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Canadian elite Ailsa MacDonald has added family encouragement in Boston

Race preview: Among the more than 2,000 Canadians expected to run the Boston Marathon on Monday are Ailsa MacDonald and her mother Morag.

Ailsa MacDonald
Ailsa MacDonald
Ailsa MacDonald and her mother, Morag, on Sunday, the day before the Boston Marathon.

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.

RELATED: Canada’s Ailsa MacDonald conquers San Francisco hills in Rock ‘n’ Roll win.

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).
Goal: 2:42-2:43.
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.

RELATED: Boston memories: Deaf and blind runner Gaston Bédard conquers marathon.

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.

Race preview

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.

RELATED: Boston bombing survivor to race the marathon with prosthetic leg.

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.

Elite women
Ailsa MacDonald, 35, 2:44:43
Denise Robson, 47, 2:50:39

Elite men
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.

Race times
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.

Canadian Running is live at the event and will be providing updates via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and through runningmagazine.ca