Canada Day: Running at its best

Scenes from a Canada Day Morning

by Joe Du Vall, Director of Operations, Run Ottawa

Twenty-seven years after the inaugural “Scotiabank Canada Day Road Races” in Kanata, only the faces have changed over time.  Thankfully, the energy and enthusiasm displayed by young and not so young, never gets old.

It is a mixture of things that make this event different from the others we do.  Being our national holiday, everyone is in a festive mood and dress up for the occasion.  Many enhance the day’s wardrobe with a painted phizog [face for those not up on Joe’s lingo] or tattoo.  Families rule the day, spilling out of cars, ready to run their event or cheer on a son, daughter, parent or grand-parent. The colour red is everywhere.  It is awesome to see it all unfold as we approach the first race at 8:00 a.m.

Kids at the Canada Day Road Races

Photo: Ian Hunter

That’s right, amongst all the frivolity and enthusiasm, people are there to run and when that time comes, all we can do is sit back and watch it unfold.  The top runners head out deliberately and separate themselves from the throng, a lone posse bent on putting the miles behind them quickly and efficiently.  They sort themselves out and arrive back at the finish line to appreciative applause from the spectators, who now have a brief diversion as they await friends and family still getting through their event.  Soon, participants in both the 10k and 5K events stream in together, many renewing their annual ritual on Canada Day, others experiencing it for the first time.  The exertion from the race and the early morning heat shows on many faces but it is only temporary.  Soon, all have safely returned to the sanctity of the finish line, where a reward of food and drink awaits.

Yet the day is not done. The slow building murmur that started just after 8:30 a.m. with the 5K has now reached its zenith and is ready to explode—the kids are ready for their turn. At 9:45 a.m. a ribbon of toddlers and emotions are unleashed as the starter’s horn gives the signal.  Shrieks of joy, looks of bewilderment and sheer indifference, all against a backdrop of parents imploring their young to move now and do it quickly, create a scene not seen very often.

Finally, the last event of the day is the 1.5K fun run for children 5-12 years of age.  Secretly, the race crew awaits this event with much anticipation and interest.  Whereas the tot trot was cute and embracing, the 1.5k is where position and performance start to creep through in some of the participants. The first 100 of the 450 participants are all business. The speed at which these youngsters complete the distance is beyond respectable. To sum up the 1.5K it is a blend of raw athleticism and enthusiasm.  The children are sent off and then it is their individual will and ability to get from start to finish the best way they know how. It puts a smile on one’s face.

There was my Canada Day, spent with likeminded folks on our biggest day of the year.