Hot Summer Guide: Sporting events

Sailing? Running? Soccer? Baseball? Auto-racing? What’s your deal? We have it all going on in our list of summer sport, calculated to get the blood pumping through your heart.

Johnny Miles marathon

June 21

Victoria Day weekend delivers an annual disincentive for HRM's would-be marathoners, as hordes of Bluenosers (often sporting toques and mittens) stand grim-faced at the starting line, contemplating the 42.4 hilly kilometers in their immediate futures.

Fear not, oh hesitant ones---it doesn't have to be that way. You can run in the warmth of summer, you don't have to run in a crowd and attractive courses exist that won't kill your spirit with hills. "I think that the Johnny Miles marathon is one that would attract a lot of first-timers," says race director Terry Curley. "We've stressed the safety of our runners by capping the number of participants and our course, with virtually no hills, is really user-friendly." So wander up to Pictou County to kick off your summer and see how "pleasant" a marathon can be. Then get your lazy arse in gear and start training for 2010. (TR)

Breakaway Cycling Race Day

August 2

This three-races-in-one-day event is unique for Nova Scotia, but it's been a proven winner overseas. "Similar events are really popular in Europe," says organizer Alan Mumford. "Everyone has Sundays off and can devote an entire day to racing. But over there, it's usually two events with a sprint and a longer road race." This version starts with a 7.75k hill climb through Ellershouse, moves on to a rolling 42k race through Avondale, then wraps up with a 9.4k individual time trial, or "race of truth", through the back roads of Windsor. Racers win points for each leg and most overall points wins the day. Mumford, a cyclist who knows the expense and time required to organize a race, started Breakaway Cycling Promotions with the hopes of ensuring consistent racing through the Nova Scotian summer. His two goals are to reach (and maintain) an eight-event season while attracting new riders in the meantime. (TR)

Aileen Meagher International Track Classic

July 1

"Me run more fast than you," one caveman (likely) grunted to his clan-mate one day. This taunting led to an argument that could be resolved in only one manner: sprinting from the gnarled tree to the big rock. Humans have been fascinated with racing ever since. "Everyone's raced against someone at some point in their lives," says Kevin Heisler, Director for the Aileen Meagher International Track Classic. "And if you like watching races, well, this event always has great races." That's because meet organizers make sure Nova Scotia's top track talent participates, then jack up the competition by importing elite competitors from across Canada, the US and the Caribbean. Events include the popular 100m and 200m sprints as well as 400m, 800m and 1,500m runs, "Geezer Mile" races for entrants of both genders aged 50 or above and shot put and long jump on the infield. (TR)

Dragon Boat Festival

July 11

Do you hear that drum beating? You will soon, as Manulife's Dragon Boat Festival breathes fire into your Saturday July 11. Taking place on beautiful Lake Banook, this is a perfect opportunity to hang out with a group of friends or coworkers and support the Nova Scotia Amateur Sport Fund. Teams of 20---plus the littlest person on your team, who'll be the drummer---will helpfully scream their encouragement and frustration out while participating in friendly races throughout the day. Never rowed a dragon boat before? That's fine, as the boats are said to be stable and great for learning. That being said, The Coast doesn't take any responsibility for you tipping on race day. Other, drier activities include Chinese cultural entertainment, eating Chinese food, a tug-of-war and a mini sports fair. The registration fee is $1,000 plus tax, which is often paid by the company or organization sponsoring the team; it can also be raised by participants for the Sport Fund. (HG)

Canoe Sprint World Championships

August 12-16

So what if HRM didn't land AC/DC? The home page for the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships points out that Dartmouth is about to host "the largest international sporting event held in Canada to date." How you like them apples, Moncton?

Even better, a number of Canadian paddlers grew up on the waters of Lake Banook, the venue for the entire event. "To paddle at a home world championships is extremely special," former Coast cover girl Karen Furneaux wrote from Europe in late May. "There's always a home lake advantage---it's our back yard! I always envision the crowd pulling me in those final few meters to the finish line. This time, it will be real."

Not sure if paddling is your thing? Search some pics of the competitors and you might be tempted to sit lakeside for an afternoon. Come for the eye candy, stay for the hometown heroes to reach the podium. (800 volunteers needed, including country liaisons, which might interest the multi-lingual.) (TR)

Nova Scotia Keltics vs. New Brunswick Black Spruce

June 27

The Keltics' home opener features two rivals fighting for the Atlantic championship as the former Rugby Canada Super League takes on a revamped, regional form (still commonly referred to as "The Super League"). In another twist, the Keltics' best players will suit up this fall alongside the best from Newfoundland and New Brunswick in an Atlantic selects squad, one of four Canadian entries in an eight-team tournament to determine a champion of the Americas. "If a player wants to make the national team, this league is the clear pathway," says Keltics head coach Troy Myers. "Playing in the Atlantic league in the summer can now lead to a lot more exposure to Rugby Canada team selectors." Myers points out that some players commute from the Valley, Cape Breton and even Newfoundland, at their own expense, to suit up with the Keltics. Curious Haligonians can just show up and enjoy (without fear of broken bones). (TR)

Summer Surf Sociable

August 1

This awesomely alliterative aquatic action, brought to you by the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia (SANS), features a surf contest, beach games and music, though it's about more than just catching waves. "It's a community- and family-oriented event in which we try to involve environmental organizations to communicate coastal concerns and raise beach awareness," says Amy Schwarz, SANS vice-president and policy director. "It also provides another way for surfers from all over to get to know each other." The Surf Sociable reflects SANS' ongoing commitment to beaches, the communities that surround them and the people that use them. A similar event last year raised money for signs on Lawrencetown Beach promoting surf etiquette and beach etiquette. But put the event's lofty goals aside for a moment and admit you simply can't go wrong with the beach in August. Everyone knows the summertime golden equation: good people x (sun + waves) = bitchin' fun. (TR)

Antigonish Highland Games

July 17-July 19

Stan Rogers sang of the giant Fingal who calls Cape Breton home. If Fingal crosses the Strait of Canso to Antigonish in mid-July, he might meet his match at the inaugural International Highland Games Federation World Team Championship. One of the American teams boasts five-time world champ Ryan Vierra, who weighs in at 320 pounds and can throw a 16-pound hammer more than 50 yards. Not big enough? How about Team Europe's 6'10", 340-pound Tommy DeBruijn? The two Canadian teams are entirely made up of Maritimers and include four-time and current national champion Greg Hadley (no sprite himself at 273 pounds). The big boys will participate in all the traditional events, with a "best total distance" system determining the winning team. The brutishness of rock-tossing and tug-of-war will be somewhat offset by highland dancing and pipe & drum competitions as well as ceilidhs all weekend long.(Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the events held at the field.) (TR)

Atlantic CAT 250

August 7-8

Louder than an IMAX and with more squealing tires than the Fast & Furious franchise, screw the spring blockbuster---hit the races and catch some rays in the meantime!

The Atlantic CAT 250 is the local jewel in the CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour's "Triple Crown" series, a trio of races with enough prize money to attract a lot of non-Nova Scotian racers. So many newcomers might not be great for safety, suggests Craig Slaunwhite, the 2008 tour Rookie of the Year. "Scotia Speedworld is more of a flat track where you have to feather the throttle," Slaunwhite says. "You'll see the guys who've raced the track before using more finesse than the guys who haven't...there'll be lots of door-banging." Other attractions include Friday's qualifying event with live music, face painting for the kids and meet-and-greets with the racers, as well as rental headsets to listen in on the driver/crew teams during Saturday's race. (TR)

National senior men's baseball championship

August 20-23

Baseball is the perfect sport for the dog days of summer, especially this August when the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League provides two of the 10 teams competing for national supremacy. The Dartmouth Moosehead Dry are tournament hosts and three-time national champions while the Halifax Pelham Canadians represent Nova Scotia after winning last year's provincial championships. "It'll be a huge experience," says Dartmouth's Darren Doucette, eight-time NSSBL home-run king. "It's my 11th year and (Dartmouth's three-time league MVP) Joel Irvine's 18th, and while we both wish we could've done this sooner, it's a great way to end a career. Knowing the field and knowing the hitting background should give us an edge." Tournament organizers intentionally scheduled Dartmouth's and Halifax's games at different times so local fans wouldn't have to decide between the two. So chill the eff out and grab a hot dog and a cold drink---it's mandatory ballpark behaviour. (TR)

Provincial senior soccer championships

August 22

Nova Scotia's premiere senior soccer leagues mimic the top European leagues in many ways---the same three or four teams always seem to sit atop both the standings and the contenders' title struggle never fails to deliver drama in both men's and women's leagues. On the men's side last year, Halifax City's triumph in the title game spoiled an otherwise perfect season for Halifax Dunbrack, which is already off to another flying start in '09. The Halifax City women also upset last year's season champs, Dartmouth United, in the final en route to the provincial crown. The Nova Scotia Soccer League shook things up this year, awarding three post-season berths in each league instead of four and slotting the regular season champs automatically in the final. (TR)

Gore Fest

August 8 and 9

The new Gore Fest organizer, Michael Phillips, swears blood and guts don't play a part in the August festival, so you can rest assured the mountain biking weekend extravaganza really is family friendly. Located in Gore, Nova Scotia, the first day of the festival welcomes families and mountain bikers with camping and events such as an evening barbecue and bonfire. Sunday kicks off with the eight-hour mountain bike race. You can ride the eight-kilometre course solo, or team it with up to two others and pass a baton along for timed intervals. The festival takes place on the Blois family's farmland, where the annual mountain biking weekend has been hosted for years. This gathering of mountain bikers usually attracts between 100 and 200 participants and while registration fees have yet to be determined, you can keep checking the website for updates. (HG)

Sidney crosby Stanley Cup Parade

They did it in Pittsburgh on June 15, a victory parade for the Penguins, the Stanley Cup champions for 2009. Now we all know that every member of that amazing team will get to bring the cup home for a day this summer, we just don't know the schedule, or when the youngest captain to ever lead his team to the Stanley Cup will get his shot in the rotation. But if Pittsburgh can do it, doesn't Cole Harbour's favourite son deserve a parade here in Halifax on the day he gets the trophy? It's not like he'll just be sitting at home with it, hanging out on the couch, drinking a Keith's out of the cup. That isn't what you're planning, is it Sid? (CK)

Laser World Championships

August 20-September 5

Another aquatic world championship splashes down on Nova Scotia to close out the summer, with the Laser World Championships dominating St. Margarets Bay in late August and early September (Laser-class boats are the most popular Olympic-class sailboats in the world). It's expected to be the largest sailing event in Canadian history, which should make the scenery even more spectacular in one of Canada's postcard capitals. "People can take in the sights from all kinds of vantage points," says event manager Duncan Enman, who suggests Queensland Beach, Peggys Cove Road and St. Margarets Bay Road as spots for spectators. "With up to 400 competitors and 100 support boats, there will be lots to see!" The Laser Worlds have lots of room for volunteers of all ages and all levels of boating experience. (TR)

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