Putting all the pieces together for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

By Ian Fraser, Race Director

Great event execution is kind of like a symphony where a large number of parts have to fit together to create something far more special than any one individual piece. For certain, if you look closely enough, there are always little things that can and do go wrong. The magic is making sure that our participants never notice this stuff! What follows is a brief and incomplete outline of a very complex process.

Planning and preparation for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend begins when the last person crosses the finish line from the previous year. We start by looking at our various venues and begin work to secure the space we need or to perhaps explore other locations. At the same time we make a determination to maintain, or alter our event routes (more on that later) and decide if the event start times will be the same. Then we begin setting up our registration platform with our friends at Race Roster. Updates to our website follow and this phase of planning and prep culminates with the opening of registration which is usually in and around the 3rd week of September.

Once registration is up and running smoothly (is it ever smooth?) we can begin designing and ordering all of our medals, merchandise and other SWAG (in case you ever wondered what this acronym means; “Stuff We All Get”). The marketing team is doing double duty making sure all the designs, logos etc. are on point while at the same time rolling out our social media and traditional marketing strategies to support registration goals and targets. 

The operations team is busy doing a few things too. Initial consultations with all of our City partners and the National Capital Commission (NCC) begin. We work with Fire, Paramedics, Transit, Police, Public Works, Traffic and on and on…This is a gradual and slow process that culminates with a series of formal meetings in mid-winter called SEAT meetings (another acronym that stands for: “Special Events Advisory Team”) which hopefully ends in all our routes being accepted and permits approved after lots of pre-work and countless hours of consultation.

In the background we are working on all our structures and signage ensuring they are current with our partners logos and colours. Set-up and tear down schedules are set in place while volunteers are being organized with initial numbers slowly starting to fall in line. The volunteer Race Committee, which looks after high level key functions on event day, begins work with their team captains for each particular area including the Health and Fitness Expo, water stations, finish line, recovery, our mobile hospital and the medical team along with a whole host of less exciting but equally critical areas.

Most years there are route changes. Sometimes these are small, sometimes not, like the reconstruction of Elgin Street. New maps need to be created right after routes are formally approved and this actually happens fairly close to Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend since the final signoff on where each course goes doesn’t happen until late March.

As operations and logistics pieces fall into place the Desjardins Charity Challenge is well underway. Back in the fall we spent a lot of time getting each charity onboarded and ready so participants could begin their fundraising efforts. Along with all the other work the marketing team is doing they regularly highlight amazing stories from each of our charity partners in order to make the Desjardins Charity Challenge a success.

Like the layers of an onion, each of the parts described above peel away to reveal a whole subset of activities that need to be put into our planning timeline so that on May 28, when the first gun goes, everything works in perfect harmony, or at least that’s what we hope you experience. Our job is to take care of all the details so your special day looks like it just happened magically overnight!