Insider guide: Ottawa Race Weekend

With Race Weekend upon us, I wanted to share a few local tips and recommendations to runners coming into town. I’ll leave the race information to the official race website, so if you’re looking for start times or details on baggage check, you’re in the wrong place (go here). However, if you’re looking for some good local food joints, running stores, coffee shops, gluten free snacks, then you’ve coming the right place!

FOOD

Let’s start with the basics. I know runners love their staples and would often rather make their own meals…

Whole Foods Landsdowne ParkSobey’s at Metcalf and Lisgar 

Knowing runners are a finicky bunch, I wanted to let you know where to get your specific milk/nut butter/gluten free__. As you’d expect, both of these grocery stores also have great salad and hot food bars. Whole Foods is located at Lansdowne (short jont down Bank Street), and Sobey’s is right downtown (practically at the Start Line).

If you’re looking to eat out…

Fiazza Fresh Fired, 86 Murray Street (Byward Market)

We have eaten here a couple times and have really enjoyed the pizza and salads. It’s a chill atmosphere and accommodating to most dietary preferences. If you’re looking for somewhere to carb-load, this is a great place to do it. It’s also located in the Byward Market, which is a hot spot for local shops, bakeries and night life. If you prefer to lay low in your hotel room (I totally get it), Fiazza does deliver.

 

A+ Sushi, 202 Bank Street

With simple carbs, protein, sodium and minimal fiber, sushi can be a great pre-race meal. G and I discovered A+ Sushi a year ago and have had a number of good experiences here. It’s reasonably priced and offers a menu with lots of selection. It’s also located right downtown; likely walking distance from your hotel. Did I mention it was all you can eat?

Town, 296 Elgin street

As one of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa, I have to add Town to this list. Unfortunately, it might be impossible to get a reservation, but, hey! We’re runners. Nothing’s impossible. They have great lunch and dinner menus, with lots of locally sourced ingredients. The service and food never disappoints.

Thanks for coming to have lunch with us! @ravensculinary @chefvandyk #townlovesyou

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COFFEE & SNACKS

Bridgehead, multiple locations downtown 

For coffee, Bridgehead is your go to spot (seriously, Ottawa loves Bridgehead). Chances are you’re staying in a hotel downtown, which means there’s likely a Bridgehead a block away. This locally popular coffee shop really does offer it all: coffee, teas, cookies, cakes, gluten free/vegan/dairy free snacks, salad bowls and hearty sandwiches. They also have a rewards program that gives you a free coffee or specialty drink every 12 drinks.

My personal favourites from Bridgehead would have to be the Oolong Kombucha (Bridgehead’s own brew), the coconut macaroon (FOR THE LOVE), the fruit and seed bar, and the almond milk latte.

 

Menchies, 80 George Street (Byward Market)

Located in the Byward Market, this is a perfect destination for you to go for a stroll and stretch your legs. Menchie’s frozen yogurt is gluten-free, vegan, and no high fructose corn syrup. Always a good option for a snack or dessert!

RUNNING STORES

Sports 4, 149 Bank Street 

Sports 4 is one of the local favourite running watering holes. They carry a range of shoes, clothes, gels and accessories. I frequent Sports 4 often and always find myself chatting with the many knowledgeable employees. If you’re in town on a Wednesday, the Negative Splits Run Club meets at Sports 4 for a group run.

Race weekend tip: Check your virtual race bag to save $15 on in store purchases at Sports 4! If you’re a Run Ottawa member, save 10% off everything, always!

Running Room, 160 Slater Street 

Located right downtown, Running Room is a safe bet for all things running. This Canadian chain does a great job in carrying a full line of gels, shoes and acessories. Personally, I’m grateful that the 160 Slater Street store always has my Hammer Gels stocked! If you’re a Goodlife member, be sure to let them know for your 10% off (always).

Race weekend tip: Check your virtual race bag to save 10% off your purchase at the Running Room expo booth!

If you’re from out of town, where are you visiting from?

If you’re local, any suggestions to add to this list?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running MagazineHave a suggestion for a runner profileLet me know!

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