The 2024 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend marathon and half marathon course highlights

2024 is not only a year of celebration for the 50th anniversary of Ottawa’s prestigious marathon, it’s also a year for changes to both race courses: the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon and the Ottawa Half Marathon presented by Desjardins. These updated race courses are Ottawa-centric and shine a spotlight on parts of the city that make the national capital so unique. Surprise! The Tartan Ottawa International Marathon includes a pass by Parliament Hill this year!

Here are some quintessential Ottawa landmarks you won’t want to miss on both the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon and the Ottawa Half Marathon presented by Desjardins:

The National War Memorial 

Also known as “The Response”, the National War Memorial is a cenotaph symbolizing the sacrifice of all Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have served Canada in time of war in the cause of peace and freedom—past, present and future. The memorial is also the annual site of the national Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11.

The National War Memorial was first unveiled in 1939 to commemorate the response of Canadians in the First World War 1914-1918. Over the years, the memorial has come to symbolize the sacrifice of all Canadians who have served Canada in time of war and was rededicated to their honour. In 2000, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in the front of the memorial. The tomb contains the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier from a war cemetery near Vimy Ridge, France.

Marathon: km 1 & km 38.5

Half marathon: km 16.9

Dow’s Lake

This small artificial lake was created in 1826, when a dam was constructed along the north shore of the Rideau Canal (now  the Queen Elizabeth Driveway) to allow flooding. Before the construction of the canal, this area was known as Dow’s Great Swamp. A rail tunnel, formerly owned and operated by Canadian Pacific, passes under the lake, and is now used by Ottawa’s light-rail transit system.

Marathon: km 6

Half marathon: km 6

The Dominion Arboretum

The Dominion Arboretum is Canada’s oldest arboretum and is part of the Central Experimental Farm. With plants dating as far back as 1889, it covers about 26 hectares (64 acres) of land. Throughout the year, it can experience extremely hot and humid summers and extremely cold winters and displays a wide range of well-established trees and shrubs (1,700 different species and varieties) with the intention of evaluating their hardiness. The Arboretum is open from dawn to dusk and admission is free. 

Marathon: km 8

Half marathon: km 8

The Central Experimental Farm

Ottawa is one of North America’s largest agricultural cities. The Central Experimental Farm is an agricultural facility, working farm, and research centre of the Science and Technology Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The farm is 4 square kilometres, centrally located and a National Historic Site of Canada. Most of the buildings located on the farm are protected and preserved as heritage buildings.

The original intent of the Central Experimental Farm was to perform scientific research for improvement in agricultural methods and crops. While such research is still being conducted, the green space and park atmosphere of the farm has become an important place of recreation and education for the residents of Ottawa. It also plays host to Run Ottawa’s Saturday 5K and Kids 1K Series presented by Sports4 as well as Desjardins Run to Empower and the 5/15 Farm Run.

Marathon: km 9

Half marathon: km 9

Dominion Observatory

The Dominion Observatory is a Classified Federal Heritage Building. It was an astronomical observatory that housed the largest refracting telescope ever installed in Canada, and operated from 1902 to 1970. The observatory grew out of the Department of the Interior’s need for the precise coordinates and timekeeping that at that time could only come from an observatory. While the building and institution were primarily dedicated to astronomical timekeeping in support of surveying, a number of other activities took place here. It was also Canada’s leading institution in Geophysics for many decades, which included the operation of Canada’s national seismometer network. The observatory remained in operation until 1970 at which time Canada’s science institutions were reorganized. 

Marathon: km 11.4

Half marathon:  km 10.8

Kichi Zībī Mīkan

Formerly Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, and previously the Ottawa River Parkway, the Kichi Zībī Mīkan, meaning Great River Road in Algonquin, is a four-lane scenic parkway that follows the Ottawa River. This scenic route serves as a favourite commuter artery for west end residents who work in the downtown area or at the Tunney’s Pasture office complex. It follows along the shore of the Ottawa River, and is mostly cleared of trees, allowing a view of the River and north shore line. 

Marathon: km 15

Half marathon: km 14

Cultural Crossroads at Lebreton Flats

The intersection of Wellington and Booth Streets plays host to several places of note.

The Canadian War Museum serves as both an educational facility on the history of the Canadian military and a place of remembrance. It is situated south of the Ottawa River in LeBreton Flats and its collection contains over 500,000 pieces of material related to military history, including over 13,000 pieces of military art. The unique architectural design of the building is intended to showcase war’s impact on nature and nature’s ability to regrow and “regenerate” from war. The small series of windows near the top of the building spell out “lest we forget/n’oublions jamais” in Morse code.

The NCC collaborated with the local Anishinabe communities of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan to create Pindigen Park adjacent to Kichi Zībī Mīkan at the southeast corner of Wellington and Booth streets. This park strives to highlight Indigenous culture and heritage while promoting an appreciation and understanding of the Anishinaabe values. Its name translates to “Come on in! All are welcome here!” evoking the spirit of inclusivity and harmony among people.

Fleck Fountain Plaza, a symbol of the regeneration of LeBreton Flats, is located at the southwest intersection of Wellington and Booth streets. It features the Lilias W. Fleck Fountain which has been restored by the National Capital Commission after being unearthed in 2013. It now stands close to where it originally stood in 1892 and is the point of departure for the plaza’s outdoor exhibit, developed with the support of Canadian Heritage. The exhibit explores life at LeBreton Flats around the original time of the fountain’s use. The exhibit also includes historical photographs and concrete stamping showing the street names from a bygone era.

The National Holocaust Monument is located at the north-east corner of Wellington and Booth, and was inaugurated in September of 2017. It is entitled Landscape of Loss, Memory and Survival. It was built to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust, as well as the contributions Holocaust survivors have made to Canada, remain top of mind for generations to come.

The Canadian Firefighters Memorial is located at LeBreton Flats, at the site of the Great Ottawa Fire of 1900. It is a national monument to all firefighters in Canada and their contributions to the health, safety and prosperity of Canada. It pays tribute to all Canadian firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty since 1848. Each firefighter’s name is engraved over the province or territory that he or she died protecting. The monument is the site of the Canadian Firefighters Annual Memorial Ceremony.

Marathon: km 20

Half marathon: km 14.8

Wellington Street and the Parliamentary Precinct 

Wellington Street is a central part of Confederation Boulevard. It is where you will find the Parliamentary Precinct which includes many sites and symbols of national significance.

The Library and Archives Canada Building located at 395 Wellington Street is tasked with acquiring, preserving, and providing accessibility to the documentary heritage of Canada. The national archive and library is the fifth largest library in the world. It is the main physical location where the public may access the collection in person (by appointment only)  and was officially opened on June 20, 1967.

The Supreme Court of Canada at 301 Wellington Street is the highest court in the judicial system of Canada. Its Construction began in 1939 and the court began hearing cases in January 1946. In 2000, the building was named as one of the top 500 buildings produced in Canada during the last millennium by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

The Garden of the Provinces and Territories located at the corner of Wellington Street and Bay Street, officially opened in 1962. The garden commemorates the union of Canada’s provinces and territories. Its design includes a mixture of ornamental grasses and perennials, paying homage to the prairies, tundra, woodlands and Canadian horticultural pioneers.

The Bank of Canada Museum can be found at the corner of Bank Street and Wellington Street. It opened on July 1, 2017 and contains hands-on, interactive exhibits,  informative videos, multimedia stations and old-school exhibits featuring centuries’ worth of economic artifacts: from shells once used as money, to bank notes made from tree bark, together with their history and lore. 

Marathon: km 21

Half marathon: km 15.8

Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower

Parliament Hill is an area of Crown land on the southern bank of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, and is home to Canada’s federal government. It is also a place to meet, visit, and celebrate. Parliament’s very first session opened on November 6, 1867. 

At a height of 92.2 metres, the Peace Tower is the dominant feature on Parliament Hill. The Peace Tower clock was given to Canada by the United Kingdom in 1927 to mark the 60th anniversary of Canadian Confederation and the Diamond Jubilee. The Peace Tower carillon (the set of bells in the tower) is one of the oldest and finest carillons in North America. It was commissioned to commemorate the Armistice of 1918 and the sacrifice made by Canada in the First World War. It includes 53 bells and weighs 54 tonnes.

Marathon: km 21.8

Half marathon: 16.5

The Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously-operated canal system in North America. It was originally built in the early 1800s for military purposes. Today it mainly hosts recreational boaters, anglers, and tourists. In the winter time, the Ottawa section of the Rideau Canal is home to the world’s largest natural ice skating rink. The Rideau Canal is 202 kilometres long and links the Ottawa River with the Great Cataraqui River and Lake Ontario. The Rideau Canal was specifically designed for steam-powered vessels and is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the canal a World Heritage Site in 2007.

Marathon: km 1 & km 39

Half marathon: km 18

The 2024 Tartan Ottawa International Marathon course takes you past a few more iconic Ottawa places:

Remic Rapids 

Remic Rapids Park is situated on the shore of the Ottawa River, about four kilometres from Parliament Hill. It was once a popular trading and rest area for Indigenous peoples and early explorers in Canada, and is now renowned for its balanced rock sculptures and exceptional views of the river. It is also home to countless species of plants and animals, with ample wildlife habitats, breeding areas for frogs, and great foraging locations for birds.

Since 1986 artist John Felice Ceprano has been enhancing the park’s beauty with his balanced rock sculptures on the river’s edge. He uses found fossilized and colourful rocks to build his sculptures by hand. Providing an art experience that is complementary to the natural setting of the park.

Marathon: km 17

Rideau Falls Park and Green Island

Rideau Falls Park provides an impressive view of the waterfalls for which the park is named. The falls mark the location of where the Rideau River meets the Ottawa River. The park is the site of several monuments and memorials which include the Mackenzie-Papineau Monument, the Commonwealth Air Force Memorial, and the National Artillery Monument. Rideau Falls Park was developed after the Second World War, when the area was acquired by the federal government and cleared of industry powered by the falls. 

Marathon: km 24 & km 37

Rockcliffe Park and the Rockeries

The most recent addition to the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon course this year is a scenic tour of Rockcliffe Park and the Rockeries, along the Rockcliffe Driveway. The park once belonged to the master stonemason of the Rideau Canal and the builder of Rideau Hall, Thomas McKay. The 2.65-hectare Rockcliffe Rockeries opened as one of the Capital Region’s first recreational parks in the late 1800s.

Marathon: km 25

Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway and covered lookout

The covered lookout on the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway, formerly known as the Rockcliffe Parkway, is the perfect place to take in the views of the Ottawa River and its Gatineau shoreline, along with interpretive boards on the history of the area.

Marathon: km 27

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Located on a former military air base just five kilometres from the Official Residence of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum focuses on Canada’s contributions to aviation and aerospace technology. The museum’s collection consists of more than 130 aircraft and artifacts (propellers, engines) from both civil and military service. It is the most extensive aviation collection in Canada, and is also considered one of the finest aviation museums in the world. The museum contains the largest surviving pieces of the famous Avro Arrow (its nose section and two wing tips), the original Canadarm used on the Endeavour space shuttle and the Lancaster bomber from the Second World War.

Marathon: km 30

Two exciting race courses for 2024 that will provide participants with a special and uniquely Ottawa experience to celebrate 50 years of running in the nation’s capital!

The 50th anniversary of the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon is going to be Canada’s biggest running party of 2024! Register now for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, May 25-26!


Information above is subject to change.