Visitors to Australia may well be familiar with a Bush Tucker tour – in which willing participants head out into the wilderness of the Outback, without much more than the shirts on their back, to live off the land as Aboriginals have there for centuries. When Ottawa’s Bob Laughton was thinking of opening his own outdoor sporting goods store in 1999, his brother had just returned from such a trip. There was something about the name that resonated with Bob’s passion for all things outdoors, and so, adapting the name from the unique way Australians pronounce it, Bushtukah was born.
These days, while Bushtukah doesn’t exactly encourage a weekend in the woods eating grubs and sticks (they have a whole section of backpackable nutrition for that), they have established themselves as the one-stop shopping experience for outdoor enthusiasts in the Capital Region, all year round.
Those who are looking to lace up and hit the road or the trail can find plenty to improve their game at Bushtukah’s two locations in Westboro and Stittsville. Runners can book an appointment on Run Signature Night to have their gait analysed by trained staff right in store, followed by a full fitting session to find that perfect shoe. Their frequent in-store clinics cover a wide range of topics, from nutritional advice to injury prevention to everything you need to know before your first ultra-marathon, and are led largely by their experienced and passionate staff.
In the past two years, Bushtukah has focused on trail running, establishing a trail running group on Saturday mornings that they have watched grow, as the community in Ottawa, more and more, has embraced an outdoor, active lifestyle.
And Bushtukah has a lot to do with that. Along with supporting athletes in the area, they either sponsor or direct a slew of races throughout the year. From the Bad Beaver Ultra, a 3-day, 150 km race through Gatineau Park, to the annual Tot Trot, a family event for runners 2 to 92, Bushtukah is taking the sport of running to every member of their community.
And that’s no accident. It’s definitely by design. It’s important to the crew at Bushtukah to give back, and it’s easy to see in the many charities they support through the races and runs they sponsor. The annual 9RunRun races raise money and awareness for Emergency Services across Canada. They also work with Ausome Ottawa to develop a sports program for kids living with autism.
At Bushtukah, it’s not just about selling running shoes, or other outdoor gear. It’s all about helping people enjoy themselves in whatever outdoor activity they choose, and ensuring they stay safe and comfortable enough to keep on going. “We’re all about extending the season,” says long-time employee Sonia Blunt.
“We want to help our customers get out the door and outside,” she says, before adding with a laugh, “and not have to come back too often.”
One visit to Bushtukah, however, and it might be hard to stay away.