Though the Americans are sending possibly the most exciting field of women marathoners ever seen to the Boston Marathon this year, there are nonetheless three notable Canadian elites to watch for at this year’s race. Here’s why.
This will be 41-year-old DuChene’s second marathon since joining coach Dave Thomas-Scott and the Speed River Track and Field Club in Guelph, Ont. Though disappointed with her first performance as a master’s (40+) athlete at last year’s London Marathon (2:43:31), she is coming into Boston off a solid training block, averaging 158 kilometres per week.
DuChene is the second fastest marathoner in Canadian history (2:28:32, at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, the same race in which Lanni Marchant broke the Canadian record). She also won the Canadian Marathon Championships in 2016 (the race-within-a-race at the S.T.W.M.) and was 35th in the 2016 Olympics in Rio (2:35:29).
DuChene ran Boston as a 28-year-old, back in 2005, with a chip time of 3:00:46.
A three-time Olympian who came 10th in the marathon in Rio in 2016, Gillis had a spate of bad luck in 2017 that included an Achilles tendon injury keeping him out of the Boston Marathon, and then being struck with the Norwalk virus in London just before that city’s marathon. (Gillis did not finish despite clocking 1:35:24 at the 30K mark.)
A little over a year ago Gillis moved from Guelph, Ont. back to his home town of Antigonish, N.S. to coach university runners at St. Francis Xavier University. Since then he has continued to distinguish himself as top Canadian at the 10K championships in Ottawa in May 2017, and by coming second in the (10K) Canadian Cross Country Championships in Kingston, Ont. in November.
After an excellent year in 2016, which included the birth of his first child, winning the Road2Hope 10K in Hamilton, Ont., and racing an excellent time at the Fukuoka marathon in Japan (2:10:55), Coolsaet, 38, was struck with a painful and debilitating foot injury that sidelined him from running for most of 2017.
Though osteonecrosis (also referred to as avascular necrosis) sometimes results from trauma, Coolsaet suspects in his case it was simply from overuse. Between acupuncture, cross training, and alternating heat and cold therapy, he was able to resume training in September and was fit enough to compete at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Kingston, Ont. in November, 2017 despite running only half his usual yearly mileage. Like Gillis, Coolsaet, too, is racing Boston for the first time.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that Coolsaet became the second-fastest Canadian marathoner at the Fukuoka marathon in Japan in 2016. In fact, he achieved that distinction at the Berlin marathon in 2015. His time was not 2:10:55 but 2:10:28. We also indicated that Eric Gillis won the Canadian Cross-Country Championship; he came in second.