“What­ever the best ath­letes in the world are do­ing is what I want to be chas­ing af­ter.”


work­ing as an at­tor­ney in Ten­nessee when she set the record in Toronto five years ago. Krista Du Chene also dipped un­der Rueg­ger’s time that day with a 2:28:32 per­sonal best.

Their per­for­mances were some­what c at hart ic a f ter t he dis­ap­point ment t he pre­vi­ous year, when, de­spite hav­ing achieved the Olympic qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard, they were both left off the Cana­dian team bound for the Lon­don Olympics. “I feel very sim­i­lar to Sil­via when she set the record. She thought that would be a cat­a­lyst for women who fol­low to run faster,” Marchant says. “It lasted 28 years.” Marchant says she’s still hope­ful that we will see more Cana­dian fe­males run­ning the marathon in the 2:30 range or un­der. Al­though she doesn’t dwell on try­ing to bet­ter her time, Krista Du Chene, now 41, con­tin­ues to ex­cel at the dis­tance while pro­vid­ing in­spi­ra­tion to women across the coun­try. Un­der dread­ful con­di­tions she fin­ished a stun­ning third in the 2018 Bos­ton Marathon, ahead of 2017 New York cham­pion Sha­lane Flana­gan and the defending Bos­ton cham­pion, Edna Ki­pla­gat of Kenya.

“I def­i­nitely think that I am an en­cour­age­ment,” says Du Chene, a mother of three young chil­dren. “Moreso for my ex­pe­ri­ence, but also my age and bal­anc­ing a fam­ily and a ca­reer along with run­ning.”

Du Chene’s Bos­ton per­for­mance at­tracted much at­ten­tion, and rightly so. But many of to­day’s run­ners may not re­al­ize that Jac­quie Gareau of L ’ an­non­ci­a­tion, Que­bec won the 1980 Bos­ton Marathon and fin­ished sec­ond on two sub­se­quent oc­ca­sions. The pe­tite Que­be­cois ath­lete also fin­ished fifth in the f irst iaaf World Cham­pi­onship marathon in Helsinki, in 1983.

Cana­di­ans have also kept pace in the sci­ence of marathon­ing. In the 1970s, marathon­ers on the eve of a race would shake the car­bon out of cola drinks to pre­pare a fuel. It was many years later when a Cana­dian marathoner, Brian Maxwell, to­gether with his wife, Jen­nifer, man­u­fac­tured Power Bar, which launched an en­tire in­dus­try. Maxwell, who grew up in Toronto and was ed­u­cated at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley, was ranked among the world’s top three marathon­ers. He fin­ished third in the 1977 Bos­ton Marathon be­hind Dray­ton, run­ning 2:14:43. In a sign of Canada’s rel­a­tive marathon wealth at that time, he was se­lected for the 1980 Olympic team, along with Don Howieson and Mike Creary. Un­for­tu­nately, the Cana­dian govern­ment joined the United-States-led boy­cott of those Moscow Games be­cause of the Soviet in­va­sion of Afghanistan.

Boy­cotts and se­lec­tion con­tro­ver­sies not with­stand­ing, Cana­dian marathon­ing is in good shape as we look to the fu­ture. Reid Cool­saet, Krista Du Chene and Lanni Marchant re­tain their am­bi­tion, and there are sev­eral ath­letes fol­low­ing in their foot­steps. Pan Am Games bronze medal­list Rachel Han­nah, who has a per­sonal best of 2:32:09 (Hous­ton 2016), Dayna P id­horesky (2:36:08, Ot­tawa 2017) and Les­lie Sex­ton (2:33:23, Toronto 2015) lead the next gen­er­a­tion on the women’s side.

Al­though sev­eral Cana­dian men have thrown their hat in the ring with ex­ploratory sub-2:20 per­for­mances in re­cent years, it is Cam Levins whose name is most widely bandied about. Levins ran a Cana­dian 10,000m record of 27:07.51 three years ago, 50 sec­onds faster than Cool­saet has ever run and more than a minute faster than Jerome Dray­ton’s 28:13.17. It is not sur­pris­ing then that this 29-year-old’s marathon de­but is ea­gerly awaited.

But in­juries have plagued Levins. His 62:15 clock­ing at the 2018 iaaf World Half-Marathon Cham­pi­onships in Va­len­cia demon­strates he is on the right path. “I cer­tainly have lofty goals,” Levins says, “but I will be re­al­is­tic when I get closer to my first marathon. Ul­ti­mately, what­ever event I do, I want to be com­pet­i­tive at the high­est level.

“What­ever the best ath­letes in the world are do­ing is what I want to be chas­ing af­ter.” Paul Gains is a full-time free­lance jour­nal­ist. Gains has cov­ered eleven out­door IAAF World Cham­pi­onships and five Sum­mer Olympic Games for me­dia such as The New York Times, the Globe and Mail and the CBC. COR­REC­TION In Paul Gain’s Bran­don McBride fea­ture in our last is­sue. We wrote: “McBride is hop­ing to win Canada’s first mid­dle-dis­tance Olympic track medal since 1936.” How­ever, Bill Crothers won the Olympic 800m sil­ver medal at the 1964 Sum­mer Olympics.

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