Published in Canadian Running
Written by Robyn McNeil
The women behind Dartmouth, N.S.’s United by Running are trying to make running a more social activity, bridging the gap between the elites and the beginners. It’s common to finish a race, eat a bagel, and then head home alone. Michelle Kempton and Stacy Chesnutt wanted to change that, founding United by Running, a race management company, in the spring of 2011. Kempton began running four years ago with the goal of losing weight and is co-founder of Heart & Sole, Dartmouth’s largest running club. Chesnutt is a triathlete who’s completed seven Ironman races and 30 marathons in the past 24 years. Together, they hoped to unite runners regardless of experience, distance, or pace. “Ironically, at the same time that I was winning races,” Chesnutt says, “Michelle and I created our race series that doesn’t focus on being the fastest runner, but instead celebrates that you are a runner - regardless of where you finish in the race. We’ve redefined what ‘good time’ means at a race,” she adds. “We believe for most it’s not defined by their chip time or finish place.”
It seems they’re on to something. United by Running launched 3 races in the 2012 season: Sole Sisters (a women’s-only 5K), Maritime Race Weekend (a two-day event featuring 5K and 10K races, along with a half-marathon and marathon) and the Lucky 7 Relay (a team event where three runners each run 7K legs). Both Sole Sisters and Maritime Race Weekend sold out well in advance and registration for November’s Lucky 7 Relay is expected to reach capacity. There are already waiting lists for next season’s races.
Runners seem to appreciate the work Kempton and Chesnutt put into their events from course design to promoting a positive race atmosphere to unique t-shirts and medals. There’s even prize money for the elites. “It was by far the best running event I have ever attended,” says Dartmouth’s Katie Bent, of her experience at Maritime Race Weekend. “It was so organized and everything went so smoothly.” Barry Morshead, another local runner, says it’s nice to have such a range of options on the Halifax running scene. “It was a nice change of pace,” says Morshead, “Michelle and her partner Stacy have done a wonderful job with the community.”