After she underwent surgery on an injured knee Kim Doerksen gave up her promising soccer career. A serendipitous moment, certainly, because she has since become one of the brightest prospects on the Canadian marathon scene.
This past spring the 23 year old from Gibsons, British Columbia – a small town on the province’s Sunshine Coast – won the Vancouver Marathon in a stunning debut time of 2:36:59.
Considering Canada’s top female marathoner, Lanni Marchant, ran 2:49:14 in her debut it’s no wonder organizers of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon are excited that she will compete in their IAAF Silver Label race on October 19th.
“I grew up in a family in which my dad played soccer and everything like that,” she reveals. “So I went to university to play soccer. I had a complete anterior cruciate ligament replacement and so when I started to play again I was still tentative going into tackles. I was a central defender so, going into tackles, I couldn’t exactly be hesitant.
“There’s a half marathon on the sunshine coast where I am from and my parents were ‘oh you should try running and see how it goes.” I went into the 2009 race. I was 18 and I won my age group and it was kind of ‘oh, that was kind of fun.’ So I joined a track club in Abbotsford, and ran cross country and made the BC team. But I didn’t go to nationals because I went to my uncle’s wedding instead.”
Demonstrating the exuberance characteristic of her young age Doerksen is approaching the Toronto race with confidence and a great deal of optimism.
“(Vancouver) was a great big surprise to me,” she admits. “We had gone into it not really putting out a time goal, because it was my first one and we didn’t want to have a negative impact and unnecessary stress. The way training had gone, in our minds, we were thinking I could do a sub 2:40. How far under we didn’t know. I would have been happy with a 2:40.
“Immediately afterwards I was thinking ‘what’s the next one going to be?’ But the first thing you think after finishing a marathon is ‘I am never going to do that again.’ Then once you catch your breath you are plotting which marathon you are going to do next. I was thinking if I can do a 2:37 in my first one, and, I keep getting stronger and smarter with the distance, then the world is your oyster and who knows what can happen – as long as you stay injury free.”
The ‘we’ she speaks of includes her coach John Hill, of the Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club, a former Vancouver marathon winner. It is an association that began in May 2013. While many of her contemporaries save the marathon distance, perhaps for a few years in the future, she has dived in at quite an early age. It’s quite possible she can have a decade of running the distance and that is a sumptuous prospect.
Although she played soccer at the University of Fraser Valley she is currently a kinesiology student at Simon Fraser University. Her earnings for winning the Vancouver Marathon, and being the first Canadian, were put to good use, she confirms with a laugh.
“It was a lot of months of rent that I didn’t have to worry about,” Doerksen says. “It was $3500 or $4000 I can’t really remember. It went towards school and rent.”
Together with coach Hill she opted for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon after looking at the race results from previous years and talking with some of her club mates. “Flat and fast” was the way she heard the course described over and over again.
“I would love to ‘PB’ – the main goal is always to better yourself. But knowing the different standards for Pan Ams and worlds, that goes into the back of your head,” she admits. “In all honesty, I want to keep making my running resume look much better. Anything below a 2:36:59 would be fantastic.”
Although studying, training and the required recovery time fill up most of her day she still finds time to maintain her favourite passions. One is watching movies. In fact, her pre-race ritual includes viewing ‘Run Fatboy Run’ the Simon Pegg comedy. It’s about a man’s desperate attempt to win over the fiance he ditched on their wedding day by running the London Marathon. But then there’s another more time consuming activity she practices too.
“I love cooking!” she declares. “That’s probably my biggest thing. I cook a lot. Especially in any down time in school, I procrastinate. I bake instead of stretching.”
Doerksen laughs at that revelation which seems to unwind memories of when she lived on the Simon Fraser University campus. Apparently she is known for one of her specialties.
“I think I do a lot of desserts more,” she explains. “When I lived up at SFU I would get asked to make pies but I think that was because nobody else could make them.
“My mom made them all the time. I grew up in a household where there was fresh baking all the time, all the treats that go along with that, it’s a comfort. So when I am stressed out, or missing home, I bake just because it reminds me of home. I think that’s probably a big reason as well.”
Topping her list of favourites is mum’s peach pie, which is on her ‘to do’ list, once the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is completed. Abstinence meanwhile is the best practice. Sacrificing unwanted calories is an element of her marathon preparation.
Doerksen certainly has a bright marathon future yet she maintains her youthful innocence. Google images of her and up pops her racing in a tutu at a local Sunshine Coast race. And she has also run in the Vancouver ‘underwear’ run.
“It’s a 10k race in Vancouver it was actually one of the first races I did last year after finding out I was anaemic,” she explains. “It’s a 10k around the seawall, everybody runs in their underwear. It’s to help fundraise for cancers below the waist I was recruited to my cousin’s team. We all did fundraising and everything like that.”
Doerksen will line up against a stellar women’s field in Toronto which includes Aliaksandra Duliba of the Ukraine, Ethiopia’s Mestawet Tufa and Mulu Seboka as well as Canadian record holder Lanni Marchant. With no pressure on her amongst such stalwarts she can afford to run her own race and chase that personal best performance she covets. In the back of her mind will be the Athletics Canada standards for the Pan Am Games (2:40:00) and the World Championships (2:35:00).
“My biggest goal personally is I want to run with Canada across my chest one day,” she announces. “I don’t know what event that will be in whether it’s the Commonwealth Games, or Pan Ams or worlds, or the ‘O’ word (Olympics) always goes into every athlete’s mind. I want to wear that Canadian jersey so badly that I don’t care what event it is in.”
No doubt that day is rapidly approaching.