On any given year, Sudbury
and area representation at the Boston Marathon might
number between eight to twelve runners, with perhaps
another small handful of athletes on hand with some
sort of connection to this part of the world.
Come April of 2020, no
less than three members of a singular family, born
and raised in Sudbury, will take part in the grand-daddy
of all marathons.
Ironically, none of the
Savoie siblings (Robert Savoie, Lorraine Doucet, Michelle
Bryson) would count themselves as runners, at least
not in the competitive sense of the word, in their
youth. In fact, this whole affiliation to the sport
is far more organic in nature, dating back to their
childhood in Minnow Lake.
"We've always been
influenced by our mother," said Bryson, the youngest
of the four children in the family, with Francois
(the second eldest) still quite athletic, though not
a runner. "She always worked out, home workouts
and stuff, so we always had that in our life."
"My mom and her
brother used to go out at like midnight, for a run,
and then come back and order pizza," said Savoie,
with a laugh. "They did it just for running."
That mindset would be
passed along, as taking to the streets and trails
offered the ability to unwind and embrace the solitude,
with the Savoie trio tapping into running as an opportunity
to relax, to some extent or another.
"I think it helps
me that I've always run, just not competitively,"
stated Robert. "At (age) 50, I might not be as
fast as I would have been at 20, but I also don't
have that same wear and tear of someone who ran competitively
for years. I was probably doing a half hour, 45 minutes,
anywhere from five to ten kilometers."
"When I was going
through my divorce and had a lot on my mind, I kind
of immersed myself in running. I would do like 16
kms, sometimes twice a day, no pace, no training,
just me running to blow off steam. And I would be
relaxed when I got back."
But it was Lorraine who
became the ring-leader, at least in the sense of moving
from casual running, with no end goal, to making the
leap of faith into racing. The 2020 Boston Marathon
will represent the eighth time the current resident
of Ottawa will tackle the daunting course.
"After I had my
kids, I lived a half a kilometer from my mom's house,
and she used to call me at 5:45 in the morning and
we would go out for a half hour, a 45 minute run.
I kind of ran on and off after that, but I always
exercised in the morning, always worked out."
Still, in the back of
her mind lurked the bucket list goal of completing
a marathon. "I did my first half-marathon and
could not understand how people could do double that
distance," said Doucet. "I think it was
in my 40th year that I did my first marathon, in Ottawa,
and Michelle ran her first half-marathon. It was really
Truth be told, the scope
of the strength of the family bond in this troika
seeps into virtually every tale of this journey they
have enjoyed. Their love of running is dwarfed, many
times over, by the love and closeness of their relationship
with each other. Laughter fills every recollection
of the cross-connections they have experienced.
"All you have to
run is 21 kilometres - it's not that far," exclaimed
Bryson. "That was her (Doucet's) way of coaxing
me. But it came easier than I thought. I think we
have a mental toughness that we can just plow through
Though the similarities
are many, each possesses their own unique approach
in preparation. "I need structure, I couldn't
just go out and wing it," acknowledged Bryson,
who works within a steady stream of numbers in the
finance department at Vale. "I need someone to
give me a program, tell me what pace I need to hit,
how far I have to run."
She would turn to the
John Stanton books, of Running Room fame. For Robert
Savoie, it was all in with the Jack Adams approach,
beginning in 2018. "I knew that Robert would
qualify," said Doucet. "When he started,
he said that he wanted to do a marathon at fifty,
and he was telling me his pace, and I knew he would
"I'm very much OCD,
so when I started training, I knew that I was basically
going to give 'er to get there," said Savoie,
a registered nurse by trade. And like many runners,
the eldest of the family quartet shares a love of
music, with Michelle, as a means of turning minutes
into hours, while trekking along the highway from
Skead towards Hanmer.
"I have a good play
list, the music that gives you goose bumps,"
he said. "I've got dance music, I've got Elvis
Presley on there, a bit of everything." If not
listening to music, Bryson, for her part, will turn
to her remaining passion. "Sometimes I do math
in my head, working through my pace and times in the
race," she said with a smile.
The smile, however, is
a trademark of the Boston veteran, the woman is has
also ventured over into the world of ultra-marathons
and triathlons. "I'm like chatty Cathy that runs
next to you," laughed Doucet. "I go to marathons
and just talk to people."
"Lorraine is that
person who will smile the whole race," Bryson
agreed. "She will talk throughout the whole thing.
She's having a great old time." And given that
she is also running with a pair of Boston first-timers,
she can also be that voice of experience.
"I will give advice,
but I know they won't listen," said Doucet, chuckling
to herself. "And that's OK, because I didn't
listen either. They're going to be like I was. You
really have to go slower than you think in the first
half. But I know my siblings, and they are going to
just go for it."
Like three peas in a
pod, and definitely something of a Sudbury rarity
in this race.