Marathon runner beats Ottawa heat to earn gold

Tracy Voorthuyzen, winner of the Senior Women’s Gold Medal for the Canadian Armed Forces Running Nationals marathon in Ottawa, poses with her medals.

Tracy Voorthuyzen, winner of the Senior Women’s Gold Medal for the Canadian Armed Forces Running Nationals marathon in Ottawa, poses with her medals.

Rachel Lallouz, Staff Writer ~

Leading Seaman Tracy Voorthuyzen took the Senior Women’s Gold Medal this year at her first Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) National Marathon in Ottawa on May 29.

The road to gold was not an easy one. Mother Nature dished out a scorching day with temperatures hot enough to cook an egg.

LS Voorthuyzen says it took all her skill, training and determination not to stop and walk, while others peeled off the course to be attended for heat stroke.

“This was probably the most mentally challenging marathon I’ve done so far, out of all 15 marathons I’ve done,” she says.

She completed the prestigious Boston Marathon in April and the Fort Langley Marathon just a mere two weeks before flying to Ottawa.

Seven years ago, after some nudging from her son, she laced up her runners for her first long distance run – the Royal Victoria Marathon. Since then, she has worn through several pairs of runners.

“I usually run five or six days a week, with two of those runs being shorter – maybe six km and then I’ll do a medium distance run between nine and 18 kilometres. The weekend is for my longer run, up to 36 kilometres,” she says.

She says running clears her mind, and keeps her mentally fit.

“I just love the feeling. I sort out the world’s issues when I’m on the road. It’s my meditation.”

Like all competitive runners, she had a goal in mind for the 42.2 km Ottawa run.

“My goal was to complete it in four hours and 15 minutes,” says LS Voorthuyzen. “But once the sun came out a couple hours into the run, things got nasty.”

Every three kilometres she doused her head with water at the aid stations, and by the time she reached the 20 km mark, she battled the desire to take a short walk.

“Then I got to the part of the course where we had to run down Sussex Drive, the 39 kilometre mark. The sun came out and I could feel blisters forming on my feet. I knew at that point I just had to get it done.”

Crowds of cheering supporters greeted her at the finish line at Ottawa City Hall.

“I felt such great relief that I was still standing, with only a few wobbles, because the finish line was a little scary. It was carnage, people were keeling over left, right, and centre,” she says.

Her end result: three hours and 49 seconds, shaving 12 minutes off of her Boston Marathon time.

With that marathon scratched off her list, she’s now setting sights on completing all six major world marathons. The first two are done, the Boston and New York City Marathons. In October she will tackle the Chicago Marathon, and then the London Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, and Berlin Marathon.

If she successfully completes this list, LS Voorthuyzen will be the eighth woman in Canada to run, and complete, all six of the world’s major marathons.

“I don’t ever want to stop doing what I do,” she says. “I see myself running forever.”

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