Michael Bergeron likes to run fast. But Bergeron isn't just quick with his feet — when he runs, his hands are working overtime.
That's because Bergeron is a joggler — a runner who simultaneously juggles.
"Some people say it's for the entertainment. Some people, it's for the posture and better training," he says.
Bergeron has been running competitively since he was 13 years old. He switched to joggling last year.
"I did circus school when I was younger. I decided to put the two together last year," he said.
The first official joggling event was held in North Dakota in 1980. After 35 years, the sport remains obscure — Bergeron knows of only one other joggler in Nova Scotia. He gets plenty of surprised reactions from passersby.
"While you joggle, people look at you. You get a smile on people's face, and that's the best part of your day," he said.
During official road races, his non-joggler competitors can be less light-hearted.
"Some people I pass are going to say, 'Show off,' because they're a little bit frustrated that the guy who juggles can run faster than them," Bergeron said.
During competitions, he juggles bean bag balls. If you drop a ball, the rules of joggling demand you stop, pick up the ball and resume joggling from the point you flubbed.
During practices, Bergeron sometimes runs with juggling clubs and, more recently, small machetes. He says it's mostly safe, but admits he occasionally nicks himself.
"I'll say no, but yes. Small cuts," he said.
Bergeron says his fastest joggling half marathon is in the 1 hour 28 minute range. The world record is less than 1 hour 21 minutes, held by Torontonian Michal Kapral. Bergeron hopes to have a shot at that record sometime in the next few years.
"Maybe one day. Maybe," he says.
But for now, Bergeron says it's all about a love of the sport. "I prefer joggling. It's not just about competing. It's about having fun doing it, right?"
Curious Nova Scotians can watch Bergeron compete this weekend in the Liverpool half marathon, and in Halifax in the Bluenose half marathon later in May.