Meunier chases third RunWild title
St. Albert marathoner finished second last year as two-time defending champion
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, May 03, 2014 06:00 am
Fourth annual Leading Edge Run Wild
Sunday’s start times on St. Anne Street in front of St. Albert Place
• 7 a.m. 42K marathon
• 7:05 a.m. 21.1K half-marathon run/walk
• 7:20 a.m. 10K run/walk
• 7:30 a.m. 5K run/walk
Finish line is victory lane on Taché Street
• 12 p.m. WildOnes Kids MaraFun (ages six to 12) from the event stage in Celebration Village at Lions Park
Marathon: 2:44:10, Caine Warburton, Australia, 2013
Half-marathon: 1:22:02, Robert Brunelle, Edmonton, 2013
10 km: 38:41, Corey Halabi, Edmonton, 2013
Five km: 19:23, Dan Vigliatore, Pickering, Ont., 2012
Marc Meunier is determined to land the knockout punch in Sunday’s big race after taking it on the chin last year as the reigning Leading Edge RunWild marathon champion.
“I would really like to gain that title back. That would be a nice feeling,” said Meunier on the eve of the fourth annual RunWild in St. Albert.
The 2013 pre-race favourite was broadsided in pursuit of his third straight RunWild crown by Australian Caine Warburton, who combined a vacation with a series of running events in the Edmonton area.
Warburton’s time was a RunWild record of two hours, 44 minutes and 10 seconds, eclipsing Meunier’s winning efforts of 2:58:21 in 2011 and 2:49:15 in 2012.
Last year Meunier clocked in at 2:48:26 as the runner-up in St. Albert’s only marathon.
“I will be honest with you; it didn’t sit that well with me,” said the Paul Kane High School athletic director of the second-place result.
“He was definitely the better runner that day but I didn’t think I raced very intelligently last year. I went out and I tested him early and that was probably a big mistake but after 14 marathons you would think I would have it figured out by now.
“You get caught up in the moment and you feel good so you go but on this course it will eat you up alive with the hills so if you don’t pace yourself well you will run into problems like I did that day.”
The marathon route winds its way from St. Anne Street up Sturgeon Road to the city’s ravines, and then by road it passes through the Akinsdale and Pinewood neighbourhoods before linking up with Sir Winston Churchill Avenue as the runners make their way towards the Sturgeon Valley Golf & Country Club.
The return leg to St. Albert goes along Bellerose Drive and continues through the Oakmont neighbourhood before joining the trail system through the city core.
After completing the loop around Lacombe Lake Park and Deer Ridge, the runners cross the Sturgeon River and race up Grandin Road, turn right on Levasseur Road and eventually work their way through Riel Park towards victory lane on Taché Street, the finish line area for the various RunWild races.
“It’s a course you never look at doing a personal best time on,” Meunier said. “If you can ease off a little bit at the beginning when you’re going through some of the trails and hills where you’ve got some of those inclines early on, and if you can really settle yourself down and pace yourself there, you will be OK but you’re really going to have to save up because those last few hills at the end are obviously tough.
“You always seem to get a headwind in there too at some point and our spring seems to be really windy right now. You go up a hill and into the headwind it really starts to break you down mentally and physically, so it’s a tough course.”
The only thing that surprised Meunier on the course last year was the appearance of Warburton, a 26-year-old ultra-marathoner who ran the Edmonton Police Half Marathon the weekend before RunWild and finished second at 1:14:54.
“You don’t know who is going to show up that day, but also with that is you can also end up having maybe not a great day as well,” Meunier said. “The marathon is just such a beast. It’s a long 42 kilometres and if somebody peaked right for that day, you just never know what could happen so I never take anything for granted when I go into these races. Sometimes at the 15K mark or 20K mark there are people holding on really well and they could be in it for the long haul so you really do have to be careful. I learned my lesson last year that’s for sure.”
Meunier, 41, is poised to run his fastest RunWild time ever Sunday. His personal best marathon is 2:41.
“My goal on this course is definitely to be under 2:45,” he said. “I still think I have a sub 2:40 in me somewhere but on this course probably not.”
The RunWild is Meunier’s first race since October at the 35th annual Ironman worlds in Kona, Hawaii.
A nasty bout of pneumonia in March kept Meunier out the 29th annual St. Albert 10-Mile Road race last month.
“Hopefully I can carry over some of that good training I had for that Ironman race and go into Sunday strong,” said the 11th Canadian finisher for 56th place in the men’s 40 to 44 age division in nine hours, 40 minutes and seven seconds in his second crack at Ironman worlds (3.86-kilometre swim, 180.25-km bike and 42.2-km run).
Last year 102 participants, including 42 females, completed the RunWild marathon.
As of Wednesday 86 registrations were processed for the marathon. Start time is 7 a.m.
“It’s going to be a great race. It’s always fun to run in my hometown,” Meunier said.
The latest RunWild event total of 1,928 and counting is an event record, surpassing last year’s mark of 1,850 runners and walkers.
The breakdown includes 308 for the 21.1K half-marathon run/walk, 419 for the 10K run/walk, 538 for the 5K run/walk and 577 for the WildOnes Kids MaraFun for six- to 12-year-olds.
RunWild is hosted by Leading Edge Physiotherapy and profits raised go directly to Edmonton’s Zebra Child Protection Centre and the St. Albert 50+ Club.
“RunWild does a great job putting on this race,” Meunier said. “It’s such a big community event now and for me it’s just nice to be out there and support the race.”