Around the Bay turns 125 and Krista DuChene is ready for Boston

Race season is here!

Barkley course wins another year

By the time last week’s newsletter went out, the Barkley news was in: There were no finishers in 2019.

Three Canadians attempted the 100+ mile race this year: Jodi Isenor, Morgan Mckay and Stephanie Case. None of the Canadians completed more than one loop of the course.

Six runners completed a “fun run,” which is three complete loops of the course: Guillaume Calmettes, Greig Hamilton, Karel Sabbe, Tomokazu Ihara, Johan Steene and Jamil Cour.

Stephanie Case (pictured above) wrote about the experience on her blog, Ultra Runner Girl.

I entered the Barkley because I am drawn to things I don’t understand, things that scare me, and challenges I’m not sure I will be able to handle. The Barkley was completely outside of my comfort zone and it represented the exact kind of challenge that I didn’t even know I wanted. After trying the Barkley last year and getting a taste of what it actually was – beyond the hype and the folklore – it was a privilege to come back. The Barkley wasn’t a bucket list item for me. It was a return to why I got into ultrarunning in the first place.

Canadian Running talked to Morgan Mckay, who was attempting Barkley for the first time. She made a lot of mistakes, but learned a lot.

“I had so much more to give, and I didn’t get to give what I was there for,” she told the magazine. She hasn’t ruled out going back for another attempt. “When we got back to camp we were borderline hypothermic. I thought, no. But now, after a couple of days of thinking… what if I hadn’t made that mistake early on, and knowing what I’m capable of? It definitely makes me think I might want to do it again.”

Outside has a profile of the race’s founder and director, Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake. It’s a great read and offers a lot of insight into the man who conceived the hardest race in the world, refuses to tell people his age for fear of getting his identity stolen and was once an accomplished runner in his own right.

“At the center of it all is Laz, as runners call him, the bearded, potbellied figure presiding over the sufferfest with his pitbull, Big, at his feet and a Staples Easy Button for participants to press at the finish. It’s common knowledge that he lies about the actual race distance, which Barkley veterans hypothesize is closer to 120 or 130 miles.”

Ultrarunning History has an article and podcast about Barkley Marathons’ early years. The race has been around since 1986, and only 15 people have ever finished the race. When someone does, Laz makes the route harder.

“When they showed the rangers their route around the park, they were told that they wouldn’t be able to make it. The rangers didn’t want them to go on the hike because they didn’t want to have to rescue them. But the rangers were convinced to give them a permit. The first 7.5 miles took the two ten hours to cover.”

Around the Bay celebrates 125 years

Around the Bay turned 125 last Sunday. I ran it, then was too tired last week to add it to the newsletter, so you’re getting the intel on the race this week.

Emebet Mengistu won the women’s race in 1:45:57.

Emebet is originally from Ethiopia and and currently lives in Mississauga. She has only been in Canada for a year, according to Canadian Running.

“I am not a Canadian citizen I am a landed immigrant but not citizen. But [if] I want (citizenship) I have to run for Canada. I want to run world cross country and the Olympics and the world championships for Canada. I would do them all.”

Dayna Pidhoresky, who has won the race four times previously, finished second.

Dayna wrote a recap of her race on her blog. She breaks the race down km by km and offers a look at what goes through an elite’s mind when racing.

“I was doing well focussing on myself, keeping my eyes fixed ahead.  It was important to remind myself to control the controllables.  Sometimes a fear creeps up on me that I am going to be passed, caught, out kicked — yeah, that might happen but if you are doing the best you can do in the moment, then that’s all you can do.” 

The third place women’s finisher, Salome Nyirarukundo, is originally from Rwanda but now calls Ottawa home.

Rachel Hannah placed fourth and Krista DuChene placed fifth. DuChene is running the Boston marathon in two weeks. (More on Krista later in this newsletter!)

The Hamilton Spectator has an article that looks at the history of women participating in the race. 2019 marks 40 years since women were allowed to run Around the Bay. The race has a Kathrine Switzer-style history:

Officials didn't say a grudging yes until 1979, four years after Tersilla Komac, an Italian immigrant to Hamilton, then raising her family in Burlington, registered using only her first initial in order to disguise her gender.

"Whaaat? I had no idea it was only 40 year ago," said two-time defending women's champion Dayna Pidhoresky of Vancouver, who finished second in the 30K race in her bid to become the first five-time female winner in ATB history.

On the men’s side, Canadian Dylan Wykes placed third behind Dennis Kemboi and Panuel Mkungo.

Canadian Running’s Morning Shakeout podcast looked at the race’s history and lore with a special episode that included guests race directors Mike Zajczenko and Anna Lewis, Krista DuChene, who has run the race 10 times, and race icon the Grim Reaper.

Krista DuChene is ready for Boston

Krista DuChene is set to toe the line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. More eyes are on her this year as a result of her surprise third-place finish last year. As a result, she’s been doing a lot of media in the buildup to the race.

She wrote a column for iRun magazine about her race prep. In the article she breaks down this buildup, reflects on growing older and on racing Around the Bay 10 times in her career.

“Aging gracefully is very important to me at this point in my career. And I will continue to be grateful for every opportunity to run what may be my last marathon.” 

Krista also spoke with her local paper, the Brantford Expositor. She discussed her race plan in the piece.

“My intention is to be smart and wait to push mentally when those hills come at the end and to not worry so much about what my watch says,” she said.

“It’s more about placement than time and that’s nice because it takes the pressure off of constantly looking at your splits.”

She doesn’t rule out Tokyo 2020 and expresses how she’s content with the moment — a lesson every runner could use.

Krista was also a guest on the CTolleRun podcast this week.

Strong performances at the Spring Run-Off

At the Spring Run-Off in Toronto on Saturday, April 6, Tristan Woofine won the men’s 8K race in 24:08. Scottish runner Sarah Inglis, who trains in B.C. and recently set the Canadian all-comers 5K record, won the women’s 8K race in 26:47. Athletics Illustrated has a good recap of the race.

“It’s bloody hard. I did my warmup and we were talking about ‘kill the hill,’” [Sarah Inglis] said, “I knew there was at least one hill but there was bloody five of them. Up and down. There have been some brilliant Olympians who haven’t broken 26 minutes here then, when I saw the course, I thought ‘it’s no wonder.’”

Strong Canadian performances at Rotterdam

John Mason ran 2:15:15. The time is a three-minute personal best for the Guelph-based runner. He was also the top male North American runner in the field.

On the women’s side, Melanie Myrand ran a small personal best at Rotterdam on Sunday, clocking in at 2:33:17.

Emily Setlack, who is a strong trail runner and was the 2018 Canadian Mountain Running Champion, also ran an 11-minute personal best of 2:35:44.

Masters runner Catherine Watkins didn’t have the best day, and dropped out of the race at 27k.

Book of the week

With the Boston Marathon fast approaching, I think recommending books about Boston is the most appropriate thing to do. I LOVED Duel in the Sun by John Brant which looked at the 1982 race, which was a showdown between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. It’s not only an epic race report, it’s an exploration of how two very different elite runners get to this moment and how the race impacted the rest of their careers and, really, their lives.

Strides: links I liked

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and keep on running! As always, if you want to reach out, you can do so at