Thursday, 26 May 2016

Blue Nose, Sore Arms, Voiceless

I have not run in a very long time. But one of my favourite things about this time of year in Nova Scotia is how a week or so before Blue Nose Weekend, all of the "runners" come out of hiding. And their easy to spot, mostly because of their brightly coloured and crisp clothing. It's the runner equivalent of spraying new car smell in a beater... it just kind of gives it away. And it never fails, either. Year after year, this same routine takes place. It's not that these long-weekend runners aren't legitimate runners, they just aren't as hardcore as the ones also running outdoors at this time, but with faded clothing, and less huffy and puffy. Anyway, this is usually the tell that Blue Nose Weekend is just around the corner!

Many Halionians, HRMers, or whatever the heck we're calling the people of Halifax and it's surrounding communities, have developed a love-hate relationship with this weekend. On the one hand, you are generally given a 3-day weekend in celebration of Queen Victoria. On the other hand, it creates a lot of traffic disturbances, road blocks, and just an overwhelming avoidance of the downtown area. Now the latter also gives way to alternative opportunities such as exploring parts of Nova Scotia outside of the capital city.

For those of you not familiar with the Blue Nose, and/or were too "lazy" to click on the link above, it's the International Marathon that takes place in Halifax each year. (Queen Victoria is less relevant to this post, so, you'll just have to click her name above if you really want to know!) The Marathon has just wrapped up it's 12th year, and each year it continues to grow.

Several years ago, I completed the 10K race. This year I was voluntold for the weekend. Now, to be fair, it wasn't a hard sell. But this meant Saturday and Sunday I spent downtown acting a variety of tasks.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of being a Course Marshal, or as I kept mispronouncing it, Court Marshal. Saturday is when the Youth Race is held (although, technically Canadian youth are too old to participate*). As a Course Marshall, I was tasked with guiding participants in the correct direction and cheering them on.

Safety vest √, blue nose √, worn off sunscreen by 10AM √
A shot of downtown Halifax from my marshalling station
Our only bit of instruction was to know the course section we were in, know the emergency/lost or sick child procedures and to make a lot of noise. We were also warned about how by the end, our hands would be sore. I, of course, laughed at this statement. But sure enough, my hands were sore... for a few days following the event! I mean, my body physically hurt, which I think is more of a testament to just how out of shape I have become, more so than how enthusiastically I cheered those tiny people on!

But it was not a difficult task. Seeing that many young people out on a beautiful sunny day*, being active, it was great! In fact, the event was so successful, it had to be delayed because 500 kids showed up last minute!! They even ran out of race bibs!! And this is further proof of not only the power of good weather, but of how much this weekend has grown. With 4200 kids, this was the largest number to ever participate in this event, and was also the biggest group of participants throughout this year's events!

On Sunday, I was also supposed to Marshal, but instead was tasked to a number of other activities. The first was Shepherding, which means we physically herded participants to the finish line (hence the name!). Here I got to hold up a sign with an estimated finish time, danced with and high-fived Myles. It wasn't an overly taxing job, but it was fun nonetheless. Although, I learned that the youngin's are far more polite and appreciative** than those participating in the adult races!

Photo credit: iRun
After everyone was on their way, I chugged a cup of coffee, and then began the glamorous task of removing staples from the same signs I had been using just moments before. But, since there were several of us handling this task, we finished in no time, and I was off to my third and final task of the day - being awesome manning the awards table. Here I danced to some amazing/terrible '80s tunes and congratulated the top 3 finishers in each gender and age category for the 10k and half marathon races. Some of their finish times were equal parts impressive and depressing. Impressive in the sense that they finished in such unbelievably quick times... depressing in that some ran the half marathon faster than I can run a 10k!

Around noon, I was told there weren't anymore tasks that needed to be filled. This is a pretty good problem to have, even if it was a bit disappointing that I couldn't be of more help. And, as much as I would have loved to have been back out on the race course, I had a pretty terrific day... well, couple of days!

But that all came to an end. Sunday evening I consumed another obnoxious amount of drugs***, in my attempt to rid my body of Bilharzia. I did much better this time around than last time, and the side effects have proven not to be as intense either! Can hardly wait to do it all again in 4 weeks!

My apprehension/game-face pre-medication.
Until next time, folks!

-the Orange Canadian

*Youth in Canada are considered to be between the ages of 15 and 30, depending on the agency you consult. The UN considers youth to be between 18 and 30. The Youth Races at BlueNose are only for kids up to the age of 15... But I digress...
**As we cheered the kids on and/or during our walk back after the race, many thanked us for volunteering! I thought that was pretty neat!
***As prescribed by a doctor, not just random drugs found around the house!

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