supporters cheering you on through every part of the course.

When you add in the Extra Mile Crew, a special team of on-route volunteers who help ferry runners to the finish line, you’ll see why the fans make this race extra special.

The culture of Canada’s capital

For years, Ottawa was labeled as a sleepy government town.

That’s over now.

Ottawa has a booming culinary scene with award winning restaurants, a growing collection of cool boutiques stocked with local goods, and a fiercely independent arts community that’s making a name for itself locally and nationally.

Best of all, it’s all easily accessible by foot, bus or bike.

If hanging out in nature is more your thing, Ottawa has a ton of green space right downtown for you to explore, and a national park just a 20-minute drive away.

An experience you’ll remember

If you haven’t booked your trip already, here are a few more unique ways that running Ottawa stands out.

Last year, we started the Lumberjack and Voyageur Challenges for runners who are looking for adventure and a true test of physical endurance.

The Lumberjack Challenge, named for Ottawa’s history as a logging town, is made up of a 2K, a 5K, and a 10K on Saturday, followed up by the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on Sunday morning. Voyageur Challengers, like the explorers the race is named form, will cover the longest distances with the 5K, the 10K on Saturday and the Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon on Sunday.

Those brave enough to complete the challenges will gingerly limp away with special oh-so-Canadian plaid technical shirts and one-of-a-kind medals that put other neckwear to shame.

Every challenge, no matter how big or small, deserves a reward, so give you muscles and mind a break with a trip to Spa Nordik, one of North America’s largest spas. Located in the Gatineau Hills, its saunas, pools, and incredible views,  are the perfect way to cap off your runcation.

So what are you waiting for?

Some people think vacationing and exercise are mutually exclusive. Not if you’re a runner. And with a runcation to Ottawa, you get a challenge, culture and one-of-a-kind scenery, all rolled into one.

Come see what our city is all about. Register now for the 2018 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.