Metro runners will be served up a treat next month with the return of Antigonish born and bred Olympian Eric Gillis.
The 32-year-old who now lives in Guelph, ON, is returning to take part in a weekend of special events, including the Lucky 7 Relay.
“I am looking forward to coming back to Nova Scotia,” he said. “I have been back to Antigonish since the Olympics, but Halifax has always been very special in my life. I have done a lot of races in Halifax and always enjoy myself there.”
Gillis said it was very hot when he set out to run the marathon in London last summer.
In a field of more than 100 runners he moved up from 73rd position to finish in 22nd place at the end.
He finished in a time of 2:16.
Canada had not had a male marathoner in the Olympics since 2000. This year Gillis was one of three Canadians in the race.
He said he has always supported runners who participate in the sport recreationally.
“First and foremost running helps with longevity, there are many health benefits and it is simple. Put on a pair of sneakers and run.”
Gillis will be guest speaker at the Run Nova Scotia awards banquet on Nov. 17 and will take part in the Lucky 7 Relay the next day.
The event is a three person half marathon relay and Gillis will run one of the 7 K legs for one very lucky team.
“My teammates will be selected from a random draw,” he said. "So I hope people get online now and register.”
Organizers Michelle Kempton and Stacy Chesnutt expect over a thousand spectators to line the flat course in the Halifax Commons.
And they hope with Gillis now on board this number may even double.
"I certainly feel the support of the Nova Scotian community," said Gillis. "The media attention has been great. It will be a fun way for people to
come out and enjoy themselves. And I am pretty approachable, too."
In January, Gillis will be going to Kenya for a seven-week training camp.
"The camp is in the Rift Valley, at 8,000 feet above sea level. I am a bit nervous about leaving my wife and two-and-a-half-year-old daughter for that long, but if you have to leave Canada to train, it is a good time of year to go."
The Lucky 7 Relay has two registration options. Runners either make their own team or try their luck and and are randomly paired with two strangers.
On Oct. 31, race directors will draw from the single registrations and two lucky runners will join Gillis on the team called “Olympic Dream".
To register for the Lucky 7 relay being held in Halifax on Nov. 18 go to www.lucky7relay.com
The Weekly News is a proud sponsor of Lucky Seven.
RUN WITH AN OLYMPIAN – SATURDAY, NOV. 17, 9 A.M.
Halifax Running Club House
Bring your Team Canada and Nova Scotia spirit and join the Halifax Running Club members and friends for a fun, relaxed 5 KM and 10 KM run through Halifax. The run will start and finish from the Halifax Running Club located on South Bland Street (Curling Rink). After the run everyone is welcome to meet olympian Eric Gillis and enjoy a light reception with coffee and post-run snacks. Being supportive of Eric and helping to raise some funds to assist with his training costs and international meet travel expenses will be much appreciated. Plan ahead for a collection.
KIDS, LEARN FROM AN OLYMPIAN – SATURDAY, 1 PM
Canada Games Center
Athletics NS is hosting a kids camp with classroom and indoor track sessions. It's free.
See the ANS Website FOR MORE DETAILS soon.
LISTEN AND LAUGH WITH AN OLYMPIAN - SATURDAY, 5 PM
St Georges Greek Church Hall, 38 Purcell’s Cove Road
Eric is the special guest speaker at the Awards Banquet of RNS. He will be recounting his most successful run at the London 2012 Olympics marathon with words, pictures and video. Secure your tickets early from Atlanticchip.ca Quantities are limited so please act now. Prepare for Greek fest food, beverage and dance. Opah!
RELAY WITH AN OLYMPIAN – SUNDAY 7 AM
Join Eric Gillis as he joins the throng for the inaugural Lucky 7 Relay around the Halifax Commons. Find more specific information at Lucky7relay.com on how to enter the draw to run with Eric.