This one was the final feather in my hat for the year of fun races I’ve always wanted to do. Since I pulled the plug on training for an olympic triathlon before it really even began I’ve been doing fun races all season and it has been so much better than I even imagined it would be! This year is the third year for it and I think it was on my radar the first year. I even have swag for the first year. Our neighbour took his girlfriend’s kid an got a blue flashing light that was handed out that year and he gave his to me since I actually ran. Still have it, still use it and it still lights up, sort of. I wear it on my back in the dark sometimes. What’s kept me from doing this one in the past is the route… it’s only a 2.5 km run but the start and the finish are 2.5 km apart… kind of a pain. Plus parking is going to suck!!!! But why it’s on the wish list is it’s the beginning of our city’s holiday parade the crazy dressed up runners are the start of the parade! Cue the new tutu… Last year I wanted to do it but it was sold out.
I knew it was going to be fun but I had no idea how much fun. In fact heading out the door I was reassuring Richard that I’d be fine on my own since 100 000 people would be there to cheer me on. That I had cab fare for getting from place to place if there was a problem and that I was wearing my warmest clothes. But I wasn’t necessarily feeling it at that point I was tiered, on my own and a bit stressed from the logistics of it but it all worked out wonderfully in the end.
A bit about the race: It’s put on each year by the Chronicle Herald and costs $35 but $5 of that goes to the QEII Foundation which is our local hospital, so it’s for a great cause. Our city has a very, very old section of stately homes which go all out in elegant lights this time of year in the south end. There are home tours, must sees and it’s all very beautiful. As such our Christmas parade through the downtown is focused on lights and happens after dark. Two years ago they added the red nose run to start the parade and yes you get a light up nose to wear. Now people go all out and dressing up is strongly encouraged. The parade website is way more informative than the run website and could use an overhaul by an actual runner. An FAQ section dealing with parking tips for runners, getting from start to finish and back if your not watching the parade etc would be helpful. Are there aid stations (probably not), logistics, First aid, how do you signal help if you need it and so on would be good.
Parking and weather: Well the weather was pretty good 2 degrees celcuis and pretty windy, but that’s Halifax. No rain or snow. Where this one isn’t an in and out or a circle there are some extra issues here. Where you park becomes an issue at the start and you have to walk all the way back, the middle is probably the most popular. I could borrow brother in law’s scotia square parking pass again which would put me close to the start but I’m not sure with 10% of the province in attendance it’s going to be the same help as it was for Bluenose, or all that convenient. Plus it turns out scoitia square is free parking with a donation to Feed Nova Scotia on parade day, something that could be on the website but instead was on twitter. The university it ends at is Dalhousie where I did my PhD and they outsell parking passes to spots 10:1. I became adept at finding places to park and getting there before 7:15 am. Also this is the very end of the parade and the runners will be there first perhaps before the spectators get there I’m thinking so I’ll try to park in a lot there.. and walk to the start.
I parked at dal in a lot behind the Killiam Library which was a pretty good choice and ran to the start line. Pro tip all parking spots at Dal are free game after 4:30 and on the weekends but manners dictate you leave the reserved spots open for their owners if you have an option. I left the car at 4:45 and made it to the start line at 5:10, tutu tied up and tucked under my arm. The check in booth supposedly clothes at 5:30. This put me near the finish line and also on the very edge of the route and of the traffic for getting out. Once you got out on Oxford and passed Jubilee it was clear sailing. Parking is an issue for sure as is where to park with this one. Some tips you might find useful Dal is wide open and close to the finish line. Plus you can pick up some hot chocolate at Second Cup at the library on your way through.
Cheer squad: I tried to convince my sister and her husband and my one year old niece would love the parade as would her visiting in laws. This plan did not work. Sad face. See they could have dropped me off at the start, looked at three floats, got cold and the baby would cry then they could pick me up at the end. Doesn’t that sound like a great plan? Anyway instead Richard once again was going to come with me but he got sick, so I flew solo. Even though I love having him there and to hold my stuff and I get a little sad usually when I’m on my own, that didn’t happen this time. That’s because the cheer squad was 100 000 strong and featured a lot of cute kids. Since it’s the start of the parade everyone was super excited to see you. You get to wave, give high fives and it’s pretty cool. Plus lots of them pointed and loved my huge light up tutu which I’ll admit now was a bit over the top. Where this one doesn’t have the same start finish line think long and hard about dragging someone along with you to cheer, it’s not that convenient. But they could feasibly drop you off at the start near Cogswell st. and then pick you up at the end if they weren’t into floats and happy kids.
Course: The course is not a loop or an in and out, it’s a 2.5 km line starting on lower water street under the Halifax sign on the base, onto Barrington then up Spring Garden and finally onto south park for a moment before ending on university. This in combination with the 100 000 spectators for the parade makes parking a major challenge, in a city that’s already known for it’s parking woes. It’s pretty hilly but it is really short and given the route and the fact that Halifax is on a hill. I was doubtful about that 100 00 number but it seems legit having done it. The crowds at the end on University are a lot lighter but they are like 10 deep all the way along the route, definitely something worth experiencing once!
Logistics and support: Not being hard on anyone here and it isn’t terrible but… It sort of is a race put on by a newspaper. There are a few options to pick up your kit earlier but at least supposedly the check in booth closes at 5:30 across the street from the start line. That means you’re waiting in the cold for at least 1/2 an hour before. It might be worth is to pick up your stuff earlier and sneak in at the last second especially if the forecast is bad. It’s a straight shot down the parade route no water stations but I think that’s okay. At the end they direct you into the Tupper Medical Building where there are little cups of water waiting. It might be nice to give out bottles since people want to leave there quickly to meet up with their friends or watch the parade. It would also be awesome if the Tims there was open to runners with coffee, hot chocolate and water but that’s probably just a dream. As long as we’re dreaming here, it might also be nice to have a designated place for runners to park and a bus taking them back and forth especially in years where the weather is bad. You could check in there and there could be a hard and fast last bus time too. It could even work to take you from Dal to the start line before the parade then you’re there next to your car at the end. That being said this was the first time I RAN to a race and it made me feel super tough!
Race goals: Omg… have so much fun, maybe actually run a little and rock my new light up tutu. Also too wave a lot. I don’t even think it’s timed (it’s not).
Swag: Officially you get a race bib, this year’s collectable red nose touque (knitted winter hat for you non-canucks), a blinking red nose and a medal with doubles as a commemorative holiday ornament. None of which you get to see before hand. Since the streets are already closed and traffic control is in place for the parade, costs must be pretty low so I’m expecting some good stuff here. I know in some years Nova Scotia Power has handed out extra swag too.
I ended up buying a nose for sicky pants at home and forgoing a headpiece since I ended up going it solo and planned to wear the (super warm) hat having one less thing to carry which worked out awesome. The bib and nose are what you expect but cold weather and the hollow centre means you going to want to wash it after. The medal is nice, would double as a tree ornament but it is also plastic. No extras this year that I found.
• Time: N/A
• Overall: N/A
• Gender: N/A
• Category: N/A
• Shoes: Asics Cumulis Gel 12
Looking back: I would for sure do it again if someone wanted to go with me. But… I also might be temped to skip it since getting there and back is a bit of an issue. I think Richard would love it with all the kiddies and I’d only drag him along if he legitimately wanted to do it for the same reasons. But there is also a chance I’ll be donning the tutu again next year for another red nose run. I would probably exploit the same parking and hot chocolate arrangement too. If the weather was any worse than tonight running to the start line truly would suck.
Stay tuned for a season re-cap in the coming month. Plus the tutu will be making another appearance at the reindeer run next month in Mahone Bay with my mom!