St. Albert, Alta. resident Ailsa MacDonald is one of just two Canadians on the women’s elite start list for Monday morning’s Boston Marathon, a world marathon major.
The 35-year-old power engineer based in northern Alberta has been on a roll of late and should be able to challenge her personal best on the hilly Boston course after winning the San Francisco Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon on April 3.
Previous times at the Boston Marathon: One (2010).
Pre-race thoughts: “I know the course so I know what to expect. Training’s been going well, no injuries and I’ve been consistent. Having family here is that much more motivating too.”
Getting an elite invitation into the race: “The B.A.A. [host organization] reached out to me; it was a big surprise. When I ran Houston back in January, I ran 2:44 so I re-submitted my qualifying time to move up start corrals. When I submitted, they asked if I wanted to start with the elite women. It’s quite the honour and I’m very excited.”
Running in St. Albert: “It’s a great place to run. I can do a long run without ever worrying about traffic. In between the 10-day shifts that I spend out of town, I do nothing but train. When at camp, I’m essentially at work all the time but there’s a gym and a 400m crushed gravel running track so it’s really good that way.”
Ailsa will be joined by her mother Morag at the Boston Marathon in what will be a speedy mother-daughter duo.
MacDonald, who has been running marathons since she was 27, is also a long-distance triathlete and completed her first Ironman in 2015. She arrived in Boston on Saturday night.
Morag, 60, will be looking to run in the 3:25 range after qualifying with a 3:30. The two will have the luxury of avoiding the pre-race bus ride to the start line with a personal ride, which should ease the nerves in the hours leading up to the morning race.
With the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials having gone off this past February, there is a notable absence of top-tier Americans in Boston. Still, the race will still be stacked at the front-end with both defending champions in the field: Kenyan Caroline Rotich and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa.
American notables Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden, Amy Cragg and Meb Keflezighi, all of who have competed in Boston, will rest up ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics. Neely Spence Gracey, 26, is the country’s best hope for a podium-finish by an American.
There will be three Canadians in the elite fields for Monday morning’s race. More than 2,000 Canadians are expected to toe the start line in Hopkinton, Mass. before running to Boylston Street in downtown Boston.
Ailsa MacDonald, 35, 2:44:43
Denise Robson, 47, 2:50:39
Christian Mercier, 41, 2:23:28
Robson is a past Boston Marathon age group winner and Mercier is a 41-year-old full-time lawyer who is a relative newcomer to the sport but is approaching the 2:20 barrier.
Mobility impaired: 8:50 a.m.
Wheelchair men: 9:17 a.m.
Wheelchair women: 9:19 a.m.
Handcycles: 9:22 a.m.
Elite women: 9:32 a.m.
Elite men and wave one: 10:00 a.m.
Wave two: 10:25 a.m.
Wave three: 10:50 a.m.
Wave four: 11:15 a.m.
This year marks the 120th anniversary of the Boston Marathon and the 50th anniversary of Bobbi Gibb becoming the first-ever women to run the race. She sneaked onto the course in 1966 and broke the gender barrier.
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) April 17, 2016
— CanadianRunning (@CanadianRunning) April 16, 2016