Sunday, June 16, 2024

HIGH ACHIEVERS WRAP: Ottawa’s Barry Smith takes unique approach to Ottawa Race Weekend

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By Martin Cleary

The 32,702 participants in the 2024 Ottawa Race Weekend had numerous goals for their road races, including reaching the finish line, whether it was for the two-, five- or 10-kilometre races, the half-marathon or the 50th marathon.

But Ottawa’s Barry Smith took a completely different approach. Why not enter four races over the weekend and swing-away-at a grand slam, of sorts.

So, he did.

Smith along with 62 other runners entered the 59.2 Challenge Classic. The competitive schedule was brutal.

On Saturday, Smith and his endurance-running peers ran back-to-back-to-back tests – the ASICS Runkeeper two-kilometre race at 3 p.m., the ASICS Runkeeper five-kilometre race at 4 p.m. and the Otto’s Ottawa 10-kilometre race at 6:30 p.m.

The next race was to get home quickly to get enough sleep because Sunday’s marathon started at 7 a.m.

By the time Smith crossed his fourth and final finish line in the marathon, his four races covered 59.195 kilometres and spanned 20.5 hours.

And when the final results were released, Smith finished on top of the list with a total winning time of four hours, 31 minutes and 42 seconds. His individual race times from shortest to longest were 7:42, 30:56, 57:22 and 2:55:43.

Smith, 50, had a close, back-and-forth battle, which he resolved with an impressive marathon run, with Guillaume De Blois of Montreal, who placed second in 4:43:24. The individual race times for De Blois were 7:44, 20:35, 43:37 and 3:31:29.

Denis Fontaine of Boucherville, PQ, was third in 4:53:46 (9:59, 24:47, 52:30, 4:53:46).

Eva Ocvirk of Zagreb, Croatia, was the women’s 59.2 Challenge Classic winner and eighth overall in 5:07:09 (10:04, 25:13, 51:02, 3:40:51). She was followed by Esther Bourgin of St-Pierre-de-l’Île-d’Orleans, PQ, in second at 5:31:32 (11:01, 26:34, 55:03, 3:58:55), while Nancy Martel of Roberval, PQ, took third in 5:51:31 (12:03, 28:08, 56:14, 4:15:07).

Ethiopian runners continued their dominance in the marathon, which attracted 5,033 participants.

Lecho Tesfaye Anbesa was the men’s champion in 2:12:41, which earned him $8,000, and countryman Adamu Gejahun was runner-up at 2:13:29. Kenya’s Laban Mutai Kipkemboi took third in 2:14:00.

Montreal’s Arnaud Francioni was Canada’s fastest runner at 2:25:48.

The best local runners were David Massicotte-Azarniouch of Ottawa, 21st overall, 2:38:29; Connor Hammond of Ottawa, 30th in 2:43:42 and Austin Carthy of Chelsea, 31st, 2:43:57.

Ethiopian runners also were 1-2 in the women’s marathon as Maregu Hayelom posted the fastest time of 2:32:20, which earned her $8,000, and Tinebeb Nebiyu was second at 2:41:40. Toronto’s Rachel Hannah finished third and was the top Canadian in 2:48:03.

Claudine Soucie of Gatineau led the group of National Capital Region runners, finishing 88th overall in 2:54:06, while Erin Savoie of Nepean was 158th in 2:59:30 and Elizabeth Smith took 245th in 3:08:17.

Ethiopian runners have won the women’s marathon 12 times since 2010 and captured the men’s title eight times since 2013.

Nicolas Paradis of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, PQ, won the men’s half marathon in 1:11:04, while Andrew Deak of Chelsea was third in 1:12:06 and Canadian cross-country team skier Aidan Kirkham of Kanata was eighth in 1:14:34.

Erika Jordan of Morrisburg, ON, was the women’s overall champion and the top regional runner in the half-marathon in 1:21:24.

Benjamin Flanagan of Kitchener, ON, set a Canadian road race record and won the national championship title in Saturday’s featured 10-kilometre race in 28:09.

Rory Linkletter of Calgary was second in a personal-best 28:40, while Jeremy Coughler of Port Hope, ON, was third in 28:55.

Malindi Elmore of Kelowna, B.C., was the women’s 10-kilometre race winner in 32:50, while Cleo Boyd of Kingston took second at 33:12 and defending champion Natasha Wodak of Surrey, B.C., finished third in 33:21.

Ottawa’s Jonathan Rioux (currently based in Windsor) won the men’s five-kilometre race in 15:17 and Sebastian Saville of Ottawa was second in 15:45. Elise Coates of Victoria was the women’s five-kilometre winner in 17:03 and Rosalyn Barrett was the best Ottawa runner as the fourth overall woman in 18:27.

The two-kilometre race winners were Kyle Legere of Trenton, ON, in 7:31 and Maelle Goulet-Dufort of Laval, PQ, in 8:15. Stittsville’s Bohao Yan and Darrah Davidson won the 1.2-kilometre kids’ marathon in 4:49 and 5:13.

Here are a few other interesting items from the Ottawa Race Weekend:

· The Desjardins Charity Challenge saw 98 groups raise $1,684,000. Donations can still be made until June 17.

· Bob Brisebois of Rockland, ON, turned 85 years old on April 28 and was the oldest runner to complete the marathon in 5:37:14.

· Great Canadian Theatre Company managing director Hugh Neilson had a goal of raising $10,000 for his group, while playing the ukulele as he ran the marathon. He called it his first-ever Hugh-kulele-run-a-thon.

· Here are the number of participants for each race: Kids’ marathon – 1,431; 2K – 3,322; 5K – 7,399; 10K – 6,897; half-marathon – 8,620; and marathon – 5,033.


The 2023-24 competitive curling season may be over, but Rachel Homan’s rink has plenty of reasons to bring the sport to the forefront.

The Ottawa Curling Club has selected June 21 as the day to honour Homan’s world championship rink as well as their phenomenal 2023-24 season record of 67 wins and only seven losses.

The doors will open to the O’Connor Street club at 3:30 p.m. and Homan, Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew, Sarah Wilkes and Rachelle Brown will arrive at 4 p.m. Ottawa Curling Club president Nicole Merriman will toast the champions at 4:45 p.m., which will be followed by a banner presentation.

At 5:15 p.m., the champions will cut the celebration cake.

Homan, who lives in Beaumont, AB, has represented the Ottawa Curling Club since 2008, after playing for the Rideau and City View clubs. Team Homan won the 2024 world women’s curling championship in Sydney, N.S., with a 13-1 record, defeating Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni 7-5 in the final.

On Monday, Homan announced well-decorated Canadian skip Brendan Bottcher will coach her squad for the 2024-25 season. Bottcher is taking a break as a competitor, after being the No. 1-ranked men’s Canadian skip last season and having won medals at seven of the past eight Briers, including gold in 2021.

“Having Brendan join our coaching staff is incredibly exciting,” Homan said in a press release. “His experience, leadership and strategy will undoubtedly elevate our game. With Brendan living in Edmonton near me, his continuous support will be invaluable both on and off the ice.”

Don Bartlett coached Team Homan in the 2023-24 season.

Homan also added she will team with Bottcher to compete in mixed doubles with a keen eye on that discipline’s Canadian Olympic trials Dec. 30, 2024 to Jan. 4, 2025.

“I couldn’t be more excited to work hard with Brendan for the short season before the mixed doubles trials,” she added. “We have similar work ethic and goals and I look forward to training in the same city.”

Brown, who was Homan’s alternate for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the world championships in 2024, will remain with the team for next season as a permanent member until the culmination of the current Olympic cycle.

Homan said Brown provided “positive energy and unwavering support” for her team in 2024.


Ottawa’s Kiana Gibson, a masters nutrition and dietetics student, played a significant role in the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds winning their third straight women’s and fourth overall title at the NAIA track and field championships in Marion, Indiana.

Gibson, a former University of Guelph student-athlete, posted two sizeable victories in endurance running. Her 20 points contributed greatly to the team’s overall total of 137 points.

She won the women’s steeplechase in 10 minutes, 31.23 seconds for an 11-second win. Her second victory came in the 5,000 metres in 17:15.54 as she finished more than 15 seconds ahead of the runner-up.


· Jessica Hong of the Carleton University Wrestling Club lost her two matches and finished third in the women’s freestyle 50-kilogram class at the Canadian U23 wrestling championships in Calgary.

· Craig Beaucamp has stepped down as the University of Victoria Vikings men’s basketball head coach and has joined Dave Smart, formerly with the Carleton University Ravens program, as the lead assistant coach for the University of the Pacific Tigers in the NCAA Division 1 West Coast Conference. Beaucamp coached Victoria for 21 seasons (2003-04 to 2023-24) and also has previous national team coaching experience.

· Jorai Oppong-Nketiah of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club broke the Canadian women’s U18 record in the 100 metres, when she placed second in the Bob Vigars Classic in 11.51 seconds. Visually-impaired runner Bianca Borgella lowered the women’s T13 national record to 11.92 seconds at the same meet in London, ON.

· The Canadian women’s team finished fourth at the Pan Am aquatics 19-and-under water polo championship in San Salvador, El Salvador, losing the bronze-medal game to the United States 10-10 (4-2 shootout). Brooklyn Plomp of Ottawa and the California-based Diablo Alliance club scored the tying goal to force overtime. Canada defeated the U.S. 12-10 in the round robin.

· Isaiah Ibit of Ottawa and Rowan MacDonald of Cantley, PQ, tried their hand at the pro game, but missed qualifying for this week’s PGA Tour event, the RBC Canadian Open. In the final qualifying event Monday at the TPC Toronto Osprey Valley, Ibit shot a seven-over-par 77, while MacDonald had a 10-over 80.

· The Canadian men’s team posted a 2-2 record at the Volleyball Nations League competition in Antalya, Turkey, defeating Turkey 3-1 and Bulgaria 3-0, but losing to Poland 3-1 and Slovenia 3-2. Captain Nicholas Hoag of Gatineau had seven points, including five off the attack and two from service. Canada will play its next VNL round June 4-9 at The Arena at TD Place in Ottawa. In preparation, Canada will meet Italy in a pair of friendly matches May 31 and June 1 at the Centre sportif de Gatineau.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 51 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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