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Tim Chesnutt – Epic Dartmouth

On Sunday,  July 1st, 2012, Canada Day, 109 athletes will take to Lake Banook, Shubie Park and the rolling hills of Waverly.  On Spanish soil, last September – merely minutes ago in race years – is when Tim Chesnutt and wife Stacy first set their sights on hosting a Triathlon in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It’s not difficult to figure out how this very tall, charismatic and busy, busy guy was able to bring this whole thing together in such a short amount of time.

“Can I get a quick interview?” I asked. “Five minutes of your time?” I wanted to meet the guy who gave Dartmouth this EPIC event. He gave me the brush off and I think I must’ve looked so pathetic that he told me if I wanted to run errands with him, he would grant me the interview. I leaped into his car, completely ignoring everything Mr. Rogers and Mr. Dressup ever told me about strangers.

He and his wife met in 2004 while signing up for Iron Man USA in Lake Placid. I almost think that’s enough said right there. But I’ll continue. Stacy hailed from Upper East Side, Manhattan, and Tim – Elmsdale. Eventually they met in the middle(ish) and bought a house near Shubie Park, Dartmouth, where they still reside.

“Nova Scotia’s a neat place. For some reason we’ve got not a huge population, but a disproportionately large number of great long distance triathletes. Most people don’t know that, just because there are no events here. But we’ve got people that can go all over the world and compete, and equip themselves quite well, but at home here, other than a special article in the paper because they’re going off to the World Championships, you never hear about them. There’s just no venue.”

The idea originated as a training day for the local athletes who were competing in the nearby Iron Man in Mont-Tremblant, Québec. Stacy balked at the idea, saying she, herself wouldn’t sign up unless it was an actual race. That’s when things started rolling. They started mapping the courses, timing, initiated talks with the city and had already generated interest via social media when Tim got cold feet, “Hang on, wait. Stop. Stop the presses, this is a crazy idea. We’ve been stressed out just running 5k races in the park.” The logistics and commitment involved with no guarantee of participants were a little overwhelming. “So I said to all the people that expressed interest on Facebook or the Newsgroup, okay here’s the deal: I don’t know the course. I don’t know the distance. I don’t know the date. I don’t know how much it’ll cost, but if you want it to happen send me a $50.00 deposit on your registration, and it’s non refundable, and unless 30 of you send it to me by the end of the month, I’m not doing it. And then we went off – because she was competing in the World Duathlon Championships in Spain – and when we got back there were 45 cheques in the mailbox. “

He explains the name (which I happen to think is ingenious) is derived from a group of athletes in Ottawa who hold an annual training event in Lake Placid, New York, which they’ve coined Epic Man, Lake Placid. While telling one of these gentlemen about his own upcoming version of their event – the name came to him. “Epic Dartmouth!”  The name stuck, he explains, “When you go into the city and say, ‘Hi! I’m here to talk to you about Epic Dartmouth.’ They look at you and say, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I like it! I like it a lot!’” Tim was emphatic about the HRM employees’ helpfulness and efficiency in bringing the event together incredibly quickly.

He emphasizes how much he wants this event to succeed. “We’re out here in Nova Scotia. The corner of the continent, an independent race not connected to any other series, we don’t have any draw that way, so, how do we get a draw? What we have to do, we have to be better.” So in these last minutes leading up to an epic race, Tim Chesnutt is making sure all the puzzle pieces are in the proper place; the participating athletes are being treated to a full on lobster dinner – Maritime style. Massage stations are set up for the athletes on all four days of the event weekend. And Tim has ensured the highest quality nutrition supplements be made available to participants throughout the route. He also hasn’t forgotten the volunteers. 250 plus people have signed up to help out at this event and they will be loved! Armfuls of high quality swag will be showered upon them accompanied by a night to remember – an appreciation bash in their honour at the Celtic Corner – in Dartmouth, of course.

“Creating a venue, where we can celebrate our own athletes at home, I think is a reward in and of itself, and part of me just thinks it’s cool. These events are cool. The potential, the ability of the human spirit, most people – there are elite athletes that do these races, but for the most part, the vast majority in the field, I would say, they’re ordinary people.”

He expresses on more than one occasion in the conversation that he has not created the event for elite athletes. He wants it to belong to everyone. And he emphasizes how perfect Dartmouth is for an event of this stature – the lakes, the parks and the roads. And underneath the high-octane busy distractedness that any normal person would be feeling in the last days before hosting a first Triathlon, his excitement and passion still shines through.

“They’re just people that have made an extraordinary commitment to doing something amazing. And if you talk to people in the field, and you get their perspective what you find out is, you find cancer survivors, you find somebody close to them has died, they’ve had a business failure, they’ve had a divorce, they’ve had any of these different things and they said you know what? I’m not going to let life happen to me, I’m going to happen to life. I’m going to make something happen. This is their way of putting their stake in the ground, or nailing a star up in the sky and saying, ‘I’m here, I exist, and I can do something amazing!’”

In the end his motivation is clear – to inspire others and be inspired by others. His admiration for the people of all athletic levels who undertake feats of this magnitude is evident and his passion is infectious. He even has me thinking maybe next year I’ll sign up for Epic Dartmouth – and do something amazing! Way to go Tim!

Check out the routes and info here: http://www.epicdartmouth.com