As It Happens

Canadian rocker headlines concert Saturday night, runs half-marathon the next morning

Luke Doucet had a very productive weekend.
Luke Doucet of the band Whitehorse completed the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon on Sunday, May 28, just 12 hours headlining the pre-race concert. (Matt Stetson/Canadian Running Magazine)

story transcript

Most people would have a hard time running a half-marathon the morning after attending a rock show — let alone after performing onstage.

"Part of the secret might be that you don't really sleep," Luke Doucet, a professional musician and amateur runner, told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

The Halifax native and his wife Melissa McClelland make up the Toronto rock duo Whitehorse, which headlined a concert in Ottawa on Saturday night to celebrate Ottawa Race Weekend, a two-day running event in the nation's capital.

Fewer than twelve hours after the show, Doucet traded in his jeans and guitar for sneakers and a headband, and ran the half-marathon, placing 21st out of more than 13,000 participants.

Rocking out and running are more alike than you might think, Doucet says. 

"You can work pretty hard on a rock-and-roll stage and not really notice it until the next morning or some hours later because the adrenaline takes you a long way — and I guess, in that sense, rock and roll has a lot in common with running," Doucet said. 

"You can feel three days before a marathon or before a race that you're heavy and sluggish and you don't have any game in your legs, and then the minute the gun goes, the shot of adrenaline is really quite something."

The Juno nominee said he took up running a few years ago in an effort to counter some of the unhealthier aspects of the rock and roll lifestyle.

And he's had a lot of help along the way, training under champion marathoner Rob Watson and alongside record-holding long-distance runner Lanni Marchant. During the Ottawa race, he was paced by Olympian Eric Gillis.

"He encouraged me around corners, he encouraged me up hills, he encouraged me to engage my arms and to shorten my stride and to breath into my stomach and the kind of minute-by-minute pacing and coaching that a professional runner would have access to," Doucet said.

"It's almost like I brought a gun to a knife fight. I don't deserve this degree of support."

Doucet said he's made a habit of running in different cities while he tours the world with Whitehorse. 

"You can see a lot of a city. I mean, I feel like you could drop me pretty much anywhere in any North American city and I can find myself to the nearest rock-and-roll bar where I've placed a million shows. And I love that sense of geography," he said. 

Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland make up the Canadian rock duo Whitehorse. (Paul Wright)

But he never lets his morning plans get in the way of a good show the night before.

"Ultimately, the music is more important, and I wouldn't want to compromise my liberty to just let myself go in the moment and play music and and be present for people listening to a show," he said.

"It occurred to me once or twice during the performance in Ottawa on Saturday night that in a perfect world I wouldn't be on my feet at all; I would be having a Netflix night. But, you know, those are the kind of stipulations that you might enforce more pedantically if you were a pro-runner. I'm just a delusional amaeteur."

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