Westboro Runner of the Month: Geoff Riggs

“Running kind of chose me,” says Geoff Riggs, who has run the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend 12 times.  “I have moved around quite a bit, so running was a sport that I could do at my own convenience, wherever I was.”

Moving to Ottawa for work in 1998, Riggs decided to settle in Westboro Village near the Westboro transit station, where he’s lived for 15 years now.“Westboro is absolutely fantastic for running. It’s one of the reasons I chose the neighbourhood,” says Riggs.

Although most of his running routes are on Scott Street, Island Park Drive, and Richmond Road, one of his favourite running backdrops is the Ottawa River. He recommends a 8.5K along the Ottawa River Parkway path to Lincoln Fields and back via Richmond Road.

Ottawa neighbourhood running route

“Like a lot of other people, I originally got into running as a way to keep from gaining weight through a quick, cheap fitness activity,” he says.

Riggs began running recreationally after university and soon found himself training more seriously. In 1996, he ran his first race, a 10K, in Calgary shortly after moving there for work. It snowed during the September race and, although he wasn’t used to racing or running that far, he finished well.

“I kind of thought, well this is something I could do.”

The next year, in Canmore, Alberta, he ran his first marathon—as something to cross off his bucket list.

“It was slow and I had to walk a lot,” he says. “The point is: I did it and I wasn’t last!”

It wasn’t until 1999, after he had moved to Ottawa, that he took up running more regularly. It began with smaller races alongside people who enjoyed running for the fun of it.

“I’m an individualistic person but I enjoy the social elements that come with running a race,” he says. “You can have your pick. You can go out on your own and be really serious, or you can have an easy run with a whole bunch of people and have some laughs.”

Throughout the winter, Riggs trains indoors. He has access to treadmills at home or at work, and in January he trains under the dome at École secondaire publique Louis Riel. His first marathon in Ottawa was in 2000, and he’s planning to run his 13th in the nation’s capital this May. He’s also run the Canada Army Run, tackling the Commander’s Challenge the last two years.

“It’s not quite Boston, Chicago, or New York but we’ve got good crowds, the bands are out, and there’s pretty good support for the whole course now,” he says.

Riggs has seen the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend evolve into a city-wide event that the Ottawa has truly embraced, thanks in large part to Run Ottawa, he says.

“It’s so inspiring to see someone rattle off a 28-minute 10K the day before you do your marathon,” he says. “It’s also nice to see people who don’t regularly run and compete go out and embrace the event. It’s a pretty big tent… this is for the whole community.”