Summer Olympics a game changer for 2016 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon elite roster

Addendum May 25 – Girmay Birhanu and Vincent Kipruto are no longer running.

April 27, 2016 – OTTAWA – Organizers of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold label 2016 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon expect a hotly contested race as the list of confirmed elite runners grows.

Organizers have seen an impact on the elite field in the lead-up to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Some well-known marathoners familiar to Ottawa fans, including Canadians Reid Coolsaet and Lanni Marchant have already qualified for the Games and are taking a pass on the marathon to pace their training. For others it is a last opportunity to qualify, and as many as seven runners from several countries are eyeing Ottawa as a flat, fast course to secure an Olympics berth. Despite these factors, organizers say event records could topple – even the marathon record on Canadian soil.

Ethiopians could dominate the course for the third year running, based on how the roster is shaping up. Last year’s winner in the men’s category – 29-year-old Girmay Birhanu – is returning to defend his title and shave time off his 2:08:14 finish. He’ll face hot competition from fellow countrymen Dino Sefir and Megersa Bacha, who boast personal best times of 2:04:50 and 2:07:14 respectively. But a win won’t be handed to the Ethiopians on a silver platter. They’ll need to keep a sharp eye on the Kenyans and particularly Vincent Kipruto, who comes to Ottawa with a 2:05:13 personal best under his belt.

Ethiopians also dominate the top 10 women. Aberu Mekuria, 32, will be at the start line hoping to defend her Ottawa title and improve on her last year’s 2:25:30 winning time. She could be joined by as many as five of her compatriots including Koren Jelela, the current Canadian-soil record holder. Leading the charge against the Ethiopians is Kenyan Isabella Ochichi, a 5,000 metre Olympic silver medalist. Canadians Rachel Hannah, Tarah Korir and Leslie Sexton are also on the start list and hope to achieve the Canadian Olympic standard of 2:29:50.

If it’s a good day, organizers believe the 2016 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon could continue to build on its reputation as Canada’s fastest course. Ottawa already boasts the best marathon time for men on Canadian soil and has had the fastest men’s marathon in Canada for the last two years. If the women can beat the 2:22:43, set by Koren Jelela in 2011, the winner would take home a new Hyundai Tuscon from Ottawa’s Pathway Hyundai and add to the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend’s already long and impressive list of records.

The 42nd Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon will take place Sunday, May 29. The race will be broadcast live on


“The Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon never fails to deliver some very memorable moments. This year we hope to send some happy athletes to the Summer Olympic Games and set new course and Canadian soil records.”

Manny Rodrigues, Elite Athlete Coordinator, Run Ottawa

“Run Ottawa is proud to have the IAAF Gold label designation for our marathon event. Together with our 10K Gold label race, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is one of only two cities in the world to achieve this standard. It is a testament to the hard work of our team, our partners and sponsors, not to mention the thousands of volunteers who make our event a success year after year.”

John Halvorsen, President and Race Director, Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

Background information:

Key facts and information:

  • Fastest overall time on Canadian soil:
    • Men: 2:06:54 – set by Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) in 2014 in Ottawa.
    • Women: 2:22:43 – co-held by Sharon Cherop (Kenya) in Toronto in 2010 and Koren Jelela (2011).
  • The qualifying period for the marathon event at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics opened January 1, 2015 and ends May 29, 2016. The qualifying times for Canadian men and women are 2:12:50 and 2:29:50 respectively.
  • The IAAF/IOC (International Olympic Committee) entry standards for the marathon are sub 2:45:00 for women and sub 2:19:00 for men. In addition, a top 10 finish at an IAAF Gold Label marathon is recognized as having achieved the IAAF/IOC standard.
  • Elite athletes will lead 5,500 registered runners in the 2016 Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon.

About the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

The 2015 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend welcomed more than 49,400 participants in six races, including the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, the Scotiabank Half-Marathon, the Ottawa 10K, the HTG Sports 5K, the 2K and Scotiabank Kids Marathon. The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is one of only two running events in the world to host two IAAF Gold Label races – the Ottawa 10K and the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. The 2016 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend will take place on May 28-29, 2016. Visit us

About Run Ottawa

Run Ottawa, the organization behind the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, is dedicated to promoting the sport of running and enhancing the health and well-being of our community by organizing distinctive world-class and local races, and managing an active, membership-based running club. Visit us


Annie Boucher
Media relations
Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend
@aboucherfuse |   @ottawamarathon