THE RUNNERS WALKED the course before the event, following a sandy path looping around a hill covered in dirt and scrub. A steep but short climb with a quick descent was followed by a long, steady rise that all knew would be excruciating. “Bloody hell,” thought Marilyn Arsenault. She had travelled halfway across the globe to Jordan for the biggest race of her life and she was not sure she would be able to finish without collapsing. Much of the route was stony and hard. Rain created patches of slick mud, a treacherous hazard. The course had been carved alongside a nine-hole golf course in which the main feature was sand, and not just in traps. The scrubby moonscape offered one small oasis — a strip of grass placed at the finish line like a carpet. At least if she finished she would do so on turf. Five Canadian women qualified for the world championship cross-country race at Amman last year. All but one were in their 20s, the prime of an athlete’s life. Arsenault was 41. Not so old in real-life terms; ancient for someone about to make her debut on the running world’s stage. Arsenault is known as The Running Diva. The nickname refers not to prima-donna
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BY TOM HAWTHORN PHOTOS BY VINCE KLASSEN
Published on Jul 1, 2010
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