by Darcia Kmet
In May 1999, eight women set foot—or rather, running shoe—into the Bank Street Running Room in Ottawa, for the first day of the 10-week 10K training program. The goal? To run and complete the Rattle Me Bones race. Each of the women had an individual reason for joining this clinic: lose weight, run faster, set a personal best time, meet new people, and so on.
The clinic leaders welcomed runners, both new and veteran, and outlined how the evening and next 10 weeks would unfold. Every week, participants would be greeted by then-store manager Phil Marsh as they arrived. Runners gathered around clothing racks, perused the latest styles and eventually huddled with those of equal running pace while they waited in anticipation for the session to start. The weekly routine entailed a guest speaker and a breakdown of the evening’s workout—followed by packs of runners taking over the Rideau Canal path for their scheduled group run.
Ten weeks came and went, and the eight women successfully completed the program as well as the Rattle Me Bones 10K event. Together, they decided to move up to the Half Marathon clinic. Their mission: to run the Ottawa half marathon in 2000, graduate to the Full Marathon clinic and run Ottawa’s National Capital Marathon in 2001. To solidify their status as a team, they nicknamed themselves the “Run-elles.”
Phil Marsh was the Run-elles’ clinic instructor as they prepared for their first full marathon. During group runs, he would begin at the front of the pack with his gazelle-like running style, but eventually made his way to the middle, the back, and back to the front. Over the 12 weeks, Phil would patiently listen to their stories, over and over again.
Fast-forward 20 years, and while the Run-elles may not see each other at the Running Room every week, some still run, while others power walk or compete in Ironman events. Either way, the greatest result of this journey has been the incredible friendships that were formed. Thank you, Running Room, for being the place where it all started in 1999.
The Run-elles posing together in 2001 (left) and this year (top of page). In 2019 photo, from left: Ann Lanthier, Debra Ferderber, Darcia Kmet, John Stanton, Raymonde D’Amour, Marie-Christine Bédard, Maria Caripa, Elizabeth Novales, Phil Marsh.