Carly Zanatta at the 2022 Boston Marathon. SUPPLIED

Carly Zanatta finished 50th out of 10,500 women in this year’s race

Although she had been an elite rower for a number of years, 27-year-old Carly Zanatta did not get serious about long distance running until early in 2020.

She had competed in a couple small marathons previously, but the Boston Marathon, a world-famous event that has been in place since 1897, was her first major test.

“In my first marathon, I ran three hours and 10 minutes. In the second, I managed to shave off close to 20 minutes. At Boston, my time was just under two hours and 48 minutes,” she told the Voice.

Overall, Zanatta finished 1122 out of all 24,822 runners at Boston on April 18. She was 55 amongst the women’s field of 10,564. In her age category, she was 50 out of 4910.

She is planning to hire a coach in an effort to reach the next level of competition.

“If I can shave off some more time, I can hopefully start with the elite groups of runners next year in Boston.”

Zanatta’s training regimen involved sessions before and after work (she is Treatment Coordinator at Dr. Peter C. Fritz Dentistry, in Fonthill) and totalled about 160 kilometres a week before she started her taper before the Boston Marathon.

Originally from Fort Erie but now a resident of Pelham, Zanatta’s high school rowing achievements at Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School and E.L. Crossley were recognized with a rowing scholarship at the University of Massachusetts, where she competed for two years, before deciding to return to Canada to join the national women’s program at the training centre in London. Zanatta competed in the lightweight women’s single at the Under-23 World Championships in Bulgaria in 2017.

Zanatta continued to row while earning an undergrad degree in food science at the University of Guelph, and subsequently completing a masters degree at Brock, studying periodontal disease and nutrition. She also sculled for the St. Catharines Rowing Club.

She still has her Hudson racing shell, but has no plans to return to rowing competition in the near future.

“Right now, I’m focused on my running,” she said. “I’m also doing some cycling, which is new to me.”

Can a triathlon challenge be in her future?

“I definitely have set a future goal to do an Ironman, although I’m not a terribly strong swimmer at present,” she said.

Zanatta provided a recap of her Boston experience.

“I started off pretty fast, just due to the atmosphere around me. There are so many people competing, and tens of thousands of spectators along the course, cheering you on. My adrenaline was really pumping. The first third of the Boston route is primarily downhill, then it gets flat, and then you’re back to the hills. That’s where it’s mentally very hard for a lot of runners. At kilometre 32, you meet Heartbreak Hill, which is really steep. I didn’t really ‘hit the wall’ until kilometre 40, but by that point, I had only a couple kilometres left.”

Zanatta described crossing the finish line as euphoric.

“I can’t find the words to describe the experience. It was amazing.”

Next up is the Berlin Marathon in Germany in September.

“That’s a flat course, and one of the fastest,” she said. “So I’m hoping to have another [personal best] and get closer to that sub-elite or elite status.”

When asked if she had aspirations of competing at the national level in a second sport, she responded, “Those girls are running marathons at about two hours, twenty minutes. I’m 20 minutes off that pace right now. I just plan to keep training hard and enjoy what I’m doing. Wherever it takes me, I’ll be happy.”