MARITIME RUNNER
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A part of Dartmouth history

111th annual Natal Day race to take place Aug. 7

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Aug. 4, 2017

DARTMOUTH, N.S. – When one talks about historic road races in Atlantic Canada, two words come to mind: Natal Day.
For 110 years the Dartmouth Natal Day Road Race has been taking place, making it one of the oldest races in North America, and it has shown no signs of waning popularity. This year’s event will take place on Monday, Aug. 7, and race director Dave Nevitt is expecting about 1,100 participants.
“The race has been organized by many dedicated volunteers over the years,” he said. “They are community minded people who really respect the race’s history and are committed to keeping the race going. It has also become a tradition among many old Dartmouth families to reunite on Natal Day and run the race.”

The 111th running of the historic annual Natal Day Road Race in Dartmouth, N.S. will take place on Monday, Aug. 7, making it one of the oldest races in North America. Shown here is the start of last year’s race.

Photo courtesy of Dave Nevitt

The race appeared in 1907, established right away as a true sporting event with few participants and only serious runners.
“I’ve been told by older folks that road racing was a very popular spectator sport before television came along,” said Nevitt. “I suspect that the running boom of the 1970s may have given it a boost and, when I first ran the race in 1990, I believe there were about 400 participants.”
That number exceeded 1,000 with the 100th anniversary event in 2006, which received extra promotion, and has stayed in that range ever since.
The original course was a six-mile loop from downtown to Woodlawn and back, and was changed in the 1970s to the current course, a two-mile loop around such Dartmouth landmarks as Sullivan’s Pond, King’s Wharf, the harbourfront and Alderney Landing.
“It has a nice hill about 300m long from the harbour to the finish line on Octerloney Street,” said Nevitt.
“The six-mile runners get to complete it three times, making it a nice spectator course.”
For the past 25 years, the race has been organized by the Fast Company Running Club of Dartmouth, a group of experienced runners who have competed in races all over the world and use that knowledge to help put on a great local event.
The club has three goals for the Natal Day race: to ensure there’s a good fitness-related event in the Natal Day Festival that will encourage people to be active; to make the race accessible and affordable to everyone so that the entire family can participate together; and to keep the competitive aspect of the race alive by being part of the Run Nova Scotia Performance Series and encouraging the fastest runners in the province to compete against each other.
For more on the Natal Day Road Race, visit here .