London runner honoured in California

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

Lanni Marchant is hoping her foot has another 10 kilometres in it, giving her the chance to end a great university running career on a high.

The former London Aquinas runner competes tonight in the 10,000 metres at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Sacramento, Calf. It will be her last event for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

"It's been a bit of a struggle this season," Marchant said from Sacramento. "From Christmas on, my foot's been hurt (stress fracture). Mentally I've been saying 'just get through to this week . . . I didn't really think that I would be able to race here because I didn't think my time would be quick enough to get me in."

Marchant earned an at-large bid to the NCAA final for the Lady Mocs. Her time stands 23rd in the field of 27 runners. In 2006, her qualifying time of 34:16.36 ranked 26th of 27 runners, but she ended up running a 34:38.34 at the NCAAs to finish 15th.

This wasn't a gimme. Marchant earned the bid. She was named the 2007 Southern Conference female athlete of the year this year. She's a three-time NCAA Championships Qualifier in track and cross country, including this year's nationals. She has eight conference distance titles to her credit, including four in outdoor track, three indoors and one cross country.

She won the Southern Conference 5,000 and 10,000. Her winning 10,000 time of 35:06.53 broke a 17-year-old conference record.

Marchant ends her career as a 14-time All-Conference performer in indoor, outdoor and cross country.

The award is voted on by the conference athletic directors and 11 media representatives. It is based on 70 per cent athletic achievement, 20 per cent academic achievement and 10 per cent civic involvement.

"The highlight this year for me was breaking that record," Marchant said. "But I didn't expect (the award). Shannon Wommack won it last year. She was so-many-time All-American, finished third at the nationals in cross-country. Her athletic resume far surpassed mine. I was so excited."

Marchant's foot still isn't completely healed,

"My foot is starting to have a flare up but I just keep 'telling myself three more days, three more days,'" she said. "Then after this I'll take some weeks off and get it looked at at Kennedy-Fowler Clinic in London. They just seem to take the time to do a lot of tests. Whereas down here, when I go to the training room, there are 50 football players that are being looked at for some problem."

While this might be her last race at university, Marchant intends to continue running, hoping to do longer distances including 10k cross country, half and full marathons. She'll be doing it while studying law school in Ottawa in a program that allows her to do part of her course work in Ottawa and the rest at Michigan State.

"I love Canada but I've been down here for five years and I wasn't sure where I wanted to work, what road I wanted to travel. This way it leaves both options open," Marchant said.


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