Ottawa Race Weekend is almost upon us and that inevitably leads to the question “Am I ready?” Probably not, so it’s time to dust off your cross trainers and head out for a run.
If you are like me, you have an imaginary bumper sticker on your car that says either “running is stupid” or “running is boring”. Well, here are 5 FREE year-round run clubs in Ottawa that are neither stupid nor boring. These run clubs operate in ALL Ottawa weather including snow, snow, and more snow.
All are welcome regardless of whether you are a first timer or you just won an Olympic gold medal.
Ottawa City Run Club
When: Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Where: Dundonald Park (516 Somerset Street West, corner of Somerset and Lyon)
Why: Ottawa City Run Club (OCRC) founder Kayla, who is also a spin instructor at Wheelhouse Cycle, wanted to create an evening run club in Centretown that brought out the best in Ottawa’s running community (and their pets). Usual runs are between 6k and 10k and incorporate the beautiful Rideau Canal pathway. Pace is usually between 4:15-7:00/km, but you can go at your own pace and you don’t have to do the whole circuit that is posted weekly on Instagram. Just make sure you return to Dundonald Park for some smiles and a group photo! The crew has been known to extend the social time to a bar or restaurant to discuss the latest gear, the weirdest races, and whatnot.
Interesting Factoid: OCRC are the pacers for Paces & Pints. From May 16 to September 23, OCRC has teamed up with Muskoka Brewery for 5 fun 5k run and beer events on Tuesdays at 6:30pm.
Inspirational Words: “We celebrate accomplishments, PB’s, and continuously motivate each other to be the best we can be. We share a passion for the pavement and we’re a group that cultivates that passion every single day.”
When: Saturdays at 8:00am
Where: Bridgehead Coffeehouse (282 Elgin Street)
Why: Somerset Runners (SR) founder Kathy felt that community started with a warm beverage and a run to kick off the weekend. Kathy, aka the “Running Naturopath”, is a Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in sports medicine, pain management and performance nutrition. Usual runs are between 6k and 10k and usually involve the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal pathways. You set your own pace, but it’s usually between 5-7 minutes/km. An effort is made to stick together and there is usually 2 designated pit stops to gather the troops together: nobody gets left behind! The run starts with coffee and ends with coffee so there’s no lack of caffeine to fuel these fun-loving runners.
Interesting Factoids: Though java is their base, SR have been known to drink non-caffeinated beverages and homemade muffins. A TRex is part of the SR crew. Summer involves the “gelato jog”.
Inspirational Words: “If you’re looking for motivation, training partners, opportunities to be social and to find like-minded people who love and appreciate all that running has to offer, this is the place for you. Celebrate your legs and come join us!”
SATURDAY! Join us for a #free5K and 1K at @agfoodmuseum. Test out your speed or endurance for #runottawa2017 or just come run for fun. Brings your friends, bring the kids! There will be prize draws post-race from @sports4ottawa.😄 #runottawa #kidsrunottawa #runottawa2017 #run613 #6run3 #runOTT #ottawarunning #ottawarunners #ottawamarathon
When: Sundays at 8:30am
Where: Dow’s Lake Pavilion (1001 Queen Elizabeth Drive)
Why: Run Ottawa is the monster of the running community. Their involvement in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is second to none. They believe in grassroots running and provide opportunities for first timers to try out life in the fast lane. Sunday runs vary based on pace and distance chosen. Though Run Ottawa is responsible for putting on the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, they also have meetups throughout the year for a small fee.
Interesting Factoid: Free Saturday 1k and 5k run sponsored by Sports4 takes place at Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum monthly (check website for details and registration).
Inspirational Words: “Run Ottawa is committed to providing Canada’s best running experience at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend and to growing the sport of running in the National Capital Region by organizing high-calibre events which provide opportunities for the community and all levels of runners to participate.”
MEC Run Crew
When: Thursdays at 6:30pm and Sundays at 8:30am
Where: Mountain Equipment Co-op (366 Richmond Road)
Why: Westboro represent! Since 1971, MEC has been an outdoor activities force across Canada. It’s only natural that they would incorporate a run club into their overall philosophy. Their runs are inclusive and split into different paces to ensure that everyone’s needs are met. Thursdays involve training for all runners. Sundays are a mixed bag of run activities, including intervals, hills, trails, runs, and joining up with other running events.
Interesting Factoids: MEC Run Crew take part in RunOttawa’s free 5k at the farm every month. Pumpkin pie plays a role in their running. MEC Run Crew has paced for Paces & Pints. You can always find Chris and the MEC Run Crew at the MEC Race Series events.
Inspirational Words: “Our mission is to enable runners of all ages and abilities to get outside and get running.”
When: Wednesdays at 6:00pm (Slater Street, Bank Street, Richmond Road) and 6:30pm (Merivale Road), and Sundays at 8:30am (all locations)
Where: 4 locations in Ottawa: 160 Slater Street, 901 Bank Street, 418 Richmond Road, and 1518 Merivale Road
Why: The Running Room is an icon in Ottawa’s active living landscape. Since founder John Stanton went looking for a decent pair of running shoes in 1984, you can always spot the Running Room tribes walking and running as a group with their pace leaders.
Interesting Factoids: In addition to the Wednesday and Sunday run sessions, as a member of the Running Room Club, you have access to customized training data online. Running Room has 110 locations across North America so you are never very far from your run club. Over 800,000 people have graduated from the Running Room’s various training programs.
Inspirational Words: “Running Room is dedicated to runners young and old, experienced or new to running. We have a variety of programs that meet the needs of all levels of experience.”