Canada Army Run guest speakers bring inspiration to dinner event

Article / September 15, 2017 / Project number: 17-0252

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — Experienced runners know the value of a high-carb meal before a race and the organizers the Canada Army Run (CAR) will deliver once again this year.

Those who opt to attend the CAR Pasta Dinner, happening Saturday, September 16 – the day before the run itself kicks off – will also have their spirits fed with the words of two extraordinary guest speakers.

Bombardier (Retired) Christine Gauthier was medically released from the Canadian Army in 1998 following a spinal injury she sustained after 10 years of service. In the intervening years, she has become a formidable figure in para athletics: in addition to being a five-time world champion in para kayaking and the winner of four medals at the 2016 Invictus Games, Bmdr (Retd) Gauthier competed as a member of Canada’s Paralympic team at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Krista DuChene earned the title of Canada’s second-fastest marathoner at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She made her Olympic debut last year in Rio during the 2016 Games and was the Canada Running Series Champion in 2012 and 2016.

While they share a passion for athletics, the pair have very different views on public speaking.

When asked how she reacted after being invited to speak at CAR, Bmdr (Retd) Gauthier said she found the prospect “Scary. Terrifying. I’m very shy to start with – I’m a little reserved I guess. But then once I’m there and start going I keep in focus on the job I have to do. And it goes well normally.”

“I haven’t fainted yet,” she added with a laugh.

“I’m very excited and honoured,” said Ms. DuChene. “I think what I’m looking forward to most, is meeting more of the running community outside the elite, competitive component. So this was a perfect fit.”

Both say athletics came very naturally to them.

“My family had land where we chopped wood and everything,” said Bmdr (Retd) Gauthier. “I was out there working and cutting wood and carrying wood from the age of 10. I’ve always been a very strong woman.”

“I was very active as a child,” Ms. DuChene recalled. “Of all six kids in my family my mum said I had the most energy. And she used to lock me out of the house and make me run around the house multiple times before she’d let me back in. Sports are a perfect avenue for high-energy kids.”

That said, both athletes went competitive relatively late in their lives. Ms. DuChene was already a mother when she entered the elite running world.

“I look back at what I did when the kids were young and I wonder how I did it,” she said. “Being up in the night nursing kids then getting up at five to run 25K. I just had that passion.”

Bmdr (Retd) Gauthier said being one of the initial handful of women to serve in the combat arms, and in the high-demand artillery trade to boot, gave her the drive that continues to fuel her athletic pursuits.

“Some of the guys on the line, they weren’t happy because they thought of it as a man’s job and suddenly there were women coming in to do it,” she recalled. “It is very demanding – each shell case is like 97 pounds. So, truthfully, not every woman can do the job but not every man can either. As soon as I started in the Army, right away fitness became one of my biggest interests. I started doing body building in the Army.”

Given their contrasting views on public speaking, it is no surprise the pair have different takes on what messages they hope to impart to their audience at CAR.

“I think I will probably speak about the trials and blessings of my career,” said Ms. DuChene. “I’m just now getting over another injury. Life always throws us curveballs. I think everyone can relate to going through some sort of trial and even though I’m an Olympian I’ve had so many setbacks but I’ve grown so much.”

“I don’t see why people would be interested in anything I have to say,” said Bmdr (Retd) Gauthier, who has participated in CAR events for the past four years. “I’m being told all the time it’s not true and my story very touching and personal so I’m glad to share. Army Run for me is about the atmosphere and the camaraderie that you can only feel and experience there.”

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