Sleeping with goats at the Voyageur Marathon

The Voyageur Marathon, Massey, Ontario, July 24, 1988


I did an obscure marathon while in the midst of my low-mileage Olympic preparation?

Of course not. I was at the Voyageur Marathon with my husband Paul, who decided at the last minute to run this race. It was the Ontario Marathon Championship that year, and Paul thought it would be an adventure to drive from Toronto to Massey, a tiny northern Ontario town about 100 km west of Sudbury.

Since this was a last-minute decision and we hadn’t booked any accommodation, we packed a tent just in case.

When we reached Massey, we enquired at the two or three small motels in the area, but, not surprisingly, they were completely filled with marathoners. There was a location somewhere in town for race registration. Once there, we were surprised to see a familiar face—that of Dave Mengistu, an Ethiopian friend of our Phoenix Track Club friend and teammate, Joseph Kibur. We only knew Dave slightly, from having seen him compete in several Toronto races. We knew he was a talented runner, but his racing strategies often seemed pretty crazy. Today, he confirmed our opinion that he was somewhat scatterbrained when he asked us, “Hey, can you tell me where the subway is?”

Maybe it was just culture shock, but Dave seemed to think that every Canadian population centre had a subway, even if it was only going to serve a population of 200 people.

When he got his number, Paul asked for instructions to the home of Norm Patenaude, the meet director. It was getting late and Paul wanted to see if Norm could give him any advice about where we could sleep for the night.

Norm was very friendly and welcoming. He didn’t invite us to crash in his house (he had five kids, after all), but he told us we were welcome to pitch our tent in his back yard. Paul, an animal lover, was very enthusiastic about all the goats that were roaming freely around that same yard. Norm reassured us (me?) that the goats were harmless.

Harmless, yes; quiet, no. I spent a sleepless, uncomfortable night listening to the constant bleating of goats. Paul slept like a baby and woke up at 5 a.m., eager to run. The race started at 6 a.m. The day would be a scorcher, like every other day this sweltering summer.

Paul wasn’t too worried about the heat. He was acclimatized to it and planned to run cautiously early in the race. His only serious competition appeared to be Mengistu. I accompanied Paul on my bicycle. Mengistu went out hard on the first loop of the 5-loop course. Paul passed him on the second loop; I don’t recall if Mengistu even finished the race. Paul won it easily in a time of about 2:37. He was thrilled about being Ontario Champion. There was a big pancake breakfast after the race, where Paul was awarded a handsome, rustic wooden plaque as well as a gift certificate for a pair of shoes.

Paul Tinari at Marathon de Ronquieres

This photo proves that Paul had run a marathon in France only two months before the Voyageur Marathon.

Brian Eely, Nancy, David Mengistu

This photo shows Brian Eely (a former George S. Henry athlete), me and Dave Mengistu after a race in Toronto in the late ’80s or early ’90s.

After the race I did my own workout—a painful 45-minute run on a dirt road. The run was especially difficult because of the midday heat and my sleepless night. We stopped at Sudbury’s Lake Ramsay on the drive home and I felt much better after a refreshing swim!

More about Norm Patenaude

While doing some Google research to refresh my memory about the Voyageur Marathon, I (re)-learned some sad news about Norm Patenaude. He was killed instantly by a careless motorist while training on his bike in preparation for a triathlon. The date was July 28, 1996, almost exactly ten years after Paul won the Voyageur Marathon. Norm was only 51 years old.

Norm Patenaude was the meet organizer of the Voyageur Marathon for 18 years. He was a national-class marathoner in the 1960s and 70s. After that he was a pioneer ultrarunner as well as a pioneer in establishing the standards used for race course measurement. He was a tireless race organizer and president of the Ontario Roadrunners Association.

The Voyageur Marathon, now known as the Friendly Massey Marathon, is being held for the 37th time in 2012.

Olympic Training Log

July 23, 1988

AM: Did “push-strength-endurance” workout at gym with hamstring curls, leg extensions and leg lifts on incline. 57 min followed by Lifecycle 24 min levels 6 and 9 plus 10 min levels 9 and 7. Feeling less sick today, still not right. Injuries not bad at all.

July 24, 1988

AM: Did Voyageur Marathon course on bike beside Paul. Then ran 45 min quite hard on dirt road. Felt bad from lack of sleep, legs felt tired, stiff from weights. Calves still really stiff from race, felt soreness at top of left Achilles throughout run instead of heel, but heel sore later. About 7 miles.

July 25, 1988

AM: Did weights—leg workout plus sitting incline bench press, x-c ski walk, A’s, situps. Worked hard 68 min. Feeling terrible—nauseated, dizzy. Calves still very stiff, heel less sore after taking anti-inflammatories again.

July 26, 1988

AM: Workout at Belt Line. 15 min fairly easy warmup. 8 x ˜1 km with 1 min rest. Times: 3:22, 3:25, 3:18, 3:27, 3:16, 3:27, 3:19, 3:30. Felt not bad—a bit sick after but better than yesterday. Heel very sore 5 min but warmed up well—calf OK. 7 miles.

AM-2: Did running workout in pool. Warmup, then 6 x 1 min with rope, 45 sec rest, 4 x 30 sec with 30 sec rest. Working hard—heartrate very high, lactic acid.

PM: Did Lifecycle workout. 24 min levels 6 and 9 at end. 16 min level 9, level 7, level 6 for 3 hills. Felt good.

July 27, 1988

AM: Weights—“pull-strength” plus hamstring curls, leg extension, leg lift on incline. Also did 5–10 min fast-stepping, goose steps. 72 min total. Still felt a bit sick.

PM: Swim workout at Fitness Institute. 1025m warmup. Ladder workout: 50m (55), 100m (1:55), 150m (2:55), 200m (3:55), 250m (5:03), 200m (4:00), 150m (2:58), 100m (1:55), 50m (55), 50m (55). 50m with kickboard.

July 28, 1988

AM: Did workout at York. 28 min hard warmup—quite difficult because of heat. Also stomach a bit upset. 10 x 400m on track. Set of 5 with 1 min break. Times 71, 71, 70, 70, 70. About 3 min break, then 3 more, times 69, 70, 70. Then put on spikes. 2 more with 90 sec break between. Times 68, 69. Jogged a couple laps. About 7 miles. Very tired after, calves stiff but injuries not too bad.

PM: Rode bike to gym. Did 30 min continuous on stationary bike—very tough, had to keep lowering tension. Then did Lifecycle level 6 and level 9 24 min. Really exhausted on Lifecycle, could hardly even complete warmdown.

July 29, 1988

AM: Swim at Fitness Institute. 1225m continuous. 8 x 100m, about 1:55, some slower. Felt exhausted from yesterday but not sick!

This week: 21 miles running, 3 weight workouts, 2 swim workouts, 1 water-running workout, 2hr8 min stationary bike.

About nancytinarirunswrites

I used to be known as a competitive runner, but now I have a new life as a professional writer and editor. I'm even more obsessive about reading, writing, and editing than I was about running. Running has had a huge influence on my life, though, and runner's high does fuel creativity. Maybe that's why this blog evolved into being 95% about running, but through blogging I'm also learning about writing and online communication. I'm fascinated by how the Internet has changed work, learning, and relationships. I love to connect in new and random ways!
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6 Responses to Sleeping with goats at the Voyageur Marathon

  1. Brian Eley says:

    Hey Nancy… a friend doing research on the Voyageur Marathon discovered your blog post and the pic of you, Dave, and myself. He sent me the link, wondering what race it was, but I had to confess I couldn’t place it, though it’s clearly from our much younger (and faster) days. Still, it brought back memories and turned me on to your blog, which I’m enjoying skimming through. It’s nice to read both the old training entries as well as the reflections of an older athlete adjusting to new limitations and the pursuit of different goals and passions. I feel like I could be writing many of the same things about myself, albeit not so eloquently. I look forward to reading your future posts.

    Brian Eley

    • Hi Brian,
      Nice to hear from you! It’s amazing how many running friends from decades ago find my blog. That race was probably the summer 5K that was part of Alan Brookes’ old Coors Light Series of races. I think that photo must be from the early 1990s.

  2. Mitchell Lake says:

    Hello. I am a former marathon runner. I ran the Voyageur in Sudbury in the 1970’s and have wondered if results are archived somewhere. I remember it as being a Sunday morning run that was two loops. I still have the t-shirt. But I would like to find my time. If you know anything I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.
    Mitchell Lake
    Hancock, Michigan

    • Hi Mitchell,
      I doubt that results are archived all the way back to the ’70s. Have you tried a Google search to find information about the current Voyageur Marathon? Whoever is in charge now might know if there are any results archives.

  3. SPatenaude says:

    Proud to say Norm Patenaude’s young granddaughter will be enterimg in her first cross country race next week. I read your article to her and she is beaming.

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