Sask. Marathon’s newest record holder found running again during the pandemic

Last month, 42-year-old Eriko Soma of Vancouver won the Saskatchewan Marathon’s women’s race in a record-breaking two hours, 49 minutes and 54 seconds, taking more than four minutes off the previous women’s marathon record of 2:54:04 set just last year by another B.C. resident: Victoria lawyer and runner Christine Bant.

Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, Alta. won the men’s race for the second year in a row, clocking 2:28:23.

As Soma travelled home last week, she took some time to reflect on running, the race and her future goals.

Q: When did you start running and why do you run?

A: Since April 2021. I was a cross country skier and long distance runner in Japan until I was 20 years old, but after retiring, I spent almost 20 years without exercising at all. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted me to start running in 2021 at the age of 39. When I first started running, I was disappointed in myself because I could only run about five kilometers, but gradually I was able to run more, which became my motivation and I trained every day. I have run four marathons since 2021. I set a PB (2:49:44) at the California International Marathon (in) December 2023. But the course in Saskatchewan was tougher, so I think the time I set there is more valuable.

Eriko Soma competes in the 2024 Saskatchewan Marathon.
Eriko Soma competes in the 2024 Saskatchewan Marathon.

Q: What is your training like? 

A: I don’t belong to a team and I don’t have coach. Basically I come up with my own workouts and train myself. It can be hard at times but I really enjoy training through trial and error. I’m not young anymore, so I train while paying close attention to recovery 🙂

Q: Why did you want to run the Saskatchewan Marathon?

A: I was thinking about racing a marathon somewhere in the spring and I have friends who live in Saskatchewan so I thought I’d visit them and race the Saskatchewan Marathon.

Q: Were you aware of the course record going into the race?

A: Yes. I saw it on the website. I thought that depending on the course and weather conditions, there was a chance that I could set a new course record.

Q: Tell me about how the race went.

A: It was great to run along the scenic riverside course. There were a lot of people and volunteers along the way cheering us on, which was really invigorating. As it was an out-and-back course, it was nice to be able to cheer each other on as we passed each other.

Q: How did it compare to other races you’ve done?

A: It was my first time running an out-and-back course. I was able to cheer on other runners as we passed each other, which gave me a lot of energy.

Q: How did you feel to win?

A: My goal was to win and sub 2:50, so I was happy and relieved to achieve that goal.

Q: How are you feeling today, two days later?

A: I feel relieved. I was racing a 10km or half marathon every weekend from late April until the Saskatchewan Marathon, so I feel relieved now.

Q: What are your next goals?

A: My goal is sub 2:45 and I’ll be racing another marathon sometime in the fall this year so hopefully I can achieve that then.

Q: What else do you want people to know?

A: The Saskatchewan Marathon is amazing with the support and hospitality of the organizers, volunteers and locals. It’s not a big race, but it’s a great experience to run the scenic course. The final climb is really tough, but there’s a great sense of accomplishment after you finish. I’ll definitely participate again!

This interview has been edited and condensed.