National Capital Marathon
Ottawa, ONT, CAN - May 29, 2005     T   P   R   R  
San Diego Street Elite

The National Capital Marathon took place in Ottawa, Ontario on Sunday, May 29, 2005. The long weekend made this race a good trip, even though Memorial Day is not observed in Canada. Ottawa is a small, but beautiful city. Tulips were everywhere, left over from the annual Tulip Festival earlier in the month.

The National Capital Marathon is the largest running race in Canada, with over 20,000 participants. Events included the marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, and a 2k family run/walk over two days. The expo is fun and the goody bag included a lot of nice giveaways.

The course has changed over the years. The skate route was on the southern loop of the marathon course. This section was very scenic, travelling alongside the Rideau Canal most of the way. The pavement was good, although a small pothole could surprise you here and there if you weren't paying attention. The course was mostly flat with a few small hills and one fast gradual downhill. One lap was a half marathon; two laps for a full marathon.

Rain threatened events for the weekend, but when it was time to race it was completely dry. It was cloudy and comfortably cool with no wind and temperatures in the upper 50s. The race started out at a fast pace. A small uphill right at the start separated the skaters nicely off the line. The leaders maintained a high pace for the first 10k or so, which thinned out the pack to less than 20 skaters.

In the lead pack there were only two teams that had multiple skaters: Bont and K2/Empire, each with three members. The rest raced individually, but included strong skaters such as Eddy Matzger. Most of the race was spent waiting around to see what Bont and K2/Empire would do.

As expected Bont and K2/Empire each took their turns making breaks with individual skaters. In each case, there wasn't a sudden sprint to chase down the flyer. Rather, the pace gradually picked up until the lone skaters were gobbled back.

At one point mid-way into the race, a K2/Empire skater stayed out in front of the pack for a while. Teammate Peter Doucet decided to break off solo to catch him. Surprisingly, the lead pack did not respond. The duo had the talent and the opportunity to maintain their gap if they wished. Unfortunately, the other skater was out of energy, so eventually they were caught by the pack.

The race came down to the final sprint. The pace increased in the last 5k as skaters jockeyed for position. Then it was a big waiting game. As the signs on the side of the road indicated that the finish line was approaching, still no sprint. Until 400m to go. The sprint took off so fast that it strewn the skaters out in a single line. There were few placement changes because of this. In the end, Bret Whitman (Hyper) was the the winner, with Aaron Aarndt (Bont) second and Jean Oliver of Montreal third. I finished 13th in the pack. All of us had a time of 1:13.

A small, but talented, field of women competed in the National Capital Marathon. After the single mass start, the top women kept up with the men for the first 5k or so. Martina Charbonneau, Helen Havam (K2/Empire), and Kimberly Perkins (Safe) stayed together in the same pack, not willing to let each other go. It came down to the final sprint for them as well, with Helen coming up with the victory, Martina second, and Kim third, all in 1:18.

The National Capital Marathon is a well-organized race in a beautiful city. The trip was not cheap, considering the airfare to Canada and hotel, but it was well worth the time and money. Extra time can be spent exploring the nearby Parliament buildings or the markets. There are many bike trails that are excellent for skating.


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