I have to confess that I am kind of an old school runner. I don’t do colour runs, or foam runs or other strange runs. I like my runs correctly measured (5K is 5K not 4.8K or 5.1K), with accurate timing and a well-marked course. I have two sisters and they suggested doing the Bouge Bouge Ottawa a two loop 5K run around the inside of the Rideau Centre and the Shaw Centre. I agreed because they are my sisters and I like them but I was expecting the worst. Wet slippery floors, mass confusion and tripping over small children and dogs (OK I am exaggerating only service dogs are allowed in the mall).
Susan Ibach (my youngest sister) and I arrived early on race day because we had skipped early race kit pick-up and were not sure how long it would take. It actually did not take long so we decided to walk the course before the race to get a feel for it. The course was rather loopy and had lots of stairs. It was a bit confusing but there were volunteers to point us in the right direction and the floors were clean and dry.
There was a real start-finish line and Sportstats was doing the timing which is always a good sign.
The event started in waves of 15 runners 10 seconds apart which worked well to prevent crowding. We went up and down stairs, through all three levels of the mall, and down back hallways I had never seen before. The course was well marked and there were enthusiastic volunteers at all the turns. The floors were dry and not slippery and they even had someone at the water station cleaning up any water that had split on the floor. The final 500 metres of the loop featured a run up four flights of stairs with an official looking man between the 2nd and 3rd holding a defibrillator!
I took the first loop really slowly because I was worried about traction on the mall floors but it was remarkably good so I took the second loop a little faster. The final climb up four flights of stairs just before the finish were pretty brutal but at least I did not need the guy with the defibrillator.
The Rideau Centre was not open for shopping but the building was open and there were a few people walking around. They looked surprised and amused by the sight of over 300 runners going around the mall in circles. I almost took out a family coming around a blind corner, luckily they zigged and I zagged and we missed each other.
Overall, It was a very well organized event. Lots of enthusiastic volunteers a well-marked course which I think was basically accurate (hard to be sure as Garmins don’t work well in shopping malls). With turns and stairs it’s definitely not a PB kind of course but it was kind of fun and it’s always nice to get to run in shorts in February.