By Ken Parker
Emilie's Run was inspired by Emilie Mondor, the first Canadian female to run a sub-15:00 5K and a member of Canada’s 2004 Olympic team. Emilie Mondor empowered a new generation of Canadian women to run fast and own their place on the podium. She died tragically at the age of 25.
Emilie still holds the Canadian Women's 5K record at 15:16 set in 2004.
In the early months of 2006, I started planning for a women's only 5K race for women wanting to provide an event where women would "win" the race and also have the responsibility for pacing, etc. It was called the RunnersWeb 5K Race for Women.
At a press conference for Ottawa Race Weekend that year I met Emilie and told her about the plans for a women's only 5K race. I asked her if she was interested and available to run it. She said she would, and even thought she had to change her schedule he committed to running it.
Because of Emilie's statute in the women's and general running community I marketed the race around her. We started connecting via email and on race day she drove from Montreal to Ottawa and as I observed her warming up I noticed that she had a bit of limp. I stopped her and asked about and found out that she had injured her Achilles but since she knew I had profiled her for the race she wanted to run it.
While I admired her commitment, I said that I did not want her to run. The race went on without her and was a big success with 35 women running sub 20 including 14 members of the OAC Racing Team.
We kept communicating by email and on the phone and we discussed running and the marathon specifically which I thought a bit odd since she was a 5 and 10K runner.
She then asked me if I would coach her if she moved to the Ottawa area for the marathon as she planned to give up racing on the track.
I agreed and she moved to Hull (now Gatineau) and she started training with me and The OAC Racing Team.
On the weekend she would drive to my house in Rothwell Heights and I would get on my bike and she would do her long runs along the path adjacent to the Rockcliffe Parkway.
One Saturday she came out for her run and told me that she was going home to Mascouche Quebec which was just North of Montreal.
We said goodbye and I told her that on the following Tuesday if she did not slow down in the mile repeats in Rockcliffe Park I would cut her recovery time down to zero! She laughed and said with a smile, "Whatever, coach" and she left.
The next morning I heard on the media and she had been in a car accident and had passed.
At this point I decided to rename the women's 5K "Emilie's Run - The Emilie Mondor Memorial 5K Race for Women". At her funeral in Mascouche I met her parents for the first time and they mentioned how happy they were that Emilie's main training base would be so close to Montreal so they would get to see her more often. I discussed the plans for the race to be renamed in her honour and they were pleased as measure of highly Emilie was thought of in the running community the New York Runner's Club sent a representative to her funeral and at that fall's New York City Marathon the lite women wore a black ribbon in her honour.
Starting in 2007 her parents came to the race and held the finish line tape and assisted in the awards ceremony. In 2007 we had 45 women run under 20 minutes.
In 2018, in an attempt to ensure that the race would live on after my time I arranged for Run Ottawa to take the event over.
In 2020 Run Ottawa rebranded the race: ‘Run to Empower’ with consulting me which was a violation of their agreement with on the management of the race and the race was cancelled due to COVID.
In 2021 due to changes made by Run Ottawa that would allow males to run as women made to the race, the Mondor family asked that Emilie's links to the race be removed. And sadly this menat the end to a race that was tsrated as a women only race and the end of a run meant to remember Emilie Mondor. History will not ne kind to those who did this.
April 29, 2022: Emilie would have trurned 42 today and I belive would have still been a force in the marathon.
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