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As a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team and seasoned competitor with a 26.2-mile best of 2:28:32, Krista DuChene, 42, was already well-acquainted with the spotlight when she arrived at the 2018 Boston Marathon.
But she was unprepared for what happened at the end of a race that featured heavy rain, frigid temperatures, and a strong, swirling wind—conditions that took out many of the top contenders, save for winner Desiree Linden and runner-up Sarah Sellers.
When she crossed the finish line in 2:44:20, officials told DuChene she was the third woman overall. She had hoped to finish in the top three in the masters division. But top three overall?
Confused, DuChene, from Brantford, Ontario, went to the recovery area and saw it was empty. It wasn’t until her agent showed her the official result on his phone that she was finally convinced she had made the podium at one of the most prestigious races in the world.
Her coach, Dave Scott-Thomas, was traveling that day and found out about her performance when his plane landed. His phone lit up with messages.
“Was I surprised? A little, but I know what Krista is capable of,” Scott-Thomas said. “The goal is to be as prepared as you can on that day. Relative to the other athletes, she was the best prepared.”
For third place, DuChene, a mother of three, won $40,000, which allowed her to replace her old minivan with one that has working air conditioning. She also made a donation to her church and saved some money for her children’s education.
She’s received more public speaking requests, but “for the most part, my life looks the same day-to-day as it did before and I’m happy with that,” she said.
Boston did prove to her that even though she is getting older as a competitor, she has more to give the sport.
“I’m 42 years old and I’m still enjoying this running career,” DuChene said. “I had said that after the Olympics in Rio that it was all just icing on the cake. It just gets getting sweeter.”
DuChene is returning to race Boston again on Monday, but she feels no added pressure after her surprise performance last year. Once again, she’s aiming for a top-three finish for the masters.
“(The race) starts when the hills start,” she said. “I am running for strength, not speed.”
The current forecast, though, looks a lot like that of 2018, which DuChene obviously doesn’t hate.
“I am maybe one of the few people that would welcome those conditions,” she said. “When people say, ‘Hopefully it’s better than last year,’ and I say, ‘No, I would love it to be that way.’ We have some pretty rough winters in Canada, and I’m able to grind it out in those conditions.”
For her Boston training this time around, DuChene achieved a longtime goal of hitting 124 miles in her peak week. But running only accounts for a fraction of her activity during a typical day—she has three children ages 13, 11, and 8 to keep up with and manages side gigs as a public speaker and dietitian.
Her husband, Jonathan DuChene, is her partner in making it all work.
“I’d say we balance it the same way anyone balances their busy lives—it’s our normal,” Jonathan said. “She does most of her training during the day while the kids are at school. Long runs are on Saturdays, and that day we have waffles or crepes for breakfast, and I do the pickups or drop-offs.”
This year, DuChene will have a few extra fans in the Boston crowd. Although their demanding sports schedules didn’t make it easy, her three children will make the trip to watch their mom compete.