There are some records that are harder than others. The best Quebec women's marathon time trial, held by Jacqueline Gareau since 1983, is one of those feats that have stood the test of time. On October 4, Melanie Myrand, a nurse who has worked on the front line for patients with COVID-19 in recent months, wants to tackle this still steadfast brand.
It was during the Marathon du P'tit Train du Nord, in the Laurentians, that Myrand targeted the record. On Friday, however, the organization was forced to cancel this event since it would have been obliged to guarantee that at all times there would be no more than 250 people on the 42.2 km route during the entire marathon.
The Montrealer must therefore turn to a plan B, still on October 4. The P'tit Train du Nord is currently trying to get approval from Public Health to present its competition in an elite version, with only eight riders. If the attempt fails, Myrand could also fall back on the Waterloo Marathon, a 1.7 km loop to be completed 25 times. The event is also presented on October 4. “In the current health context, this is not totally a surprise. Still, I'm in excellent shape, so I really want to have the opportunity to run a marathon, ”responded the 34-year-old athlete.
A record that continues
On April 18, 1983, Jacqueline Gareau crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2:29:28. Since then, a Quebec runner has never covered the legendary distance below the 2 h 30 min mark.
Myrand exploded onto the Canadian marathon scene last year when she established a personal mark by negotiating the Rotterdam course in 2:33:20. This impressive time earned her a qualification for the worlds in Qatar, where she finished 27th last September.
Remarkably, this will only be the sixth marathon in life for those who dream of the Olympics.
“This winter, I was talking with my coach about Olympic standards for Tokyo in 2021. I was treating a hip injury and we wondered if it was better to push the score for Olympic standards or find a marathon in an attempt to establish the Quebec record. We chose to aim for the record ”, explained the one who juggles between training and her demanding work as a nurse practitioner specializing in primary care.
Unlike other runners who are fortunate enough to devote 100% of their energies to their sport, Myrand has had to hone his training through a busy schedule. In addition to her regular job at the CLSC de Saint-Polycarpe, in Montérégie, she lent a hand in a hotel specially designed in April for patients declared positive for COVID-19.
“It became like a small hospital where 130 patients passed over three floors. I never asked myself any questions and wanted to work for the good of my community. I define myself first as a nurse and then as a runner, ”she said.
Pride and admiration
Even though Melanie Myrand has the opportunity to make history, she prefers to keep a low profile. “The Quebec record is very special and I would be proud to beat it, but I run for myself first, for my well-being. If I ever set the record, there are other very talented young riders who are pushing and who will beat me in a few years, ”she said with a laugh. What drives Myrand above all else is the deep admiration she has for the record holder, Jacqueline Gareau.
“She is one of the great runners in Canadian history. The fact that she pulled off such a time so many years ago is impressive. We were far from the evolution we are experiencing today in running. We have more and more information every day on nutrition or running and training techniques. This was not the case at the time. Jacqueline Gareau is someone very special, ”praised the aspirant to her crown.
“It's time for the record to be broken”
It is in the company of members of the Ville-Marie athletics club that Melanie Myrand has prepared in the last few weeks for her upcoming race, on the route of the Marathon du P'tit Train du Nord.
Jacqueline Gareau lines up behind Melanie Myrand in her attempt.
When Melanie Myrand let it be known on her social networks that she was training with the aim of breaking the Quebec women's marathon record, she was able to count on great encouragement. “Go ahead, it's your turn! “, Launched none other than Jacqueline Gareau. The great lady of the marathon in Quebec was certainly not going to spare her support. Jealously guarding her record for herself, after all these years, is not part of her philosophy.
“If Melanie can beat him, I'm going to celebrate. It's time for the record to be beaten, ”assured Jacqueline Gareau, in an interview with Le Journal .
She never met her contender, but she saw the meteoric development of her running career. As long as you watch the record slip away, as well as it is in the hands of such a dedicated person.
“Everyone in the running business is good. If the person who breaks the record puts in as much work as he does talent, like Melanie does, I'll be the first to applaud, ”Gareau promised.
The record, which has held for 37 years, has not yet been broken. Anything can happen in such a grueling race, even with the best will in the world.
“I think it can be done, but a lot of things can happen. To make a good cake, it takes all the right ingredients, ”said Gareau, who still puts on running sneakers today.
For having paved the way in another era, the venerable athlete is able to give Myrand some advice.
“Melanie is going to try and the goal is her motivation. On the other hand, she must not put pressure on herself. Records are made to be broken and if it's the right day, this will be it. Otherwise, she can try herself another day. Records are good, but the goal is to train for yourself and to perform well, ”she philosophized.
For Jacqueline Gareau, it goes without saying that the barriers fall. Today's runners are infinitely better equipped than in the 1980s to tackle aggressive lap times.
“In the past, I only took water during my marathons. I didn't have any gels or bars in my pocket! For the maintenance of my body, I did not have much help. I was often left on my own, ”she said.
“Of course it's flattering to know that I've held the Quebec record all this time, but I've never raced for that. I've always run just because I liked to run. I think that to beat this record, it has to be done. We are there! ”
THE BEST QUEBEC PERFORMANCE
- 1. Jacqueline Gareau (2 h 29 min 28 s), 1983, Boston
- 2. Odette Lapierre (2 h 30 min 35 s), 1988, Boston
- 3. Carole Rouillard (2 h 30 min 41 s), 1994, Victoria
- 4. Lizanne Bussières (2 h 30 min 57 s), 1988, Boston
- 5. Ellen Rochefort (2 h 31 min 36 s), 1988, Boston
- 1. Alain Bordeleau (2:14:19), 1984, Ottawa
- 2. Janik Lambert (2:17:55), 1999, Chicago
- 3. Michel Brochu (2 h 18 min 47 s), 1991, London
- 4. Jean Lagarde (2 h 19 min), 1994, Ottawa
- 5. Rhéal Desjardins (2 h 19 min 26 s), 1984, Ottawa