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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Ordinary people doing extraordinary things



To everybody who participated in Ottawa’s Race Weekend, this sign’s for you.

The marathon is my very favourite spectator sport. Actually, come to think of it, it’s the only spectator sport I really like. I think it’s partly because it’s undertaken by ordinary people instead of just professional athletes. And those ordinary people have worked so hard for so long and are so determined to do what they’ve set out to do, no matter how crazy it is or how much it hurts. I find it both humbling and moving to watch that river of indomitable human spirit flowing past me.

Another reason I love the marathon is because I don’t feel distanced from it, the way I do with other sports. I’m right there with the athletes. I can make eye contact and smile and say things to them. A lot of them smiled back at us, especially the ones who were running, as opposed to racing. There were a lot more smiles at the back of the pack than at the front.

I was exhausted after the marathon. All that clapping and cheering took a lot out of me.

These photos were all taken in the last 6km of the course, after the runners had already completed 36 or more km. I’ve got lots more on flickr.

















And last, but not least, the obligatory bleeding nipple shot:

The obligatory bleeding nipple shot

The obligatory bleeding nipple shot

16 comments to Ordinary people doing extraordinary things

  • ciaochow

    Based on your preferences, I think you’d like watching roller derby too. The ladies playing aren’t professionals, just regular people giving it their all on a Saturday night.

    Plus there’s action that running just can’t rival (google “derby leg whips”). AND if you don’t want to feel distanced from the game, you can sit trackside in the suicide seats.

    Next RVRG game is June 26th, check it out… if you dare!

  • ciaochow

    Bonus: the RVRG ladies give a big portion of their proceeds to a fellow non-profit (usually women-centred) organization like Cornerstone or The Well.

  • XUP

    There are a lot of great regular folk running these races, but the people in front of the race actually are professional athletes. They have corporate sponsorships and this is pretty much what they do for a living (The exception was this year’s winner who is probably the first one ever running as an independant. He left his sponsored team, but is hoping for bigger and better offers after his performance on Sunday)

  • As one of the back-of-the-packers of the half-marathon, I hope I smiled if I saw you! You have no idea how much the supporting people made my feet feel lighter. Truly, thank you!

  • grace

    I did not run EVER until I celebrated turning 54 (born in 1954). It was hard and lonely and crazy and I wept when people showed up to cheer me on. I’ll never forget my first 10K (to celebrate 55) when a tall and much younger male (an African athlete who was running just to encourage others) ran beside me at the hardest part of the course.

    He told me I ran beautifully (I’m 4’10 and slow). And clapped like a fool as I crossed the finish line. Extraordinary people doing ordinary things!!!!!

  • Nat

    You must have a few 100 metres from where I was standing. I saw a lot of those people too.

    Amazing to watch it rather than run it this. I felt privileged to be there… cheering them. And really, all the truly great stories are at the back of the pack.

  • I did my first 10k on Saturday, and what I totally did not expect was the outpouring of confidence from people watching. It was such a boost, and I finished on a total happy high. I just felt such genuine support, it was incredible. Nice to see in a world that can be so jaded.

  • Deb

    Grace’s story brought tears to my eyes…what a great contribution this young man made

  • MG

    Sunday was my second marathon, I ran in Toronto last fall. What surprised me was the crowds. There were people cheering along the whole route. The best parts were the people who put their sprinklers by the road so you could run through them and the kids the high fived you as you ran by.

  • I have such a respect for runners…especially regular people that tackle the marathon. I think it is wonderful you went just to cheer and encourage them. That’s inspiring too. What’s with the bleeding nipple?

  • Ciaochow, for a second there I thought you were suggesting I take up roller derby! They’d slaughter me. But as a spectator sport, sure, it sounds like fun. I’ll try to make it on the 26th. Where is it?

    XUP, I know most of the front runners are pros. But I go to see the thousands and thousands who aren’t. The further back they are, the more I like them.

    Finola, congratulations, and in case I didn’t have a chance to see you on Saturday, here, retroactively, is my heartfelt encouragement: GOOD WORK, THUMBS UP, YOU CAN DO IT!

    Grace, good for you and that’s a lovely story. I wonder how he knew to pick you?

    Nat, we walked from the traffic circle on Prince of Wales to about the 38/39km mark, and too pictures all along that stretch.

    Livefrom161 – congratulations to you too! I wish I’d gotten out for the 10k too. Next year.

    Deb, me too. Tears.

    MG, congratulations! I was so happy that that incredible wall of heat we had last week didn’t persist into the weekend. They might have had to cancel the race if it had. I remember a few years ago I watched the runners running through a sprinkler, and they all looked so happy.

    Laura, I love going to the marathon. You have to go next year, you’ll get hooked. As for the bleeding nipple (actually, there were many), it’s from friction of the shirt against the nipple. Women and more experience male runners rarely get it because the women wear sports bras and the more experienced men either tape their nipples or use vaseline.

  • grace

    I don’t know why he chose me Zoom. The other crazy thing that happened (other than me running a 10K to begin with) was that the woman who chatted with me for the half hour we waited at the start gate and gave me great encouragement promised that she’d be at the finish line to cheer me through. And she did. There were over 10,000 of us running and she found me. Another thing happened on the way across the city (Toronto) to my daughter’s house that day, but you’d think I was making it up 😉

  • You can’t leave me hanging like that grace! Spill.

  • ciaochow

    Great! Here are the details so far:

    Saturday June 26, 2010
    SIBLING RIVALRY: Riot Squad vs. Slaughter Daughters (both home teams)
    Sandy Hill Arena 60 Mann Ave (corner of Mann & Russell Ave)

    More details to come. Check out in a week’s time or so for info on where you can buy tickets.

  • grace

    Allie and I do not run at the same speed so I told her I’d find my way to her apartment if the paramedics hadn’t already transported me somewhere else. With over 10,000 runners and their entourage gathering at the finish line we felt we had no hope of meeting up. I may have been a little confused looking and was ‘adopted’ by a couple of young runners heading east to Union Station. Anyway, long story short; they took me to the subway, got me going in the right direction on the subway and chatted with me as we headed further and further north. And then we all said goodbye at the very same stop. Yup, Allie’s neighbours.

  • OMG, I love Grace’s stories. :)