By Paul Gains
As race results poured in from across North America last weekend Krista Duchene was sitting comfortably at home content to sink all her efforts into the upcoming Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal.
The April 28th race - which is completely sold out - doubles as the Canadian Half Marathon Championship.
Despite a variety of setbacks including tendonitis and a tilted pelvis, the result of giving birth to three children over the years, Duchene is in remarkable shape as evidenced by her stunning victory at the Harry’s Spring Run Off April 6th.
The 36 year old from Brantford is best known as a marathoner. Indeed, her 7th place finish at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon in 2:32:06 earned her a place on Canada’s 2013 World Championship team bound for Moscow. Nevertheless, she held off track specialist Kate Van Buskirk and road rival Dayna Pidhoresky on the hilly High Park course with a time of 26:58.
“I am ready to race and really looking forward to it,” she said Monday. “I said on Facebook and Twitter yesterday ‘Am I the only one who didn't race?’ because there were so many races.
“I guess it was pretty great starting the season off with a personal best 8km and a win against such great runners like Dayna and Kate. It was great for the confidence but it was right on target with what (coach) Rick (Mannen) and I thought I could accomplish and what my body was capable of doing. We are pretty good at setting realistic goals but you still have to work hard to get them. I am looking to this weekend. Hopefully it will be another ‘PB’ time.”
A year ago Duchene won the Canada Running Series overall title. Another victory in Montreal, along with the Harry’s race points, would give her a substantial lead in this year’s CRS title. But she admits she never takes anything for granted.
Pidhoresky, who was the 2011 CRS champion, is also in good shape and ran 34:04 to finish 5th in the Vancouver Sun Run. However, she says she is still experiencing knee pain which has reduced her quality training to two or three days a week with cross training the remainder of the time.
The Montreal course record is 1:12:09 set by Tara Quinn-Smith in 2009 and although no one is talking about beating it Duchene knows that anything can happen if the conditions are right.
“I think the race will be pretty fair,” Duchene says of her opposition. “I think that Dayna is running well. She ran the Vancouver Sun Run. You never know what is going to happen on race day.”
Making her debut is Rachel Hannah of the University of Toronto Track Club and she could very well be a dark horse. A full time dietician, she has been increasing her mileage and surpassing the 100km a week mark for the first time. In March she represented Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
“Definitely, I am feeling really strong and looking forward to doing the Canadian Half marathon championships,” Hannah said moments after finishing second at the Toronto Yonge Street 10km.
“Right now I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. I am hoping to get the standard for the Francophone Games and getting into the top three in the nationals. I don't know if I will do 5k or 10k Eventually, I think I will build up to the half marathon and the marathon. Next week will be my first serious half marathon I think eventually in 2014 I will try the marathon
“I am a little bit nervous, yes, I have run half marathons before but have not been in very good shape - more just to do them recreationally. I think as long as I can get my hydration down I will be ok.”
As much as Duchene will fight to win this Canadian Championship she sees the race as a step toward the World Championship marathon. There she hopes to attack Sylvia Ruegger’s 28 year old Canadian record of 2:28:36.
“Rick and I sat down and came up with a mileage and intensity plan that is still more than what I did when I trained for the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon,” she reveals. “We are setting 2;28 as the target - or faster. That’s what we hope to achieve in August in Moscow. Hopefully every ste along the way is getting us there. and that’s when I want to peak.
“It would be great to get ‘PB’s’ along the way but we are certainly not going to let that be the goal right now. Definitely I have my eye on August for the peak time of my season.”
For more information and CRS race registration: CanadaRunningseries.com.