Track and Field·Profile

Canada's Krista DuChene running for Humboldt, family in Boston

There are times during a marathon when all Krista DuChene thinks about is reaching the finish line. During Monday's 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, DuChene’s thoughts will be focused on her family and those in a small farming town in Western Canada.

Marathon Mom, 41, says race is 'icing on the cake' after realizing Olympic dream in 2016

Canada's Krista DuChene will participate in the elite women’s race of the Boston Marathon for a second time on Monday morning. The 41-year-old resident of Brantford, Ont., says the people of Humboldt, Sask., and her three young children will be on her mind during the race. (Canadian Press/File)

There are times during a marathon when all Krista DuChene thinks about is reaching the finish line.

But quite often, the 41-year-old's mind is active during those 42.2-kilometre journeys. Once, DuChene ran for her pastor's wife when she was enduring cancer treatments. And throughout Monday's 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, DuChene's thoughts will be on her fellow Canadians in a small farming town in Western Canada.

"I'll be thinking about the people in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, and my family at home," says DuChene, whose husband Jonathan will be lined somewhere along the 42,000-plus metre course from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston's Back Bay neighbourhood during the annual Patriot's Day race. Her children, 12-year-old Micah, Seth, 10 and Leah, 7, will be attending school at home in Brantford, Ont.

"Everyone knows what's happened in Saskatchewan with the [recent fatal bus crash involving the junior A] hockey players. Our hearts are aching for those people," says DuChene, well known as Marathon Mom. "We can just pray for and think of these people [and their families] hoping that will make a difference in some way."

On April 15, 2013, DuChene was home when she came across a Facebook message from Kenyan runner Wesley Korir, one of more than 26,000 participants in the Boston Marathon who had followed up his 2012 victory with a fifth-place finish on a glorious running day with minimal winds.

Later that day, a pair of homemade bombs — contained in pressure cookers and hidden inside backpacks — exploded within 12 seconds near the marathon's finish line, killing three people and injuring at least 264.

"[Korir] was saying he was fine," recalls DuChene, who ran Boston for the first and only time in 2005, her most recent three-plus hour marathon (3:00:46). "He [and other runners] heard some loud banging but weren't sure what it was. I came into our TV room and saw what happened and like many people I was in shock.

"There's complete devastation when things like this happen. There are no words to comfort someone completely."

Krista DuChene ran Boston for the first and only time in 2005. It was the last time she clocked a three-plus hour marathon (3:00:46) as the registered dietician trimmed 17 minutes 15 seconds off that time at last year’s London Marathon. (Submitted by Boston Athletic Association)

DuChene chose to return to Boston this year, on the fifth anniversary of the tragic bombing, because she wanted "a fun race and to enjoy the atmosphere" of the world's oldest consecutively run marathon. About 30,000 runners are expected, including more than 7,100 from 98 countries outside the United States.

A registered dietitian, DuChene spent recent years focused on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she finished 35th in a time of two hours 35 minutes 29 seconds.

"I think because I've checked the Olympic box, this is the icing on the cake," says DuChene of the Boston Marathon. "I'm 41 and still loving what I'm doing and still learning, and that excites me."

Staying healthy in the lead up to Boston was paramount for DuChene, a native of Strathroy, Ont., who was forced out of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October with a stress fracture in her foot that cost her six weeks of training. In 2013, DuChene recorded what was the second-fastest time in Canadian women's marathon history at the event with a 2:28:32 clocking.

A healthy DuChene will face many hills in Boston, including several in the first 32 km and three before Newton's well-known Heartbreak Hill and its 91-foot climb. There are also several miles of gruelling downhills and quad-busting 310-foot elevation drops.

DuChene, who admits to not being a strong downhill runner, said the plan is to stay relaxed, run comfortably down the hills and try not to lose time.

From late January through March, she logged an average of 158km per week, including nine long runs of 35-45km. Afterward, she would work on hill strides with coach Dave Scott-Thomas, who oversees the track and field team at the University of Guelph and Speed River Track and Field club.

"In my easy run routes," says DuChene, "I incorporated hills throughout. I didn't tackle hills three times a week but I wanted hills to feel normal."

'Race doesn't start until hills start'

DuChene says completing the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton in late March for a ninth time was also beneficial. She was able to execute a plan similar to Boston, given the race's 30km distance, and encountered a number of rolling hills.

"When I ran the Bay I kept saying to myself, 'the race doesn't start until the hills start,'" DuChene says, "and that's the way Boston's going to be. I rolled through the hills and felt confident."

Besides the hills of Boston, DuChene might also be challenged by a wet surface with rain forecasted for Monday.

"I've been doing this for so long that you can't obsess about the weather," she said. "I didn't focus on speed [in my Boston build]. I focused on a smart race. I want to go under 2:40, but I know I'm not fit enough to go under 2:30."


Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc


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