Run Wellington West: Just Around the Corner

Just as Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and Half-Marathon runners start to warm up, they find themselves in Wellington West.

Around the 7K marker for the half-marathon and the 9K for the marathon, runners turn off Fairmont Avenue onto Wellington Street West. Here, the crowds fill up: families and kids, young and old, and almost all onlookers are armed with horns, thunder sticks, or cowbells. Below the sound of cheering and drums is the percussion of sneakers hitting the pavement.

“I think the runners really appreciate the energy through Hintonburg and Wellington Village up to Island Park Drive ” said Jeff Leiper, Ottawa city councillor for Kitchissippi Ward.

“You turn that corner, you run in the front of the church Saint François d’Assise, and in front of the community centre you’ve got Samba Ottawa,” he says. “Even as a spectator, I get a thrill out of it every year.”

When the area isn’t ushering runners through during the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend it’s a local favourite for shopping, walking, and eating. There are many unique businesses nestled between cafés and bakeries, specialty shops that sell refurbished furniture, knitting products, and vintage records. The restaurant scene includes many fine dining experiences with a mix of pubs and diners along the way.

Early morning runners who love to reward themselves with a coffee will find tons of options peppered along the main drag: a Bridgehead at Fairmount and one at Caroline Ave, Second Cup at Holland, and Bread By Us at Merton. And there are many more around the neighbourhood, including Morning Owl Coffeehouse and Parlour and Jamari Espresso House.

It’s also a pretty health-conscious neighbourhood, with vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafés like SimplyRaw Express, The Table, and Little Jo Berry’s Coffee & Eats. From April to October, the over-90 year-old Parkdale Market is filled with veggies, fruit, and flowers galore.

Lisa Georges, the Run Ottawa membership coordinator and the Kids Run Ottawa program coordinator, says it’s easy to consider Wellington West one of the most responsive neighbourhoods to race weekend.

“One of the beauties about the neighbourhood is the accessibility to the number of running routes within Ottawa,” says Georges. “We have such great access to the O-Train paths, to Scott Street, to the Experimental Farm and to Dow’s Lake. I think that’s one of the reasons that running is so popular here.”

The running community keeps up the pace into summer as well. It’s the site of Hintonburg 5K, a community race that brings out the whole neighbourhood every July. This will be the sixth year that Georges organizes the neighbourhood race sponsored by Cyclelogik.

“A considerable amount of people from the neighbourhood come out,” she says. “For the first couple of years, I would panic a little bit about volunteers. Do we have enough? Are they going to show up? But then I realized that when I show up on race day, I have a whole field of people ready.

The 5K also has a free 1K in the morning that’s sees over 400 people run it.

Leiper, who founded the Hintonburg 5K, still walks or runs it every year. He recommends fueling up on Fil’s Double Double breakfast at Fil’s Diner after any big run.

“Our community, Hintonburg, when I started this, was still experiencing a number of challenges… Residents were looking for reasons to feel good about and to celebrate their neighbourhood.”

As visitors to the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend will see, there’s a lot to celebrate.

Register for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon or Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon to get a feel for the neighbourhood and its supportive crowds.