Unknown in the Quebec running scene just a week ago, Simon Leblanc will not soon be forgotten.
The Saint-Prosper, Que., runner made a name for himself after participating in two marathons in the span of one week — finishing with gold and silver medals.
On Sept. 24, Leblanc placed second in the Marathon Beneva de Montréal — Quebec's biggest foot race, which brought out nearly 20,000 runners — then took home gold at the Marathon Beneva de Québec just seven days later.
"The high from Montreal just took me to Quebec City," said the 32-year-old athlete with a smile after crushing the 42.2 kilometre race on Sunday in two hours, 27 minutes and 57 seconds — almost four minutes faster than his closest competitor.
Leblanc is seen leading the pack of marathon runners in Quebec City on Sunday. (Nicolas Hallet/Gestev)
Leblanc, who works as a hotel valet in Quebec City, hadn't planned on running two marathons back to back. He said he was persuaded to join the Quebec City race at the last minute.
"The organization had invited me. They called me on Friday and I deliberately didn't answer. I got an email and said to myself, 'Look, I'm in Quebec City, at worst it'll be training for the future,'" said Leblanc.
He said by the 35th kilometre of the second race, his legs began to give out.
"Two marathons with not even seven days' rest is too much," he said.
A top-level long-distance triathlete, Leblanc is now considering devoting himself fully to running. (Gary Yee/Marathon Beneva de Montréal)
But then he pictured himself running through the banner at the finish line, "and that's what happened."
More than 10,000 runners took part in the various events held Saturday and Sunday in the streets of Quebec City.
From triathlete to marathoner
A top-level long-distance triathlete, Leblanc has always been a runner. But it wasn't until this summer that he decided to focus his training exclusively on running, without a coach or physical trainer.
Last week, he changed the trajectory of his athletic career by completing the Montreal Marathon in two hours, 23 minutes and 52 seconds.
"That's when I discovered him. He's not a name I knew before," Marianne Pelchat, executive producer for Je Cours Qc, which puts on the Quebec City Marathon, said Sunday.
Leblanc says he was persuaded to run the Quebec City Marathon at the last minute. (Guillaume Piedboeuf/Radio-Canada)
Leblanc is now considering devoting himself fully to running. This week, he met with French sports equipment manufacturer Salomon and got in contact with Félix-Antoine Lapointe, renowned coach of Quebec City middle-distance runner Charles Philibert-Thiboutot.
"He's a leading figure in the world of athletics and I'd be honoured to be able to train with him," Leblanc said.
"My goal is really to push the limits and encourage people to take part in a race, whether it's five, 10, 21 or 160 kilometres."