By Paul Gains
After realizing her dream of representing Canada at the Rio Olympic Games marathoner Krista DuChene has chosen the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for her next challenge.
The IAAF Gold Label race is set for October 16th and, if that seems rather soon following the Olympics, DuChene disagrees.
"Part of me felt I can wait until I am forty to run my next marathon," says the 39 year old from Brantford, Ontario. "But January seemed too far away."
DuChene laughs at her witticism but since recording her personal best time of 2:28:32 at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - making her the second fastest Canadian of all time behind friend and foe Lanni Marchant (2:28:00) - she should obviously be taken seriously.
"We are taking more risks," she says of her approach to the upcoming race. "I am not going to just do it just to run. We are taking more risks in that there is, obviously, not a lot of time to recover from Rio and jump into it.
"Having said that, I felt really fresh after my recovery from Rio and mentally didnít feel like my season was over. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the last marathon I did was my qualifying in April 2015 (2:29:38 Rotterdam). Some other athletes had to do spring marathons to qualify. I didnít have that fatigue behind me."
DuChene and her long-time coach, Rick Mannen, were pleased with her performance in Rio. Finishing 35th in the Olympic marathon is no small feat especially since she ran 2:35:29 in searing heat. Most of the womenís field ran five or six minutes slower than their best owing to the twists and turns which the course presented along with the weather conditions.
The mother of three was also delighted to experience life in the Olympic village where she shared an apartment with Canadian 10,000m record holder, Natasha Wodak, an archer and five members of the Canadian womenís basketball team.
"I definitely felt old compared to everyone else but that wasnít going to stop me from enjoying the experience," she reveals. "To have three meals cooked for me every day, that was a treat in itself.
"I got to know some of the athletes. I had what I wanted to do in a day. If I met up with other people great but I didnít feel I needed to do something with everyone every day. I went to the 50k race walk and to the track a couple of nights. It was quite nice."
Along with ĎCoach Rickí, her husband Johnathan, her children, her sister and two brothers were on hand to greet her at the finish. They had her walking for recovery right after the finish line.
DuChene knows she will have to be at her best for the Toronto race as it doubles as the Canadian National Championship. The next generation of Canadian women, who have been inspired by her running, are lining up to compete against her. Kenya based Tarah Korir, Rachel Hannah, the Pan Am bronze medalist and fastest Canadian this year, along with Leslie Sexton of London, Ontario, Dayna Pidhoresky of Vancouver, and Erin Burrett of Nanaimo have all confirmed their entries.
The lure of a Canadian championship medal has been sweetened too by the prize purse. The first Canadian will earn $5000 with $3,000 and $2,000 going to the silver and bronze medalists, respectively.
It is yet to be determined whether Athletics Canada will select a team for the London 2017 IAAF World Championships from this race. They have not announced their standards which are normally superior to the IAAF standard of 2:45:00. The qualifying window opened in January of this year and all of these Canadian athletes will be keen to wear the maple leaf in London.
"I donít have a set time goal yet," DuChene declares, "I think itís safe to say Iíd like to go under 2:30 and obviously be on the podium for top Canadian finishers. I am not sure what kind of field there will be internationally but I know there are going to be some strong women from Canada which makes a great national championship.
"I would like to run at the World Championships next summer so this provides an opportunity between Rio and London to go for a faster time."
As she pushes forty the inevitable talk of retirement from competition raises itself but she dismisses it with wisdom and experience.
"I donít know exactly, I have always felt I am bit different from most athletes because I came from a university hockey background," she explains. "So I have never felt I have been at this for so long. I think when there is no joy or motivation or fun in getting out the door to run 25 or 30k I am going to know that will be the time when I will start running recreationally. So age doesnít matter to me.
"I look at people like Meb Keflezighi and Jo Pavey and Bernard Lagat. Those guys are still running well in their 40ís so they are an inspiration for me. And with the kids in school full time itís much easier because I drop them off, I go to the gym, I go to the pool, I go for my run, get treatment. Lunch, nap, shower and pick them up again. So there are no interruptions in the day for me."
The freedom to train as she sees fit is something she has only enjoyed since her youngest entered school full time last year. Invigorated by her Olympic success, DuChene will no doubt challenge not only for a place amongst the top Canadians but also amongst the very strong international field.
For More Information and to join Krista DuChene and 2015 STWM champion Shure Demise (Ethiopia): STWM.ca.