Canada’s leading female marathoner Lanni Marchant has confirmed she will run in this week’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
A year ago she finished fifth at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:31:51, helping to launch a new era in Canadian women’s marathoning. That performance makes her the 9th fastest Canadian woman of all time.
Marchant, a native of London, Ont., represented Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August but succumbed to the oppressive heat and humidity and ended up walking most of the last seven kilometres.
“While I was walking the course I was thinking ‘dammit, this isn’t the way I want to end the season. I am going to do a marathon in the fall,’” she recalls. “It was mentally such a letdown. I am a girl and I needed that minute to cry. I didn’t completely make up my mind to keep training even for the Canadian 10k national championships until I got back home. I wanted to have my little ‘boo hoo’ first.
“I talked to my mom, I talked to my coach Dave Mills, and we put together my training program for the 10k championship with my coach’s disclaimer, ‘don’t be surprised if the mileage is a little higher than your typical 10k program.’ At the end of the day, if I wanted to run Chicago or Toronto, we didn’t want to lose six weeks of training. It was up in the air and in the back of my mind.”
She won the national 10K championship in September by thirty seconds (34:07.2) beating Krista DuChene, her teammate in Moscow, Lioudmila Kortchaguina, who is now a master’s marathoner and is the 3rd all time fastest Canadian (2:29:42), as well as Natasha Wodak. All have confirmed they will race in Toronto.
Defeating her rivals was the final impetus to convince her to run in Toronto. The race was especially positive since she had tweaked a thigh muscle while attempting to lift boxes during her move to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The 10K was a brilliant test as she increased her training volume.
“It tells me the engine is still there,” she says. “But I can definitely feel that the pep I had in my legs in July and August is a little bit harder to find right now. I did a marathon tempo pace workout last Saturday and I felt great doing it. I definitely feel I have strength and can keep 5:40 pace for 26.2 miles I think that puts me a good bit under 2:30.” The Canadian women’s marathon record of 2:28:36 has stood since 1985 and Scotiabank has put up a bonus of $28,000 should it be broken in this year’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Upon hearing the news that Marchant will be toeing the line with her in Toronto, Krista DuChene was excited. “From the beginning when we ran together in Rotterdam, Lanni and I have had a great thing going,” DuChene says. “Of course we’re rivals, pushing each other to run our best race, but we’re also teammates. Really, it’s the best set-up! I knew she needed time to decide if she should run STWM and now that she is, it’s great. I think this will definitely help us crack that 2:30.”
The question many have had for the 29-year-old Marchant is why did she not join the 23 other women in the field of 70 who abandoned the Moscow race, to save herself for another day.
“I dropped out of Toronto last year and I just didn’t think I could handle it mentally; I couldn’t handle dropping out of two marathons,” she says. “Both Krista and I had wanted to be at the London Olympics so bad just to get that experience that one of us had to cross that finish line in Moscow. Good, bad, or ugly… I wanted to wear that maple leaf and cross that finish.
“I had modified my legal career so that I can do this. I had made all those adjustments to my lifestyle, I had put in all that training and spent all that money to go to Kenya and everything. I hadn’t done that to not cross that line. I wanted that experience. I put myself up on that world stage. Unfortunately it wasn’t the experience I wanted but I wanted the experience of crossing the finish line.”
Now the experience she covets is a fast time on the streets of Toronto a mark that will erase the memories of Toronto a year ago and put her in the position of which she believes she is capable.
“I always have my A, B and C goals,” she explains, revealing the pragmatic legal mind. “‘A’ would be to get under 2:28, ‘B’ would be to PB and get under 2:30 and the ‘C’ would be to get a Commonwealth Games standard. Rotterdam was a great experience, I want to have that confidence boosting marathon experience again in Toronto.”