After Meggan Franks crossed the finish line as the winner of the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon, race volunteers handed her an American flag in a light-hearted moment. The only problem: Franks is Canadian.
The 32-year-old mother of two living in Starkville, Miss. made the four-hour drive to New Orleans and won the 42.2K race on Sunday in 2:51:50. Her success on Sunday has been four years in the making since she last won the race.
Franks told Canadian Running that she has battled bouts of anemia, injuries, including a sacral stress fracture, and has come back from a second pregnancy (August 2014).
— Meggan Franks (@MegganFranks) February 27, 2016
“I really prepared to run around 2:46 so I was really disappointed when I started looking at the weather and it looked like New Orleans was going to be a ‘suffer-fest,” said Franks. “I could have decided to throw it in and run something else, but I am a working mom (with a husband who travels constantly) so my schedule really isn’t flexible enough to pick another race.”
While balancing marathon training (early morning runs), Franks, originally from Alberta, works at Mississippi State University as the Assistant Director of student leadership and community engagement. She oversees volunteer work, service-learning, teaches two classes and works as a supervisor at AmeriCorps (a program that connects adults with community involvement).
“I am still very much a Canadian. I drink Tim Hortons coffee every morning and I get a shipment of it every month.”
The Rock ‘n’ Roll series is notable for its extravagant post-race parties (concerts and costumes) and attracts large crowds for its races. New Orleans was no different (see below video).
— Rock n Roll Marathon (@RunRocknRoll) February 28, 2016
Earlier this year, she raced a half-marathon and a full marathon but both were run in tough conditions. The two races provided motivation for Franks to run New Orleans on Feb. 28.
While many runners were struggling in the final 10K of the race, Franks played it safe, stayed hydrated and passed plenty of participants in the latter stages. She hopes the win is a sign of more good things to come in 2016.
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Franks is not the only Canadian on campus in Starkville. She regularly interacts with Windsor, Ont. native Brandon McBride, one of Canada’s most promising talents in the men’s 800m, who also attends Mississippi State University.
“I’m pretty proud of [Brandon] being a Canadian and all,” added Franks. “I see him a lot. My husband, Houston Franks, is the head cross country-coach and an assistant track coach [at MSU]. It’s always nice to have a fellow Canadian around, especially a track athlete.”
Franks was a steeplechase athlete for MSU in the early 2000s and fell in love with the “11 months of summer” that the area experiences. She has represented Canada on the international stage including the World Mountain Running Championships.
One day after the race, and as seen in the following video, Franks is feeling the pain that every runner experiences post-marathon:
The post marathon stair shuffle pic.twitter.com/m0eYN2tka9
— Meggan Franks (@MegganFranks) February 29, 2016
Canadian Dayna Pidhoresky also made an appearance in New Orleans, finishing second in the half-marathon. The half was won by American Neely Spence Gracey.
Featured photo: Screenshot via YouTube.