Joe Perry, the Six Marathon Man — Part 4

In a six-part series on CKSN, Wallaceburg native Joe Perry will chronicle the journey of how he “accidentally” competed in six major marathons that spanned three continents.

Joe Perry and Krista DuChene. (Contributed photo)

A couple of weeks before my fourth major marathon in Berlin in 2019, I injured my calf in a Tough Mudder competition. I had hoped to do a bit better at Berlin but I limped my way to a 3:41 result in the rain.

My main memory of that race was thinking the Brandenburg Gate was the finish line. My marathon-drained brain couldn’t understand why the other people kept running. I’m rarely accused of making brilliant observations.

Another person running this marathon was my younger cousin, Krista DuChene. She had a very strong run on Sunday morning in Berlin. A performance of 2:32:27 for 12th place and the first masters woman in a competitive field.

Let’s take a break from me and tell her story.

Since I’m (much) older, I’ve known Krista all her life. Her mother and my father were siblings, making her pretty unavoidable at Perry functions. She was a hockey player and I was a soccer player so it seemed unlikely that we would find a similar passion for marathons.

Our unlikely journey together started in a very unlikely way. In March 2012, our cousin Anita passed away. Like Rick Hoyt, Anita had cerebral palsy. And like the Hoyts, Anita’s parents, my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Glen included her in everything they could. She was in all the group family photos. Although she never spoke a word, she would always let us know she was in the room. Sadly, Anita passed away at the age of 34, which was much longer than the doctors said she would live. We know she exceeded those predictions because of the caring love from her family.

It was at the church, after the funeral service, when Krista and I were in line, getting food that we had a conversation that I will never forget. I happened to mention that I had just signed up a few days earlier for my very first Tough Mudder later that year. In fact, it was the very first race of any type that I had ever signed up to do. Krista went on to say that she had a 30k race coming up soon called Around The Bay and, if she did well, her coach said she might stand a good chance of making the Olympics.

I was blown away! Winning a big race? A coach??? Olympics???? Only people on TV do that kind of thing. Not first cousins!

Well, Krista went on to win that race. Then she and Lanni Marchant went to Rotterdam to race, hoping to qualify for the Olympic team. They ran 2:32 in tough conditions and narrowly missed making the Canadian Olympic standard for 2016. That just added fuel to the fire. From there the two of them would both beat the Canadian marathon record with times of 2:28.

Krista also competed in the world championship in Moscow. And just to make things extra challenging, she was leading the Canadian half marathon championship when she decided to fracture her femur during the race. Understandably, she didn’t win that race but she did hobble across the finish line. She had surgery to get a big screw inserted into her leg.

That serious injury wasn’t enough to slow her down for long. A year later she went back to Rotterdam and met the Canadian Olympic standard.

Next stop: Rio.

She went to Brazil and finished the Olympic marathon in 2:35 and a very respectable 35th place. How cool is that?? Do YOU have a cousin who is an Olympian?

For most people, competing at the Olympics would be the highlight of their careers. But Krista wasn’t done. She decided to run Boston again to see how well she’d do in the masters division. Boston 2018 was the cold year there and Krista’s Canadian blood served her well. She passed many fellow elite runners during the race. She ended up finishing in third place!

That was HUGE. A podium finish at Boston! Even Hockey Night in Canada mentioned her amazing accomplishment. She was now even a bigger star.

Since then she has gone on to set the Canadian 50k record. Not bad for a 40+-year-old mother of three.

Ok. Enough about Krista. Back to my marathon journey and how I went on to compete in my fifth major event…

Stay tuned for Part 5 of Joe’s six-part series.

To read the previous articles in the series, click on the links below:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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