Boston Marathon: Natasha Wodak and Malindi Elmore Make Their Debuts

“I really threw myself full throttle back into running when I was going through that time in my life,” she recalled.

By 2010, Wodak had shown enough promise to make her first national team, joining a Canadian contingent in Japan for a mixed-gender road racing event known as the Chiba Ekiden Relay. Elmore was one of her teammates. It was a reunion years in the making that forged an even closer bond between them.

“I always looked up to her,” Wodak said.

Yet as Wodak continued to improve, going on to compete in the 10,000 meters at the 2016 Olympic Games, Elmore took her own hiatus. In 2012, after falling bitterly short of running the Olympic standard in the 1,500 meters that would have allowed her to compete in London, she announced her retirement. “I was pretty heartbroken, honestly,” she said.

She also wanted to start a family with her husband, the Olympic runner Graham Hood. After giving birth to their first child in 2014, she began training again and even competed as a professional triathlete for a few years. But after the birth of her second child in 2018, she found that her time was more limited: How was she supposed to train for triathlons while raising two sons? So, in 2019, after a seven-year absence from competitive running, she returned — as a marathoner.

“I really just got back into running for the fun of it, and to do it with friends,” Elmore said.

Last summer, at the start line in Sapporo, she reconnected with one of them.

“If you’d told us when we were in high school 25 years ago that we would be running the Olympic marathon together, I would’ve thought you were crazy,” Wodak said.

They recently spent about a week training together in Southern California. Wodak said her preparation for Boston had gone well, or about as well as any marathon preparation can go. The miles are long and sometimes solitary. And in Vancouver, where she lives, the weather is often unpredictable. (She ran through a snowstorm last week.)

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