Some of the participants in the 2013 Sheila Poole 10K make their way along Water Street in Yarmouth.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
An annual Yarmouth County running event reaches a milestone in its history this year as it is held for the 30th time.
Known for the past 17 years as the Sheila Poole 10K, the event is scheduled for Saturday, July 19, and will be held as part of Yarmouth’s Seafest celebrations.
The race, which begins at 9 a.m. at Frost Park on Water Street, is part of the Run Nova Scotia circuit and the Timex Series of running events.
The race has undergone some changes over the past three decades and has seen a growing number of participants, a reflection of the increasing popularity of running in the Yarmouth area and beyond, says an event spokesperson.
“We’re upwards around 250 (participants) now,” said Paulette Sweeney-Goodwin, a member of the race’s organizing committee. “When we started, it took us years to break 100 … so we’re quite proud of that.”
Having been involved in the event from the beginning, Sweeney-Goodwin has seen the race evolve from its inaugural edition in 1985.
“I look back on the last 30 years with a tremendous sense of satisfaction,” she said. “I think when our little group started this race – and we called it the Human Race at the time – we were certainly very excited about it, working with the YMCA and being part of Run Nova Scotia. It was just such an exciting time, putting an event such as this together.”
As far as running events go, for years the Sheila Poole 10K was pretty much all there was in the Yarmouth area, but it’s a different story now, given events like the Lake Run and the Yarmouth Marathon.
“That tells us that the community is certainly embracing fitness in general, but in particular the sport of running,” Sweeney-Goodwin said.
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In the late 1990s the Human Race was renamed in memory of Sheila Poole, the Yarmouth County runner and former Human Race champion who died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 35. Race director Nancy Bishara, Sheila Poole’s sister, says she meets people from time to time who knew Sheila, who may have run with her.
“And they all (say) the same thing – ‘oh, she was so much fun,’” Bishara said.
Her parents, Reigh and Ruth Poole, continue to come out to the race that bears their daughter’s name to present the awards, including medals for first-time 10K runners.
“They love it,” Bishara said, referring to her parents and their involvement in the event. “It’s an honour.”
When the race began in 1985 – and for a few years after that – it started and ended in downtown Yarmouth, near the YMCA. The start-finish area later was moved to Maple Grove Education Centre in Hebron. It has since returned to Yarmouth, the participants following a course that starts and finishes on Water Street.
Well-established on their existing route, organizers likely will stick with the current layout, Sweeney-Goodwin says.
“We touch the town and municipality (of Yarmouth),” she said, referring to the present-day course. “That’s why we like this one.”
Given that Yarmouth has a ferry back, she says, the race may draw some more visitors, runners from away who might want to make a road race part of their vacation.