Hills: Purcell’s Cove Road

The runner

Rob Chambers

Elementary school phys ed teacher

Current home: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Age: 34

A runner for 15 years, Chambers has actively helped “bring the running  lifestyle” to kids at his school through his involvement with the Bluenose Doctors of Nova Scotia run.

This avid marathoner’s choice of routes is a little surprising, because it’s on the road – and Chambers is well-known in his community as co-founder of the Halifax Trail Runner’s Club. Want to find Chambers? Just show up for a Wednesday night trail runners club gathering, where some 30 to 50 people speed over the challenging, hilly single-track in places like Whopper Dropper and Spider Lake.

Hills. Suddenly, it makes sense why Chambers would choose Purcell’s Cove Road. The run is nothing if not hilly. But there’s more to it than that: with its stunning scenery, Purcell’s Cove Road can offer the same sense of well-being as slipping through the peaceful woods.

The run

Place: Purcell’s Cove Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Length: Roughly 20-kilometres

Difficulty: The ocean views will help take your mind off the burning in your quads as you climb yet another hill.

The route

Chambers cites this route for the “cool houses,” sea gulls and deer – the latter depending on the time of day. And he says along the way it’s possible to observe cruise ships or tankers slipping in and out of the harbour.

Starting out is easy enough. Since most people run this route from central Halifax, it’s a long downhill along Quinpool Road to the Armdale Rotary. At the Rotary, runners need to carefully navigate the traffic circle, watching for drivers who are completely stressed from the three-lane round-about.

Once safely across the Rotary, the pain begins. Immediately it’s a steep climb up the Herring Cove Road. From that point on, runners need to gird their loins in anticipation of the continuous long climbs they face. That said, distractions along the way abound.

For instance, it is possible to cut into Frog Pond and run the gently rolling dirt path around the quiet pond to add an extra kilometre or two. And much of the run is alongside the Northwest Arm, a lovely inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, which across offers a view of the city’s prominent green space, Point Pleasant Park.

The historic site, York Redoubt, is situated at the far end of the run. In fact, the run is known just as much by the name of the 1793 fortification as it is identified by the road upon which runners travel.

Returning, runners may wish to cut onto Ferguson’s Cove Road, a spectacular couple of kilometres of dirt road that borders the water and offers superior and uplifting views. The latter will sustain runners as the realization dawns that they have reached the far end of the run and must yet traverse again the back sides of all the hellish hills they already conquered on the way out.

Upon successfully reaching the Rotary again – remember that great downhill at the beginning of the run along Quinpool? Yup. It’s all uphill, but the reward is a long flat home on Quinpool after hitting the top and the satisfaction of having completed a tough hour-and-a-half on the road.

About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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2 Responses to Hills: Purcell’s Cove Road

  1. SeeAlliRun says:

    I cycled along that road when I was in Halifax. Very nice, reminded me a little of home.

    • subthree says:

      I’ve run that route more than a few times – and I know all about the pain of that final Quinpool Road Hill. It’s so beautiful along there. I’m really looking forward to being able to hit that run again.

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