Record day at Pictou County's Johnny Miles run

Christopher Cameron
Published on June 16, 2014

Scotsburn’s Dave MacLennan crosses the finish line to win the Johnny Miles marathon on Sunday afternoon for a record tenth time. MacLennan finished with a time of 2:47:26, just under a minute before second place finisher Bryan Hipson of Yarmouth.

©Christopher Cameron - TC MEDIA


Nothing beats winning the first one, but the tenth Johnny Miles marathon victory comes close for Scotsburn’s Dave MacLennan.

The 50-year-old finished just under a minute ahead of Yarmouth’s Bryan Hipson with a time of 2:47:26 to break his own record of nine victories set in 2012.

“Nothing compares to your first one, but number 10 is still pretty gratifying I’ll tell you that,” he said.

“Of course I’m thinking about number 10 (before the race) because I know every year that goes by if I didn’t get number 10 then it’s getting further and further away. Now that I’ve got number 10 I don’t care, I’ve got it. I’m definitely not thinking about 11, 12 or anything like that.”

On an overcast day, with rain on and off throughout the run, the weather was what MacLennan has described multiple times as the “ideal.” It was so ideal that he even said he might not have finished first if it had not been for the day Mother Nature provided.

“The weather was really important because without the ideal conditions I probably wouldn’t have been under 2:50 for sure and dear knows, I might not have got first,” he said. “Weather plays a big part in everything. I just felt great the whole time.”

Last year MacLennan finished fourth at his “home marathon” with a time of 2:57:18, his first opportunity at the 10-win milestone. Comparing this year to others he said he took a different approach to the run.

“I went out with a completely different mindset because usually I go out, take the lead and try to hang on as long as possible,” he said. “Today I knew Bryan was in really good shape because everyone was telling me that. I said to myself that I would just stay with him. My plan was after three (loops) if we were still together to put a push on to try and take it away, but part way through the third one he dropped off a little bit and I said this is my chance and I have to push it here.”

After the race the two talked briefly about the run. MacLennan said Hipson told him after he fell back on the third loop that he wasn’t able to make up that lost ground. That didn’t mean MacLennan was completely certain on the last loop of the course that he would be the first to run down Provost Street.

“On the last lap my right calf was just starting to catch a little bit and if you stepped wrong you could feel it catch, so I was just trying to maintain my form.”

That he did as a grand cheer greeted him when he rounded the corner from George Street. MacLennan said that hometown crowd adds to the whole experience of winning the event 10 times.

“This is my home marathon, everybody knows that and it’s number 10 so I’m doing something right here.”

Not only did he set the new record for wins by an individual yesterday, but the event experienced its largest turnout in the 39 years of the running event. They had 2,114 runners involved, up from last year’s record turnout of 2,016. There were 114 marathon runners, but the largest growth by percentage was in the half marathon.

In April race director Terry Curley said they had added 200 more spots to the event, but didn’t expect to need them. They thought numbers would be down from last year.

“As I said then and believed to be true, there is a saturation of races in Atlantic Canada and with the winter we had we expected the numbers to be down after hearing from other events,” he said.

During the setup and final preparations for the Johnny Miles Running Event he spoke with Run Nova Scotia staff who said that the trend this year was slow registration leading up to the event with a late push at the end.

“We were very pleased with how things ended up happening this year after how things initially looked,” said Curley. “It’s a record year. We’ll take that.”

Planning for the 40th annual running of the event begins today according to Curley. He said they will try to mark 40 years in a special way, but at this point he isn’t sure how that will happen.

Right now he’s happy with the way the event has progressed in recent years and believes the student challenge will help create a bright future for years to come by getting kids and youth involved early on.