Bluenosers Bake in Beantown
By Michael and Tony Armson
here to view the photos.
It's 8:45 on a cold, stormy Sunday morning in early February.
Fourteen runners are fighting their way across the Angus L
MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The wind is blowing
so hard that the runners' legs are being pushed against one
another. Each member of the group thinks to him/herself -
"Why in the world am I out here?" There is only
one answer to this question: the prospect of the Boston Marathon.
The group has been training for the 107th running
of the world's most prestigious marathon since early January.
It is a particularly tight-knit group of runners, bound together
by friendship, camaraderie, support, and, of course, the common
goals they all share. The group has been running from the
Running Room together for about five years.
In early April, after four months of rigorous
training, the 14 marathoners feel strong and confident. After
a short taper, the group travels to Boston along with 85 other
Nova Scotians for the big event.
On the glorious, sunny morning of Sunday, April
20, the Halifax Running Room crew joins thousands of other
runners in the "Freedom Run," a three mile warm
up for the marathon the next day. The group then heads off
to the world famous Expo, where they are overwhelmed by large
crowds of people and running gear galore. In the afternoon,
some members of the group choose to sleep, while others relax
in the bleachers of Fenway Park and watch the Red Sox beat
the Toronto Blue Jays on a ninth inning homer by Nomar Garciaparra.
At night, it is time for the Pre-race Pasta Party, where the
Nova Scotia contingent is unable to connect because of the
endless lines and numerous eating areas. Finally, it is time
for a good night's rest......
The Nova Scotians wake up early on Monday, April
21. They travel by bus to Hopkinton, the starting point of
the marathon, where, despite the thousands of runners, they
manage to find each other. Together, they prepare for the
start, with mixed feelings of anxiety, anticipation, and excitement.
Together, they are serenaded and encouraged by legendary Boston
marathoner John A. Kelly. Together, they meditate, considering
all they have done, and all they are about to do. At last,
the contingent separates, heading off to their corrals, where
they wait for the starting gun. The Halifax Running Room runners
are about to run the Boston Marathon.
The gun sounds. There is a slow surge as the
field of 18,000 heads towards the start line. The warm mid-day
sun is beating down at 70°F. There is no breeze, not a
single cloud in the sky. The runners do not yet realize the
effect this heat will have on the race - for now, they are
on a natural high, feeling confident and strong.
By the five kilometre mark, the confidence and
optimism begins to wane for the Haligonians. They are already
starting to realize that this is going to be a long, tough
run. Having trained in sub-zero temperatures all winter, the
Halifax crew just isn't ready for this kind of heat.
Maintaining race pace is starting to take maximum
effort, while the initial excitement and bravado has been
replaced by a familiar question: "Why in the world am
I out here?" As the Running Room affiliate approaches
the half-way point, the screams of Wellesley collegiates provide
the runners with a boost - they are able to pick up the pace
for a short period. The "Scream Tunnel", as the
corridor of college girls is called, provides the runners
with support, along with water, oranges, high-fives and even
From miles 16 to 21, the Halifax group is greeted
by an excruciating uphill climb. This is the point where the
intense quadricep and hamstring pains combine with the fatigue
and dehydration to make it increasingly difficult to stay
on pace. As the Haligonians run the final miles towards the
finish line, paces slow and pre-race goals begin to slip away.
As the runners approach Fenway Park, the temperature
begins to drop into the low 50's, but it is just too late
for anybody to pick up the pace. Each member of the Halifax
crew is hanging on by sheer will now, step by step, mile marker
by mile marker. At last, the finish line comes into view.
The roar of the crowd on Boylston Street is just barely enough
to carry the runners home. Determined to finish, they shuffle,
stumble, and even crawl over the line, where they are greeted
with medals and replenishment for their exhausted, dehydrated
Although some of the Halifax crew feel somewhat
disappointed with their times, they have a lot to be proud
of. Half of the 14 runners have re-qualified for next year's
Boston Marathon. Rami Bardeesy is the top Haligonian in the
marathon, finishing with a time of 2:55. Dianne Chaisson is
the first Nova Scotian masters woman to finish, with a time
But most importantly, each of the 14 members
of the Halifax Running Room team has completed the Boston
Marathon, a truly amazing accomplishment. Together, they have
trained throughout the cold, winter months. Together, they
have overcome the pre-race jitters. Together, they have conquered
the mountain, defeated the giant, prevailed over self-doubt
and fear. Together, they have run the Boston Marathon. It
has been an unbelievable experience, one which they will all
remember for the rest of their lives. But there will be more
special experiences in the future, whether it's an easy 10K
on a Wednesday night or yet another marathon.
"Anyone thinking about a fall marathon?"
asks Leo Kennedy, "How about Chicago?"
here to view the photos.
Running Room Bluenosers
Boston Marathon Race Statistics
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