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Jim Howe Memorial: “This is a cross country race, not a spa”
By:  Karl Saidla   (2010/10/28)


For most, if you want to do a cross country running race in Ottawa, you pretty much have one shot at it per year; the Jim Howe Memorial Cross Country Event, organized by Run Ottawa and led by Glendon Pye. We are certainly thankful for their efforts to allow a few of us to take a bit of a nostalgic trip every year back to our school cross country running days.

I have yammered about this issue before: I can’t figure out why, what I would call traditional cross country running, is a popular sport for highschool kids, an official university sport, but is virtually unavailable to everyone else. Why do we want to run on the unforgiving, inhuman, and normally monotonous pavement so much when we could be skimming over the grass, deftly manoevering through mucky and sometimes rooted ground, and enjoying the challenges of some natural terrain.

The Jim Howe event is a very good example of what I mean when I say traditional cross country running. Sometimes this event has been run at Mer Bleu, and other times at Green’s creek. Either course is great. There is rolling terrain with some hills, but nothing that really frightens anyone. There will inevitably be some mud, some rocks, some leaves and roots, but nothing to really intimidate. There are also some substantial sections of plain old grass, which actually makes for very nice running. Dig out your old cross country spikes if you dare, but you can manage with whatever you normally run in.

A couple of things are for sure. When you finish, you are going to be tired. You will also be satisfied because you have just run with real abandon, which you probably haven’t done since you were either 12 years old, or when you ran last year at the Jim Howe event. Trust me, no matter where you finish, you will feel like a warrior. If it is a particularly good year, you’ll come home with not only a smile on your face, but maybe a just a little dirt on your shoes.

So put the Jim Howe Memorial X-Country race on your agenda for next October!


Me running at the Jim Howe Cross Country race in 2008 - Sorry, no pictures from this year!

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