Red Lake's Mike Gauthier is headed to this year’s Boston Marathon in April.
Originally from Thunder Bay, Gauthier came to the Red Lake area in 2003 for a management position at the mine. Currently, he is a manager at Multicrete.
He initially started his running journey in April 2012 when he decided to quit smoking. Gauthier had smoked since he was a teenager and knew it would be a big lifestyle change. So, he joined Shawnda Norlock’s running class to help him stay motivated.
“She was so kind and inspiring,” says Gauthier. “Without her class, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into it.”
Gauthier started out running from Cochenour out to McMarmick. He then did his first 10-kilometre run for the Red Lake Road Run in the fall of 2012. In 2013 he ran his first half marathon in Red Lake, and another in 2014.
In 2015, he did his first triathlon sprint in Red Lake, and a 10-km. He also ran his first marathon in the Twin Cities with his friends Jennifer LeBlanc, who became a very close friend, and Devon McClosky.
“I’ve travelled a lot running over the last few years,” says Gauthier.
In 2016, he went all the way out to Hawaii for a half marathon where he placed 39 out of 7400 runners. He ran the Red Lake half marathon, and began to train for the Scotiabank Toronto marathon but burnt himself due to coaching himself.
In 2017 he started focusing on the 70.3-mile triathlon distance, which includes a 1.9k swim, 90-kilometre bike and 21-kilometre run. He did the Firefighters 10-mile Road Race in Thunder Bay, the Kenora Olympic Distance Triathlon, and the Superior Man Triathlon 70.3 in Duluth. However, that October, Gauthier faced some serious health issues due to high stress levels. He knew that he’d have to make some lifestyle changes to help keep his stress levels down.
“I was lucky as it could have been worse if I wasn’t physically healthy,” says Gauthier. “Running keeps my cortisol down, and helps me stay calm.”
In 2018 he did the Thunder Bay 10 Mile Road Race again, the Red Lake triathlon sprint distance, the Kenora Olympic distance where he placed first in his age group, also Ironman Canada 70.3 and was 38C and the Sleeping Giant Xterra off road triathlon.
Gauthier faced some big changes in his personal life over the next year, but running helped keep him centred.
“It’s my passion, running makes me feel good about myself,” he says.
In 2019, he started gearing up for the Boston Marathon. He then flew out for the Phoenix, Arizona marathon. There his time was 3:00:14 which qualified him in his age group for the Boston Marathon. He then did Ironman (IM) Victoria 70.3 and Calgary 70.3 giving him All world Athlete status. He broke his sub five-hour finishing time goal in the 70.3 distance. He ran the Red Lake Half Marathon, and the Hecla Half Marathon where he placed third overall with a time of 1 hour and 25 minutes. The winner was a professional runner who broke the Manitoba half marathon record.
In April of 2020, the Boston Marathon was cancelled for the first time in 124 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its place, a virtual marathon was offered and on September 9th, which also happened to be his 40th birthday. Gauthier and his friend, who also qualified for Boston, ran the virtual route from the Cochenour docks, all the way to Staratt Olsen and back to Centennial Park to the finish line. He also had wonderful friends support and the town cheering them on.
The next Boston Marathon was then pushed from April to October 2021 due to pandemic restrictions. The restrictions made the run rather challenging. COVID-19 tests were required before going, after arriving in Boston, and before the race. As well, the morning of the marathon, the bus Mike took had broken down making him 45 minutes late to start.
“It was pretty epic to be honest with you,” says Gauthier. “There were so many hoops to jump through.”
Gauthier ran the 2021 Boston Marathon in three hours and three minutes, and ran nearly an extra half mile in that time due to running around other runners as a result of his later start. His finishing time qualified him for the next year.
However, due to the health and personal life changes that 2022 brought, he had to back out. He also had to back out of the Victoria Ironman 70.3 due to severe ankle pain upon his arrival.
By August, Gauthier had started getting back into running again. He raced Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3, and the Red Lake sprint distance.
“The thing I love most about running is that it’s me against me,” he says. “I am always pushing to do better.”
When Gauthier is not running, he loves to be outdoors. He enjoys going fishing and camping and spending time with his daughters.
He also trains for an average of seven hours a week, running three days a week and doing CrossFit, swimming, weight training, and cycling other days.
On Jan. 1, he made a commitment to focus on himself and getting back into his love for running. He has run over 240 miles in the last few weeks alone.
This year, Gauthier plans to run the Boston Marathon again in April. His goal is to beat his personal best time, from the Arizona Marathon four years prior. Mike hopes to one day be able to qualify for worlds in the IM 70.3 distance. His passion for running has shaped his life, helped him through hard times, kept him healthy and helped him become sober. He hopes that his journey might inspire others to make healthy changes in their own lives as well.
“If I can make changes in my life this late, it might hopefully spark someone else to take up walking, or running, or swimming,” Gauthier says. “Maybe it can even help someone give up a bad habit.”