60KM (37.3 miles) in Halifax, Nova Scotia with Ernie Chan

Written By Ernie Chan

I consider myself a fairly ambitious person, always living for the adrenaline of the next big challenge. When Steve opened up his blog to runners across the world, I knew I had to join in – and do it in a big way. I ran my first marathon last May at the age of 19, and I thought this would be a pretty cool opportunity to one-up myself and really make this a run to remember!

I am very proud and excited to be showing off Halifax, Nova Scotia – the beautiful city that I now call home. When it came time to decide where to head off for University (I grew up in Mississauga, Ontario – Canada’s 6th largest city), it was a no-brainer to head out to the east coast – “the Maritimes”, as us Canadians like to refer to it. I needed a change of scenery, and I couldn’t have made a better choice in picking Dalhousie University.

One reason why I decided to do such a long run was so that I could involve more people in my run. I decided to do a little bit of a running partner relay, where I would have a new runner join me for each “leg” of my landmark run. Logistics can become a little difficult when you have long distances and many runners, but I was so lucky to have such awesome friends doing it with me and the day went by without a hitch!

Admittedly, my desire to do such a long run is partly attributed to the fact that I absolutely had to show off Peggy’s Cove – one of my favourite places in the entire world. Peggy’s Cove is a small rural community about 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) southwest of the city of Halifax, accessible by the Lighthouse Route scenic drive (Prospect Road). The Peggy’s Point Lighthouse and surrounding area is one of Nova Scotia’s most popular tourist attractions, built on beautiful natural granite outcropping and giving beautiful panoramic views of the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. At the top of the hill is the Sou’wester Restaurant and Gift Shop, highly recommended for anybody making a visit. My running route takes me from Peggy’s Cove all the way into the city, and we left at 4:30AM in hopes of kicking off our run at the crack of dawn. My first running partner of the day was Daniel Alleyne, who is a sophomore at Dalhousie and hails from the island of Barbados. My Knights of Pallas Run Club got him hooked on running and he just recently completed the Halifax Bluenose Half-Marathon to become an Iron Phi.

Here, I would like to thank my mom and dad. Through constant support, love and happiness, they have built me an environment where I can do nothing but succeed. Dad, where do I even start? You are the man. If you would only stop wearing short-sleeved dress shirts, you would be the coolest dad ever! In all seriousness, it has taken me a long time to realize how great a role model you are and a couple simple thank you’s can’t pay back the opportunities that you have provided me. Mom, no matter how badly you try to embarrass and/or annoy me, you are such a loving and understanding mother and I know that I will make you proud. You were there by my side for every baseball game and music recital, following my every move on Facebook and Twitter, and there to see me grow up and head off on my own to university. I assure you that next time that I go out that I’ll only drink 2 beers, that I’ll stop wasting my time chasing girls, and that my university career isn’t just one long vacation on dad’s dime. A simple paragraph or two on this blog is not anywhere near enough the amount of thank you’s I have for my parents. I owe everything in my life to the best mom and dad a guy can ask for.

My first landmark stop was at Granite Springs Golf Course in Bayside, NS. Playing at Par 72, 6401 Yards from the tips, Granite Springs is a great course carved out of the beautiful Nova Scotian landscape. My busy schedule dictates that I don’t get out golfing as much as I would like, but there aren’t many things I like more than hitting the links on warm summer mornings! (This would not be considered one of those mornings.) My next running partner was none other than Nathan “Nay Nay” Brenan. If I could have shown you some of the pictures taken from my camera throughout the entire day, most of them would consist of Nathan being an absolute lunatic. As silly as he can be at times, I (reluctantly) included him in my next thank you.

A man is nothing without his sidekicks, and Nathan Brenan, Graham Erskine, and Keegan Colville combine to be my partners in crime. They also double as my pledge brother (Nathan), asian twin (Graham) and big brother (Keegan).  Part of what makes being a member of Phi Delta Theta so great are the friendships that you are able to make. My university experience for the past 3 years would have been completely different if not for guys like these. The three of us have shared a lot of fun times, great laughs, and loving chirps over the years. They keep me honest and grounded, challenge me to be the best I can be, and most importantly, they exemplify everything that it means to be a good friend. They are inspirations amongst themselves: Graham being our chapter president, Keegan being the newly hired Director of Canadian Services for the fraternity, and Nathan bringing in a large haul of awards at the past year-end Founders Day Ball (I thought about writing just Nathan being Nathan… but I’m not sure anyone other than our friends would understand). I’m very thankful to call these three guys my brothers and my friends.

30KM of running in the pouring rain took me back into the city, where we stopped at Sir Sandford Fleming Park to enjoy the view of the Northwest Arm and the Dingle Tower. The Dingle Tower, apart from having a pretty funny name, holds both architectural and historical significance to the city of Halifax. It was designed by architect Sidney Perry Dumareq in 1910, and commemorates the colony of Nova Scotia being the first in the British Empire to achieve a representative government. The park itself is situated west of the main Halifax peninsula and provides spectacular views of both the city landscape and the narrow ocean inlet known as the Northwest Arm. Here, I peeled off my soaking wet layers for a fresh set of clothes/sneakers, and met up with Ben Desborough who would run with me as I made my approach into downtown. Des, as we like to call him, is currently training for his first triathlon and will hopefully also be on the road to becoming an Iron Phi.

Here at the Dingle Tower, I wanted to thank the Low Family – Barb, Terry, Peter and Brennan. From top to bottom, the members of the Low family are some of the coolest, most down to earth people on this planet. My friendship with Peter has always been tight, but over the past few years I have really gotten to know the rest of the Low family very well. Brennan has joined me here at Dalhousie University in Halifax, having just finished his freshman year. I’m really glad that he decided to come out to the east coast, and couldn’t be prouder to be his big brother in the fraternity. Barb and Terry have always welcomed me into their home and their beautiful cottage with open arms, and I love hearing the old stories from Peter and Brennan’s childhoods! Spending time with the entire Low family is always a lot of fun, and you really start to notice some similarities among all of them. I really feel like they are a second family for me, and I wish them all the best with their move up north into their dream home!

The sun finally started to peek out as we ran into the downtown core, where I made my stop at the Old Town Clock at the base of Citadel Hill. Standing at three stories high at the base of one of Canada’s coolest National Historic sites (Citadel Hill – a star shaped military fort), the Old Town Clock is one of the postcard items for the city of Halifax. The town clock served as the finish line for the Bluenose Marathon last year, which made it cool to be able to return for a picture. Unfortunately, this time around I wasn’t quite done yet. I was joined on my next leg by Rebecca Kestle, my favourite sixth-year senior. The best way I can describe Becca? She’s cool s#^*! – I’m really glad we’ve been able to become such good friends over this past year! The two of us take being running partners pretty seriously – we have matching Nike Pegasus running shoes and identical Ironman Triathalon running watches!

I took this opportunity to thank two of my mentors, Phil Cantrill and Mark Little. When I first joined Phi Delta Theta as a freshman, I was young, raw, and lived without real direction. I couldn’t be more lucky to have two devoted advisors throughout my university years – with Phil Cantrill and Mark Little’s guidance, I’ve been able to harness my skills and talents while gaining the confidence to step up as a leader on campus and in the community. The amount of time and effort that Phil and Mark put into our chapter is one of the main reasons why we have won so many accolades over the past decade. On top of all that, both Mark and Phil have been great friends for me even though they are both many years my senior and I can’t wait to join their ranks as we move into the future!

Pier 21 is a former ocean liner terminal that has been converted into Canada’s National Museum of Immigration. Nicknamed the “Gateway to Canada”, Pier 21 served as the primary point of entry for many immigrants from Europe and elsewhere between the years of 1928 and 1971. In addition, it served as a deployment site for Canadian troops during World War 2. I joined up here with Graham Erskine, one of the guys I had thanked earlier in the day. Graham usually hates running, but agreed to lace them up and do a short 2K through the shipyards with me on top of taking the lead on organizing all my runners throughout the course of the day.

For 10 years of my young life, I attended/worked at Peel Summer Academy – a summer camp for intellectually gifted children. Although I was only there for one month out of the entire year, I spent the other 11 months counting down the days until I was back at camp. It really was more than just a camp for me, it was a place where I felt truly comfortable, a place where I could let loose and really be myself. Some of my best memories throughout my childhood and adolescence took place on the UTM campus and in Newfoundland, and I will always hold them dear to my heart. It would be an endless list and an impossible task to list everyone who made my camp experience so incredible, but I do want to highlight and thank four incredible people who mean a lot to me. Laura Garner, Sam Iceton, Kat Watson and Miranda McIver were a huge part of my camp life and I couldn’t be more thankful to have met such wonderful people. Although we very rarely see each other or even talk that often, I still think about the four of you all the time. I’m sure if we were back in the same room together, we would be able to pick up right where we left off like not a day has passed – as the song goes, “Even though we’re far away, we’ll never be apart.”

Point Pleasant Park is a large forested park located on the southernmost tip of the Halifax Peninsula, and was the location of my second-to-last stop. From the shoreline, you are able to look out across Halifax Harbour for some spectacular views and breathe in the crisp ocean air. My friend Meghan Peverill and I took our picture in front of the Bonaventure Anchor Monument before heading out on the next leg. The monument consists of the anchor from the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure and recognizes the men and women of the Canadian Navy that lost their lives during peacetime.

It seems almost obligatory for somebody to thank the owner of this website, but I’ll take the bait. For somebody who I’ve met in person only once in my life, Steve Good deserves a lot of credit for getting me to the point where I am today. Steve’s brainchild, the Iron Phi program, served as a stepping stone for me, sparking a big change in my identity as a person and as a leader. From the moment that I started along the path to become an Iron Phi, I started living a healthier lifestyle, got more involved in my fraternity and local community, and developed a new-found confidence in myself that I didn’t have before. I haven’t looked back since. Steve is a huge social media guy much like myself, and I think our relationship really shows the power of online networking. Obviously, this website (agoodrun.com) is an incredible initiative and I am pleased to have the opportunity to share both my love of running and the beautiful city of Halifax with the world thanks to Steve!

In the heart of the Spring Garden district of downtown is the Halifax Public Gardens. This Victorian-Era garden was established in 1867 (the same year as the Canadian Confederation), covers 16 acres of land and provides an incredible green space in the heart of the city. It is a National Historic Site of Canada, and my final running partner Alexa Reedman and I took our next thank you picture in front of the main gates on the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street.

It seems crazy to me that I’ve been friends with Alexa Reedman and Kaitlyn Forbes for less than a year – but oh, what a year it’s been. I met Alexa and Kaitlyn through the “Greek connection” – they are both members of the Alpha Eta chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta here in Halifax. In these 9 short months, I’ve been able to develop two friendships that I can’t believe it took me so long to find. Through the good times and bad, out on the sports field or on an adventure, Alexa and Kaitlyn are the constants that I always turn to. I can’t count the number of ridiculous/embarrassing moments, gut-splitting laughs, life chats and near-death experiences that I’ve had with these two – they just make my life a whole lot more exciting. Not only that, but they are both such kind, caring and driven individuals and I’m very thankful to have them by my side for every step that I take.

The 59th kilometer gave me an excellent chance to reflect on just how far I had come as I ran back to the place where I call home, the George B. Robertson House. Located in the middle of the Dalhousie University campus, the big blue house on Seymour Street Is home to the Nova Scotia Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Theta.

Last but certainly not least, I wanted to thank my two younger brothers – Danny and Calvin. How lucky was I to grow up beside two awesome younger brothers? The two of you are my best friends, and I miss you guys more than anything in the world. Danny, you’re my inspiration in life, plain and simple. You’ve pointed me in the direction of my future career, helped me gain an appreciation for individuals with disabilities, and been the only brother that I haven’t had an argument with. Your ability to approach everything in life with happiness is something that I think we can all envy, and while you might not know it, you are one of the funniest people that I know. Calvin, one of the only things that I hate about living in Halifax is that I don’t get to spend any time with you anymore. Even though we are 5 years apart, we are essentially the same person (in reality, you’re just the better, cooler, smarter, more athletic version of me) and it sucks not being able to see you really grow up. We talk all the time about the crazy things that we will do when we are older, and I really hope you know that I’m holding us to all of it. We’re making it happen.

With that, my 60K run was finished – but my day was not! I wanted to take the opportunity to show off a great Halifax restaurant at the end of my run, so I gathered my friends once again for a post-run dinner at Murphy’s restaurant right down on the Halifax Waterfront. Murphy’s Cable Wharf is more than just a restaurant: the company also offers boat tours, nature tours, sightseeing and a souvenir shop. The unpredictable weather during the day meant we didn’t sit out on the patio (which was a good choice – it started pouring rain halfway through our meal), but a seat outside is highly recommended for a spectacular view of Halifax Harbour.

I wanted to take this opportunity at the end of the run to highlight our two charities of choice: the ALS Association of Canada, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada. Each running partner that ran with me during the day made a donation, which we pooled together and split evenly between the two organizations. These two charities hold significance to the Nova Scotia Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Theta (ALS Association of Canada) and the Alpha Eta chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada) as our main philanthropic partners.

It was a pretty long day, a very long run, and an incredible experience. I’m glad that I was able to spend my day doing one of my favourite things (running) with some of my favourite people – and I hope I was able to show you all a cool thing or two about the wonderful city of Halifax along the way. Be sure to pay Nova Scotia a visit if you ever get the chance, I’m sure you will love it!

Ernie is currently a senior at Dalhousie University, completing his bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He has aspirations to enter the field of social work, specializing with individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorders. Ernie is an avid athlete, founding and captaining his own run club in addition to playing hockey and ultimate competitively year-round. In his free time, he likes to explore the great outdoors, jam away on his guitar/piano, and pretend like he knows things about gourmet cooking and digital photography.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. dialect quiz says:

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    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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