Most Olympic medal winners who take part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series have earned their accolades by competing on the track or the roads, but on Sunday at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon, one participant earned hers on the turf— Rhian Wilkinson is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist in soccer, having represented Canada in 2012 and 2016.
The 34-year-old star on the pitch from Baie-D’Urfé, Canada (near Montreal) has enjoyed an enormously successful career as both a defender and a striker, and now she has decided to race the full 26.2 miles on Sunday for a variety of reasons.
“I got an email from the Canadian Olympic Committee that indicated they would help athletes who want to run the race,” Wilkinson recalls. “I had just given a speech about how it’s good to push your limits, and I decided right there that I needed to put into action what I had been saying all along.”
Wilkinson has only run one marathon previously and, other than her training for the Olympics, hasn’t allocated much time to prepare for the grueling 26.2-mile distance. “If I can do this, I will be unbelievably proud with myself. I know I’ve just signed up for the race when most people have been tapering for it, but I figured it was something worth trying.”
Wilkinson says that she hopes her mental sharpness she’s honed on the soccer pitch throughout her career will aid her in the tough parts of Sunday’s race, and that her expectations in terms of finishing time are realistic.
“I have tremendous respect for those who have prepared for the marathon and so I don’t really plan to run a certain time,” she admits. “I just want to finish it. I’m not going to be wearing my iPod and I really look forward to experiencing the race without my headphones. I go to marathons and cheer. The crowd and the live music will be enough to push me.”
Montreal is near and dear to Wilkinson’s heart and she hopes to also channel some hometown good vibes along the way. “I love this place,” she says. “I think I’ll get energy from the fact that it’s home for me.”
Joining Wilkinson on Sunday will be 10 other Canadian Olympians, including Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (judo) and Antoine Bouchard (judo) both running the half marathon, and Caroline Ouellette (hockey) who will be running the 10K.
Festivities in Montreal kick off on Friday with the opening of the health and fitness expo at Place Bonaventure and continue through to Sunday with a variety of races (1K, 5K, 10K, half and full marathon) that will route runners over breathtaking bridges, gorgeous parks, and quaint Parisian-looking neighborhoods.
In keeping with all Rock ‘n’ Roll races, entertainment will not be in short supply with 22 bands jamming along the scenic course, which winds through the best parts of the historic Canadian city, including the finish line where Our Lady Peace will serenade runners and spectators with their hit “Somewhere Out There.
“We are extremely pleased that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Marathon continues to bring together more Montrealers and visitors every year, providing this unique opportunity for amateurs, athletes and supporters to celebrate their shared passions and all that the city has to offer,” said Dimitrios (Jim) Beis, a member of Montreal’s Executive Committee responsible for sports and leisure.