On Monday a year ago, Sarah Sellers and Krista DuChene called themselves “in shock.” In the most unexpected women’s results in Boston Marathon history, they had placed second and third, while world-famed runners who were their idols succumbed to the prevailing tempest.
“I still think I’m going to wake up and find all this was a dream,” said full-time nurse Sellers.
“It’s surreal. I didn’t believe I was third until they showed me the printed result,” said then 41-year-old DuChene.
A year on, Sellers and DuChene go into the 2019 Boston Marathon on Monday flanking America’s new heroine Des Linden as last year’s podium. No longer are they obscure outsiders. Today in Boston, they lined up to meet the media on equal standing with elite celebrities like Joan Benoit Samuelson and Meb Keflezighi, the focus of cameras and notebooks. How else have things changed?
“Getting second at Boston was life-changing for me,” Sellers said. “There was a whirlwind of emotion. Sponsorship from Altra enabled me to cut back to thirty hours, working only four days a week now as nurse-anaesthetist at the hospital. The results came quickly, when I ran an eight-minute PR (2:36:37) at New York in November, only my third marathon. There are ups and downs, but overall my mileage is higher and my work-outs are going better than they have ever done. The main change is in expectation. After last year’s Boston, I know that anything can happen, and you need to be ready.”
She added the special hope this year that she will actually see something of the Boston course.
“Last year was a bit of a blur!”
DuChene, a Canadian nutritionist, calls herself “a realist.”
“It feels good coming in as last year’s third placer. But I’m 42, and I’m racing some of the world’s best women. In marathons, if you set yourself to run with a particular group, it never works out. So I’m saying the same as I said last year—my aim is top three masters,” said DuChene.
That modest goal doesn’t stop her showing some dark Canadian humor in hoping for weather conditions as abominable as in 2018.
“The worse the better,”DuChene said. “Wet and cold and windy. Another storm would be welcome. We had what I’ll call a very Canadian winter in Brantford, and when you train by Lake Ontario in conditions like those, nothing will ever surprise you.”
DuChene spent her twenties as a successful ice hockey player, and started on marathons as very much a recreational runner, with 3:28 her debut. Since then, she kept improving, and became an Olympian in 2016 (2:35:29 in the warm-weather Rio marathon.) Her PR is 2:28:32, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront in 2013. But more significant for Monday is that after her battle to her Boston third place in 2:44:20, she improved in the October Scotiabank race to 2:36:46, her best since turning 40.
Sellers and DuChene are not getting over-excited about Monday. They more than any know that anything can happen in a marathon. But both have done the work to make last year’s results look part of an upward curve, not the mere dream fantasy it seemed at the time.