Originally from Shawinigan, Que., Audrée Lafrenière moved to Vancouver in 2009.
Growing up, Lafrenière describes herself as a bit of a loner. Unlike most kids her age, she didn’t find her place i n team sports. “I needed an outlet and running gave me that, and much more,” she says.
So in 2003, at age 16, she st arted running, and hasn’t stopped running since.
After training for a few years, she signed up for her first race in 2009, t he appropriately named Montreal Hypothermic Half-Marathon, racing in -20 C weather. This is when she discovered that she was made for endurance. “It got me hooked on long-distance running,” says Lafrenière.
As the years passed, she raced many more half-marathons and eventually set her sights on Boston.
“I gave myself a goal. I wanted to toe the line of the Boston Marathon before turning 30,” she recalls.
But with a first full marathon finish of 3:54, Lafrenière knew she had a lot of work to do to qualify. Not one to back away from a challenge, she put her head down and started working harder. With the help of a coach, she managed to run a PB of 3:27 in Eugene, Ore., which was more than enough for her to qualify.
She ran the 2009 Boston Marathon, with one year to spare in her goal.
It’s only when Lafrenière moved to Vancouver that she discovered the joy of trail running. With her Boston goal now behind her, she finally found time to run up and down mountains, and in doing so, finding a deeper appreciation for a sport she already loved.
“I feel like you can only go so far on the roads, but the trails are endless,” Lafrenière says. “There will always be another summit to reach. I love the playfulness, the great sense of freedom and adventure of trail running.” Trail running quickly become a passion, a way to release stress and to feel alive. “Being in Vancouver, I’m surrounded by mountains and other trail runners who inspire me every day,” Lafrenière says.
She now has a few ultramarathons under her belt, including the infamous Squamish 50. “That definitely tested my limits,” she says. Lafrenière is now training for even longer distances. Her next goal is to run her longest race to date, the Mount Hood 50-Miler, in Oregon this summer.
Lafrenière loves trail running for many reasons, one of which is the adventure. “Racing trails is about more than just the race,”
she says. “It usually involves a road trip with great friends and staying in a tiny town you’ve never heard of.” And those are the things she looks forward to, as much as crossing the finish line. Brice Ferre is a photographer and trail runner living in Vancouver.