Run Ottawa member completes Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Challenge 7 times!

We are shining the spotlight on Run Ottawa member Mark Coates. He has participated in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Ottawa 59.2K Challenge (formerly the Lumberjack Challenge) for seven years! That’s a total of 414.4K!

When asked about his history with the Ottawa 59.2K Challenge, he had this to say:

“I’m mostly retired from the sport of ultrarunning, but when the Lumberjack was announced in 2017 I signed up right away. I had previously run in multiple events at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, and have long been eyeing events like the Disney Challenge, so I jumped at the chance to do something wild like this at home.

I had so much fun at the first event that I really put in the training for the second one. I had my best race in 2018, particularly because I figured out how to dial in my nutrition strategy. Then after the extra hot event in 2019, I realized that there couldn’t be very many of us who had run every edition of the event. So I made a spreadsheet to track all the participants. 

As a stunt, I ran the 2020 edition on my own property, running about 400 figure-eight loops of my yard, which, due to a GPS problem, was actually over 50km. The next year I did the Lumberjack Plus, because why not? Training was not great for me at that stage of the pandemic, so after running the shorter events I walked the 50km on the Sunday.

Returning to in person racing in 2022 was really special. I had missed the running race scene so much. That year, I saw and chatted with several of the other multiple Lumberjack challengers from previous events. Objectively I had a right lousy run in the marathon that year, but I didn’t care. It felt so good to be back.

After decently paced 2, 5, and 10 km races this year, I ran the marathon portion of the event in 2023 slowly. Although slow, I felt better than in any race since 2018. Apart from swallowing a bug at Km 31, it went off without a hitch. 

At this point, I am committed to maintaining my streak longer than anyone else. I guess I’m just stubborn or something. My spreadsheet says there are only three of us left who have run it every year since 2017 (hi Steven and Francois!). As long as I can walk or run, I’ll be doing the challenge.”