The Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon, Halifax
Let’s just get this out of the way first: Halifax is a hilly city. And instead of having a marathon course that meanders around in avoidance of these climbs and descents, the Blue Nose Marathon takes them on – seemingly all of them. But what this race lacks in terms of f lat, speedy sections, it makes up for in its picturesque landscapes, super-friendly local running community and the overall indelible East Coast charm.
Over the last decade, the Blue Nose Marathon has grown to become the biggest race in the Maritimes, with every major road distance offered over the course of the weekend. On Sunday, the marathoners and halfers start out just a few hundred metres from where they will eventually finish, at the base of the iconic Citadel Hill. The fortification, built in 1749 as Halifax was evolving into one of Canada’s first major ports, looms over the entirety of the harbour-front city. Today it’s a well-maintained national historic site, and is well worth a visit.
In 2016, the marathon retraced the first half of the course twice because the “Big Lift,” an extraordinary project to elevate one of Halifax’s two bridges that connect it to its sibling community of Dartmouth across the harbour. In previous years, marathoners would traverse the Macdonald Bridge and tour around Dartmouth (where there are more significant hills, of course). Instead, in 2016, the race ventured through Halifax’s pleasant and crowd-filled South End twice, meandering through picturesque Point Pleasant Park, which, you guessed it, also features a gritty climb.
Although the Blue Nose Marathon may not be a roasting hot PB course, it’s one of the great marathoning experiences this country has to offer. The half-marathon course alone checks off most of the scenic boxes on a tour of this special city. When the marathon is able to once again cross the bridge, it will provide a breathtaking view of the bustling Navy yard, busy port and, of course, sprawling Citadel Hill nestled atop the cityscape.
The Blue Nose Marathon is a pretty, yet challenging race, which translates into a rewarding spring adventure in the Maritimes.
Air Canada, WestJet and Porter all have either direct or one-stop daily f light options from just about every corner of the country.
What To Do
Halifax is well known for its good times and great seafood. ALEXANDER KEITH’S is the best known brewery in Halifax, and it offers a fun tasting tour. Our recommendation would be to also explore Halifax’s burgeoning craft beer scene, including GARRISON, PROPELLOR and the NORTH BREWING COMPANY, which has a tight relationship with the running clubs in the city. After race day, take a tour of the city on the HARBOUR HOPPER, an amphibious craft that provides a historical tour of the harbour, including a boat ride. Be sure to take a stroll through POINT PLEASANT PARK, either before the race in order to scope out the big hill, or after the fact so that you may actually enjoy the beautiful views out onto the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re game to explore the province, the fishing town of LUNENBURG on the South Shore (home of the Bluenose II) is an hour drive. The BAY OF FUNDY, with the fastest tides in the world, is also about an hour outside of the city and well worth an afternoon adventure. For more on where to eat, hang out and run in Halifax, check out our ‘On the Run In...Halifax’ story on our website: runningmagazine.ca/on-therun-in-halifax and the November/December 2016 issue.— MD