Running Talk: Elite Runners to Take Part in Émilie’s Run

Every year Émilie’s Run attracts hundreds of amateur women runners as well as many elites who are looking to boost their training season and push themselves to attain personal bests.

“Last year I came in second to Rachel Hannah. It was a very elite race and and this year’s field will be much steeper,” says Julie-Anne Staehli. “Manny does an amazing job with Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend so you know this is going to be a good race, and being invited to participate is very special.”

For this weekend’s race Staehli, who ran a mid-16 minute 5K a few weeks again, has her eye on a new PB. She’s hoping to run sub-16:30. The drive for each runner to achieve her PB in the 5K is in part due to the race’s namesake, Émilie Mondor, the first Canadian woman to run sub-15 in the 5K.

“For women of my generation, Émilie Mondor is known as an idol and this is an opportunity to honour her and pay respect to,” says Cleo Boyd, who is also aiming for a sub-16:30 in this race.

For career elite runner Lioudmila Kortchaguina, a returning participant and previous Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon winner, this race is an opportunity to honour a peer and friend. “I met Emilie when I first came to Canada. She was a talented and gifted athlete. It means a lot to me because it is important to remember what she did for women in sport.”

When it comes to road races, women often make up more than half of the participants and yet at the elite level men are the ones who garner the most attention and media coverage.

“This will be the first women’s race that I have ever done and it’s a very cool idea. I think that even though there has been a lot of progress with women’s running, it often takes a back seat to men’s races, so it is nice to have a specific focus on women in sport.” explains Boyd.

In participating in Émilie’s Run these elites are in turn helping further the sport for future women athlete. We asked them how they sustain their running careers and about what drives them to race.

Cleo Boyd

What did you study at the University of Virginia and what inspired you to study there?

This year I graduated with a major in History and American Studies. I picked the University of Virginia because I was excited about the idea of National Collegiate Athletic Association and an outdoor track season. The sports scholarship also covered my tuition so that was a big help.

Now that you have graduated, what is your next goal?

I am holding off on school to put all my energy into running, I really see my future in the longer distances and will be completing my first half-marathon in a few weeks. I also hope to run the Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon in the spring, I remember attending it with my father and it being a lot of fun. But to be honest, I miss school already, so I am looking for school-related things, like tutoring or volunteering in my mother’s classroom. I am also looking to go to grad school in the states to become a lawyer or professor so I am working towards writing the GRE.

Who inspires you?

I have always looked up to a couple of women I met out in Vancouver. My dad was really good friends with Sue Lee, a two-time olympian for Canada, so I always knew her story and looked to her as a role model in the 10K. Selma Rae was on one of my first trips as junior and she sees running as a means to living a better, more fulfilling life.

Lioudmilla Kortchaguina

Have you had a career outside of running?

You know, I did running for so long as my professional career. Running has been my passion. But I am 46 years old now so I am getting close to the end  and I am looking forward to having some time to myself and taking some time to enjoy being a mother.

What attracted you to running?

I love it. The feeling that you put all your heart, your work and training into it, and you do it two to three months in a row non-stop, then you race. This feeling is incredible.

What is the most challenging part of being a career runner?

The hardest part is doing it day after day. Though I can’t say it is so hard because if you love it you do it, but if you hate it, it is hard. It is getting a bit harder in my old age, but I love it

Julie-Anne Staehli

What you are studying at Queen’s University?

I am in the second year of my MSc in Sport Psychology, on track to graduate in the summer of 2018. My research is focused on high performance coaching and student-athlete success, looking specifically at the conditions put into place by coaches to foster this success.

How do you balance running with your academic/career goals?

Running can definitely be a challenge at times, but more often than not, it provides the perfect outlet to burn off stress and add some mindfulness into my day. Choosing an academic career that is so closely tied to my athletic career path is incredible, but I try to step outside of my running world to enjoy the other things that make me who I am, like friends, family, and piano.

Who has inspired you?

I struggle with this question, but I always come back to my high school coaches, Gary and Maureen Lisle. The Lisles are incredibly balanced, passionate, and knowledgeable people, with some of the best outlooks on life. They sparked my passion for sport and school, as former Queen’s Varsity Athletes themselves.