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Runner, 96, on pace to set world record at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

Rejeanne Fairhead, 96, could be destined for the Guinness World Records, when she takes on the 5K run in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

This is only the second time Fairhead has entered a race.

Last year, in her first event, she jogged away with two victories - as the most mature participant ever in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, and as Canada's fastest in the women’s 5K, 95-plus category at 58 minutes and 52 seconds.

Currently, Fairhead remains only four seconds behind the world-record holder, American Betty Lindberg. It's a time Fairhead hopes to beat on Saturday, but the goal of running, she says, was never about time.

"I hope to (earn the world record) and if I do, good, but if I don’t I’m still inspiring others and I’m doing it mainly for the fundraising for the Perley Health," Fairhead says. "They opened up 27 years ago and I’ve been there ever since volunteering. I know a lot of people there and I know their needs, so it’s a good cause.”

Perley Health in Ottawa is a long-term care facility and home to more than 600 seniors and veterans. The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is one of the largest fundraising events for the Perley.

"Rejeanne is one of 65 members running this year as part of Team Perley Rideau. Together they have raised over $114,000," says Courtney Rock, Perley Health Foundation director of development. "The money goes towards the people at Perley Health, providing exceptional care to the residents who live at Perley but also it goes towards supporting our research and our education so that more people can benefit from the care we deliver."

With nearly 30,000 runners, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is a massive fundraising generator for charities. This year, there are 74 organizations that will benefit from the races, with a fundraising total expected to surpass $1.5 million.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of runners raising money for the hospital and for other local charities and really important causes," said Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, who is also participating in the marathon.

"That’s really special and it drives a lot of philanthropic activity and medical research and other initiatives in our community."

Sutcliffe will become the first sitting Ottawa mayor to run in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend's marathon.

"I’m raising money for Ottawa Salus, which is a wonderful local organization which provides supportive housing for individuals with mental health challenges," Sutcliffe said. "Earlier this year, they experienced a flood at their west end facility. I toured the facility and it was really devastating to see what had happened there and so many of the residents were displaced and their possessions were destroyed, so I wanted to support them … and fortunately thanks to the generosity of the people of Ottawa, I’ve surpassed that goal.”

Fairhead’s fundraising target is $5,000, and she’s close, just like that world record that her family would love for her to achieve.

"So her great-grandchildren and beyond will see her name in the record books. We’ve always been inspired by Rejeanne, we’ve always known she’s a superstar,” says her daughter-in-law Ruth McMahon. “She is a tenacious woman who has a lot of get up and go and always wants to give to the community, give to her family and you know it’s kind of thrilling for everybody but in the end like we’re just inspired by her and thankful we have her in our lives." Top Stories

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