Marathon Mom seeks to inspire others
written by Brian Smiley
For those who missed it, The Expositor’s Flashback column on Thursday carried an interesting item from 25 years ago.
In 1984, two young runners, Rick Mannen and Martin Dixon, created a buzz during the Skylon International Marathon.
Running in Niagara Falls, Mannen completed the 26 miles and 385 yards in two hours, 19 minutes and 40 seconds, shaving eight minutes off his personal best time, while placing first. Dixon, Mannen’s Brantford Track and Field Club teammate, was second with a personal best of 2:25:08.
Well, history seems to be repeating itself. But this time it’s on the women’s side as the local running community is abuzz once again thanks to Krista DuChene.
DuChene, who started running marathons in 2002, has now raced in five and at each one her time has improved dramatically.
This year has marked a huge breakthrough as DuChene won the Mississauga Marathon in May and was the first Canadian woman (eighth overall) at the recent Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Her time in Missisauga was 2:51, while she finished the Toronto race in 2:50:36, which is the eighth fastest time by a Canadian woman this year.
DuChene is having the time of her life.
“I love it,” the 32-year-old said when talking about her life as a runner. “I think it’s a gift from God I’ve been given.
“People ask me how I do it but I tell them they can do it, too. I think I can take my experience and try and excite people to get out there and do it.
“It’s something that shines all over in my life.”
DuChene, who works as a registered dietitian, is relatively new to marathon running.
Born in Strathroy, she grew up in Alvinston and spent her youth concentrating on hockey. She also ran track and field in high school. By the time she was ready to head off to university, DuChene had to decide on which sport to pursue at the next level.
Her choice was to attend the University of Guelph and play hockey. While at Guelph, DuChene was the most valuable player, leading the Gryphons to an Ontario University Athletics provincial gold medal in 1998 and a fourth-place finish in Canada. She was also the OUA’s top scorer that season and, in 2000, was an OUA all-star. She still ran to keep in shape for hockey.
But once she graduated from Guelph -where she met husband Jonathan, a volleyball player -she decided to go back to running.
“At that point, I thought, ‘I’d like to run a marathon some day,'” said DuChene, who moved with Jonathan to Brantford about seven years ago.
In 2002, she competed in Niagara Falls and was the 19th woman to cross the finish line but first in her category.
“I think most people, your goal is to finish but you also have a secret time in your head,” she said of that first race which she finished in 3:28.
The following year, she ran in Ottawa and was the 14th woman across the line and once again was first in her category with a time of 3:09, a whopping 19 minutes faster than her previous marathon.
DuChene had qualified for one of the biggest marathons in the world, in Boston, but something got in her way of competing.
“I was supposed to go to Boston in 2004 but I had some injuries,” she said. “So, I deferred it and did it in 2005.”
That year at the Boston Marathon, DuChene finished in 3:00 and she was the first Canadian woman across the finish line.
It was around this time that DuChene became pregnant. However, in November of that year, she ran the Paris Grand Half Marathon while six and a half months pregnant.
DuChene and her husband welcomed a son into the world shortly after that and the birth of Micah slowed her marathon running for a while.
In fact, the couple had a second son, Seth, before DuChene was back in a marathon, winning the Mississauga event earlier this year.
That was an outstanding accomplishment in its own but it was made even more amazing based on the fact that she had gone almost four years without running the distance in an actual race.
The fact she was now running marathons after giving birth to two children gave her a unique nickname in the running community. She is known as “Marathon Mom.”
“When I won in Mississauga it was on Mother’s Day and some of the people there started calling me ‘Marathon Mom,'” explained DuChene.
She said one of the things she’s most proud of now is that she and her family juggle so much but remain on even ground.
“Obviously the times of my races are important and certainly the money is rewarding but it’s the balance,” DuChene explained when asked what she’s most proud of in her running career.
“My husband and I are involved in church, I work part-time and have two kids and I’m training so we have to balance everything.
“Sometimes you go to (marathons) and that’s all these people have. I’m glad I have that balance.”
DuChene, who runs around 95 kilometres a week, has also received support from others. With a young family, it’s sometimes difficult to train with a group but DuChene still tries to run with members of the Runner’s Den in Paris.
“They have such a super group out cheering us on,” said the runner, who has set personal bests this year in the 10-km, 10-mile, half-marathon and marathon and is supported by adidas, Eload and Chariot Carriers.
“When you see people you know (during a race), it really gives you a boost.”
DuChene, who was a part of Team Canada during the recent Scotiabank marathon, helping them finish second, now has her sights set on next year.
Now training under coach Nicole Stevenson, DuChene is gearing up for a gruelling 2010.
The first race she plans on entering is the Grimsby half-marathon in February. She’ll then compete in the Around the Bay 30-kilometre race in Hamilton in March before taking part in the Canadian half marathon championships in Montreal in April.
On May 30, she’ll be in Ottawa competing at the Canadian Marathon Championships.
Her goal for the Grimsby half-marathon is 1:18, which would give her an ‘A’ standard ranking, which gets her entry to the Canadian Marathon Championship paid and allows her to start at the front of the race.
At the Canadian Marathon Championships, she’d then like to run 2:44, which last year would have placed second.
After that, it’s up in the air but one thing is certain: DuChene appears to be on a similar track as Mannen and Dixon, two of this area’s most accomplished runners.