Photo: Jean-Luc Jussaume

Ultrarunner Sebastien Roulier of Sherbrooke, Que. finished the Montreal Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 3:01:24 yesterday, good enough for a top-10 finish in his M40-44 age category–oh, and a world record for pushing an adult in a wheelchair for the entire distance.

Roulier’s passenger Marie-Michelle Fortin, 22, rode in a special wheelchair designed for running, by the Kartus company of Sherbrooke.  

Photo: Jean-Luc Jussaume

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“The cheering crowd was fantastic when we came back after the midpoint of the race,” said Roulier. “The next section was harder, because we had to climb Berri hill. But Marie-Michelle seemed to enjoy it.”

“I feel like it’s me that’s running,” says Fortin, who has cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair since infancy. She also recently acquired her own Kartus chair, and now enjoys running with her father, Luc Fortin. 

Fortin with her father and her shih tzu, Fanny. Photo courtesy of Marie-Michelle Fortin

As usual when going for a Guinness record, Roulier had to film the entire race, using a Go Pro mounted on the wheelchair, as well as get witnesses to document the achievement. “The existing record was 3:35, and I knew I could do better than that,” he said. After the first half, which he ran in 1:28, Roulier thought he might even go sub-3, but the second half was hilly, so it was not to be.

Photo courtesy of Marie-Michelle Fortin

Roulier and Fortin met at a half-marathon in Lévis in May, and both were keen to contest the marathon record. The Montreal marathon has special significance for Fortin, since her grandfather ran it many times, and Roulier was keen to help her fulfil her dream of participating in the race. “We are so proud of her,” says Fortin’s mother, Nicole Larouche. “Now that we have this chair, the sky’s the limit.”

Roulier plans to submit all the documentation to the Guinness organization once he returns from a trip to Greece to participate in this weekend’s Spartathlon in Greece, a 246K ultramarathon. Roulier’s future goals include contesting the wheelchair record at the Boston Marathon. 

 

 

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