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Branna MacDougall runs a five-minute PB at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn.

MacDougall joins Silvia Ruegger as the only Canadian woman to run under 2:29:00 before the age of 25

Photo by: Ben Garvin

On the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minn., Canada’s rising marathon star, Branna MacDougall, ran a five-minute personal best of 2:28:36 to place fifth at the 2022 Grandma’s Marathon. Her time is the seventh-fastest ever among Canadian women.

Branna MacDougall climbing a hill at Grandma’s Marathon.

MacDougall could not hold back her emotion as she crossed the finish line. “I put my heart into training and racing,” MacDougall says. “I was unaware how fast my time was until the final few kilometres.” 

Although MacDougall had only tackled the marathon distance once before, she ran the race like a seasoned veteran. She negative split the second half of the race in 1:14:13, moving up to fifth from seventh place. Her first marathon, last fall, was in Muskoka, Ont., where she ran a solo 2:33:40. 

“My training gave me confidence that I was in sub-2:30 shape,” she says. “But the distance is unpredictable, and you can’t get your hopes too high.”

MacDougall, 23, had a prolific cross-country career at Iowa State University and Queen’s University, winning the U Sports team title in 2019. Since then, she has continued her training in Kingston under former Queen’s coach Steve Boyd and Physi-Kult.

U.S. marathoner Dakota Lindwurm become the first Minnesotan to successfully defend her title, winning in a personal best time of 2:25:01, which is four minutes faster than her previous winning time of 2:29:04. Sarah Sellers, who finished second at the Boston Marathon in 2018, and school teacher Susanna Sullivan of the U.S., rounded out the top three in 2:25:43 and 2:26:56, respectively.

MacDougall’s time is the second-fastest time by a Canadian woman this year, only behind Malindi Elmore’s 2:27:56 at the 2022 Boston Marathon. Although MacDougall’s time is under the 2022 world championship and Commonwealth Games standard, Grandma’s Marathon is considered a net downhill course according to World Athletics, therefore her time is not ratifiable. 

“My goal is to see how far this sport can take me,” says MacDougall. “I am inspired to make teams but none of that is a given. What really motivates me is the joy I get from training and racing.”

Kingston, Ont. native Branna MacDougall at the 2022 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn.

MacDougall joins elite company alongside Silvia Ruegger as the only Canadian woman to run under 2:29:00 before age 25. Right now, MacDougall plans to stick with the marathon. “The marathon is the hardest event I’ve run, and it’s what I want to do. ”