Friday, August 5, 2011

2011 Natal Days Festival, Part 2: July 28-Aug 1, 2011

On Monday morning, I arose at 5:30 AM, to get ready to cycle to Dartmouth to compete in my first (running) road race in 3 years. After registering and gingerly warming up my IT Band Syndrome-plagued knee, I took my place with the 1200 other runners to wait for over 1 minute after the gun was fired to reach the starting line for the 6 mile event (10 km).

(And we're off! Well, sort of...)

The Dartmouth Natal Day Road Race is a 105 year-old tradition. Officially it is the third oldest running race in North America. As you can see from the above photo, it gathers quite a crowd, and with beautiful tree-lined streets like this, it's no wonder why.

The race even drew out local fans who pitched in to keep everyone cool on this blistering hot day.

After finishing the road race, and cleaning up, I walked about 20 meters back to the race course which had now been turned into a parade route. Stanley Cup winning hockey player, Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, was the Honorary Parade Marshal. This position essentially involved nothing more than sitting in a car and waving at fans. However, this couldn't be done efficiently, as dozens of fans kept forcing the parade to stop by running up to try and get Brad's autograph.

Of course, what would a parade be without marching Mounties?

All of my favourite floats were back again, like the Crime Stoppers Jailbirds, the tiny fire engine, and the Shriners with their Paddy Wagon.

There were even some new favourites as well, like these Japanese drummers, or the pirates who shot bubbles from their cannon. To be fair, the pirates aren't really new, since they were at Sullivan's Pond last year for the Mayor's Dartmouth Tea Party, but this is the first time I've seen them in a float.

After the parade - because I obviously hadn't had enough exercise this day - I rode back to the Macdonald Bridge to participate in the 29th annual Bridgewalk. Just like at last year's Bridgewalk, the city shuts down the Macdonald Bridge for the day and pedestrians are encouraged to walk over and back as many times as they'd like. It's the best day of the year, in my opinion.

Additionally, it doesn't hurt that the organizers serve free cake either. If I'm honest, this fact had no small part in my decision to come participate.

If for some crazy reason you don't like cake, you could also look at the classic cars. This '54 Bel-Air was probably my favourite. I had forgotten about the "good ol' days" before computers (and fuel economy and safety and performance...) when a small Ea-pea could fit in the engine bay of an automobile.

Plenty of extra encouragement existed along the roughly mile-long bridge. If the oompa band didn't make you pick up your feet (or stroller wheels), then Mr. MACPASS could definitely brighten your day with his gargantuan smile.

By the time I had crossed over to Halifax and back though, I was truly exhausted and could barely stay awake. I decided to conclude yet another successful EP Natal Days weekend by cycling back over the bridge and back home to fall asleep.

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