Run Westboro, Neighbourhood Profile: Getting into the Swing of Things

“There’s a vibrancy to this neighbourhood,” says Scott Burton. “It really is uplifting. It’s never dull, never boring. It’s a great neighbourhood to live in and to run.”

For Burton, who has lived in Westboro since 1990, taking up running in 1999 was the key to fully experiencing his neighbourhood’s vibrancy. Since then he has run the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon five times, qualifying for Boston in 2004.

“I guess the thing that most appeals to me about running is changing scenery,” says Burton. “Westboro is great for that because it’s a very eclectic area, there’s always something different to look at.”

Westboro, which finds its center along the east-to-west-running Richmond Road, is filled with green spaces, wide sidewalks, and a wealth of specialty stores, cafés, and restaurants. There’s no shortage of diners and patios, each one ideal for winding down after a run, and healthy food options are many: including Natural Food Pantry, Raw Pulp + Grind, and Pure Kitchen.

Phil Marsh, regional manager of Running Room, moved to the area in 1999. He’s seen a big change in the last 10 years. The neighbourhood has more young couples, families, and retirees. Interest in outdoor sporting activities (as seen by the concentration of stores like Running Room, Bushtukah and MEC) runs high.

“Along the Ottawa River Path you can run the river, or walk or bike, and in the winter ski or snowshoe,” says Marsh. “There’s Westboro Beach, Remic Rapids, and it’s close to Gatineau and Aylmer, on the Quebec side.”

The Running Room’s marathon clinic currently runs three times a week, and there are probably about 30 or 40 runners training regularly out of the Westboro store.

Laurence Wright was the Westboro location’s first manager when it opened in 2012. Now the Bank Street manager, Wright has run the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon 24 times.

“Westboro is great,” says Wright. “During the marathon, the 10K marker is coming up, and that’s a nice little milestone. ‘You’re into it now,’ I tell myself.”

It’s one of those areas where a runner feels like the whole neighbourhood is out. Once the runners turn up Athlone Avenue off of Richmond Road, the route becomes a nice little downhill run to a water station.

Burton remembers well the feeling of cheers in his home neighbourhood.

“As you’re running along the marathon route you see a lot of the people that you see regularly as you’re going about your routines,” he says. “It’s a treat to see them. You see them briefly but the feeling lasts for kilometres afterwards.”

It’s a feeling that he hopes to relive again soon. After suffering a major stroke in the spring of 2016, Burton underwent surgery and months of rehabilitation, and has now been given the go ahead to experience his beloved Westboro neighbourhood his favourite way—on a long run.

“I finally have medical clearance to get back into running,” says Burton. “I won’t be at the Race Weekend this year, but I’m hoping to be there in 2020!”