TORONTO September 10th 2015. After a season to be envied Canada’s Lanni Marchant did what any self respecting distance runner does and retreated to Thailand for a week of relaxation during which time she scuba dived and rode an elephant.
Sufficiently recovered the 31 year old then set her focus on the next major target the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon which is an IAAF Gold Label race and also the Canadian championship. Race director, Alan Brookes, is delighted to welcome her back to his race.
“We’re thrilled that Lanni has chosen to return to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – -the scene of her outstanding national record setting performance,” he said. “It brings an extra sparkle, an extra buzz to have her on the start line at Canada’s number one big-city marathon. It’s National Championships; It’s road to Rio. And it’s a thrill for the entire Canadian running community to have our stars racing at home.”
It was in this race two years ago that she smashed the Canadian women’s record with 2 hours 28 minutes even. Now she has one objective – to achieve the qualifying standard of 2:29:50 for the Rio Olympics.
What a season she has had. The London, Ontario native ran a personal best 10,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, California May 2nd recording a time of 31:46.94. That was well under the the Rio Olympic standard giving her a place on the Canadian team in what was considered her ‘B’ event.
Three weeks later she tackled a world class field at the Ottawa 10k and wound up 3rd in another personal best time of 31:49. Then came the Pan Am Games in Toronto where she battled to a bronze medal in the 10,000m before finishing 18th in the IAAF World Championships 10,000m in Beijing. From China it was just a short hop over to Thailand.
“I will have to see how training goes the next couple of weeks obviously but my main goal in Toronto is the Rio standard,” she declared during a quick visit home, “And I won’t be making moves to jeopardize that. But in 2013 my goal was to come in and just have a positive experience at Toronto after the world championships (she struggled to a 3:01.54 clocking) had gone so poorly.”
“If I am in the race and, after about 30k, if I am feeling really good then I will go for it a little bit. But you won’t see me going out at 2:24 pace. Getting to Rio and making sure I have the qualifying standard in two events is my primary target.”
Though she was a little dehydrated after her Beijing 10,000m – it was 28 Celsius and humid at race time – she recovered quickly and managed a couple of one hour runs within days. The success she experienced in the 10,000m has also given her added momentum for the marathon.
Presuming she hits the Rio Olympic standard in Toronto she will then face a decision that few Canadian distance runners have encountered in the past: whether to double in the two events or choose one. It would be a nice position to be in. Her coach Dave Mills wants her to double, she says.
“Up until this year, definitely, I would have said the marathon is my primary event but I have had such success in the 10,000m and I have only been focusing on it for such a short period, just a year really,” she offers. “There’s also the potential that this work I am doing for the 10,000m will benefit my marathon in the long run as well.
“That’s why I am doing the marathon in Toronto. I don’t want to count myself out of the marathon. I have run 2:28 and I think I can better that mark at some point in my career. After the fall I will know better whether I should stick with the 10,000m for a couple of years or dabble in both or, if the writing is on the wall and I blow one out of the water in Toronto, then I might be a marathoner who does 10k training to up her game for the marathon.”
Marchant has been working as a criminal lawyer with a law firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee the past few years and the partners have been extremely supportive of her running endeavours. She credits them for allowing her freedom to pursue her running ambitions.
“Yes the law firm is very supportive,” she confirms. “I am in contact with them when I am at training camps, at the world championships and when I was in Thailand. They understand. They will load me up in my off season. I am not tooting my own horn but I am good at research, good at writing arguments. That’s a role I can fill for them. It’s a really good fit. It’s not like they are losing out when I am gone. I share what I bring in. If I don’t bring anything in then it doesn’t cost them anything to have me. There is no overhead.”
As she has done in previous years Marchant plans to spend part of the winter training at high altitude in Kenya followed by another bout of altitude training in Flagstaff, Arizona in the spring. Having the chance to double in Rio would be an incredible opportunity with the two days between the 10,000m and the marathon.
But first there’s Toronto and the formality of getting that pesky standard.
“I have had good and bad experiences in Toronto,” she recalls. “2012 not so good 2013 was amazing and 2014 I was right up the middle. But Alan runs such a great race and I am so well received in Toronto.
“And now two of my best performances have been there – setting the Canadian marathon record and winning the bronze medal at Pan Ams. It made sense to go back there. It’s the first year that Toronto is the national championships. I won the national 10k and the half marathon nationals so I want to go for the hat trick and get the marathon as well.”
Time will tell if she ‘blows one out of the water.’
To join Lanni at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half-Marathon & 5k visit http://STWM.ca