Old Ottawa East Neighbourhood Runner: Jesse Blondin
For Boston qualifier Jesse Blondin, Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend isn’t just about running but about cheering on the sidelines.
It’s been a tradition for several years for the Old Ottawa East runner: she encourages the 10K runners on Saturday and runs the Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon on Sunday.
“I’ve participated in the Ottawa Race Weekend in some format every year since 2007,” she says. “It’s one of my favourite weekends of the year.”
Running became her physical activity of choice in 2006 after she graduated from the University of Ottawa. Rugby had been her sport throughout high school and post-secondary. She missed the challenge — and the cardio.
She completed 10 marathons in 11 years and has run the half-marathon in Ottawa more times than she can count. She reached her long-term goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2017 and will run it for the third time this April.
It helps that she regularly runs with the Run Ottawa-affiliated Ottawa Athletic Club Racing Team, which trains weekly through the winter in the domed athletic field at Louis-Riel. During the rest of the year, the women’s road race team trains around the city and often along the Rideau Canal, which she considers one of the best running routes in Ottawa.
Check out one of Blondin’s favourite 10K loops, which leaves and returns to Old Ottawa East along the Rideau River.
Besides a strict training schedule, Blondin regularly commutes with a 7.5-km run to work at Health Canada every morning. Every afternoon she runs home, which is near Main Street and Riverdale Avenue, and she’s stoked to take the Rideau Canal in each direction.
“I would say proximity to those paths was a major selling feature for us when we bought our house four years ago,” she says.
Much like her regular commute, the Ottawa 10K also follows the Rideau Canal. The proximity of the route to her house makes it easy to get her kids involved.
“For the last three years, our whole family has set up a freezie station along Colonel By Drive, near Clegg,” she says. “I think it’s around the 7K mark, just where people are getting tired.”
With about 300 opened freezie pops in their wagon, the Blondin kids sling sustenance from the edge of their neighbourhood to runners ready for a boost. It’s one of the best parts of the weekend, says their mother.
“My kids are quite talented at handing them out now that they’ve figured how to do it so people can pick them up while they’re running fast. Keep one foot on the curb, hold them out into the crowd, make eye contact with the runner.”
Blondin is once again signed up for the 2019 Scotiabank Ottawa Half Marathon and her seven-year-old daughter will probably run the Scotiabank Ottawa Kids Marathon again too.
“It’s really nice that it’s at the same time as the marathon and the half because the kids see adults of all different ages, shapes, and sizes participating in the sport,” she says. “I also think it gives them a sense of autonomy.”
With races of every distance and runners of every level, Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend reminds everyone that they can all be runners.
Want to get you family involved in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend? Here are some race distances to help every member become a runner: