Hit by a bus: Cassandra Wilson’s journey to race weekend

Toronto-born Cassandra Wilson (pictured left) registered for the 2016 Scotiabank Ottawa Half Marathon—her first— in October. Then she got into an accident…with a bus.

The 31 year-old media analyst was standing in front of the Rideau Centre, when she suddenly found herself knocked off her feet by the scaffolding set-up for the construction of the light rail station. A bus had accidentally run over the curb and crashed into the scaffolding which, in turn, fell onto Wilson. She suffered a mild concussion, soft tissue damage in multiple parts of her body and a hip impingement. “I was a bit of a mess,” she admits, “I’ve never really had anything wrong with me before.”

Since then she’s been in a stringent physio program—three times a week in the beginning—which has enabled her to continue running and training for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend with the Slater Street Running Room half marathon clinic.

“I’m so lucky I wasn’t hurt more badly,” she said “Had I been standing forwards the damage would have been more severe.”

Wilson started running 3 years ago. “I’ve done a few MEC races, a colour run and Run for Women’s events. It all started when a friend of mine suggested we do a race every month, from May to December. She stopped in August, but I kept going”, she said “I’m really excited for my first half!”

What is your race goal? To finish it mostly upright. My being able to run the race was contingent on not pushing for a time goal.

Who or what motivates you? The people that I run with week in and week out are so inspiring; or at least good at keeping you honest. You miss two runs in a row and you never hear the end of it! I am also a distance junkie (that’s a thing right?!), I love hitting new distances and having formally terrifying distances become normal training runs.

Why do you run? Because I can. Years ago, I was taking an early morning cake decorating class and I would drive by all the people running down Bank Street and wished that I was that dedicated to running. Then one day it occurred to me I could be and I got some running shoes.

What was the hardest part of your journey to recovery? The hundreds and hundreds of ‘dead bugs’ I have done over the last six months. Overcoming the mental aspect and fear that I would never get back to where I was. I had only been running for a couple of years before the accident and I’d never really been injured before so I had no idea what recovery would be like or how much physio a person can actually do.

What have you learned along the way? My right hip now aches if I don’t run every couple of days so it looks like I have a lot of running in my future. I also learned that I was way more dedicated to running then I realized. I was out there doing my six minutes of walking to my one minute run as soon as I was cleared.

Any pre-race thoughts? I had a dream I showed up for the race without my watch. Mostly I just want to make sure I show up with a shoe for each foot…And pants. Can’t forget those.

Any recovery advice? Listen to your body, don’t push and celebrate the victories. I nearly threw a party when I could change my socks without pain.

Run Ottawa member, Cassandra Wilson will be one of 14,000 runners who will be lining up at the start line on May 29 for the Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon.