Théâtre du Vieux-Terrebonne parking lot, June 15, 6:58 am Élissa Legault arrives from Mascouche, gets out of her car and takes off her Quebec team hoodie. Two minutes later she is ready to go.
Posted at 5:00 am
She returns tanned from a trip to Guadeloupe. “I hadn’t planned to go to the World Championships,” she smiles.
Yes, in five weeks the 28-year-old accountant will be starting the World Championships marathon in the kingdom of running, in Eugene, Oregon.
She had to apply for two more weeks’ leave from her employer, Procepack, a manufacturer and integrator of packaging equipment based in the industrial area of Terrebonne, where she is financial controller.
She works this morning, her time is limited. The interview therefore takes place during her leisurely 5K run, which for her means a pace of 4min 30s to 5min per kilometer. So I went with her… on a bike.
No, Élissa Legault had not thought about going to the World Cup. Before the Ottawa Marathon on May 28, she had only five 42.195 km races under her belt. Last fall, she set a personal best of 2:38:13 in Berlin, despite a four-minute break due to stomach problems. She was therefore hoping to finish under 2:35 in the Canadian capital.
For the first time in his life he was accompanied by two rabbits. The first fell halfway, after 1 hour 17 minutes. The Quebecer was 11th at the time and was on time. She began joining one rival after another. The second rabbit stopped after 26 km. She continued to catch up with competitors.
Her sister, triathlete Emy Legault, who was present at the track, told her that the third was just ahead of them. “I could not believe it. After an Ethiopian runner was abandoned, Legault dropped to second place, a rank she retained until the end.
His time on this bumpier course than expected: 2h 33min 27s, a huge improvement of almost 5 minutes.
In the finish area, Natasha Wodak came to congratulate her.
The second Canadian in the history of the marathon (2h 26min 19s) told her her result could qualify her for the World Championships. Legault attaches no importance to this. Finally, the Kenyans were absent due to a visa issue. Would his performance really be taken into account?
Three days later, she was packing for her trip to Guadeloupe when Wodak followed up with a link that led to the world rankings in athletics. The points associated with her performance in Ottawa effectively made her suitable for Eugene.
Why not Oregon?
Additionally, Wodak, first in the country on the 2021-2022 list, told her she would not be going to Oregon, preferring instead to treat an injury. Legault became the third Canadian and could hope for selection.
“I don’t know why, but in my mind it was inaccessible,” says Legault as he trotts down a dirt road on Île-des-Moulins.
The Quebecer signaled her interest to Athletics Canada, who informed her three days later that she had been selected.
“I don’t realize it yet! ‘ she says after crossing the causeway to reach Île Saint-Jean.
His vacation from racing in Ottawa therefore became a (quiet) resumption of training by the sweltering Caribbean island and its sometimes intrepid riders.
As a late marathoner, Élissa Legault doesn’t come out of nowhere. Originally from Île-Perrot, she started athletics at the age of 9 after coming third in a school cross-country race. Coach Claude David guided his first steps on the track at Club Vaudreuil-Dorion. At 11, she tried triathlon. For a number of years she traveled the counties of Quebec training her sister Emy in her wake. She is now the top-ranked Canadian in World Triathlon and just climbed her first podium at the World Cup in Mexico.
Two falls while cycling and a fear of riding in a peloton caused her to give up triathlon in her late teens. After a brief return to athletics, she stopped training entirely when she arrived at CEGEP. “I wanted to enjoy the time with my friends. »
At university, a friend suggested she run the Montreal Half Marathon. “I said to him: ‘Are you sick!’ “I’ve never run more than three or four kilometers and found it long. In the end she convinced me and we did it together.”
She had the passion. In 2017, she signed up for the marathon challenge. She bought a book and followed a program to the letter.
Four days before the start, the heat forced the cancellation of the Montreal event. After taking advice from Claude David, she resorted to the controversial Chambly Marathon three weeks later. She won it… in 3h 32min 42s “I did it at first to keep fit for the challenge. »
The three o’clock mark
In 2019 she drove under three hours for the first time at the Canadian Championships in Toronto. The following year, during the pandemic, she competed in a small 15-person marathon organized by the Waterloo Club.
On a certain course (25 laps of 1.7 km each) she clocked a time of 2:39:7, I want to see how far I can get.” »
After 5km straight ahead we stopped to end the interview on a bench. A reduced working time of 25 hours now allows him to cover 145 to 170 km per week. Working from home gave her the opportunity to train at altitude for the first time last winter in Arizona, where she joined her sister. She now benefits from a few sponsors, including a shoe supplier. In Ottawa, she won money for the first time in a marathon.
I realize I might have a facility with running. If you love it and put the effort and time into it I wouldn’t say anything is possible, but it’s amazing where it can take you. As long as I like it, I want to see how far I can go.
Fourth at the Canadian 10,000m championships this spring, Legault feels she still has room to improve her speed.
His ambition for the World Cup on July 18? “Of course I want to improve my time. If the course is flat I think I can do it. As for the position, it is very difficult to say. I want to follow a strategy like in Ottawa and go “conservative”. There are always girls who break up. Catching up is more motivating than being caught up. »
Will we see the Legault sisters at the Paris Olympics in 2024? “Emy has many, many chances. Mine are very limited. You never know, but it happens fast. The more experienced runners who conquered Tokyo may still be around. The goal for me could be closer to 2028.”
- Rank of Élissa Legault in the all-time Quebec rankings
- Quebec record by Jacqueline Gareau, 2e 1983 in Boston
Quebec Athletics Federation