AMHERST - Marc Kennedy is a much better curler than he is a runner but that won't stop him from running in Saturdays 5K run during HarbourFest in Pugwash.
"I find long distance running helps with my overall fitness and stamina, and it helps lose some of those winter pounds you gain while eating on the road curling," said Kennedy, who plays with the Kevin Martin rink and won curling gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Kennedy is from Edmonton but is presently in Nova Scotia.
"My wife is from Glace Bay and we're on a family vacation visiting her family," said Kennedy. "It's a nice family vacation for us and we thought we'd fit in a nice 5K run."
Kennedy often visits Nova Scotia.
"We've curled in Port Hawkesbury three of the last six years, and we've been here every year since our girls were born," said Kennedy. "So for the last five years we get out to Glace Bay every summer to visit family."
Kennedy said he's been a recreational runner for a few years now.
"We spend a lot of time in the gym preparing for curling. We do a lot of leg training and core strength training," said Kennedy. "But I found running to be really good for fitness over and above the training we do for curling."
His wife Nicole started running more with him this summer.
"We're doing a half marathon in Edmonton next month, and we did a 15k road race a few weeks ago, so it's becoming more a part of our life and it's something we enjoy doing together."
Kennedy said curlers are much more fit than they used to be.
"You have to be more fit these days because if you're in the Olympics or the Briar they're very long weeks and they can be very grueling," he said. "If you're in better shape than the other team you have a better chance of winning, so it's really changed the sport."
Many curlers have a background in other sports and Kennedy is no exception.
"I was a quarterback for a junior football team in the CJFL (Canadian Junior Football League), and then played one year of university ball as well," he said. "I also played some Team Alberta soccer as well, so I always had a really active background and I think that athleticism has helped me be a better curler."
Asked what makes the difference between a good curler and a great curler Kennedy said practice plays a big role.
"Like golf, if you're not spending a lot of time on your swing you're not going to be successful, and curling is the same way," he said. "If you're working a lot on your slide and a lot on your delivery and your mechanics. That provides a big separation between the good and the best."
Managing nerves also plays a role.
"One thing I've learned is you can't control nerves. I've been quite a nervous curler over the years," said Kennedy. "But you learn more how to manage them and accept the fact you're going to be nervous sometimes and battle through it. The more you experience that the better you get at managing it."
– THE SOCHI OLYMPICS
The next big test for Kennedy's nerves will be at the Olympic Trials for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which take place in Winnipeg in early December.
"We have a major change in our (Martin) team," said Kennedy. "John Morris quit out team a few months back so we picked up Dave Nedohin from the (Randy) Ferby four."
Nedohin had taken time off from the game but jumped on board to play third with the Martin team.
"We're excited," said Kennedy. "It's given our team a whole new energy and I think we're going to be a contender come the Olympic Trials."
He says if his team qualifies for Sochi they will face an entirely different situation than they did in Vancouver.
“Whoever wins the trials, Sochi will bring a whole different world of adversity than we had in Canada,” said Kennedy. “We were with our own fans, with our own food and our own weather. Everything felt so at home for us that it was easy to curl in that environment.
“Going over to Sochi will be a whole different world when it come to food, accommodation, language barriers and ice conditions,” he added. “It will be difficult, but I know I would love that challenge and my teammates would love that challenge as well.”
He says Canadian curlers are spoiled.
“With curling being such a big sport in Canada, we’re quite spoiled, so to go to another country and win a medal in those conditions would be very difficult but we welcome the opportunity.”
– CURLING IN THE MARITIMES
And he likes the curling culture in the Maritimes.
“We had the Olympic Trials in Halifax in 2005, and the Briar her in 2010 and they’re always very successful,” he said. “The fans come out in droves and they support curling like crazy. It has strong roots here.
For now he's enjoying his time in the Cape Breton.
"If I go out today to Mayflower Mall here in Sydney I get recognized. There's lots of curling fans out here," he said. "I love it. The friendly nature of people out here is something you don't always get in every part of the country.
“It’s one of the reasons we like to take a vacation out here. It’ a little slower pace of life and people are more willing to stop and chat,” he added. “The pace out west it’s often work, work, work and you sometimes you lose a little bit of that connection with your neighbor.”
He's looking forward to visiting Pugwash.
"I heard there was a new curling club built out there a couple of years ago, so I'm hoping Nicole and I get to come out to the club and meet a couple of the curlers and enjoy our day and have a good time."
On Twitter: @adndave