The second-fastest female Canadian marathoner of all time is poised to reclaim her throne.
“I’m all in,” says Lanni Marchant, two-time Olympian on her plans for the racing new year. “I learned a lot and I’ve been to dark places, but I feel good, and every day I feel more ready. Not for anybody else, but for myself, I want to do big things.”
When Marchant broke Silvia Ruegger’s 28-year-old marathon record in 2013, she became the biggest star in our sport. Outspoken, brash and fearless, she appeared before the House of Commons to talk about gender equality and she faced down bullies online, all the while training for both the 10,000 metres and the marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games (and battling her sporting body in order to do so). At the time, she didn’t know that she’d also be fighting sepsis, have a cyst explode in her kidney and require hip surgery so intense that she needed to travel, out of pocket, for treatment in Phoenix. The 35-year-old says that there were times when she dreamed of quitting, but that her love of running was too strong.
“Running had always been my outlet, but at some point it became this thing that I needed an outlet from,” Marchant explains, adding that she’s back running two-a-days and lifting heavy, gauging her current health at a 7/10. “Running is something I do to process my emotions, and this time, I don’t give two shits what anybody thinks of me. I want this to be like Rotterdam, 2012.” The 2020 Lanni Marchant race plans remain fluid, but the Olympian expects to line up in March and, if need be, again this spring in the hopes of running the marathon under 2:30, the time needed to earn a spot on Canada’s Olympic team. In 2016, the only female Canadian marathon runners to qualify for Rio were Marchant and Krista DuChene, but the sport has changed in three years, and now Rachel Cliff, Canadian marathon record holder; Lyndsey Tessier, who finished ninth in Doha; and Dayna Pidhoresky, who qualified for the team at the 2019 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, all compete for Canada’s three spaces. To hear her tell it, that’s only good for the sport. “Krista and I had a battle cry in 2016—we wanted women to rise up, and I’m excited that earning an Olympic spot has become much more intense,” Marchant says. “I know what it takes to be an Olympic runner, and I’ve had to rebuild my body and my approach to life. I’m an athlete first now. I know I’ll be ready to go all-out.”