It’s a safe bet to say that Lanni Marchant is the fastest
runner in Chattanooga today.
Sure, some of the UTC guys can beat her at shorter
distances, but if you want to talk about longer distances like marathons and
half-marathons, the petite 30-year-old attorney is head and shoulders better than anyone.
Marchant, pronounced Mar-shont, ran for UTC from 2002-07
when she earned nine Southern Conference titles in track and cross
country. She spent much of her time
there on the injured list, but she finished on a positive note her senior year
by winning the cross country title before taking first place in the indoor 5K
and outdoor 5K and 10K.
After graduation from UTC, she attended law school where she
earned degrees from University of Ottawa and Michigan State so she can practice
law in Canada or the United States.
She currently works for the firm of Speek, Webb, Turner and
Newkirk where she concentrates mainly on criminal defense, but running is a
huge part of her life as she zeroes in on a spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics in
Rio where she hopes to represent Canada in the women’s marathon.
Her marathon times have always been outstanding, but they’re
in the world-class range now after she posted a personal best of 2:28:00 at
Toronto in October. She proved that wasn’t
a fluke with a 2:30:34 at Boston a month ago as she finished as the first
Canadian woman and 14th overall.
“Boston was a great experience for me as I could feel the
buzz building from the start until the finish line,” she said while relaxing at
Fast Break earlier this week after her first run of the day.
“It was a challenging course, but it was a fun race to run
as it had been on my bucket list. I
really didn’t have a time goal, but was hoping to be in the top 15 women. I just wanted to make sure I ran smooth and I
didn’t want to fight the course. I knew
the second half would be slower, but it was a really cool experience.
“I was by myself for the last 21 miles and it would have
been extremely lonely if not for the crowd along the way,” she recalled.
Lanni had a 2:31:51 at Rotterdam in April 2012, but did not
make the Canadian Olympic team. She now
has the Canadian record, but will have to wait until October to know what she
has to do to qualify for the 2016 games.
“I was under the Olympic standard with the 2:31, but not
under Canada’s standard. I’ll probably know
by October what I have to do, but you have to pick and choose which one you
do. I’ll probably go back to Rotterdam
as I ran well there and that’s my quickest option,” she smiled.
Her slowest marathon was a 3:01:54 at the World Championship
in Moscow back in the fall.
“It was running with Deena Kastor, but it was extremely hot
with the temperature between 85 and 90 degrees.
I had to walk a lot and the last 10K was a walk/jog. But I rallied and came back to set the
Canadian record with the 2:28.
While her claim to fame has been the longer distance so far,
she proved she’s pretty good at the half-marathon as well.
She had a time of 1:10:47 at the Tom King Half-Marathon in
Nashville back in March where she broke Canada's women's half-marathon record of 1:12:08. She also had a 32:29 10K on the track at a
meet at Stanford in April.
“I don’t feel world classed at all as I go about my daily
business the same as always. I’m Canada’s
fastest female right now. I was good in
college, but not great. My running didn’t
bloom until after I got out of college.
I can’t afford to get complacent with my running because if I ever get
content with what I’m doing, I won’t keep getting better,” she said matter of
Lanni is the defending women’s winner at the Chattanooga
Chase, which will be held on Sunday, as she will be back at home in Canada
doing a 10K.
“It’s the Ottawa Race Weekend and it’s a gender
challenge. I’m the third oldest of seven
children and my family is really close, so I try to get back home to see them
at least three or four times a year,” she explained.
Her coach now is Dave Mitts, who was her coach in high
school at London, Ontario. He emails her
training schedule about every six weeks and she basically follows the plan. She averages between 100-110 miles a week and
runs twice on most days with a longer run of 20 miles or so on the weekend.
“It’s nice not to have to meet with someone every day, but
he tells me the mileage I need to do and I’m able to modify it if I feel
necessary,” she nodded.
Marchant has also made a routine of going to Kenya for six
weeks of training in the winter.
“I feel like it’s home to me, but the only way for me to get
better is to chase faster people. They
have an athlete training center there which is like a college dorm, but it’s
the best place to train at altitude,” she said.
While running and work take up most of her time, she also
loves to cook and read when time allows.
“I’m also trying to relearn French and I enjoy reading a
good book when I’m not busy in a big case.
I also make really good chicken soup from scratch,” she smiled.
She also spends as much time with her boyfriend of two
years, a triathlete from Nashville named Jimmy Humston. He’s about 6-5 while she’s barely 5-2.
“His legs are so long that I have to jog to keep up with him
when he’s walking,” she joked.
He’s a cyclist, which is probably the only way he can keep
up with her when she’s running.
Lanni Marchant is really good at a lot of things, but right
now she’s getting the most recognition with her running.
And there are very few folks in Chattanooga who can beat
(This is another feature in a series of runners in
Chattanooga. If you know someone who is
deserving of a similar story, email John Hunt at email@example.com)