Boston, Johnny Miles Marathon runner ‘Big Dog’ Chenell honoured
© JOHN BRANNEN - THE NEWS
CUTLINE: Runner Dave MacLennan, left, fights to hold back tears as he presents a certificate honouring the late Glenn Chenell to his wife Elizabeth and son Mark. MacLennan paid tribute to ’Big Dog’ Chenell. at the 22nd annual induction ceremony of the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame, held in Westville on Saturday.
WESTVILLE – The Westville Civic Building was packed with athletes, coaches and their families and friends as tribute was paid to the stars of Pictou County sports.
Five athletes, including a horse, one team and a builder became part of the hallowed halls of the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. The 22nd annual induction ceremony was held on Saturday and honoured the late Pictou County running legend, the late Glenn ‘Big Dog’ Chenell.
Nine-time Johnny Miles Marathon winner and Scotsburn native Dave MacLennan delivered a moving tribute to Chenell.
“Glen motivated many runners over the years, whether it was just to get out and run or run your first marathon,” said MacLennan. “He had that certain gift to inspire and try and do better.”
MacLennan noted, with nods of approval from the crowd, that Chenell was better than Google when it came to knowing anything about running.
Chenell’s running log noted the successes and failures as his running career took off. MacLennan read Chenell’s own words about his first race in 1983.
“And I thought I was in shape,” he wrote. “Fresh from team sports and as far as three miles, I enter my first 10K and I’m walking at four miles, swearing I’ll never do it again. The Boston Marathon is a far way off.”
During his 30 years in the sport, he became known as “Big Dog” and he completed 86 marathons, including six Boston Marathons, several ultra marathons and countless shorter distance runs. He lost his battle with cancer in May 2013.
In the builder category, Clifton “Cliff” Wood, a champion ringette coach was inducted. The Durham native’s teams won provincial championships six years in a row in an era stretching from the late 80s to the early 90s. His teams also captured numerous tournament titles. Cliff also had a tremendous impact on the sport as Highland Zone Director for Ringette Nova Scotia and was a tireless worker and volunteer.
Master of Ceremonies Kevin Reid noted a Wood’s integrity for the game.
“His teams were always known and respected for their solid clean play with the Ringette Nova Scotia Sportsmanship team award in 1991 and at a Christmas tournament in Sackville in 1979.”
In the athlete category, Robert Henry Dunbar, a legendary curler who was born in 1859 in Abercrombie was honoured. Dunbar began a journey in the sport that led to his induction into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame with numerous accomplishments and honours. He was one of the foremost exponents of curling in North America and one of the most proficient curlers in the United States. He was an innovator who developed and perfected the take out style as opposed to the draw game.
It was an emotional induction for Heel’s Lad. Owner Brad Smith and Ronny Mason tried, but couldn’t hold back their tears as Reid read the list of Heel’s Lad accomplishment.
During his harness racing career, the “Lad” accomplished more than any other Pictou County raised and owned race horse ever has before or since. He started his trotting career under the tutelage of trainer Ron Mason at the Parkdale track. In a six year span in the ’80s, Heel’s Lad earned almost $100,000 at Maritime Driving Parks, at the time the most every earned by a Pictou County bred, raised and owned horse.
Lismore native Neil MacKinnon, a previous inductee in the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame in the team category, had a passion for volleyball where he went from being a provincial champion at East Pictou Rural High School, Canada Games and eventual St. Francis Xavier University. Mackinnon was the first volleyball player to be inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. He recently retired after a successful career as an educator and physical education teacher.
Rodey C. Walsh also cut his teeth in volley ball at East Pictou Regional High School, playing on the championship team in 1975 when he was only in Grade 9. The Merigomish native played intercollegiate volleyball at Dalhousie University for one year, before transferring to the University of Calgary. He resides in Alberta today. His honour role includes a seven-year stint with Canada’s National Olympic Team and professional in France before retiring from the sport.
“It’s kind of neat for two boys on the Shore road to be inducted together,” said MacKinnon about himself and Walsh.
Walsh paid tribute to Keith Melanson, one of his formative volley ball coaches.
“There are things that I reference today as a coach for the past 15 years that go right back to what Keith taught us,” said Walsh. “He took it upon himself to go to Russia to learn the sport because he was a student of the sport.”
“Hockey” Jack Campbell was one of the original inductees into the Nova Scotia Sports Heritage Hall of Fame and though he passed away in 1969 at the age of 86, he was inducted posthumously to the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. John James Campbell was considered one of the most skilled and colourful athletes of his time. He excelled on hockey rinks and baseball diamonds all over the Maritimes. After his playing days were over, he developed into an outstanding baseball umpire and hockey referee. His descendants were on hand to accept the award on his behalf.
When Junior C Hockey was king in Pictou County, the Mariners were the dominant team. Over a four season period from 1983-1986, the Mariners not only won the county championship, but the provincial one as well. They were the sole entry in the team category during the induction ceremony. The majority of original players on the team were present. According to Reid, Junior C Hockey Continues to have appeal across Nova Scotia and the Mariners were one of the pillars that success was built on.
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