Heartland Tour stresses health, tourism


It was another unprecedented day on Sunday for the Heartland Tour in Pictou County.

Nearly 250 people cycled and walked the routes established for them to honour healthy living through physical activity.

“It’s our highest number yet,” said organizer Kathy Saulnier. “We had 240 pre-register.”

The events started and ended at the Pictou County Wellness Centre and included a walk along the Old Foster Trail, a bike ride along the Albion and Samson trails and longer bike tour along Westville Road, Routes 4 and 376, Highway 106 and Abercrombie Road through New Glasgow and Stellarton – all with a police escort.

Bikers can stop at Pipers Landing Restaurant in Lyons Brook, but this year Michelin Canada set up a rest stop at its Granton facility

About 50 poeple did the walk, while about 100 completed the trail cycling route.

“The RCMP collaborated with New Glasgow and New Glasgow collaborated with Stellarton,” Saulnier said. “It was amazing. I just couldn’t believe how well they did it.”

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, Pictou East MLA Tim Houston and Heartland Tour co-founder Dr. Nick Giacomantonio raised a common theme during their remarks regarding how better health through more physical activity reduces the expenses and strain on health care.

“We spend a lot of time talking about our health care problems,” Fraser said. “We spend so little time on what makes us ill. Events like this set people on a course to a healthy lifestyle.”

Fraser also saluted the tour as part of a growing trend in sports tourism that is the fastest growing tourism segment in the province.

“You’re seeing more people living healthy lifestyles and growing our economy,” he said.

Houston noted how the effects of stress drive up health care costs and how physical activity can reduce stress.

Giacomantonio recalled the tour’s beginnings 13 years ago and emphasized the connection between exercise and living longer, more enjoyable lives.

“We know if you understand the risk factors that drive disease, you have a much better chance to live longer and better,” he said. “This event is about not breaking the health care system by not using it as much.”

From left: Dr. Nick Giacomantonio stands with Cst. Ken MacDonald, Pat MacDonnell and Kathy Saulnier after the Big Heart awards presentation. MacDonald accepted it on behalf of the New Glasgow Regional Police Service. (Goodwin photo)