Thoughts on the Ottawa nationals XC course

I’ve heard mixed reactions about the course, that it could be too dangerous. Has anyone actually ran the course?

I seen Dylan Wykes post a few videos on his instagram story and it looked real bad. Apparently they have been doing some work on it lately though. Hopes are not high lol.

It’s being held on an equestrian course. It’s lumpy on the course itself but they decided to take it off course into a really wet area and through some woods where there were no paths pre-made. Seems like a bit of a disaster.

1 Like

My teammate Kyle Desormeaux lives close to the course. Says they have done lots of work and put lots of woodchips down. Still work to do but sounds like it is on the right track. CU all at Nationals-- I am making a comeback to XC after an almost 15 year absence!


I was at the course with members of the LOC on Thursday.
They’ve put in a lot of good work on the open field sections. It is much smoother and cut shorter than the last time I was there. It’ll be wet and muddy if the weather report holds up (more rain next week).
I didn’t get on to the back loop (~1000m section in the woods), where they’ve put down the woodchips. But I suspect it’s much the same - soft and muddy.
They couldn’t get the new trail done (the connector to the back loop from the open fields), because of how wet the ground is, they couldn’t get equipment in. So the course will look a bit different than originally planned.
If you’re looking for a pristine golf course style xc race you won’t like this course. If you are accustomed to running XC in the UK, you’ll be in heaven.

p.s. Watch out for Miezner in the Masters race. He’s fit!


This is more than a little disappointing. It’s not like they only planned this race a few weeks ago. They knew it would be in Ottawa for at least two years and this is the best they can provide? Hopefully they will post some new maps with the altered course. I’m already regretting signing up for this event.

What were your expectations for the ACXC course?

Ummm…a course that’s worthy of a National Championship event. Rugged/challenging is one thing, dangerous is another

1 Like


I don’t know about “safety” issues - perhaps you can expand?

I will say this, your course at Fort Henry, that ACXC was contested on for 4 years in retrospect, and in hind-site was pretty close to the perfect MODERN XC Course. The word “modern” emphasized for these reasons: Courses need to be used for a wide range of abilities - Kids, to Masters, and from Community runners to the best runners in Canada. They need to be multi loop - this is good for onsite spectators and for Livestreaming and Broadcast. They need to have great site-lines - again good for spectators and for broadcast/streaming coverage. They need to have ample parking and good access to indoor facilities. And last and certainly not least - they need to adhere to the spirit of XC which is to be challenging to runners. Again looking back, Fort Henry had all of that! I noted this numerous times when I was doing the Live Stream Commentary. :slight_smile:


At least the course is looking much better than the last time I saw it in person a couple of weeks ago Thursday. There are some parts a little bit sketchy but hopefully, the park can drain the hole around the starting area before it freezes. The second forested part is a lot like running in the apple loop at Mooney’s bay which is much better condition than the first forest loop.

Thanks for the update Dylan.

This is what the ‘new’ part of the course looked like two weeks ago - it was (is) unrunnable. Apparently they’ve ditched the idea of using this part - they always had a ‘back up plan’ in mind. The back section in the woods is still sketchy as Jay said. Blair ran on it today, easy pace, and almost wiped out a couple of times. 200+ athletes in a race on that does not sound favourable.


There is a road race which runs through Wesley Clover park in the Fall, the RBC run for kids, i believe and i have run it about 3 years in a row and indeed the part through the woods is quite rough and uneven and clumpy and i would not recommend it for a mass cross country race as you will not be able to see your footing. The clumpiness of course also serves to throw you off your stride and rhythm which makes it even harder once you are going to do 10km and number of loops. Hopefully it all works out well and all of the athletes tour the course the day before to get a feel for it.


It’s cross country, not a road race. Seems a bit sensational to call a course ‘dangerous’. Slow? Yes. Rhythm destroying? Yes. Energy Sapping? Yes. Soul sucking? Yes. Dangerous? Hard to imagine how unless the slight risk of an ankle sprain is what you are referring to.

Having spent the last 4 years or so racing bikes on various surfaces (MTB, CX, road), the term ‘dangerous’ has a very different meaning…

Looking forward to some ‘true’ UK style XC this weekend! (Ok maybe not 100% enthused but halfway there :grinning:)


If runners will get injured specifically because of the course it would be too dangerous. There’s a difference between getting injured from a dumb course and getting gassed from a challenging one.

Also, there’s a difference between XC and obstacle courses and a fella oughta be aware of it.


Well said. I agree 100%. Back in my era of OFSAA XC Championship Running in the late 1970’s - there seemed to be a competition each year as we progressed through High School from each OFSAA Meet organizer to come up with a course more crazy and diabolical than the previous year! Ridiculous hills, thick mud, bad footing, river crossings . . etc . . I know times have changed, but that’s sort of the standard that I came from!

1 Like

By the same logic, It’s a cross country course, not a trail race :smiley:

Maybe dangerous was the wrong type of criticism. We gotta get clicks here you know. For those of us who have ever done a mountain running course (one and done for me), no one is going into the race thinking “yikes this could be too dangerous” because they know what they are getting into. The problem with uni and club XC is there is a fairly wide ranging level of technical difficulty that’s generally accepted. Golf courses and then this. Discretize the races. XC, spartan races, mountain races, obstacle courses, etc.


It’s not even close to a trail race type course. Lets roll back the sensationalism here lads. It’s a bit lumpy and will have some mud. Tape your ankles if you are worried.


I will say this on the subject of championship courses: Whatever they are like-- smooth, flat, hilly, muddy, etc-- should be by design, and people should have plenty of warning regarding what to expect. I fully get that Covid has complicated everything; but, that people have only starting talking about this in the past week, and that the course had to be “edited” in just the past week, does not speak to effective planning-- again, not for a championship event.

For now we should be focusing on the athletes and the competition, but a full and frank critical appraisal of the decision making around this course should be forthcoming. When we hosted those four years, we welcomed-- nay, invited-- criticism of any and all facets of the event that were under our control. AC and this LOC should expect nothing less. It’s how you get better.


Fair point Steve. I just think the claims of the course being ‘dangerous’ are a bit over the top. (Disclaimer: I am not on the LOC)


Lol after now witnessing the course first hand… GG. Separating an out and back trail with cones :joy:. Also absolutely brutal for spectators. Still gonna send it though.