No Ordinary Partnership: Behind the scenes at the Army Run

It’s no secret that over the past few years the Army Run has been the fastest growing race in Canada. But did you know that Run Ottawa has been there every step of the way?

This September, as more than 23,000 runners lined up for the 5K and half marathon events, Run Ottawa was behind the scenes, ensuring that all race logistics ran smoothly, from managing the start and finish lines to closing roads to organizing water stations.

It’s a role that Run Ottawa has been proud to play since the very beginning, going back to before the launch of the first Army Run in 2008.

As John Halvorsen, the President of Run Ottawa and Race Director of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, recounts, “The Armed Forces came to us to discuss operations early on, a couple of years before the first race. We thought the event was a great idea and worked closely with them to determine what they needed to put it on and make it a success.”

And what a success it’s been. “We originally hoped for 3000 participants that first year,” says Halvorsen. More than double that number registered. And the event has continued to grow each year.

Maj. Gus Garant, the new Army Run’s new Race Director as of 2014, says that having Run Ottawa on the team inspires confidence.

“I’m a runner and I have participated in Run Ottawa’s events, so I know how well run they are. Now, as Race Director, I have the same confidence that I had as a participant. When I have an idea, the Run Ottawa team is my sounding board. I know they’re going to give me something I can run with.”

John Halvorsen and Maj. Gerant in front of a map of the Army Run course

John Halvorsen of Run Ottawa and Race Director Maj. Garant in the Army Run Control Centre

For Maj. Garant and Halvorsen, working together as a team comes naturally, especially on such a special event. “It’s definitely one of the reasons we do it,” says Halvorsen of the evolution of the event into an opportunity for Canadians to show their appreciation to men and women in uniform.

For Maj. Garant, it’s also about showing appreciation to Canadians: “It makes you happy everyday. You’re putting on an event that is greatly appreciated both by men and women in uniform and by Canadians. It’s a chance to show our appreciation, and that we’re like normal Canadians, just in uniform.”

What’s clear is that combining Run Ottawa’s organizational expertise with the pageantry and presence of the Canadian Armed Forces has created a running atmosphere and experience that is unique on the Canadian running calendar—and that will continue to grow into one of Canada’s largest annual running events.