Three-time Paralympic medalist Jason Dunkerley finished the Race Weekend 10k in 35:26.7. Photo: Dan Plouffe
By Emily Panetta
Ottawa was bumping for the 38th-annual Race Weekend. As runners traveled to the Ottawa Convention Centre to pick up race kits and size up the competition, you could almost smell the anticipation – or perhaps that was sweaty race gear – in the air.
A record 42,205 people participated, some setting personal bests and others falling short of their goals. But most relished the beautiful weather, scenic route and friendly spirit of competition.
A mother’s motivation
Every runner has their own story, but there may not be many who enjoyed racing more than Nancy MacDonell. The 55-year-old Ottawa mother has come a long way, and not just because she recently ran the 42.195 km marathon.
MacDonell has only been running for three years and already holds an impressive running resume, which includes races in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Florida and just recently, the 2012 Boston Marathon.
Along with daughters Chelsea and Chloe, MacDonell started her running career in March 2009, when her sister challenged them to run in the Ottawa Race Weekend 5k race. The trio joined the Running Room’s Learn to Run clinic on Bank Street, and they haven’t looked back.
“What fun it was to train and run a race together crossing the finish line smiling,” MacDonell says. “And having that great feeling of accomplishment.”
After getting the running bug, they quickly doubled their distance to 10k, again using a Running Room clinic to make the jump. But the trio didn’t just train together. During races, they actually dressed in the exact same outfits.
“My whole purpose was to spot the girls in a crowd in case we lost contact with one another during our race,” MacDonell explains.
While Chloe says she runs to stay in shape and Chelsea runs for an excuse to travel, MacDonnell’s main motivation is her two girls.
“Doing all this together as a family makes me the happiest mom in the world,” she smiles.
What does MacDonell’s advise anyone interested in taking up running? Simple. “Don’t talk about. Do it!”
Practicing what she preaches, MacDonell is already looking forward to the Canada Army Run half marathon in September 2012.
Running with her daughters of course.
Record-breaking race result
Speeding away at the front of the marathon pack was Laban Moiben of Kenya. The 28-year-old won the event for the second straight year, and broke the race record of two hours, nine minutes and 12 seconds (19 seconds faster than the 2009 mark).
Ottawa’s Nick Best was the winner of the half-marathon in 1:11:05.5, while Kanata's Leah Larocque was the winner of the women's 5k in 17:36.5.
New category for blind runners
The Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend introduced a new category in its 10Km race for runners with visual impairments. While the event has always had a policy to accommodate all runners, this new category enables these athletes to see and understand their results in relation to other runners who have entered in the same category, organizers explained in a press release.
There was a hitch, however, as it was not possible to sort race results for this category on sportstats.ca as of press time. The winner of the category was not hard to pick out, however, as three-time Paralympic medalist Jason Dunkerley placed 42nd overall amongst able-bodied athletes in 35:26.7. Dunkerley’s Achilles Ottawa organization that matches parasport runners with guides helped push for the new category.
Runners with a cause
While Ottawa Race Weekend officially supports numerous charities including the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, some individuals used the event to fundraise for other initiatives. Two of the more unique fundraisers were the 46-member Run for Biodiversity group that supported farmers in Nepal, and six-year-old Luis-Eduardo Grijalva, who is determined to raise $20,000 for the Canadian Athletes Now Fund in advance of the London 2012 Olympics.
See MyCanFund.com and this story
for more on Grijalva, and visit http://usc-canada.org/run-for-biodiversity/ottawa/
for more on the Run for Biodiversity.