The sons of an accomplished runner from Hantsport whose life was cut short during the Second World War want extra attention paid to the memorial race named after their father.
Richard Beazley shared his concerns about the state of the annual Dick Beazley Memorial Road Race in recent years at a committee of the whole meeting in Hantsport earlier this year.
Accompanied by his brothers Les and Wayne, the designated presenter said Hantsport’s Lucknow Branch No. 109 of the Royal Canadian Legion organized the first Dick Beazley Memorial Road Race to honour the only Hantsport resident to be killed in action during the Second World War.
“They all came back and he didn’t. This was very, very significant and it would be a shame to have it become an event that does not show respect for its history,” said Richard Beazley.
Dick Beazley, who worked for Minas Basin Pulp and Power for a number of years, gained a reputation as a talented runner before heading off to war.
“Dick was one of the best roadrunners in the Maritime Provinces from 1927 to 1944. One sports writer said he was a frequent winner, a gracious loser and a prime favorite with fans of road running,” his son continued.
He was killed in Germany on Feb. 26, 1945 but, thanks to the efforts his Lucknow friends who fully understood the importance of preserving his memory, his name lives on through the Dick Beazley Memorial Road Race.
Runners first took their mark for the road race on July 1, 1947.
“The race became an important part of the town’s first and subsequent Dominion Day-Canada Day celebrations.”
Today, it is the second longest running race of its kind in Nova Scotia — a race that a Beazley family member has won several times.
But, the Beazley brothers are concerned that the quality of the road races held annually as part of Hantsport’s Canada Day festivities, including the two-mile event named after long-time runner Arnold Robertson, are no longer of the same quality they once were.
Robertson, who has worked for Minas Basin Pulp and Power, CKF and Fundy Gypsum since settling in Hantsport in 1946, joined the Beazley brothers in Hantsport’s council chambers for the discussion.
“Arnold has been running races in Nova Scotia for 66 years, including the first — and all but one of the next 65 — Dick Beazley Memorial races,” said Richard Beazley.
First and foremost, Beazley’s family is asking council to ensure there is more focus on effective traffic control at future races.
Second, they want to see better race amenities — more water stations and directional signs, race monitors and post race snacks — available on the day of the event.
Third, they’d like race organizers to ensure participants have access to timely, and accurate, race results sooner to allow for a formal presentation of trophies.
They also do not feel the trophies should be mailed to the winners months after the race takes place, added Richard Beazley. They’d like to see the trophy presentation for both races worked into the Canada Day celebrations.
“We believe the status quo is no longer acceptable. We hope the races over time will be refreshed, invigorated and brought back to respectability through thoughtful and efficient organization.”
Hantsport Mayor Robbie Zwicker thanked the family for sharing their concerns with council, and offering to meet with the organizers in charge of the race this year.
“I think last year was the tipping point. It didn’t go well at all, and that’s being kind,” the mayor said.
Karrie Ritchie, the town’s director of recreation, confirmed that an experienced runner has agreed to take the lead on organizing the races this year.
Before concluding, Richard Beazley commended council for being receptive to his suggestions.
“As kids of the 50s into the 60s, Hantsport’s July 1st was equal to Christmas Day for all of us. It was absolutely the day of the year in Hantsport. Now the race just seems like an afterthought.”