The Incredible Saga of the Travelling Treadmill and it’s Many Moving Parts

With the weather storming outside and the snow quickly accumulating, tonight seems like the right time to tell the…treadmill story! Pull your chairs closer to the fire, kids, and listen to a terrible tale of grief and woe – not to mention tragedy and anguish. I think some despair may be in the mix as well.

And pathos. You like pathos, right?

Roughly two months ago Steph and I ordered a treadmill. I went to a lot of trouble to research various brands, compare features, costs and so on and we finally decided on a NordicTrack. I placed the order and was told we’d receive delivery within two weeks.

About a week-and-a-half later I was driving home when I spotted a large transport trailer heading down the main street in our subdivision. It caught my eye because it was an unusually large truck travelling along our streets, and it’s not like I live in a neighborhood where everyone drives tractor trailers to and from work. (Hey, there’s Dave across the street, pulling up in his 18-wheeler! BEEP! BEEP BEEP! Oh yeah, he’s backing into his drive, same as every night. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!).

What I’m saying is a guy roaring around the neighborhood in a truck nearly the size of my house stood out. Furthermore, I recognized the name of the company as the division of a courier firm. About a minute later, I arrived home and found, of course, a courier tag hanging on my door.

The tag contained no mention of a re-delivery date, or just about anything else for that matter. In fact, this delivery tag was so devoid of information that I wondered if it wasn’t Secret Squirrel stuff, like something out of James Bond or Total Recall. The tag only held a phone number and maybe if I called it I’d find myself embroiled in some sort of Jason Bourne thing, where suddenly I’d find myself able to fend off 30 guys at once with my newly-discovered kung fu skills before having to flee into the streets, where I’d have to remain on the run until I could defuse the nuclear warhead (c’mon, there’s always one of those) with only one second remaining.

I called the number…and reached an extremely unhelpful and unsympathetic dispatch. She didn’t seem the least bit put out while I pondered out loud the kind of service that shows up without calling in the middle of the day to a household to try and deliver a 320-pound package.

I informed her part of the purchase agreement had included free delivery and I told Ms. Armoured Courier in Dartmouth that I wasn’t going to pay for them to bring the treadmill around again – especially when they hadn’t informed us in the first place they were coming with it, a half-a-week early. She told me they were only a third-party delivery service and they’d have to consult with the shipping company.

A week passed.


I called Dartmouth. In my politest tone, I said: “Where the hell is my damn treadmill, you incompetent!”

Actually, I only wished I had. Instead, I listened while Ms. Armoured told me that the treadmill was now on its way to Montreal and that they had no obligation to do anything but dump it at my doorstep and that I had declined delivery. Completely flabbergasted, I extracted a customer service number for Icon, the parent company for NordicTrack and managed after a couple of calls to find an efficient customer service person. She told me that in fact the courier should have called ahead and that they would try and intercept our treadmill that was now gallivanting across Canada, chalking up some miles of its own.

The irony did not escape me that before either Steph or I even got to set foot on the treadmill it probably would have more miles under it for the year than either of us.

Three weeks after we should have had our treadmill, I was getting into my car in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and was literally beginning to pull out of the drive when an Armoured transport truck showed up. No call, nothing, just pulls up.

As it turned out, the driver – a nice enough fellow – wrestled the treadmill off the truck and obligingly put it into our garage.

Wonderful. We now had a 320-pound flat box in our garage.

Steph is handy. I’m not. Tools misbehave in my hands. If I grab a hammer, someone – most likely me – is going to get hurt. A saw? You’ve got to be kidding. As for a drill, I’m not even going to tell you the kind of damage that can occur except to say that it makes Expendables 2 look like child’s play.

Steph actually enjoys building things. She vanished into the garage and for the next day strange banging, whirring and thumping sounds came from its interior. Steph emerged looking no worse for the wear. If this was a film, that would be the scene where the doors swing open and our hero is astounded to see a massive control centre swarming with generals and underlings monitoring computer screens of absolutely everything in the world. But it’s not a film; the treadmill stood there, miracle enough.

With some huffing and puffing we went to haul it through the basement door…but it wouldn’t fit.

A few hours and several parts dismantled later – which included removing a number of stripped screws from the basement door so that could be taken off – we finally pushed the treadmill into place.

I’m thrilled to say that it lived up to all of our expectations – for all of three runs.

On the fourth run, Steph switched it on and the machine emitted a pathetic little rattle, a little like a death rattle, and then…nothing.

After the obligatory round of button pushing and more death rattles, we called Icon. They referred us to the local treadmill repair guy. Long story short, he came out, looked at our machine and declared the motor in fine shape. The computer that powers it, however, wasn’t so great. Apparently, while our treadmill had been seeing the country, it must have gotten knocked more than few times.

Another week passed.

Finally, the part arrived, the repair guy came, and the treadmill is up and running – and I’m not. I managed to re-injure myself on Christmas Day, in the same shoes that first gave me my plantar problems a year ago (and that I didn’t wear again until a few days ago).  I don’t think it’s long-term (I hope); just a tendon tweak from the feel of things. Ironically, though, it brings me back to where I was slightly less than a year ago when I first began this blog.

You did say you enjoyed pathos.

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 The Incredible Saga of the Travelling Treadmill and it’s Many Moving Parts

  1. Trevor says:

    Your treadmill’s journey reminds me of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. You could have yelled “You’re going the wrong way!” to the Armoured Courier. Am I the only one that thinks of that as a Christmas movie? We’ve had Rudolph, Frosty, Christmas Story, Elf, Grinch, Christmas Vacation, Wonderful Life, etc. running for the last two weeks, but no movies where pillows are mistaken for buttocks. Hope you’re feeling better soon … you need to stay healthy until May 26th!

    • subthree says:

      Seriously, when I saw the truck I had a feeling about it and that was confirmed a minute later when I arrived home. After that, non-stop hassles for five weeks. I’m hoping this is just a tweak, Trevor, but I’m pretty frustrated for sure. I ran four miles tonight on the treadmill and had to pull the plug because it hurt too much. So…more time off. Hope you had a great Xmas.

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