St. John's runner 2nd fastest Canadian woman at Boston Marathon

It's the oldest marathon in the world and, arguably, the best-known race on the planet.

On Monday, St. John's runner Anne Johnston left her mark on the Boston Marathon.

Her time of two hours, 43 minutes and two seconds made her the second-fastest Canadian woman to cross the finish line.

The energy of the race is what helped me have such an incredible result. - Anne Johnston

"I came into it saying I just want to enjoy the experience and not stress too much about the time," said Johnston over the phone from Boston.

Johnston's time was the 37th fastest of the 11,970 women who crossed the finish line and it placed her 515th overall. She fed off the cheering crowd who lined the entire 42 kilometre course.

This year more than 26,000 runners finished the 123nd version of the Boston Marathon. Unlike road races in St. John's, Johnston stood on a crowded start line with tens of thousands of other runners.

"It was a sea of people,' she said. "For the first eight kilometres it was just shoulder to shoulder with other runners all running the same speed. It was incredible."

"The energy of the race is what helped me have such an incredible result," she said. "The time just flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it, tried to soak it all in."

Johnston is a well-known runner in St. John's having taken the women's title at the Tely 10 three times — 2002, 2003 and 2015 — but she's new to the marathon.

In fact the only other marathon she has run was in Toronto in 2017 to qualify for the big show in New England.

Her time in Boston was 16 minutes faster than what she ran in the Big Smoke.

"I was a bit surprised," Johnston said.

"I started working out with a new coach at the end of August, early September … so I did feel a lot fitter and much more prepared going into this marathon."

Johnston stepped up her training this year hiring a running coach named Jonathan Brown, who also coaches fellow St. John's running star Kate Bazeley. 

Although he's based in British Columbia, he sends Johnston workouts and the two chat over the internet.

Submitted by Anne Johnston

Personal bests on race day don't just happen; for Johnston, they're the result of work done at 4:30 in the morning. 

With a full-time job and three young children, finding training time is almost as hard as actually running. 

"It is a lot but I am very fortunate to have a very supportive husband who helps out a lot so that we can manage it all," Johnston said.

Winter training a struggle

"I get my run in before work so I am usually out of the house when everybody wakes up … so he gets everybody organized."

The other challenge is the winter weather of St. John's, which doesn't make getting out of bed that early any easier. 

"Training for a marathon in the winter in Newfoundland is a struggle. Leading up to this, I was like, 'I am not doing this again,'" Johnston said with a laugh. 

Submitted by Anne Johnston

Johnston's husband, Ryan, made the trip to Boston to watch the marathon. 

"He's my No. 1 fan. He was very proud," she said.

"He was right there at the finish to watch me come it and it was great to see him when I got through the crowds."

Time for a rest

One snag: Ryan tracked Johnston's progress on his phone from the finish line as he waited for his wife but when he went to take a picture of her completing the marathon, the battery died.

Johnston will now take a break and let her body recover 

"At this point I don't have any other plans to do another marathon," she said.

Local runners can expect to see her, or her running past them, at the 92nd running of the Tely 10 this summer.

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