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January 8, 2016

Blue Nose Marathon

A few years ago I attended a program on accessibility at the University of North Carolina.  The speaker, whose name is lost to me, asked a seemingly random question:  "Who holds the record in the Boston Marathon?" 

I grew up in Boston and pay a certain amount of attention on April 19, so I eagerly raised my hand and said "That Kenyan guy - Kip something."  

"Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot you mean. Good guess, but nope, Ernst van Dyk beat him by about 41 minutes.  He used a wheelchair."
van Dyk

Sitting there in my wheelchair, I don't think I ever felt as stupid.  In fact, I was sitting in a Bob Hall wheelchair.  Bob was the first wheelchair entrant in the Boston Marathon and later turned to making fantastic aluminum chairs.  I'm sitting in it now.

I'm an idiot.

This past summer I spent some time with Gina Brown and Rod McCullouch of the ScotiaBank Blue Nose Marathon, agreeing on details for having a wheelchair division this May 20.

I'm pleased to say that the 5k event will have an elite wheelchair division and a separate start, with all the necessaries for an official event.  Uncertainties about the bridge and Marathon route make this a good beginning.

We worked with Ueli Albert of Athletics Nova Scotia and Ben Marston of SportNovaScotia to develop a plan.  We expect just a few entrants this year, drawn from the roster of local elite athletes.  

Meanwhile, a Canadian, by virtue of his 1:18 time in Boston, Josh Cassidy, has become the world record holder in men's wheelchair marathon.

And those who remember Johnny Miles will appreciate that this may be the start of something great.

In 1926, 20-year-old delivery boy, Johnny Miles of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, upset Olympic champion Albin Stenroos of Finland and course recordholder Clarence H. DeMar. Miles ran in dogged pursuit of Stenroos, and finally caught the Olympic gold medalist at Boston College. Slowed by a side stitch, Stenroos could only watch as Miles darted past to victory in 2:25:40.

If you know of athletes who might be interested, please encourage them to enter.

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