2 Mi'kmaw runners credit community support for helping them reach Boston Marathon finish line

Leurette LaBobe of Membertou First Nation and Jarvis Googoo of We'koqma'q First Nation finished the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Both hope their 42.2 km races inspire kids to stay healthy

Leurette LaBobe says she hopes her race at the Boston Marathon will inspire Indigenous youth. (submitted by Leurette LaBobe)

Uplifted by the beauty of the city and the cheers from the crowd, two Mi'kmaw runners from Unama'ki, known as Cape Breton, N.S., finished the 126th annual Boston Marathon on Monday.

Leurette LaBobe said she did it for her kids.

"My son said, 'I'm so proud of you,' and all I ever wanted to do was to make my kids proud of me," said LaBobe, who is from Membertou First Nation.

This year's Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathon race, had over 25,000 participants. To qualify for the 42.2 kilometre race, participants have to run another marathon under a set time limit for their age group before registering.

LaBobe works as an Indigenous student support worker for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and studies social work at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. The mother of five said she was a last-minute selection, and found out she was going only three weeks before the race.

She started running nine years ago to help her quit cigarettes. She said the rush she gets from running helps keep her grounded and she's been running the hills around Sydney, N.S., ever since. 

Kids kept her motivated

LaBobe focused mostly on school and work during the lead-up to the race, and said her course work was gruelling. The lack of preparation led to some fear which she said slowed her down during her race but she wanted to set an example for her kids.

"I wanted my five kids to see that I can still do things that I'm scared of and they can do it if they put their minds to it," said LaBobe, 35.

The thought of her kids at home and the kids in the schools also kept her motivated during the final stretch in Boston.

"I'm not going to let myself get roasted by a bunch of elementary, middle school and high school kids if I gave up," said LaBobe.

She finished in 4:33:48 and said she felt the love and support from Unama'ki and the entire Mi'kmaw nation. She hopes by finishing the marathon other Indigenous youth will be inspired to put on a pair of running shoes, too.

Jarvis Googoo from We'koqma'q First Nation finished the Boston Marathon in three hours and 15 minutes. He credits his community for inspiring him. (MarathonFoto)

Jarvis Googoo, from We'koqma'q First Nation, hopes his race can inspire Mi'kmaw youth as well.

"I want youth back home to be proud of who they are," said Googoo, 41.

Googoo is an Indian Day School survivor and began running as a means to stay healthy. In 2016, he ran his first marathon and quickly set his sights on qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

He finished with a time of 3:15:07 and hopes to run it under three hours in the future. Googoo said he was impressed by the size of the crowd that came out to cheer on the runners and the support of the city

He was also touched that his home community put together a video to cheer him on. 

He said he was honoured to represent We'koqma'q during his race.

"It meant so much to me but at the same time, it felt like a big responsibility, too," said Googoo.

Both runners have plans to run the Boston Marathon again. LaBobe said she wants to dedicate more training time for the next one, and hopes to run shorter distance races to prepare. Googoo said he's already looking forward to the Marine Corps Marathon in Virginia in the fall.

Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya won the Boston Marathon women's division with a time of 2:22:01 and became the first athlete to win the Boston, New York City and Olympic Marathons. Evan Chebet of Kenya won the men's division with a time of 2:06:51. 


Oscar Baker III is a Black and Mi’kmaw reporter from Elsipogtog First Nation. He is the Atlantic region reporter for CBC Indigenous. He is a proud father and you can follow his work @oggycane4lyfe