By Paul Gains
Twelve kilometres into the 2013 World Championship marathon Krista DuChene suddenly felt dizzy, staggered then collapsed on the Moscow streets, a victim of the horrendous hot steamy weather.
It was possibly the best outcome she could have imagined given the circumstances.
The 36-year-old Brantford, Ontario native will now prepare for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 20th – an IAAF Silver Label Race – where conditions will be more conducive to running a fast time.
DuChene makes it no secret she had hoped to dip well under 2 hours 30 minutes in the Russian capital. Her personal best of 2:32:06 came at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon. Forever optimistic, she says all her preparations for the World Championships indicated a massive improvement of her personal best was in the cards.
“Definitely I was in the shape of my life,” she explains. “That’s why I am kind of glad that the race ended early for me. If I had worked that hard and put my body through what the other girls did I would be in rough shape and not have a good time to show for it. Because I was done at 12 or 13km I have recovered o.k. That’s when I started thinking a fall marathon was a good possibility.”
Twenty-three women including Ethiopia’s Olympic champion Tiki Gelana, dropped out that day in Moscow as the humidex hit 35 Celsius. And, as a further indication of the negative conditions, Edna Kiplagat’s winning time was 2:25:44 almost six minutes slower than her best.
“I fell and I am bruised I am still bruised,” DuChene reveals. “It was a pretty low moment when I was in that ambulance with Dave (Scott-Thomas, the Canadian coach). When he got the call that people were dropping out I thought ‘o.k it’s not just me.’
“We are certainly going to look at what we can do in the future to prevent such a hardship in the heat. But me and twenty-two other women did not finish that race because of the heat. So I am not going to over analyse it because I would do the same thing all over again.”
Asked what she had aimed for at the World Championships Duchene doesn’t hesitate.
“It was about 2:26,” the mother of three declares. “Under 2:28 was the conservative goal. I ran 70:52 in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon in June and my training got even better after that.
“That’s marathoning; under perfect conditions, on a perfect day this is what I think I can run. That’s what we had hoped for. It’s too early to tell what my goal time will be for Toronto Waterfront. We will just have to see how training goes. That was our goal. Hopefully, it will be pretty close to that for Toronto.”
Following the World Championships DuChene took a ten-day train trip around Europe with her husband, her first break in many years, and has returned to training eager to chase that elusive sub 2:30 time.
Sylvia Ruegger’s Canadian women’s record of 2:28:36 has stood since 1985 and Scotiabank has put up a bonus for of $28,000 – $1,000 for every year the record has stood – if it is beaten this year.
To put the time into perspective, only three Canadian women have ever dipped under 2:30. One of these is Russian born, Lioudmila Kortchaguina (3rd all-time Canadian at 2:29:42) who won the Canadian championships earlier this year at the age of 41. In doing so her time of 2:33:11 set a Canadian Master’s record.
In many ways, Kortchaguina has been one of the torchbearers for Canadian women’s marathoning in the new millennium before Duchene arrived on the international scene. Indeed, she represented Canada at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, though she dropped out due to the oppressive heat on race day. She has also beaten the 2:30 barrier twice in her career.
DuChene and Kortchaguina join previously announced Natasha Wodak who makes her marathon debut in Toronto at the age of 31 as leading Canadians. They will duel with an international field which includes the up and coming Ethiopian marathoner Dinknesh Mekash, who finished 4th at the 2013 Paris Marathon in 2:25:09 and is looking for a course record in Toronto.
The winners in the marathon receive $20,000 and there is an additional $35,000 CDN on offer for a course record. Meanwhile, the first Canadian male and female to cross the line will earn and additional $5,000, an initiative designed to encourage Canadian runners.
The field will likely include adequate talent to see course records broken. Krista DuChene, like the others will have her fingers crossed that the conditions on October 20th are more to her liking.