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May 22, 2023


I confess to taking my eye off the ball since raising this issue with the then Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon in 2015.   But apparently Gerry Walsh and Rod McCulloch have a different understanding of the importance of athletics and they are willing to overlook a whole segment of Nova Scotians.  

Bring me my bow of burning gold: Bring me my arrows of desire: Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire.
William Blake

Here is Bob Hall his chariot in 1975, the first authorized wheelchair competitor in the Boston Marathon. He made a deal with the legendary Will Cloney that he could race officially if he finished in under three hours. He did it in 2:58.

Here is Canadian Josh Cassidy winning the 5k at the 2016 Blue Nose Marathon. The picture has this caption on the CBC:

 "A wheelchair athlete came in first at a marathon in downtown Halifax this weekend, leaving runners and walkers in his dust.  Crowds cheered and fog horns blared as Josh Cassidy crossed the finish line at the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon, breaking records for the five-kilometre event with a time of 11 minutes and 24 seconds."

In 2012, Josh held the record in Boston - 1:18:25.  This year's first sneakered runner came in three quarters of an hour later - 2:05:54.

By coincidence, the main story on CBC on Victoria day 2023 is:
"Much work remains for N.S. to hit 2030 accessibility targets, report says".  

The report advocates for "accessible and equitable community, sports, and athletic programs, and similar initiatives that are community driven and led. Such initiatives are positively impacting the lives of the people we consulted......"

I believe the last wheelchair entry in the Blue Nose was in 2019.  In 2023, there are no wheelchair divisions in any of the Blue Nose races.  It's not a stretch to conclude that race organizers are preoccupied with other concerns and that this is yet another manifestation of the 'systemic discrimination', which the province has vowed to eliminate.

Do you remember "Field of Dreams"?  "If you build it he will come" is the memorable quote about Shoeless Joe Jackson.  There may be a dearth of potential wheelchair competitors for the Blue Nose, but that's no excuse.  The Blue Nose uses public roads, relies on police for crowd control, spectators use public transportation - services that people using wheelchairs help pay for.

What would be the cost of organizing an event that no one showed up for?  It's an important symbol.  That might be the exact motivation a teenager needs.  Nova Scotia has to remember its promises.

So why risk the good name of the Blue Nose by omitting a whole class of people?  Because no one will notice?

Notice is given.