BADDECK, N.S. –
It was 10 years ago Friday that Steve Dunn’s friends gathered with hundreds of others at the Cabot Trail Relay Race’s finish line in Baddeck, N.S., to watch him finish his run.
Although his friends watched for him and waited to share in his moment of glory, Dunn never made it.
“Getting that phone call early in the morning, it was a panic just to get to the airport and get on the plane,” recalled Chris Dunn, Steve Dunn’s son. “It was a long flight.”
Steve Dunn collapsed one kilometre short of the finish line in May 2012. He was 58-years-old.
“He was handed a bottle of water,” Chris Dunn said. “He kind of put his thumb over part of it, and was splashing people as he was running by and he just dropped. So, he didn’t even know. He was enjoying himself.”
The final leg of the relay is now named in Steve Dunn’s honour. This weekend, his daughter Ashley MacDonald is heading to the Cape Breton Highlands to finally finish the race her father started.
“I’ll be running Leg 17, and finishing that leg for him,” MacDonald said. “I’ll be carrying a torch, like a LED torch with me – just a light – to symbolize carrying his light to the finish line.”
Steve Dunn was a veteran of the relay since it began in 1989. He was in his 20th year participating when tragedy struck.
Relay organizers say Steve Dunn’s infectious spirit and love for the event made it a no-brainer to honour him on the 10-year anniversary of his passing.
“We were more than happy to help her and her family commemorate this. I know a lot of them are going to come down and watch her,” said Grace Mason-Parkinson of the Cabot Trail Relay Race organizing committee.
“I think it’s going to be the loudest finish chute that you’ve heard. I’ve let all the teams know that this is happening and to cheer extra loud for her as she comes down.”
Steve Dunn’s long-time team, the “Salt Marsh Trail Runners,” will wear t-shirts at the relay race this weekend emblazoned with his favourite quote, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
“We’ll just be thinking about him, celebrating our dad. It’s going to be a good healing moment,” MacDonald said.
Also at the finish will be Steve Dunn’s five grandchildren. His son and daughter say their dad would have loved to see everyone gathered together again at a place that meant so much to him.
“He’d be just ecstatic,” Chris Dunn said. “I know I am, and he’d be even more – the sentimentalist that he was.”
The Cabot Trail Relay Race begins Saturday in St. Anns, N.S., with MacDonald running the final leg into Baddeck in her father’s memory Sunday morning.