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Home & Current News   Old News (pre 2008)

Bluenosers Bake in Beantown

By Michael and Tony Armson

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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 kisses.

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 bodies.

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 of 3:29.

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?"

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Running Room Bluenosers

David Abugov 3:26     Robert Hiscock 4:35
Tony Armson 3:41   Jennifer Hoyt 3:37
Rami Bardeesy 2.55   Leo Kennedy 3:32
Dianne Chiasson 3:29   Brian McDonah 3:29
Robert Clark 4:49   Erin McDonah 3:58
Peter Fardy 4:23   Michael Orr 3:32
Marian Fratczak 3:33   George Pothier 4:27

Boston Marathon Race Statistics

Category Started Finished % Finished
All 17,548 17,030 97.1%
Male 11,068 10,728 96.9%
Female 6,480 6,302 97.3%
Canada 1,311 1,291 98.5%
Nova Scotia 88 87 98.9%
Halifax 34 34 100%


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