From the cannon used as a “starter’s pistol” to the “dog-tag” medals soldiers place around all participants necks at the finish line, this unique event is “military” from start to finish. More than anything, though, Canada Army Run, is about Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces – Air Force, Army, and Navy – joining together in the spirit of camaraderie and community. It’s a chance for the troops to extend the military esprit de corps to Canadians and to thank them for their support. And, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to say thanks to the men and women who serve them in so many ways at home and abroad.
The idea for Canada Army Run was sparked at the 2006 U.S. Army Ten-Miler in Washington D.C. when Lieutenant-General Beare (now retired, but then in the third highest ranked position in the Canadian Army) crossed the finish line. He turned to his Director of Army Training, Colonel Dean Milner (now a Major-General) and asked “Why aren’t we doing this in Canada?” The Colonel replied, “Sir, you’re the general. You tell me!”
MAJOR CHRIS HORECZY is appointed the first Canada Army Run Director and tasked with bringing the idea to fruition. “Generals had the idea,” said LGen Beare, “but delivering the goods? That was Chris Horeczy.” Since 2009, the position of Canada Army Run Director has been held by Major Luc Frenette (2010, 2011), Major Simon Côté (2012, 2013), and Major Gus Garant (current Run Director).
RUNNING ROOM MAGAZINE runs a cover story on the upcoming first-ever Canada Army Run and becomes a major sponsor and supporter of the event. Their support has been unwavering and remains invaluable to this day.
ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2008, 7,000 civilians and military personnel participate in the first Canada Army Run, surpassing expectations of 1,000 participants and shattering records for the largest number of entrants for an inaugural Canadian run.
CANADA ARMY RUN grows by 50 percent, to 11,000 people, and is recognized as the fastest growing run in the country.
“This kind of growth is unheard of in the running community, and sets the event up for a very exciting future.” John Halvorsen, President of Run Ottawa
MASTER CORPORAL JODY MITIC, who lost both legs in a landmine accident in Afghanistan, captures the interest of Canadians across the country when he successfully completes his first-ever half marathon using prosthetic legs.
More than 14,000 Canadians and military personnel walked, ran, or rolled in the third annual Canada Army Run.
The theme for 2010 was ‘Many Stories, One Inspiring Run’. Participants young and old, able and disabled, military and civilian, came to achieve personal bests, to honour family and friends in the military or in memory of loved ones who lost their lives in the line of duty. And thousands participated simply to show their support for the troops.
Rick Ball, a single-leg amputee who in 2009 earned a half marathon world record at Canada Army Run, taught a two-day advanced skills training clinic held for ill and injured military personnel. The clinic was facilitated by Soldier On in partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Athletics Canada, and the Canadian Forces Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program.
FIVE-TIME PARALYMPIAN medal recipient Jason Dunkerley – one of the world’s most prominent visually impaired middle-distance runners – runs his first Canada Army Run in 2011. He has run several times since. In 2012, he was a guest speaker at the Pasta Dinner.
Canada Army Run Celebrated its 5th Anniversary with a special change to the logo.
New finisher medals were launched, featuring the same design of the Canadian Armed Forces dog tag.
New categories were added to the Ill, Injured & Disabled categories, honouring the visually impaired and handcyclists.
The Cheering Challenge was launched, with six non-profits, schools, cadet corps and charities competed for top prizes.
THEIR EXCELLENCIES the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston become the first patrons of Canada Army Run.
THE GROUNDS OF RIDEAU HALL – the official residence and workplace of the Governor General – become part of the half marathon course.
HONORARY COLONEL RICK HANSEN – one of the world’s most decorated Paralympic athletes and accessibility advocates – participates in his first-ever Canada Army Run (in the 5K) and is the guest-speaker at the sold-out Pasta Dinner.
CANADA ARMY RUN wins the Community Spirit Award at the Ottawa Tourism Awards Ceremony, and is recognized for its role in bringing together the local, national, and military communities in support of Canada’s men and women in uniform.
THE COMMANDER’S CHALLENGE event is added to the Canada Army Run weekend line up. The Challenge is an official event within Canada Army Run where participants run, walk or roll officially in BOTH the 5K and half marathon events. Limited to 2000 entrants in its first year, the inaugural Commander’s Challenge sold out fast. The Challenge returns for 2017.
September 2017 marks the tenth annual Canada Army Run. To celebrate this milestone, a new 10K event was added to the line-up for 2017, in partnership with Canada 150.
3-Person Relay – NEW for 2017: Build a team and take on all courses with this new challenge! Each participant will receive their own bib, and you may start your race even if your teammate is still out on course
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge (First World War) in 2017, Canada Army Run added the Vimy Challenge, in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, to our event line-up for this year. Participants in the Vimy Challenge run, walk or roll officially in BOTH the 5K and the 10K events and will receive a unique race shirt and, upon completion, a special coin as well as their dog-tag medals.
2006: The idea for Canada Army Run was sparked in October 2006, at the U.S. Army 10-Miler. When Lieutenant-General Stuart Beare (at the time, the 3rd-highest ranking officer in the Canadian Army) crossed the finish line, he turned to his Director of Army Training, Colonel Dean Milner, and asked: “Why aren’t we doing this in Canada?” The Colonel replied, “Sir, you’re the general. You tell me!”
Col Milner and LGen Beare put together a proposal, pitched it to the Deputy Commander of the Army (LGen Guy Thibault) and, together, they took the idea to the then Commander of the Army, LGen Andrew Leslie, then the Army Council.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Detailed plans were laid down for an event that, in its second year, would become the fastest growing run in the country.
“Generals had the idea,” said LGen Stuart Beare, who is credited with the idea for Canada Army Run, “but delivering the goods? That was Chris Horeczy.”
Maj Horeczcy laid the foundation for many traditions that continue to this day, including dog-tag finishers’ medals, military equipment displays, a cannon for the starter’s pistol, military bands and the early start for injured and ill soldiers.
Asked this year for his opinion on how the run has evolved: “Brilliant! All of the run directors have done just a brilliant job of building on the foundation and improving the character of the run. Everything about it is great.”
Since 2009, the position of Canada Army Run Director has been held by Major Luc Frenette (2010, 2011), Major Simon Côté (2012, 2013), and Major Gus Garant (current Run Director).
2008: The serving Commander of the Canadian Army approves the overall plans and direction for Canada Army Run each year, and is the official host of the event, welcoming participants during Opening Ceremonies and performing many other duties throughout Canada Army Run weekend. Our first “host” – and a key champion in making Canada Army Run a reality – was Lieutenant General Andrew B. Leslie (2008, 2009).
He was followed by LGen Peter Devlin (2010, 2011, 2012), LGen Marquis Hainse (2013, 2014, 2015), and LGen Paul Wynnyk (the current Commander).
2008: On September 21, 2008, Canada Army Run made Canadian history by shattering records for the largest number of entrants for an inaugural run. Although professional race organizers said 1000 would be a good turnout for a first time-run, more than 7000 came out, exceeding all expectations!
2008: At the inaugural Canada Army Run, 25 ill and injured soldiers and other athletes with disabilities (including four U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq) were given a 15-minute early start to the 5K and half marathon. Their determination and spirit of “soldiering on” cemented the early start as a tradition, and the following year (2009), an official “ill/injured/disabled” category was created.
In 2016, close to 200 were part of the early starts (56 in the half marathon and the rest in the 5K) and it was as moving and inspirational then as it was in 2008. This September, come out and cheer on these remarkable individuals!
2008: Here’s what the very first Canada Army Run shirts looked like in 2008. The CADPAT (camouflage pattern) – now an integral part of the design – wasn’t added until 2010 and the 5K shirts were changed to red in 2012.
2008: Our very first finishers’ medals closely resembled the dog-tags worn by the U.S. military. It wasn’t until our 5th Anniversary, in 2012, that a new medal was designed to look more like the identification tags worn by members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
2008: The winner of the first-ever Canada Army Run 5K was Private Ryan McKenzie, a 31-year-old Army reservist from Victoria, B.C, with a time of 14:53:09. At the time, he was the “winningest” athlete in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Ryan would go on to win the Canada Army Run 5K again in 2009 and 2012.
Here’s what he said back then: “The Army Run was the most unique experience I have had before, during or after a race. I like what it represents and am honoured to be able to participate. Winning is not the goal; representing the Armed Forces to the best of my ability is.”
2008: The female winner of the first-ever 5K Canada Army Run was Lanni Marchant (17.22.4). We did a search to see what she’s up to today and found this incredible site! Check it out at: http://www.lannimarchant.com/.
2008: Although Canada Army Run is first and foremost a “run” more than a “race” – there has always been a competitive element to it. The winner of our first-ever half marathon was Matthew Leduc, from Ajax, Ontario with a time of 1:12:31.1.
2008: At our inaugural run, in 2008, the female half marathon winner was Liz Maguire, from Ottawa, with a time of 1:22:19.5. Liz has participated in every Canada Army Run since, most often in the 5K (placing second in 2010, 2012 and 2016). Thanks for your ongoing support, Liz and we hope to see you again this year!
2008: Running Room has been a major Canada Army Run supporter and sponsor since before Day 1, and a key contributor to our success. Here’s the behind-the-scenes-story of how this household name became involved…
In 2008, Lieutenant-General Stuart Beare (now retired) – who is credited with the idea for Canada Army Run – was on a flight to Wainwright, Alberta, and found himself sitting beside John Stanton Jr, the son of Running Room founder John Stanton.
In General Beare’s words: “I asked John what he thought of the idea of an Army Run in Canada and whether Running Room would be part of it. Within days, I received an e-mail from John Stanton Senior saying ‘We’re in!’ and it wasn’t long after we landed on the cover of Running Room’s magazine. So, before we even had a run, we were on the cover. Unbelievable!”
2008: Once the decision was made to launch Canada Army Run, the Army planning team reached out to Run Ottawa, the team responsible for delivering Ottawa Race Weekend, the biggest weekend running event in Canada.
“The Army is great at planning,” said Major (Retired) Chris Horezky, the first run director of Canada Army Run, “but we had limited resources and no experience organizing something of this nature. The Run Ottawa team made it look so easy.”
Since Day 1, Run Ottawa has been instrumental in helping with the logistics planning and operations of every Canada Army Run. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their experience, guidance, and support. Special thanks to John Halvorsen (president), Joe Duvall (Event Operations Manager), Susan Marsh (Marketing Director and Jim Robinson (Past President). Thank you for all you do and continue to do. You are the best!
2008: Sportstats – today, the world’s largest race timing company – has been a partner of Canada Army since the beginning. We thank Marc Roy – the CEO of this Ottawa-founded company – for his tremendous support over the years. You can check the results of past Canada Army Runs on the sportstat site, as well as answers to questions like “What is the difference between a gun time and chip time?” That answer and others can be found here
2008: As Canada Army Run has grown, so too has the number of sponsors. Five have been with us from Day 1: Running Room, General Dynamics, Ottawa Citizen, CFRA and Tannis. Thank you all! We wouldn’t be where we are today without you!
2008: General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada has been a supporter and major sponsor of Canada Army Run since 2008. Not only has the company financially supported the event through sponsorship, but employees have staffed water stations, trained together to prepare for the run, and raised money for Soldier On and the Support Our Troops fund.
This year, they stepped up in an even bigger way: to become the presenting sponsor of the Canada Army Run 5K, the largest 5K in the country. Thank you General Dynamics for your ongoing support. It is so very much appreciated!
2008: The Ottawa Citizen has been an amazing sponsor since the very first Canada Army Run back in 2008. In addition to providing support with advertising, they have played an integral role in our charity cheering stations initiative. Thank you for your ongoing support!
2008: “No words can describe the pride, the nature that you feel when seeing families, children, come out to show support. They stop their day – take off a Sunday that would be for relaxation and de-stressing, to cheer you on. It’s priceless.” Sergeant Brett Rickard – the longest-serving amputee in the Canadian Armed Forces – has run every Canada Army Run!
He is pictured here in 2010 with WO (Ret’d) Andrew McLean, in 2011 at the start line and later with Greg Lagacé, the founder and Soldier On Manager, and in 2013 with the finish line in sight. The sign that Greg is holding (2011) is a picture of Rick’s son, Private Jason Rickard, who was killed a week prior in a car accident, on his way from North Bay en route to a military training camp in Gagetown.
2008: Since the very first Canada Army Run, participants have run in memory of friends, family, loved ones and others lost in the line of duty, through illness or in other ways. They have worn T-shirts, carried signs and hoisted flags.
2008: “We just didn’t carry it by ourselves, though. We probably handed it off to more than 50 people throughout the run – to other kids our ages, to a couple of vets, and to lots of others. There were definitely more than just the three of us carrying it at many points.” In every Canada Army Run, you are likely to see someone carrying a flag while doing the 5K or half marathon.
Pictured here in 2008 are Kirk Cushing and his sister Corie Jo – from Ladysmith, Quebec, who proudly took turns carrying the Canadian flag as they ran the half marathon. The picture of Kirk was featured on Canada Army Run promotional ads in 2009. The duo, together with their sister Janna Lee (not shown) also carried the flag in the 2009 and 2010 half marathon.
2008: The Regimental Band of the Governor General’s Foot Guards (GGFG) and the Pipes and Drums of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh’s Own) have been an important part of every Canada Army Run.
The GGFG band has entertained throughout the weekend, played the national anthem at every opening ceremony, and played specifically for the half-marathoners as they run, walk, or roll through the grounds of Rideau Hall as part of the official half-marathon course.
The Cameron Highlanders’ Pipes and Drums has also entertained throughout the weekend, including at the Pasta Dinner, on stage, and at the closing ceremonies.
2008: Motorcycles at Canada Army Run? YES! For the first six years of Canada Army, up to 50 members of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Organization led off the 5K and/or half marathon events. A big thank you to the veterans for their support over the years!
2008: From Day 1, a cannon has been used as the “starter’s pistol” for both the 5K and half marathon mass starts. The blast is loud but always a highlight for runners! The cannon has moved locations over the years, and last year was situated on Parliament Hill.
2009: Canada Army Run became the fastest growing run in Canada. More than 11,000 people participated, up 50 percent from the 7,000 the year before, itself a record for the most participants ever for a first-time run in Canada. Said John Halvorsen, President of Run Ottawa, at the time: “This kind of growth is unheard of in the running community, and sets the event up for a very exciting future.”
He was right! In a very short period of time, Canada Army Run has grown to become a major destination run, attracting between 20,000 and 25,000 participants every year.
2009: On September 6, 2009, before dawn, 500 runners from 15 countries took part in Canada Army Run’s first-ever “shadow” run. Runners, many sporting T-shirts and bibs shipped from Canada, ran 5K or 15K within the protected areas of the Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in temperatures that began at 21ºC and quickly rose to 30ºC.
Credit for setting up the first KAF run goes to then-Captain (now Major) Stephanie Smith, whose second deployment to KAF would coincide with Ottawa’s second Canada Army Run. Says Canada Army Run’s first Run director, Major (retired) Chris Horeczy: “I cannot say that she ‘helped me’, because I did none of the work, she did it all.”
For most of the Canadians soldiers, this race was one of the last special activities before their redeployment home.
Since then, Canada Army Run shadow runs have taken place around the world, including in: Haiti, Kabul, Egypt, and even aboard the HMCS Toronto while on a mission in the Arabian Sea.
2009: In 2009, 44-year-old Rick Ball set a world record at Canada Army Run, for the single-leg amputee half marathon, with a time of 1:20:44.9 (the previous record was 1:21:46).
The following year, Rick again participated in Canada Army Run, but not with the goal of breaking records. Instead, he ran the 5K side-by-side with other injured, ill, and disabled athletes, to show support and provide encouragement and inspiration for others with disabilities.
Interested in what Rick is up to these days? Check out his website at: http://www.rickballruns.com
2009: “Completing the half marathon in Canada Army Run is important to me. It’s a milestone on my journey back to health and fitness; it’s an opportunity to thank civilians and military colleagues who have been so supportive; and it’s a chance to run with other wounded soldiers who are also making great progress on the road to recovery.” In 2009, 32-year-old Master Corporal Jody Mitic, who lost both legs when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan 2.5 years earlier, ran is first-ever half marathon, on prosthetic legs, and made national headlines across the country.
Running Room’s Phil Marsh coached Jody – today an Ottawa City Councillor – in the months leading up to Canada Army Run and ran the half marathon beside him.
2009: Since 2009, Mike Pinder has been the official photographer of Canada Army Run, capturing spectacular photos (like the one shown here) that have been used by media and in Canada Army Run’s advertising over the years. Thank you, Mike, for the wonderful service you have provided Canada Army Run. We look forward to working with you again this year!
2009: Dedicated volunteer Mark Wigmore (shown here in 2011) has been organizing and coordinating the pace bunnies at Canada Army Run since 2009, and has the task down to a science.
He sets strict timelines and uses lists, spreadsheets and accountability reports. Most pace bunnies – using running watches and keeping their eye on kilometre markers – come within 30 seconds of their assigned time, which is truly amazing!
Thank you, Mark, for all you have done and continue to do to help motivate our participants and help them meet their goals. Much appreciated!
2010: Eight years ago – on June 2, 2010 – the Canada Army Run Facebook page went live. By the end of two weeks, 225 people had “liked” us, and that number has steadily climbed. Today, we have an active community of close to 20,000. Thank you everyone for your support, engagement, and conversation over the years. It is so very much appreciated!
2010: “My proudest moment was on race day, being on the podium and realizing that everything was coming together and it was going to be a success. There was so much energy and emotion and support. Seeing the ill and injured participants at the start line clearly redefined the meaning of courage and perseverance for me. These individuals have a daily struggle and they survive. They soldier on. I will remember that day forever.” In 2010, Major Luc Frenette was appointed as Canada Army Run’s second run director, with responsibility for delivering the 2010 and 2011 events. Maj Frenette is credited with bringing processes and financial stability to the young event, setting it up for a sustainable future.
On Race Day in 2010, he is pictured here with Adina Turner (left), her two daughters, and two friends, who were running as part of a much larger group in support of her husband who was deployed in Afghanistan at the time.
2010: Lieutenant General Peter Devlin, who became Commander of the Canadian Army in June 2010, oversaw and was part of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Canada Army Runs – a period of rapid growth for the young event. He is pictured here (second from the right) holding the finish line tape in 2010, together with then Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien (left) and then Army Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer G. Moretti.
2010: The Canadian Disruptive Pattern (CADPAT) was added to the sleeves of our technical shirts, giving them a truly “Army” look. CADPAT has been an integral part of the shirt design ever since.
2011: In 2011, the Canada Army Run half marathon sold out on August 3 (8,000 participants) and the 5K on August 22 (also 8,000). An additional 500 spots were added to the half at the end of August, which sold out by September 9, bringing the total number of registrants for 2011 to 16,500.
2011: In 2011, Paralympian Jason Dunkerley – one of the world’s most prominent visually impaired middle-distance runners – ran his first Canada Army Run, finishing fourth overall (out of 7354 participants) with a time of 16.26.1. He went on to run the half in 2013, the 5K in 2015 and was a truly inspirational guest speaker at the Pasta Dinner in 2012. Thanks for all your support over the years, Jason. Very much appreciated!
2011: In 2011, for the first time, walk-only pace bunnies for the half marathon (at 2:45, 3:00, and 3:15) became part of the overall pace bunny platoon, and have been part of the event ever since. This photo is from 2014.
Most pace bunnies – using running watches and keeping their eye on kilometre markers – come within 30 seconds of their assigned time, which is truly amazing! To all of our pace bunnies over the years – running, walking and walk/running – thank you!
2011: Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston have been supporters of Canada Army Run since the Governor General’s appointment in October 2010.
They are pictured here at their very first Canada Army Run. In 2013, their Excellencies became the first patrons of Canada Army Run.
2011: Esprit de Corps came on board as a Regiment-level sponsor and produced Canada Army Run’s very first weekend event guide, as an insert to its monthly magazine. Esprit de Corps also produced the guides in 2012 and 2013.
Esprit de Corps remains a major sponsor of Canada Army Run and has made significant contributions over the years. Thank you Scott Taylor (Publisher) and Julie Simoneau (Project Manager) for all you do in support of Canada Army Run!
2011: Before dawn, we set up our first big screen close to the start line to help participants see the Opening Ceremonies, including video footage from the Canada Army Run shadow run held earlier in the day at the Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. The KAF run drew more than 700 participants from multiple nations.
After the Opening Ceremonies, the big screen was moved to Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall for the Awards Ceremony. Since then, big screens have become an important addition to Canada Army Run and are used throughout the weekend to enrich our participants’ experience, increase visibility at certain events and recognize our sponsors and partners.
2012: Major Simon Côté, Canada Army Run’s race director for 2012 and 2013, is credited with taking Canada Army Run to the next level – making it bigger, better, and more professional. He evolved it from a one-day event to a “fun and festive” weekend of activities.
Advances during his tenure included charity cheering stations, weekend entertainment, more military equipment, a kids’ zone, a participant survey and a bigger and better Sports Expo (which moved from a small space within Cartier Square Drill Hall to a 16,000 square-foot outdoor Sports Expo with many more vendors). He also brought BMO on as the presenting sponsor.
His favourite memory? “Standing on the start line stage, watching all of the Army generals, the governor general, and the ill and injured soldiers. That’s when you understand what it’s all about, and what all of those long hours were for. All of the hard work pays off when you see everything falling into place and you see the happiness of the folks when they finish and get their medals from a soldier. Canada Army Run was a definite highlight in my career.”
2012: Our technical shirts featured the specially designed logo commemorating the 5th anniversary of Canada Army Run. It was the last year that the 5K shirts would be white. They changed to red in 2013.
2012: In 2012 – the 5th anniversary of Canada Army Run – we celebrated with new finishers’ medals! Instead of the more generic dog tags used in the past (and which more closely resembled those worn by the U.S. military), the 2012 version (and every year since) look more like the official Canadian Armed Forces identity discs.
When a soldier puts the medal around your neck at the finish line this year, take the
opportunity to thank him or her for all they do to keep Canada safe at home and abroad!
2012: We launched our Cheering Station initiative and called on charities, schools, sports teams, cadet corps and other not-for-profit organizations to lead a cheering station for a chance to win cash prizes ($3000 for first place, $2000 for second, and $1000 for third). They were a huge success and participants loved them!
- 51 Canada Aviation Museum Air Cadet Squadron (first picture, from 2013)
- 3018 Royal Canadian Air Cadets Corps
- Tie between Bust A Move and Carleton University Shinerama
Cheering stations remain an important part of the overall Canada Army Run experience, providing participants with energy and encouragement along the course. Interested in creating a cheering station for 2017? Check out the details here.