May 8, 2014 3:56 pm

Bluenose Marathon celebrated for its role in the community

HALIFAX – Bluenose Marathon festivities kicked off Thursday at Halifax city hall with a celebration of the role the event plays in building community spirit and inspiring Nova Scotians to be active.

The 11th running of the marathon, which is one of the biggest sporting events in the region, will take place May 17-18 in Halifax.

The noon cannon from Citadel Hill started a youth race around parade square, with 40 students from Grades 2 and 3 at Sir Charles Tupper School taking part.

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“It was really fun and after a while I got pretty tired,” said Grade 2 student Beatrice Dunn. “I got out of breath a little bit.”

Her classmate David Jolly said he is “definitely going to run this race.”

Jolly was referring to the youth run that takes place during the main event.

Thursday’s short race was part of a promotion for the Marathon, which has a theme this year of youth being the key to a healthy populace in the province.

“The event is all about health and wellness,” said Gerry Walsh, the event’s co-chair. “Nova Scotians don’t fare all that favourably from a health perspective in Canada, so if you want to change attitudes you have to start with youth. That’s why we’re focused on the kids.”

Thousands of kids will be running on Saturday, May 17. For the first time, they will have a choice in how far they’ll go — in addition to a 4-kilometre youth run, there is a new 2-kilometre youth run.

Over the first 10 years, participation in all Bluenose races grew, peaking at nearly 14,000 people last year.

Organizers say it might be slightly down this year due to weather, and some of the runners agree.

“The weather has definitely been a factor for a lot of runners,” said Meghan MacLeod. “I know my friend who is training for the full marathon had to do a lot of her long runs inside.”

Many of the participants are also raising funds. The Scotiabank charity challenge has a record number of 75 charities participating.

Craig Thompson, the senior vice-president of Scotiabank in the Atlantic region, said the fundraising component has “become an important part of the marathon”, raising more than $1.9 million for local charities since 2009.

The fundraising goal for 2014 has been set at $600,000.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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