Some familiar faces will join new ones as an impressive roster of elite runners shapes up to lead the pack of 10,000 participants trying the new Ottawa 10Km course at Canada’s most popular race destination on 28 May.
"We’re very excited with this year’s line-up of both men and women elite 10K racers,” says Manny Rodrigues, Elite Athlete Coordinator of this IAAF Silver Label Road Race. “We may see some repeat performances, but there could also be some surprising upsets and new records."
Twenty-five-year-old Dire Tune of Ethiopia is confirmed to attend. Last year, she made history in Ottawa by finishing the 10K race ahead of the first male. Women racers usually begin about four minutes ahead of the men, but have historically been overtaken by men in the race to the finish line.
"Ottawa is special to me as I won here before and it is such a beautiful city," said Tune. "I hope I can be on top of the podium again this year and have another successful trip to Ottawa.
"Tune’s biggest threat could be fellow Ethiopian Ejegayehu Dibaba, an Olympic silver medallist and double World Championship medalllist who has a personal best of 30:18 over 10,000m.
"I hope that the race is very fast as I am ready to put on a great show for the people of Ottawa," said Dibaba. Also competing is 26-year-old Canadian Megan Brown, who is running her first Ottawa 10K and showing promise on the race circuit. Brown won the Montreal Half-Marathon in April.
In the men’s field, Deriba Merga is making a return to Ottawa to see if he can improve on last year’s effort and possibly beat the course record of 27:24 he set in 2009. Flagging at the 6K mark in 2010, his pacer continued on to win the race in 28:11 in a sprint against Morocco’s Mohamed El-Hachimi, also returning this year.
"The course in Ottawa is a very good course for my running style and I feel that I should be able to run a very fast time this year," said Merga. “I am happy to be returning to Ottawa again and I hope to give the citizens of Ottawa something special to watch this year."
Joining Merga and El Hachimi in the battle for the win will be Canadian Simon Bairu. Bairu will be making his second appearance in the race after winning in 2007. A year ago, Bairu lowered the Canadian 10,000m track record to 27:23.63. In Ottawa, he will be looking to smash the Canadian 10K road record of 28:17, set by Paul McCloy in 1987. If Bairu falters, Canadians Eric Gillis (4th in Ottawa last year) and Dylan Wykes will be keen to break the record themselves.
The 2011 Ottawa Race Weekend 10K event sold out on 15 March – a full two weeks earlier than 2010. The 2011 Ottawa Race Weekend will take place May 28-29, 2011.
Organisers for the IAAF