Orléans parkrun, ON, Canada

My 8th and penultimate, at least for this trip, parkrun in Canada. There are now two parkruns near Ottawa, and I ran Kanata the other week, while I had a car. Both Kanata and Orleans are reachable by bus from the city, but Orleans is closer, so I saved it to run to, first thing.

It’s a nice out and back route, as you can see below, with a slightly downhill start to give some welly, after which it is pretty flat. Even the hill that must be there on the way back to the finish isn’t really noticeable, so this is a course to race, if you are in the mood.

Orleans parkrun route

I will admit that in my planning I had not counted on a slightly iffy knee – recurring, but it has been fine recently – nor, more importantly, on how the weather would shift in October. I have had 11 months in hot or at least tepid weather – one rainy 17 degree start on the Gold Coast, and one chilly April morning in Christchurch were the only cool Saturdays I have seen for a year. Kanata, two weeks ago, was freezing when I got there, but it is not so bad stepping from a warm car. This morning, I set off at 7.20 and it was -3. Not just that, but my route to Orleans took me straight up Montreal Road, into a slight headwind.

It wasn’t that bad. I’m still a Brit at heart, it seems, and not adjusted to hotter weather forever. 7-8 miles in to the run, I turned off the main road and got onto the coastal path, which brought relief from the wind, and scenery, too. Running just over 10 miles to the start gave me a lovely feeling of accomplishment, and seems to have stretched out my legs, rather than further injure them.

Ottawa River pathway
Ottawa River pathway, and relief from the wind.

The start is simple enough to find. If you are going to get the bus, I’d recommend just hopping on the 95 (see www.octranspo.com for times – the 7:50 looks like the one from the Mackenzie King bridge) and walking/jogging the last 2km. It is possible to connect onto the 38 and get closer, but unless the timing is good for you, you’ll be waiting around for the second bus and still won’t get right to the run. The Aussie had tried that method, and ended up in an uber from the local shopping centre, missing the start by a few minutes. She got her run in, though.

Orleans parkrun startline
Orleans parkrun startline, obvious at the end of Orleans Boulevard, next to Cairine Wilson School.

The volunteer team were extremely enthusiastic. There were runners from South Africa, England and Australia, as well as plenty of Canadians and at least one ex-pat Brit. The team was French-Canadian; all of which gave an extra international flavour.

As for the run, my fellow Brit, Chris, set off like a bat out of hell. He doesn’t have the same “I’ve spent 11 months in warm countries” for not having warm running clothes, but, like me, he was in shorts, and raced downhill to help warm up. I caught him after a while, but had company, and that company stayed with me throughout. Multiple sets of feet, but none, it seemed, that wanted to take the lead. Luckily for me, and my vanity in enjoying finishing first, even though I know there are plenty of people quicker than me in any postcode, I was able to put some distance between one of the chasers at the turn, and the other was unregistered and happy to have a, for him, gentle run while pushing me to keep my pace up.

Me with a fellow Brit, Chris, at the finish line
Posing with a fellow Brit, Chris, and the Canadian flag, at the finish line.

As a result, although I ran slower than the last couple of weeks, my last mile was my quickest. Courses here err on the side of being slightly long, at least according to my watch, and this one measured 40-50m over (admittedly, I took a couple of corners wide). Which would explain my average pace being sub 19, and my overall time being just over. My goal has to be to speed up to the point where a few extra metres doesn’t push me over into the next minute.

Unfortunately, the cold stopped the hand scanner from working, so we all stood around for a while. The volunteers were very quick to switch to hand-recording id numbers and positions, but the wait, and then pausing for some photos, meant I was chilly when walking to the bus stop. I had company, a couple of international runners who had only planned their trip to parkrun, not back, so we walked. I ought to have run – my teeth were genuinely chattering, so my conversation game was not strong.

But we timed our walk perfectly to be on the 10:08 bus back to town, which got us all back to the Ottawa Jail – the place to be for all tourists, it seemed – before 10:40, time to shower and pack before an 11:00 checkout.

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