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Yarmouth a special place, Sheila Poole a special race, for Denise Robson


Published on July 11, 2017

Denise Robson (820) in the early going of the 2016 Sheila Poole 10K in Yarmouth.

©Eric Bourque

YARMOUTH -- Denise Robson, 10-time women’s champion of Yarmouth’s Sheila Poole 10K, says she always welcomes the chance to return to what she considers her second home, the place she was born and where she has plenty of family and friends.

The 48-year-old Cole Harbour resident – who left Yarmouth when she was six but who spent a good number of summers here after that – had hoped to be among the participants in this year’s Sheila Poole race, which will be held Saturday, July 15, at 9 a.m. Unfortunately an injury has determined otherwise.  Robson has Achilles problems in both feet and her coach has told her not to run Sheila Poole.

It's disappointing.

Robson has won the Sheila Poole open women’s title the last five years. Indeed, a year ago, of the 150-plus runners who finished the Yarmouth event, Robson was second only to men’s champion Bryan Hipson. She covered the course in 38:07.

Asked to reflect on what the Yarmouth race means to her, she said pretty much her whole family comes out to the finish line.

“It sort of just gives me that opportunity to show them my passion for running and how much I love to race,” she said. “I love performing well for them down there because they’re so proud of my accomplishments. It makes me feel really good to come out and try to win that race for them.”

Robson knew Sheila Poole personally, having run with her for a year at Dalhousie University.

“She was a really good mentor to me,” Robson said. “She definitely was someone to look up to. She was very talented but very humble.”

(Initially known as the Human Race, the Yarmouth area’s annual summertime 10K was renamed in memory of Sheila Poole in the late 1990s, after Poole – a former Human Race champion – died of cancer at the age of 35.)

Robson now has a daughter running collegiately. In last year’s Sheila Poole race, Ashley Robson was the top finisher among female runners 19 and under. She will run it again this year.

Referring to her daughter’s 2016-17 season, Robson said, “It was her first year of university and she ran cross-country and track for StFX, so that was pretty cool and I’m very proud of her.”

Robson has three girls. Alyssa, her oldest at 21, also took part in the Sheila Poole 10K last year.

As for her own running, Robson had an injury in early spring that set back her 2017 season a bit.

Robson, who a few years ago was inducted in the Yarmouth area’s sports Hall of Fame, has run the Boston Marathon 10 times and in 2010 she was Boston’s women’s masters champion. Not long after that, she developed a serious health issue with blood clots in her lungs.

Last December, at the California International Marathon, she ran 2:49:37, her first sub-2:50 clocking since the blood clot problem. (Her fastest marathon was a 2:41:12, which she ran when she was 40.)

“It’s been sort of a steady climb trying to get back,” she said.

She didn’t run Boston this year due to the injury mentioned earlier, but she’s eyeing a couple of marathons this fall.