The stadium (YOW)

Boston, Edmonton, Baltimore, Dallas, DC, Buffalo…. NP is moving through stadium stairs one community at a time. I want to share with you my thoughts on stadiums and what we have our hands on.

On one hand, we can see the stadium as simple as it is: running stairs. And to somebody who has yet to experience them, it may be just that. If that is what those who participate, it can be as simple as that. Just show up, run, go on with the day. That is awesome. For others, this can be a starting point: taking one step. One step  into increasing activity level, getting into exercise, recovering from an injury, returning to exercise. Or it’s the first step into the unknown, meeting new people, connecting with others in Ottawa. The stairs is a great opportunity to take that first step. No matter how fast or slow you think you are, the stairs is a fight. It’s mind over matter, it’s moving those legs when they don’t want to move. Whether you walk, jog, run or a mix of it all, if you run one section, or all of them in the 30 minutes, it WILL be a challenge. The best part? Everyone around you is feeling those same things, woke up early to work their body and want you to succeed.

Like some of you, I have experienced first hand what the stadium can do. November Project Summit 5.0 in Boston- June 2017. Where this free fitness movement began, we bounced with 1500 or so other humans from around the world- from 2 months old -to 88 years old, marathon runners to recent or former non-movers. The stadium was filled with all shapes and sizes, but one common thread- smiles. Words of encouragement keep you pushing through when you want to give up, when your legs tell you no, but your heart tells you that you can do it.

I want to share with you a personal story about my experience with the stadium, because it made us that much more motivated to make it part of November Project in Ottawa. I had the opportunity to be a part of the November Project Canada (Edmonton) tribe. We got to run the Commonwealth Stadium, and quickly learned the challenges of the lower bowl, and progress to the steep upper deck. The kind of workout that leaves your legs feeling like jelly- the first time you do it, and then every time after that when you work to tackle just one more section the next week. One wildly challenging and legendary feat is the Ol’96er. It happens twice a year- the opportunity to take on 59 minutes instead of 30 minutes, a 5:30am start time to try to tackle the entire stadium. The fastest athletes run it in 40ish minutes, many do not even finish it at all. But it’s a fantastic challenge to test yourself, to set goals, to give you a focus week to week as you work towards completing the Ol’96er. My very first Commonwealth stadium workout just so happened to fall on an Ol’96er day. It was a bit of a wake up call. I felt what everyone was talking about with this “upper deck” section, and the jelly legs. I experienced the anticipation beforehand, and everyone nervous and talking about it. I was close to completing it, but didn’t quite finish the stadium that day and I was working HARD. Let’s just say biking home that day was probably a bit of a dangerous decision. That morning, once I was able to get on my bike and mobilize my legs, I went out for breakfast post-stadium with some wonderful tribe members. I was blown away that our entire breakfast revolved around the stadium and November Project- it was a full debrief. We discussed people’s accomplishments, the people who came out at 5:30 JUST to cheer their community on. We discussed the most challenging parts of the morning, individuals who have significantly improved, stories from previous years, setting new goals for the summer, on and on! Of course having just experienced it (and maybe that fact that I never getting sick of talking about November Project), I was totally immersed in the discussion. Although my legs didn’t work for 4 days, I was already so excited to go back the next week and work to be able to complete it the next time they announced the Ol’96er again. Above and beyond running the stairs, I got to be a part of “the Biker gang” with a couple of meet-up spots to pick tribe members up at 5:15, 5:25 and 5:30am. How much better is a commute when spending it with others? It makes you feel like you’re not the only one awake at that hour! This community within the community strengthened relationships, to the point where one talented member created our very own stencil to “tag” our shirts for the “NP biker gang”. You truly feel like you’re part of something special.

The stadium encourages people to start setting goals for themselves, building confidence to share to share those goals, and members of the community remember those goals, check in and hold you accountable. And even better, they will notice when you accomplish those goals- when you never stop moving, when you hit another half section, or when you show up 3 weeks in a row. On Ol’96er days, there are often dozens of supportive and encouraging members who wake up and come to the stadium to push people to hit their goals!

The stadium gives you an objective measure, a way to keep you tracking and seeing the progress you’re making. Sometimes you feel like progress is so slow because it is always a challenge and feels so hard. You may not even realize how far you’ve come! I tell you my experience because I was blown away by the effects of the stadium. We have the opportunity to use an amazing part of our city, in collaboration with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. They have allowed us to use the stairs, for $0 because they believe in what this can do for the community. I believe there are so many people in Ottawa who can benefit from this community, and the supportive people within it. They can meet friends, change up their workout routine, and try something new. The stadium isn’t open to runners all the time, so if you’re needing a stair workout this week, and want to tackle it with a group, come check it out. I am grateful for Bojan and Brogan in Boston, and for Jen, Nadim and Andrew to for casting a vision and providing an avenue for those positive community and personal growth experiences. Thank you.

NOW,  it is up to us to make things happen for our community, to tell people about it, to build our own culture in Ottawa. Every person matters and is an impact player.

Thank you for sharing your morning, your legs and your energy with us. This was a great Wednesday. Here’s to bringing “soles” together.

Starting April 25th, 2018. Tell everyone you know!


  1. EASTER WORKOUT! Start your holiday Friday strong and with positivity: This Friday, March 30, 2018- Arboretum 6:29am.
  2. Stay tuned for the Summit announcement
  3. PS. thank you to the NP communities for leading by example and showing us what is possible with their local stadium.

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