Friday, May 30, 2008

The Ottawa Marathon

Ottawa has so many festivals and events that it's hard to keep track of them all. One event that I have never attended before this year is the Ottawa Marathon. I had been to other events during the Ottawa Race Weekend such as the 10K run, but not the Marathon.

This year, I was determined to see the Marathon, and see if I could take some interesting photographs. I downloaded the route for the marathon from the web, and planned out where I wanted to be located. With most of the downtown roads closed or blocked, I had to walk from one spot to the next, so I was quite limited in my choices (some of the working photographers had motorcycles to get around). I wanted to see the start of the marathon, and I knew that I could see the runners cross the bridge from Gatineau into Ottawa at Nepean's Point near the National Gallery. After that, I thought that I would have to go to the finish line, and wait for the end of the race, at least for the elite runners.

So, early Sunday morning, I arrived downtown in good time to get a spot close to the starting line. I arrived at 6:15 am -- with time to spare for the 6:55 start of the wheelchair marathon, and the 7:00 start for the main marathon. The number of people at the start line was impressive for such an early time on Sunday, but as it turns out, a fraction of the number out at 9:00am for the start of the Half Marathon. Many runners posed for photographs at the start line, and some for self-portraits.

The first to appear on Alexandria bridge were the three wheel-chair athletes, followed by a pack of elite runners, and other lead runners. They were followed by the main pack of runners, still bunched up from the start of the race, but beginning to stretch out.

I must say that I am very impressed with the number of people in the race. Just finishing a race like this is impressive. I can't imagine running for four hours straight, as literally thousands of people in the race were able to accomplish. The photograph below was at the 10km mark in the race, about 45 minutes after the start. This many people running 10k in 45 minutes is amazing, and I take my hat off to all of them.

I was really neat to see how many people were out to encourage the runners, and how much the runners appreciate the applause. I could see how some runners were literally pumped up by the audience at the side of the road. The audience ranged from photographers to people with megaphones, family members, and just regular onlookers who would applaud every runner who passed.

After the main pack of runners passed the 10K mark, I walked to the corner of Sussex and Wellington to see some of the faster runners pass, and then I went to look for the finish line. However, when I got to Confederation park where the start line is located, there were a massive number of people waiting for the start of the half marathon. Elgin Street was packed with runners, and the park was filled with friends and family. I took some more photographs of the crowd, but then decided that the finish line was too crowded to get a good view. Next year, I'll be better prepared for this end of the race.

It was a great experience to attend the Marathon. I'll mark this race on my calendar for another outing next year. For more photographs of the race, see

. . . Rob Williams