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Long John Jaunt adds 15K option

Cape Breton event honours McDermott

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
March 20, 2018

BOULARDRIE, N.S. – Little is known about John J. McDermott, the winner of the inaugural Boston Marathon in 1897. While the official record has him coming from New York City, the word around Cape Breton is that he originally came from right here on Boulardrie Island.
“We can’t confirm that, and over the years I’ve been trying to get some historians to look into it more, but it seems that’s the case, as far as we know,” said Chris Milburn, president of the Cape Breton Road Runners Club.
It was that in mind that the club decided to start a run in his name a few years back, and the annual J.J. McDermott Long John Jaunt will return to Boulardrie on Saturday, March 24.

The annual Long John Jaunt will take place in Boulardrie, N.S. on Saturday, March 24. Shown here are participants during the 2016 event.

Photo courtesy of Chris Milburn

The run was started as a winter event because many local runners were looking for a race to take part in at that time of year. In fact, one previous year there had so many Cape Bretoners heading to a half marathon in Halifax, that they rented a bus.
It was after one of these events that they decided they could save themselves some traveling and actually do it better themselves.
“We had gone to one that was kind of a poorly organized half marathon,” Milburn recalled. “The timing was bad, the route was poorly marked, and everything. I remember a lot of went up and we paid $60 to do it, and somebody said, you know, we could do a better one at home, and there’s enough of us that we could have a good race.”
They decided to honour McDermott in the name of the event, but also wanted to give it a bit more of a fun flavour. Club member Susie Morrison, daughter of well-known Cape Breton comedian Maynard Morrison, came up with the name Long John Jaunt. It was started as a half marathon.
Although long johns are not mandatory for the race, one runner has been known to wear his famous red one-piece set on occasion. The goal is to have fun and keep active over the winter (in past years, the event has been held earlier in the year).
“A lot of people, myself included, find winter is an easy time to get unmotivated and a little out of shape, and let your running go a bit,” said Milburn. “The idea is to keep people motivated and keep them training in months you don’t normally want to get out and run.”
James Forsey was the event’s first race director, while Cyril MacDonald has been in charge for the past few years. It is one of several races held under the banner of the Cape Breton Road Runners Club.
“There’s a lot in our group who do spring marathons, so this is kind of a nice step toward that,” he said. “It gives people a benchmark time, and a step up towards a full marathon.”
He described the course as “Cape Breton flat.”
This year will see the addition of a 15K distance option for those runners who might find the half marathon distance a bit daunting.
Many have signed up for both distances, according to Milburn, who is expecting around 50 participants on race day. Both distances will start and finish at Boulardrie Elementary School, and all runners will go home with a new pair of Stanfield long johns.
For more on the Long John Jaunt, visit here .