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The IAAF Gold Label Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon course is 42.2km of scenic running. There’s so much history in the City of Ottawa and runners get to see a lot of it as they take on the challenge of the marathon.
Breaking up the marathon into chunks will help you mentally as you run 42.2km. Here’s a few spots to look forward to along the route. There’s everything from nice neighbourhoods to museums and government buildings to see.
War Memorial (0.3km)
Right off the start you’ll pass the National War Memorial on your left. Originally dedicated in 1939, it commemorates the Canadians who died in World War I. Later it was re-dedicated to include World War II and the Korean War. In 2000, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in front. The memorial is undergoing a month’s long restoration, and is closed to the public this year.
Pretoria Bridge (2.8km)
This bridge brings you back over the Rideau Canal for the trip south to Dow’s Lake. It gets its name from Pretoria Avenue which was named in 1902 as a way to commemorate the British victory in the Second Boer War and those Canadians that had served. You’ll cross this twice on the marathon route, the first time at 2.8km and then again with just 1.3km to go.
Dow’s Lake (6.8km)
Look to your left as you sweep around the edge of Dow’s Lake, a man-made lake that’s part of the Rideau Canal system. The big building next to the lake is Dow’s Lake Pavilion. Ottawa’s O-Train Trillium Line travels under the lake in a tunnel!
Wellington St. W. (9km)
This quaint village setting is lovely to run through with shops and restaurants lining the street here. Expect good spectator support here!
Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (16km)
This out and back section along the Ottawa River can be a little tough mentally, but there’s lots to look at with the river off to your right on the way out, and your left on the way back. This is a great opportunity to look across to the other side of the road for your running friends here going out as you come back (or vice versa). Give them a cheer!
Canadian War Museum (19.5km)
Look to your left as you pass this spectacular museum dedicated to Canada’s military history. Built in 2005, it’s drawn praise for it’s sustainable design including a green roof and architectural features that are meant to evoke a bunker. If you’re staying in Ottawa for a few days after the Race Weekend, put a visit to the Canadian War Museum on your must-see list.
Chaudière Bridge (20.5km)
Across the bridge into Quebec we go. The Ottawa Marathon is unique in that it takes place in two Canadian provinces! Make sure to look left over the bridge for a view of the Chaudière (Cauldron) Falls. It’s quite the sight! Over the next few years, this area will be transformed into Zibi, a world-class sustainable community and redevelopment project.
Tour Eiffel Bridge (23.9km)
This ornate and beautiful bridge takes you over Brewery Creek before you make your way south to the Ottawa River again, and then towards the bridge that will take you back to Ontario. The bridge actually incorporates a girder from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, hence the name.
Alexandra Bridge and Parliament (26.5km)
Some of the most spectacular views of the entire race are here. To your right before you get on the bridge is the Canadian Museum of History. Then once you cross the bridge, look to your right and up the river bank for a stunning view of the Library of Parliament and the Peace Tower. The Library of Parliament survived a fire that destroyed the Centre Block of the Parliament in 1916.
24 Sussex Drive (29km)
Who knows? Maybe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come out to cheer you on? He’d only have to walk to the end of his driveway to cheer and has run a number of races in Ottawa over the last few years.
Sir George Étienne Cartier Parkway (32.3km)
This part of the course is a bit desolate in terms of spectators, but it’s still beautiful to run. The right turn to Birch means you’re heading back south and also just 10km from the finish. It can get warm along here, with not much respite from the sun, so if it’s hot on race day, keep that in mind.
Rideau Falls (36.8km)
It’s time to cross over the Rideau River again and the falls are to your right here. You can’t see them, but you might be able to hear the water flowing over the edge down to the Ottawa River below. You’re almost home! The crowds along the Rideau Canal await just a couple of kilometres ahead. Down your last gel, dump some water on your head and find that energy to push through the wall and through to the finish.
National Gallery (38km)
Watch out for the giant spider sculpture out front of the National Gallery, called Maman. If you are afraid of spiders, use this as motivation for the last 4km.
The Finish (42km)
The crowds here will be crazy, encouraging you to run strong through to the finish. It’s the best finish line anywhere in Canada. and you’ll be drawing energy from the crowd as you push through the last 200m to collect your marathon medal!