A Kamsack teacher and mother of three proved to herself that she is still able to run a 10k marathon in less than an hour.
Chantel Kitchen completed the Queen City Marathon, held in Regina on September 9 with a time of 53:02. This finish saw her place 28/656 females, 5/96 in the female 30-34 division and 76/884 runners.
“I decided to sign up for the Regina 10-kilometer race in the spring as a way to motivate myself to keep running over the summer,” Kitchen said. “I have a running partner, Monica, from September to June, which is a great motivator to get out of bed in the morning and run, but we both go away for the summer, so I have to find an alternate motivation.
“In early July I broke my toe while participating in a Nerf gun fight with my children and their friends and I had to take a couple weeks off from running. At this point I decided the run would be purely for fun, as training was not going to be great.
“I managed to work up to running 8k by the end of summer holidays and set a goal of simply finishing the Queen City Marathon without having to stop.
“It was my slowest 10k finish to date, running it in 53:02, but I managed to accomplish my goal,” she said.
Kitchen said she did not start out being “athletic” as a child, in fact quite the opposite. As a young child, when her family was living in Japan, she participated in a mandatory mini-marathon for all Grade 4 students, and finished “dead last.”
“I was not ‘athletic’ let alone a good runner, and I never gave running a second thought after that experience,” she said.
Kitchen’s family was living in a new community, Meadow Lake, by the time she entered Grade 8. “I was an academic with a 95 per cent plus average, but my Phys. Ed. mark was always one of the lowest.”
That year, the school program offered higher marks in Phys. Ed. for every sports team that a student tried out for. Motivated to achieve a better grade, Kitchen tried out for and successfully made the volleyball and basketball teams.
When track season approached, Kitchen made that team as well, but, lacking any particular talent, her coach suggested she try distance running.
“There began my career as a runner,” she said. From Grades 9 through 12 she attended cross-country and track-and-field provincials, with placings that ranged from eighth to 16th overall, and “loved every minute of it.”
Kitchen had also become an avid basketball player.
“My older sister was playing for the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and I had dreams to do the same. However, I wasn’t quite as talented, and wasn’t quite as tall, so I was not recruited there. However, Lakeland College in Lloydminster recruited me to play. I had everything in place to do my first two years of university there.”
On a whim Kitchen went on the U of S “Experience US Tour” with some friends, and while there, filled out some scholarship applications. A couple of months later she received a call that would change her earlier plans.
“I got a phone call, letting me know I had received a $25,000 scholarship over four years (based on school leadership, community involvement and a 95 per cent average) called the President's First and Best Scholarship. It meant essentially tuition paid for four years of university.
I was devastated to give up my basketball career, but who can walk away from school being completely paid for? So I called the Lakeland College coach to let her know and she was very understanding.”
Kitchen joined the U of S cross-country and track-and-field teams. Although she never made nationals in either sport she developed a love for running and made many life-long friends through that experience.
“It was also the springboard to my husband, Kevin, and I starting up the Kamsack track-and-field team and coaching KCI’s (Kamsack Comprehensive Institute’s) track-and-field team.
“The highlight of my university career was running 10k races.
“My first 10k race was at the Saskatoon Marathon in 2005 in my 3rd year, where I placed first in the female category running a time of 41:15,” she said.
A stress fracture of the femur resulted in Kitchen giving up running for a couple years.
While living and teaching in Canora, Kitchen started coaching the cross-country team at the high school, and began running for “fun” again.
“In 2015, after having my second child, I decided to start training for a 10k race again. I spent my maternity leave running and doing workouts in my basement to train. I registered in both the Yorkton Charity Road Race and the Queen City Marathon 10k race. My goal was to run in under one hour”.
In Yorkton, that August, she placed 14th overall, and was the fourth female to finish in a time of 46:34 (in a field of 70 runners).
In Regina, a month later, she finished the 10k race in 44:07, placing first overall for female (of 386) and sixth overall (of 519.)
In 2016 she decided to up the challenge and run the half marathon at the Queen City Marathon. “Training for this race required intense dedication and higher mileage, but it was a good challenge. I completed the race in 1 hour 46 minutes, placing 41/1249 female, and 5/196 in my age group (30-34.) I found out the next day, that I was already, unexpectedly, a couple months pregnant with our third child.
“We named him Miles when he was born. Many times I have been asked if that is because I ran a half marathon while pregnant with him, but that is a complete coincidence.
“Miles was born in May of 2017, so I took that summer off from races, but started running again shortly after he was born.
“I haven’t been training hard for any race in particular, but enjoy my daily morning runs with my running partner, Monica, as it is my ‘me time’ in the day, something I do just for me. I feel better on days we run, including the winter months in up to -35C wind-chills.
“Knowing, that I can still run 10k in less than an hour, I am now motivated to try to improve my time again for next year.
“I am taking Yoga classes and have a gym membership in Churchbridge (to work out while my daughter dances all day on Saturdays), all of which I hope will contribute to an improved time next year.
“Running for 30 to 60 minutes is a hobby. I find it fun, it makes my body feel good and it’s sustainable, for me as a teacher of 36 students, coach of many and mom of three, among other commitments.
“I try to spread my love for the sport through coaching the Solstice Program at Victoria School in the spring, coaching the Kamsack track-and-field club (January to June) and the KCI track team.
“I was excited this past year to see my kids, Kacee and Emmett, take interest in my hobby, participating in a mini track meet in Saskatoon alongside many of my former university team mates’ children.
“Its a great sport to get involved in, as it can be done lifelong and requires not much more than a pair of runners,” she concluded.