by Paul Gains
TORONTO, ON (October 3, 2023) – Five years have passed since Anne Marie Comeau represented Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics and now she has returned to her first passion, running.
On October 15th the 27-year-old from St. Ferréol les Neiges in Quebec will race the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, her first competitive marathon since her inauspicious debut in Philadelphia in 2019.
This time around the former cross-country skier will come prepared having followed the program set by her new coach, two-time Canadian Olympic marathoner, Reid Coolsaet. The two paired up in November 2022. Coolsaet has developed both her physical and mental preparation and Comeau has a specific goal in mind.
“I talked to Reid last week,” she reveals. “My first goal is to go under 2:32. But he told me if I want to take risks in my race I should try to do 2:29:30 or just under 2:30. He told me it’s a big risk to start at this pace but I like to take risks.”
Once again, the race will serve as the Athletics Canada Canadian Marathon Championships with medals and a lucrative prize purse including $8,000 to the national champion. Comeau is more cautious.
“For sure I will be happy if I am finishing on the podium,” she says. “But I don’t think about it. I don’t have a lot of experience in marathon races. I would just like to do another marathon because the last one was in 2019.
“It’s a ‘couple’ of years so I want to start back doing one and see how I can fuel correctly in the race. Because my first one – it was very bad nutrition. I will give all that I have. I have done a lot of work. I am excited to see what it can give.”
Comeau laughs at her recall of that Philadelphia race, a 2:41:10. But in March of this year she showed that her training is going well as she finished second at the Project 13.1 (Half Marathon) in New York’s Rockland State Park. Her time of 1:11:30 indicates that with the right volume of training she is certainly capable of dipping under the 2:30 marathon barrier.
More recently she won the half marathon at the Marathon Beneva de Montreal in 1:13:56. That result came during her buildup for Toronto Waterfront. She did not back off her training one bit.
“I am not a person that does a lot of high mileage,” she reveals. “My biggest week with the training in the marathon buildup was 155km. It was mostly about 130km a week. I also use other sports in preparation.
“I am not competing anymore in cross-country skiing. But I am doing a lot of cross- country skiing in the winter and a lot of skiing up mountains but I don’t do competition anymore.”
Cycling with her boyfriend Jean-Philippe also has a place in her overall fitness. And she is also an accomplished mountain and trail runner. Last March she represented Canada at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships finishing 15th in the women’s vertical race and 17th in the ‘up and down’ race.
“I always loved running,” Comeau admits with a laugh. “I was running for training (for cross-country skiing). The two sports work very well together and since the age of 8 years I was running races in the woods. When I was a skier I was always running in the summer and even in the winter.
“I wanted to try and see what my potential was in running. When I was skiing it was not perfect for running. So when I stopped I was able to concentrate my energy and see what I can do.
For income Comeau works as an accountant for a medium size firm while studying to become a tax specialist. Recently she left a major accounting firm so she could cut back on her hours to devote more time to training and recovery.
In her down time she says she enjoys going for bike rides and also pursuing a more relaxing pastime.
“My boyfriend (national team trail runner) Jean-Philippe Thibobeau and I like to explore breweries,” she says with a laugh. “We love this activity and when we travel we try to choose different breweries and match our trip with that.”
Comeau is eager to line up at Toronto Waterfront and for the first time really see what she is capable at the marathon distance. A surprise could be in store.