Irishman wins Blue Nose marathon as Halifax race returns to Victoria Day weekend

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Nathan Ryan O'Hehir raises his arms in triumph as he wins the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax on Sunday in a time of 2:42. (Haley Ryan/CBC - image credit)
Nathan Ryan O'Hehir raises his arms in triumph as he wins the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax on Sunday in a time of 2:42. (Haley Ryan/CBC - image credit)

Sweat, hard work and maybe a little Irish luck helped propel the 2022 Blue Nose Marathon winner over the finish line.

On Sunday, the 19th Blue Nose Marathon returned to the streets of Halifax for its first regular Victoria Day weekend since the pandemic began. The event was held in November last year.

Running his first Blue Nose, Nathan Ryan O'Hehir won the marathon handily, finishing in a time of two hours, 42 minutes and 47 seconds.

"That was the hardest race I've ever done," Ryan O'Hehir said moments after crossing the finish line. "The hills down in Point Pleasant completely declined my speed. I can't even form a thought properly at the moment."

Haley Ryan/CBC
Haley Ryan/CBC

A web developer from Cork, Ireland, Ryan O'Hehir moved to Halifax in January. The Blue Nose was his first marathon outside his home country.

Throughout the race, Ryan O'Hehir said he was asking the spotters on bikes to check behind him for the next runner, but he crossed the finish line four minutes ahead of runner-up Tim Fitzgerald of Sydney.

Ryan O'Hehir is already making plans for next year.

"First marathon victory," he said. "I'll be back next year to win it again."

Victoria Welland/CBC
Victoria Welland/CBC

More than 200 people registered for the marathon this year, while more than 5,500 participants registered across all six race events on the weekend.

Hundreds more turned out to cheer, clap noisemakers and offer water along the route through the city on Sunday.

Another new Haligonian claimed the top woman's spot in the marathon: Aisling Wydysh finished 28th overall in 3:34:02.

Wydysh, a Canadian Armed Forces recruiter, said she moved to Halifax from Victoria last fall. This was her first Blue Nose and only third marathon overall.

Victoria Welland/CBC
Victoria Welland/CBC

For most of the race, Wydysh said she had no idea she was one of the leading women because there were still so many people from other race distances around her.

Around the 30-kilometre mark, a spotter told her she was in second place among the women.

"I was like, 'No way.' So I just pushed the last 10 kilometres and got through it," Wydysh said.

"I'm just feeling really happy."

Wydysh said past marathons in Victoria were "much easier," so being the first woman to finish in the Blue Nose has given her more confidence to think about entering more races.

CBC
CBC

Gwendolyn Griffiths of Halifax was the second woman to cross the marathon finish line with a time of 3:40.

Last year`s marathon winner, Dennis Mbelenzi of Halifax, took the top spot in the 10-kilometre race on Sunday with a time of 32:43.

But not everyone is in it for the win. Clive MacGregor of Halifax walked the 10K route on Sunday as he's done since the Blue Nose began in 2004.

Wearing a big grin and his tartan "race kilt," the 72-year-old MacGregor said his outfit represented his Scottish heritage.

Haley Ryan/CBC
Haley Ryan/CBC

"You get a little more air, especially over the bridge," MacGregor said with a smile.

The race weekend is always a lot of fun, a chance to meet interesting people and get air and exercise, MacGregor said.

"It's not about how fast you do it, it's the fact you can do it," he added. "I`m just going to come back every year till I'm not here."

Nearly 300 fundraisers participated in the event. They raised an estimated $150,000 for 47 local charities, according to a release.

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