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Posted: June 6, 2008

Athletics: Interview with Tara Quinn-Smith on her Marathon Debut

Lynne Bermel (LB): How did it feel to be top Canadian at the ING Ottawa Marathon? What had you been expecting?

Tara Quinn-Smith (TQS): I was thrilled to be the top Canadian in Ottawa with it being my marathon debut. I felt quite confident that I would be cometitive going into the race, having won the Canadian Half Marathon and set a personal best. However, I knew with repeat national champion Louidmilla and veteran Nicole Stevenson that I would have some stiff competition on the day.

LB: Were you happy with your race? Tell us how it went for you? What were your goals going into the race?

TQS: Yes, I was definately happy with the race given it was my debut. The ultimate goal of course was to be Canadian Champion, however in terms of Olympics and time goals I had a range going into Ottawa. My high end goal was to aim for the Olympic B standard of sub 2:31. If this wasn't obtainable on the day then finishing under 2:34 was the secondary goal that would help me secure a spot on the 2009 World Championship team in Berlin and also allow me the opportunity to apply for carding with Sport Canada.

LB: What is next for Tara Quinn-Smith? Is Beijing on the agenda?

TQS: Unfortunately, Ottawa was my one shot at qualifying for Beijing and it just wasn't good enough by Canadian standards. That's ok though. I am still really looking forward to many other opportunities in the near future that lie ahead. First, my husband Andrew and I will compete at the World Half Marathon Championships this October in Rio, Brazil. There is the possibility of me doing another marathon in January of next year, and then the opportunity to reppresent Canada as part of the marathon team at the 2009 World Track and Field Championsips in Berlin next summer. Looking even further ahead, London 2012 will continue to be the ultimate goal for the next few years.

LB: When did you get your start in running? How? (I know… you were inspired by your coaching staff at Camp Olympia. That was it wasn’t it?)

TQS: Of course the wonderful staff at Olympia sports camp were great motivators!!! Running for me really started when I went to the U.S. on a track and cross country scholarship. Up unitl then I was a triathlete who enjoyed running and competing with my school team. The first two years were pretty tough and I actually got worse from my high school days before I got better. It was a period of adaptation and then by my junior year in University something just really clicked and things took off from there.

LB: What are your career highlights?

TQS:I have a lot of good memories that are all so special as I look back over the past few years. As for highlights:

- 2002 DI NCAA Track & Field Championships runner-up in the 10,000m ( the highlight of my University running career)

- 2 time Canadian 10,000m Champion (2005, 2006)

- 2 time Canadian Half Marathon Champion (2005, 2008)

- Canadian Marathon Champion (2008)

- 2006 Commonwealth Games 10,000m - 8th place

- 2005 & 2006 World Cross Country Team

- 2005 World Half Marathon Championships Team

LB:Has your twin sister followed your path? What is she doing?

TQS: My Twin sister Tiffany is awesome!!!! she has retired from competition after countless battles with injury and exercise induced asthma but she still runs for fitness quite regularly. Best of all she is the best support I could ever ask for. Probably my #1 fan besides my mom and dad. She keeps herself busy teaching almost full-time. She is actually starting to get into body building with her fiance who is a body builder. She is looking to do her first fitness competition this summer. I am really looking forward to it so I can be there to support her the same way she always is there for me..

LB: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

TQS: People would probably be surprised to learn that I was a competitive synchronize swimmer for 5 years before I took up triathlon and running.

LB: What do you do when you’re not training and racing?

TQS: When I'm not training and racing I enjoy spending time with family and friends; watching movies; and cross-training (swimming, cycling).

LB: What are your long-term goals?

TQS: As I look ahead, my long term goals over the next few years are to stay healthy, qualify for both the World Championships and Olympic Games in the Marathon, and hopefully break the Canadian women's Marathon record.

Tara in the 2008 ING Ottawa Marathon - Photo:

Tara is a member of the Brooks Marathon Project in Toronto.

© Copyright 2007 Lynne Bermel

Lynne Bermel, a former world-ranked pro Ironman competitor, is a senior marketing & PR consultant living in Ottawa.. She is also a freelance writer and TV sports show host. You can reach her at:

You can access previous columns by Lynne at: LB_Columns

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