The Current

This Royal Canadian Navy officer did a full marathon in her hotel room — without a treadmill

Ahead of a planned return to sea, Gagné was isolated alone in the room to avoid contracting COVID-19. So, she used her spare time to run a marathon in the space between her hotel room's window and door.

'I may have to replace the carpet in here now that I'm done,' said Petty Officer, First Class Shawna Gagné

Royal Canadian Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawna Gagné, ran a full 42.2 km marathon in a downtown Halifax hotel room while in isolation ahead of a planned return to sea. (Submitted by Shawna Gagné)

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Sequestered in a downtown Halifax hotel, Shawna Gagné ran a full marathon — by repeatedly dashing the 7.5 metres between her room's door and window.

That's about 5,500 hotel room laps for the Royal Canadian petty officer.

Ahead of a planned return to sea, Gagné was isolated alone in the room to avoid contracting COVID-19. "We're not allowed to leave our room because we have to maintain our health in case Canada calls upon us," she said in a phone interview.

So with some spare time on her hands — and a love of running — Gagné used her limited real estate as a marathon route. "I may have to replace the carpet in here now that I'm done," she said with a laugh.

Below is part of her conversation with The Current's Matt Galloway.

Where did this idea come from? Why would you want to do something like this? 

I love running. This has never been my calibre running, honestly. I just do 10 kilometres, 12 kilometres. And I was here in the room, and like I said, we're sequestered, total isolation. We're not allowed out of our rooms. Were not allowed drop offs, no visitors, nothing. 

And I was looking outside and I could see everybody's still running and I wanted to run so badly. And I looked around my room and I thought, 'OK, I could probably make this happen.' 

I'm used to adapting to small spaces because I'm working on the ship. And I just looked at it and I thought, I'm going to give it a try. 

I just wanted to push myself to see if I could do it. 

And you'd never run a marathon before. 

No, this was actually my second one that I had done. I was training for the Bluenose Marathon, but because it was delayed due to the COVID-19, I woke up one day — nine days ago, actually, 29th of March — I woke up and I said, I think I'm going to try a marathon today. 

In my subdivision, I had been training in a 4.69 km loop, and that's where I did the first one. So doing this here in the hotel was even that much more important to me because it was such a small, confined space. 

So this has been a big accomplishment in my life doing it here. 

Gagné tracked her hotel room marathon using a Fitbit. (Submitted by Shawna Gagné)

How long did it take you in the hotel room to run 42.2 kilometres? 

It took me six hours, actually, to do it. 

You can't obviously get much speed. And the pivoting, because it's such a small space and you have to pivot a lot, my knees were sore. 

So I just had to keep pushing through it and thinking, "OK, I can do this. You know, I've only got 20 more kilometres. I've only got 18 more kilometres." So that's how I did it. 

How did you keep your mind distracted from the fact that you were, essentially, running back and forth and back and forth and back and forth in a hotel room? 

So honestly, I put on the news. I actually had CBC News on, and because I started so early in the morning, it was like the [previous day's] news…. And then after that, I put some music on to run.

How did you feel when you were done? 

Oh, I started crying because I was, like, I can't even believe that I did this. You know, in a hotel room, who would've thought? 

I never, ever expected in my life that I would be standing there saying I completed a marathon — a full marathon — in a hotel room. 

I was in tears. Tears of joy. 

Gagné estimates that her hotel room was only about 7.5 metres long, or 25 feet, and that she sprinted back and forth in the space more than 5,500 times. (Submitted by Shawna Gagné)

It's a huge accomplishment, and congratulations, because ... it doesn't matter where you do it, running a marathon is a really hard thing to do. 

When you told your family about this, how did they react? 

They were just blown away. They were so proud of me. 

I have received so many words of encouragement and congratulations from my shipmates, other members of the RCN, my family, friends. 

Everybody has just been reaching out to me. It's been so inspiring. Their words have kept me going and made me feel so proud of what I've done.


Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Mary-Catherine McIntosh.

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