Thousands lace up running shoes for Ottawa Race Weekend

Thousands of runners took to the streets this weekend for Ottawa Race Weekend 2019. 

More than 32,000 people laced up their running shoes for the past two days of races, from the two-kilometre run all the way to the marathon.

That's comparable to the 33,000 racers who took part last year. But numbers have been declining since race weekend's 40th anniversary in 2014, which saw about 48,000 racers, said spokesperson Annie Boucher.

Although runners had to cope with wet conditions Saturday, the sun shone through Sunday. 

Kenyan Albert Korir won the main Ottawa Marathon with a posted time of 2:08:03.

"This is a great achievement. It's a dream," said Korir, who had been keeping pace with the second place finisher Abera Kuma from Ethiopia.

Korir said he chose the right time to make his move, leaving Kuma behind and crossing the finish line with an 11-second lead.

He takes home a $30,000 prize for his win, but said he doesn't know what he'll do with the money yet.

Third place went to Ethiopian Tsedat Ayana.

Another Ethiopian, Tigist Girma, was the marathon's fastest woman, posting a personal best time of 2:26:34. It's the 10th straight year an Ethiopian woman has topped the field, race organizers said.

The Canadian winner was two-time Olympian Reid Coolsaet, who finished in 2:17:37. The first Canadian woman to cross the finish line was Dayna Pidhoresky with a time of 2:37:19.

Kimberley Molina/CBC

10 taken to hospital in Ottawa

Despite Sunday's sunshine, some runners said the wind hindered them from achieving their best times.

There were also 10 people taken to hospital — two in critical condition — with heart and heat-related problems, according to Ottawa paramedics.

"It's normal in a race. You have 30,000 people exercising heavily. These incidents happen," said race director John Halvorsen, who praised the medical team for their actions.

He also said that this year's cooler weather may have contributed to the number of medical issues.

"When we had really warm weather, we actually had less calls because we were sending out a lot of reminders on how to take it easy when it's hot," Halvorsen said.

"It was cold today, so people go really hard — and then that might catch up with them at some point."

Participants from around world

Some of the most elite runners came from around the world, including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Morocco. Others came from across Canada.

Genevieve Beaudet. was one of four women from the same Montreal running group who took part in the half-marathon.

"We like to travel together and run all over the world, if we can," said Beaduet, adding they've raced in places as far away as western Europe.

"We made it through," said Shane Cosman, who took part in the half-marathon for the first time with his running partner, Teagan Strachan.

They said they hadn't trained much before taking on the challenging 21-kilometre race.

"[We're] pretty proud but also pretty tired," said Strachan.

Kim Valliere/Radio-Canada

Other than the weather, the race weekend encountered at least one other challenge this year.

Organizers had to rearrange the route after the Chaudière Bridge was closed because of flooding last month.

Here are some scenes from the two days of racing.

Kimberley Molina/CBC
Kim Valliere/Radio-Canada
Kimberley Molina/CBC
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Kimberley Molina/CBC
Kimberley Molina/CBC