Lanni Marchant has put in a lot of miles since she graduated from UTC in 2007. The former student-athlete is now one of Canada’s top distance runners, recently breaking the Canadian women’s marathon record.
Marchant’s time of 2:27:59 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon topped the previous record of 2:28:36 set by Sylvia Ruegger nearly three decades ago.
“I came around the final bend and I could see the race clock. I felt like I was going to lose my mind. The crowds were amazing and all I could do was smile. I hope to never forget how exciting and amazing it was to cross that finish line,” she said.
Marchant’s top place finish continues her current winning streak. She broke the course record at the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, Ontario, and won the Canadian 10K Championships at Toronto’s ZooRun this year.
“I never thought I would become an elite runner. I never thought I would continue running after college. My brain is still catching up to all this,” she said.
Marchant began her athletic career at a young age. She took up figure skating at the age of four, and started running during her sophomore year of high school in her hometown of London, Ontario.
During her time on the Mocs track and country team, Marchant racked up several honors and awards. She was the recipient of the Scrappy Moore Award in 2006 and the 2007 Southern Conference Female Athlete of the Year. She was an eight-time SoCon Champion and won both the 5K and 10K at the conference’s 2007 outdoor championships.
Despite her success as an undergraduate at UTC, Marchant decided to take a break after graduation.
“After I graduated, I quit running. I was tired of it. But while I was in law school at the University of Ottawa, I realized I don’t know how to be a student without being an athlete too,” she said.
Marchant laced up her shoes again, completing her first half marathon during her last year of law school. She stuck with the sport after she graduated and returned to Chattanooga to begin her career as a criminal defense attorney.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself as a runner since my undergraduate days. I can read my body better and recognize the early signs of injury now. I know when to push through and when to hold back. I wouldn’t be the runner I am today if it wasn’t for my experience at UTC,” she said.
So what gets Marchant through her grueling training schedule of core workouts, stretching sessions, and twice-a-day long runs? She credits her need for balance, something she’s prioritized since college.
“I strive to have a separate life outside of running. Though running takes up a lot of my time, I still have my legal career. I still go out with friends and have fun,” she said.
“Being a marathon runner means there’s often a lot riding on one race. You can put a lot of pressure on yourself and if you don’t do well, it can damage your mindset. A lot of runners don’t come back from it. But you have to realize that running is supposed to make your life better, not make it miserable,” she continued.
Stemming from her need for balance, Marchant also strives for a healthy body image. For her cover of Canadian Running, she insisted that the editors not airbrush photos of her.
“I pride myself on not looking like the typical marathon runner. I’m short, but I have curves. I want to show people, especially young girls, that you don’t have to be 90 pounds to be a long distance runner,” she said.
“Running is tough. Life is tough,” she continued. “Sometimes you just got to eat a cheeseburger.”