TRURO – It’s been 18 years since Rob Carreau stood next to his father at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Ahead of the duo stood the holy grail of marathons – 42.2 kilometres of televised glory.
With a lot of hard work – and a fair bit of luck – Carreau hopes to again stand in the same place next year. This time, however, he’s hoping for a few changes. First of all, he’d like to be standing next to his wife, Lavinia, at the starting line. Secondly, he’d like to run it legally this time.
In 1996, Bob Carreau distracted the bus driver while his son snuck up to the door behind him.
“I think there’s smoke coming from the front!” He yelled to the dumbstruck driver at the helm of the bus.
As the driver scrambled out the door to check the engine, Rob Carreau jumped onto the bus with his father. The marathon-running duo was now en route to the starting line at the Boston Marathon.
“You wouldn’t believe how it is to try and sneak in,” he said. “It was like a freaking operation.”
He followed his father to the starting coral, the point where the runners peel off their warm-up gear and pass it off to a family member. Bob, attaching his registration number to his warm-up gear, peeled everything off and handed it to his son. Sprinting off to a hiding spot, Rob put it on and came back to the starting coral.
He was home free – well, almost.
“About 24 miles in, right near the end, I heard someone yell, “Hey, that guy doesn’t have a number!” Rob laughed. “But at that point, who was going to tackle me?”
After running the Fredericton Marathon last weekend, Rob and Lavinia both posted times fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The duo posted qualifying times in 2009, along with several of their friends, but missed out on the online lottery-style registration.
“We were all drinking wine on the phone because we didn’t get in,” Lavinia said.
That disappointment led to the Carreaus – who both ran track at St. Francis-Xavier – to try again in Fredericton last weekend.
With the latter section of the course looped, and the couple being just minutes apart, they passed by each other several times towards the end of the race.
“It went from being smiles and waves to barely acknowledging each other,” Lavinia laughed, adding she resorted to running backwards at one point to switch things up.
With four children in the house, finding time to balance running with work and family can be tough, said Rob, the vice-principal at École acadienne de Truro. They make it work by training for recreation rather than competition.
“We didn’t train as hard as we could have,” he said.
“The amount of time it would take me to train properly for a marathon is an amount of time I’m not willing to give at this point in my life,” Lavinia added. “I don’t want (the kids) thinking they’re battling between mom and running.”
Still, the kids were left in awe the following day when they saw their parents around the house.
“We were hobbling,” Rob said. “Going downstairs, holding onto the rail … the kids were thinking ‘Why would you do that?’”
“We looked like 90-year-olds,” Lavinia said. “No offense to 90-year-olds.”
Driving the couple at times was friendly competition. The pair is often close in races, with Lavinia always trying to catch her much taller husband. The rivalry isn’t just between the couple, however.
“When I was coming down to the end of it, I realized I was pretty close to (Rob’s) father’s time at his last marathon,” Lavinia laughed. “I was just thinking, ‘OK, I’ve got to beat Bob’s time.’”
Whether or not they make it to Boston next spring, running – and competition – will continue to be a big part of the Carreaus relationship.
“I’ll get you eventually,” Lavinia said her husband, who gave a wry smile.