Mother Nature offered Canadian Krista DuChene a competitive advantage Monday at the 2018 Boston Marathon.
The 41-year-old from Strathroy, Ont., battled a steady headwind exceeding 40 kilometres an hour and icy rain to finish third in the women's race. The mother of three, running in Boston after a 13-year absence, finished the 26.2-mile (42.2 kilometre) race in two hours 44 minutes 20 seconds.
American Desiree Linden won the event in 2:39:54, but DuChene said the miserable weather conditions played in her favour.
"Definitely, there's no way I can beat so many of those women in the elite field on a good day," DuChene said in a telephone interview from Boston. "It was miserable.
"Windy, cold, I think there was hail at the start, rain. It was a women's only start so there was a time when I was with the group but then for most of it I ran on my own. But our Canadian winters prepare us for days like this."
The inclement weather also forced DuChene, who was 35th in the women's marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics, to concentrate more on her placing than time. However, she had no idea of what she'd accomplished when she crossed the finish line.
"My goodness, I never thought I'd place third at the Boston Marathon so, yes, it definitely exceeded my expectations," she said. "I knew I was strong and my plan was to roll with the hills when they came and to mentally tell myself the race wouldn't start until the hills started, so that was ideal for today.
"My goal was as soon as I saw a woman to try and get her. See another woman, try to get her. Over the last five kilometres, there were so many women I passed that I had no idea what happened when I finished. I was hoping I was top-10 but you're just not doing the math because you just don't know."
The only Canadian woman to win the race was Jacqueline Gareau in 1980. Canada also earned a top-10 finish in the men's event with Hamilton's Reid Coolsaet finishing ninth in 2:25:02 as Yuki Kawauchi became the first Japanese man to win the marathon since 1987.
Initially disappointed with a slow time, Coolsaet was pleasantly surprised he had achieved his goal of a top-10.
"That was rough and absolute carnage," Coolsaet said in an Instagram post. "When I crossed the line I was happy it was over but pretty bummed that I was so slow. Five minutes later someone told me I was ninth and that put a smile on my face."
DuChene said she ran Monday's race for her family — 12-year-old Micah, Seth, 10 and Leah, 7 — but also the victims of the April 6 bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncons junior hockey team. Sixteen people were killed and another 13 injured as a result of the accident near Tisdale, Sask.
"Marathon running can be a good opportunity to draw upon your emotions if you can channel them properly," DuChene said. "There's a lot of emotional things I can channel to give me the energy and knowing I'm from Canada, and even if that message gets to one person in Humboldt that I was thinking of them, that's the least I can do for them.
"The day my husband and I flew to Boston we wore our jerseys and put our sticks out on the front porch and our kids wore their jerseys to school. At the airport not many people knew in the U.S. why we had jerseys on, they probably thought we were Canadians who loved hockey. That's just one opportunity you can be proud of your country and in Humboldt everyone has come together to help them, not just people from the provinces but the whole world."
Monday's race was DuChene's second in Boston but first since 2005. Her time then was 3:00:46.
"That was back before we had children," DuChene said. "We had a puppy.
"Now the children are aged 12, 10 and 7 and the dog (named Moses) is still around."
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press