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Nova Scotia

Race to the top: Nasty Nuttby Killer 5k returns after two-decade hiatus



NUTTBY, NS – The Nasty Nuttby Killer 5k is a distant memory for some of the residents of the North East region of Colchester.

That was certainly the case for a group of runners sitting around the campfire one evening, reminiscing about the old race up Nuttby Mountain. It was a nostalgic journey for those who attended – and a sense of intrigue for those who didn’t.

Kevin Terry, who was in attendance that evening, belonged to the latter group and his interest in the run has led him to organize his return for July 29th.

After learning about the run, Terry contacted the previous organizer, Norris Whiston, for his blessing. Whiston started the run in 1988 with a group of Tatamagouche teachers as an activity for their students. It then evolved into a community event open to everyone.

Terry said nearly 300 runners took part at the peak.

The last year it was held was 1999, but Terry is determined to give the event its long-awaited second wind. With Whiston’s blessing, he’s off to a flying start.

“It’s a run up Nuttby Mountain between North River and Earltown. It’s a five kilometer race Hikers are welcome,” explained Terry. “We start at the bottom of Old Nuttby Road, just off Highway 311, and run up to the windmills.”

Reaching the summit is not an easy task, as the name of the race suggests. The run takes place on a mountain and runs uphill, making it difficult for those unfamiliar with running on an incline.

Despite the difficulty, Jonathan “Skip” Riley – a friend of Terry’s who will be volunteering for the race this summer – said in the time since it was last held that uphill running has become a sport in its own right. And in addition to that nugget of information, Riley said the view from the summit was spectacular.

“Nuttby has this incredible view of the Cobequids,” Riley said. “When you are at the top you can see for miles in all directions. It’s really beautiful.”

A view from the top of the mountain.  Brendyn Creamer
A view from the top of the mountain. Brendyn Creamer

There’s another reason Riley thinks local runners want to get involved—the t-shirts.

“The question everyone asks when we say we want to bring back the Nasty Nuttby, every single person, if they knew the race in the old days, would say, ‘But you make the shirts, right?’

“My son is in his 30s and his first thing was, ‘Well, I’m going to direct it when they make the shirts,'” Riley said.

The shirts hold a special place in the hearts of those running the race — which is strange for runners, Riley said, given the large volume of shirts they claim from other organized runs.

Whiston, the original organizer, said it dates back to the first run they held.

“I’ve been thinking about what we could give to these people to make them feel like, ‘I’m getting this souvenir, too,'” Whiston said. “Two of my running friends, Bob Williams and Al Roland, who live in Truro, were entrepreneurs and they said, ‘Why don’t we go in a shirt?'”

From that point forward, Whiston would design the shirts with the signature mountain, a running person, and the name of the run. After the first year, Whiston said he got creative with it, sketching different animals that would scare the runner. In 1998, a tornado chased the runner up the hill.

“One of my sons made suggestions, but they were mostly my stupid ideas and people seemed to like them.”

Kevin Terry wears shirt Nasty Nuttby from 1994. Brendyn Creamer
Kevin Terry wears shirt Nasty Nuttby from 1994. Brendyn Creamer

The intent

“One of my goals with the race is to promote health and fitness and the sport of road running in the community,” said Terry. “It’s something that everyone who participates and achieves the goal can be really proud of because it’s something heavy.”

Terry turned the difficulty of the run into a slogan for the run – “do something hard”.

“I think (slogan) will encourage a lot of people.”

In addition, Terry said the run is also an opportunity to get outside with friends and family.

Terry has also pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from the race to the Cobequid Eco-Trails Society, which maintains hiking trails in the area. He also hopes to promote environmental awareness on the trails during the run, and by expanding advertising to the immediate area he hopes this will help attract people to local businesses.

“I’ve reached out to potential sponsors and the idea is that people come to do the race and maybe have some contact with some of the local businesses, maybe with an on-site presence or an item in their race gear, and then they go to the local business and in this way contribute to the local economy.”

Although no registration has been released yet, Terry said the Facebook page for the run, which is just over two weeks old, has amassed more than 400 followers. He has also promoted racing in Colchester-oriented running groups and Run Nova Scotia.

Terry and Riley both expressed excitement at bringing the run back. For Whiston, he’s happy that a tradition he started is being revived.

“Over the years people have asked me if it’s still possible,” Whiston said. “It’s just nice to have someone who is so passionate about the old traditions that they want to bring them back.”

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