Christine Bant at the 2023 Saskatchewan Marathon.

Victoria resident takes down 33-year-old Sask. marathon record

Victoria lawyer and runner Christine Bant had been deep into training for the 2023 BMO Vancouver Marathon when her brother scuttled her plans by announcing he and his wife would be holding their post-pandemic wedding reception in Edmonton the evening before the race.

“That, obviously, took priority,” Bant said. So she looked online for an alternative spring race and set her sights on the Saskatchewan Marathon.

“I’d visited Saskatoon before and I knew that it was beautiful around the river and the course looked really nice and scenic and the timing was right and I thought it would be kind of a fun trip,” Bant said.

A fun trip indeed. In her fourth marathon, the 31-year-old ran 2:54:04 to win the women’s race. It was a 76-second personal best and a whopping five minutes and 32 seconds below the women’s course record of 2:59:36 set by Donna Grisak in 1990.

A few days after her record-setting run — while still stiff and nursing concerning-looking toenails — Bant took some time to speak to the Brainsport Times about the race, her training and her upcoming goals.

Brainsport Times: When you lined up at the Sask. Marathon, were you aware of the existing course record?

Christine Bant: I had seen it on the website. I knew there was a possibility of breaking the course record but, at the same time, I also know there are a lot of strong women marathoners right now and so I also thought it was very possible I wouldn’t be the only person (chasing the record) — and I wasn’t. The woman who finished second (Lauren Barr), she also ran under the record. So that’s pretty cool. Not only was the record broken, but it was broken by two people on the same day.

BT: How did it feel crossing the finish to not only have won the race, but to have set a PB and course record?

CB: It was pretty cool. I was just so happy to be crossing the finish line at that point that it took a minute to kind of sink in. It was definitely a really cool experience.

BT: The Saskatchewan Marathon is much smaller than the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Had you expected that?

CB: I had expected it to be smaller. And I was honestly kind of grateful that it worked out that way because I was pretty nervous to be doing a marathon weekend. I hadn’t raced one since before the pandemic and there’s just so many unknowns in a marathon and so many things can go wrong that it was kind of nice to have a smaller-scale marathon to be doing. Everyone I met at the race was so friendly and it had just such a good community feeling to it. It was nice being at a smaller race.

BT: How long have you been running?

CB: I danced as a kid and I kind of picked up running after that chapter of my life closed. I originally just started doing it for fitness and to get outside and then I started getting a little bit faster and getting more interested in it and (about five years ago) it became much more of a serious hobby.

BT: Tell me a little bit more about your training.

CB: I train on my own. My husband actually coaches me. He writes all of my training and then he modifies it depending on how my legs are doing. We’ve got a really good partnership going. Sometimes he picks up on things if I’m really tired or have other life stuff going on. He’ll modify workouts before I’ve even really kind of appreciated that maybe I need a little bit of a lighter week. He’s been training me for a couple of years now and it’s been going really well.

BT: How do you balance running with a busy job as a lawyer?

CB: I get up at 5 a.m. most mornings to get my training in before work and I always try to get my longer run done in the morning so that if I have another run in the day, maybe just half an hour, it’s easier to fit that in and it’s also easier to motivate myself to get out the door at that point if I know it’s a short, quick run.

BT: Do you have any upcoming plans or goals for your running?

CB: No, honestly. I’ve definitely found myself starting to think about it. I’ve just been focused on the marathon for quite a while now and that was really the big goal and I hadn’t thought about anything past that. But now that it’s been a couple of days, I am definitely starting to think about what’s next. Definitely no marathons for a few months at least.

BT: What else do you want people to know about your race experience?

CB: It was really a great experience. I ran with the second- and third-place women for a few kilometers during the race and it was really nice to be running with other strong women. And I was super fortunate that the man (Flemming Sondergard), who finished just in front of me, I had caught up to him, and he just stayed with me and was asking how I was doing and I was very grateful to have someone to run with for the rest of the course.

It was just, all in all, a really great experience and such a neat way to see Saskatoon and I’m really glad that it worked out this way and we ended up doing this marathon.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Sunday’s men’s marathon was won by Kip Kangogo of Lethbridge, Alta. in a time of 2:25:28. For a full list of results, go online.