Dean Mercer is a familiar face on the provincial running scene and in April, he once again enjoyed the thrill of running the Boston Marathon. But his annual trek to Marathon by the Sea holds a special place in his heart as it is the site of his first half marathon and his first full marathon. He’s always one of the top performers as evidenced in 2014, when he finished sixth overall in MBTS. He is back again in 2015. Here is his story.
by Dean Mercer
I actually started running for exercise at Dalhousie University. I would love to run around Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. But once I graduated from pharmacy, and moved back home to work in the valley, I said to my wife, “I am going to run Marathon by the Sea”.
She said, “Why?”
At the time I really had no answer for her except that I wanted to see how I could do in the half marathon.
Having a career in the health professions, I wanted to maintain some sort of example of being healthy. I guess I have achieved that over the years. I fared well in my first half marathon running it in 1 hour and 36 minutes. That was in 2001. I guess that is when the seed was planted because a fairly massive running resume grew.
I really enjoy running more in the spring/summer/fall as opposed to the winter. I have trained the past two winters for the Boston Marathon and they have been very difficult with the cold and snow. I welcome these 10-12 degree days for running as the risk for frost bite and sun stroke are negligible.
I have not missed a MBTS in the 14 years of running.
I love the fact there is a marathon in the summer. No city or town seems to have one as it is usually too warm. Saint John claims to have a cool climate for a marathon but the last few years have been pretty warm. I am running this year because I love running in my home town and my wife and family can follow me throughout my 42 kilometre route and offer water, fruit, gels and support on a rather difficult course.
Every time I run, my family are the number one supporters pulling me along when the thighs or calves have started to cramp. It’s the positive encouragement of them and the friendly volunteers that seems to draw me in for another daunting 42 km.
This event shows how a group of volunteers can put together a wonderful bang for your buck and offer a smile when some runners may not have the energy to give one back. MBTS offers some scenic views which I love. MBTS has so many options for runners in so many distances. I love the early morning runs in the summer as the sun begins to climb knowing the ultimate goal is the marathon in Saint John. When you train with your friends, training is much easier and those 20-mile training runs don’t seem as long.
I said earlier that I did it mainly for exercise, but after 19 half marathons and 26 full marathons, with 14 of those at MBTS, I think my thought of exercise is skewed. I always tell people that 5 or 8 km runs are what the normal sane person should run. I now have reached a point in my running career where it’s more about personal betterment. I always run as well as my body and Mother Nature will allow me with the possibility of qualifying for Boston.
The accomplishment of finishing a marathon never changes. I always have a wave of emotion as I cross the finishing mat and my girls are telling me I rocked it. It sure feels great.
My running career started with MBTS as I ran my first half and then my first full, on my 30th birthday, in Saint John. I hope this year’s event will bring something special. I look forward to the training ahead and the nervous excitement that I have before every race.