Rideau Canal: Exercise Central

On a breezy, sunny Sunday afternoon with the temperature hitting 18°C, runners and bikers covered the pathways along the Rideau canal.

A section of grass, trees, and carefully manicured flower beds separates the path from Colonel By Drive in between the Bronson and Bank Street bridges. A stone water fountain at the side of this stretch of pathway is the only one for kilometres in either direction, so it’s a universal stopping place.

A white-haired man in bright green shorts didn’t even get off his bike, pedalling up to the side of the fountain where he could hunch over the spout. A tall woman decked out in full running gear, dripping with sweat, had several little water bottles strung around her belt to distribute their weight more evenly. Nevertheless, she paused for a fresh gulp from the fountain. She was 24 kilometres into her run.

Alex Ward, beginning his first year at Carleton University, was on his first rollerblade excursion here. “I don’t think it gets much better than this,” he said as he stopped for water, his face flushed from the exercise.

There were a surprising number of dogs out on the pathway, given the bikes zipping by and the narrowness of the paths. Derek Zimmerman and Sophie Jobin had brought brown and white splotched, floppy-eared Beamer with them on their run. Zimmerman said he likes to jog along the canal because the number of other people out exercising motivates him.

Different runners have different gaits. An older man, tall and gaunt, kind of hopped along, his legs and arms swinging forward and backward like a pendulum. His feet barely left the ground. A young man in his 20s charged by him, his hands reaching forward while his heels kicked back athletically.

About ten feet below the pathway, the canal’s waters weren’t empty. The Miss SBJ II tour boat carried a lone six passengers taking in the sun on her back deck. Tourist season is over. A dragon boat filled with female rowers wooshed by, its male drummer roaring “Harder, harder!” with dire urgency. A humming motor boat carrying two fishermen followed a single kayaker.

When clear of boats, a small amount of a soapy, bubbly substance could be seen floating on the canal’s murky brown surface. It didn’t seem to bother anyone.

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