They run this

After participating in other marathons, some CPAs decided to create one closer to home.

Every Victoria Day weekend since 2004, Halifax has been taken over by runners participating in the annual Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon, which is designed to embody the Atlantic spirit of persevering through adversity. In the weeks leading up to the event, the city’s physiotherapists are worked to the bone helping clients get their bodies in tip-top shape for this community event.

One of those runners is Greg Wieczorek, a finance manager at a subsidiary of Maersk who’s one of two people to win the Blue Nose four times. His first victory took place in 2010, a mere three weeks after he and his wife, Maura, moved to the city from London, Ont. “I thought the Blue Nose would be a good way to learn my way around the city and become part of the local running community,” he explains. Wieczorek, who has participated in marathons all over North America, appreciates having an option close to home, especially since becoming a dad to twin daughters in the spring of 2015. “The big draw of this one is being able to run in front of friends and family,” he says.

From left to right, Gerry Walsh, Rod McCulloch, Sherri Robbins, Jim Trussler, Greg Wieczorek

From left to right, Gerry Walsh, Rod McCulloch, Sherri Robbins, Jim Trussler, Greg Wieczorek

The fact that Wieczorek has a local marathon to run in is thanks in part to the vision and commitment of his fellow CPAs Rod McCulloch, Jim Trussler and Gerry Walsh.

“Nothing but an idea,” is how Walsh, a founding co-chair of the Blue Nose Marathon, describes the birth of this event, which features 11,000 to 14,000 participants each year. Walsh, president of executive search firm Gerald Walsh Associates Inc., was recruited by McCulloch, now retired and the event’s other founding co-chair, in early 2002 to help create the marathon, alongside Trussler, CEO of Bydand Global Inc. All had run marathons before but they had zero experience organizing one.

“We absolutely had no concept about what we were doing. We had to make it up as we went along,” says McCulloch. But they learned quickly, mostly through trial and error and listening to critical feedback, he says.

They met, along with other local businesspeople, for nearly two years, and came up with a plan for the marathon. The driving principle? Creating a fun yet professionally run event that encourages the community to get active, especially kids and youth, but doesn’t take itself too seriously (the run T-shirts feature light-hearted slogans such as “Run Like You’re Ten Years Old”).

Now, 13 years after the first Blue Nose, the race has approximately 1,400 volunteers, is connected to a Scotiabank Charity Challenge and holds six different running events, including one of Canada’s largest youth runs. “When you see three or four thousand kids on the street ready to start, the energy is just unbelievable,” says McCulloch.

In addition to the three accountants, there have been several other CPAs involved over the years, including Phil Rossiter, who served as the event’s treasurer for many years. And the Blue Nose’s current executive director, Sherri Robbins, is an accountant who ran in the first marathon. “I remember the first time I participated and thought, Wow, this is an amazing event,” she says.

It’s not the only thing that impressed her. Of Walsh’s and McCulloch’s efforts she says, “When I think about the volunteer contribution that they have made to Blue Nose and to the community, it’s pretty significant — 15 years of volunteering with one event.”