Whitehorse’s Jessica Frotten celebrated her birthday by setting a record at Canada’s largest 10-kilometre event on April 23.
She’s now 29 “and feeling fine,” and so she should be.
The para wheelchair racer won the women’s division in record time at the 33rd annual Vancouver Sun Run in Vancouver, B.C.
“It was so much fun. The streets are just lined with people,” said Frotten. “It’s a gorgeous course and it’s just a hero’s finish too. You come down, the streets are lined with people, and you cross the finish line and break the ribbon. It was also my birthday yesterday, so I had some friends and family come out as well.”
It was Frotten’s first time in the event that saw about 40,000 runners, walkers and para athletes participate.
She set the women’s wheelchair record with a time of 31 minutes and 13 seconds. She placed third overall with two male wheelchair racers finishing ahead of her.
“It’s a beautiful course, but there’s one hell of a hill,” said Frotten. “It was just gruelling going up this freakin’ hill. I was pretty sure I was going to die.”
Frotten’s latest racing accomplishment comes eight months after she considered hanging it up. Despite winning four medals at the Canadian Track and Field Championships last year in Edmonton, Frotten was passed over in the selection of Canada’s team for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
“Last season I was ready to throw in the towel and never race again because I was so devastated about Rio,” said Frotten. “But I’m really happy I’m back this season. It’s going to be fantastic.”
Her disappointment at not making the Rio team is understandable. She won two medals for Canada in track racing at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto and made two finals at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Qatar.
“I think it’s going to be a really good season,” said Frotten. “Last year I had some crappy personal stuff going on and I just never felt like I was on my game, but this year I’m feeling really good.”
As for some tendonitis in her shoulder that hindered her performance at last year’s nationals: “I haven’t been having any more trouble with my shoulder,” she said .
Frotten, who races for the Saskatoon Cyclones Racing Club, kicked off the season with a training camp in Daytona Beach, Fla., last month. She set a couple of personal best times and crossed paths with Quebec’s Ilana Dupont and American Jessica Lewis, both of whom competed at the Rio Paralympics.
“Unfortunately there were illegal winds for the 100 and 200, but I got a new personal best in the 400 and 800,” said Frotten. “And I kicked Ilana and Jessica Lewis’ butts in all of the races.”
Sunday’s Sun Run was Frotten’s fourth 10-kilometre road race and it went a heck of lot better than her last — the Rolling Rampage last fall in Ottawa.
“I crashed halfway through and destroyed my racer and couldn’t finish,” said Frotten. “It’s so sad. It’s just sitting in my basement and it can’t be fixed.”
With Black Beauty wrecked, Frotten is back on the Green Machine, her first racer on which she won three bronze at the 2013 Canada Summer Games early in her career.
“I’m actually feeling really good in it,” said Frotten. “I had a great training camp this past month and did this 10K for fun.”
Frotten will next head to Victoria for the Dogwood Track and Field Meet next month before going overseas to the Swiss Series in Europe. Then she’ll race at the Canadian track championship in hopes of securing a spot on the Canadian team for the IPC worlds in London this July.
Frotten wasn’t the only Yukoner racing in Vancouver last weekend. Fourteen Whitehorse runners took part.
Pat Commons was the highest finishing Yukoner, placing 806th overall and 25th in the men’s 55-59 division with a time of 43:34.
Whitehorse’s Morgan Paul was the highest finishing female Yukoner with 4,989th place overall. She also placed 129th in the women’s 19-24 divison, finishing in 53:35.
Whitehorse’s Judy Ratcliffe was another standout, placing 30th in the women’s 60-64 division with a time of 59:10.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org