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Providence Alumna Finishes First in the Manitoba Marathon
Sunday, June 19th, 2011 proved to be an amazing day for Providence alumna Gina Tessmann, who was the first female runner to cross the finish line in the full marathon with a time of 2h57m59s. This means that only ten male runners finished before her in the 26.2 mile course.
Surprisingly, this young athlete (25) has only been running competitively for seven years. It began in 2003-04, her first year as a student on the Providence Campus. When asked about her start to competitive distance running, Tessmann shares that she had always liked basketball in high school, more so than running. It was in her freshman year playing on the women’s basketball team at Providence that she and a fellow teammate, Monique Reimer (nee Kooistra, alumna ’04), began training for a full marathon. “We trained with the Running Room just to try it”, Tessmann explains. In her next year at the University of Manitoba, Tessmann met with the track coach and trained with the Track Team throughout her schooling.
Leading up to this year’s marathon, Tessmann had collected a number of great finishes in previous marathons, including a second place finish in the 2010 Manitoba Half Marathon, which begs the question, what was Gina’s training regime that assisted her to a first place finish in this year’s full marathon? Tessmann gives much deserved credit to her new coach, Alphonse Bernard, who specializes in longer distance training. She knew of his great experience as he had also coached her university track coach earlier. Tessmann, along with Alphonse, began the training in January (which included three 21 mile runs and an average of over 50 miles of running per week). She explains how mentally tough it is to train by yourself—luckily Alphonse was the type of coach who would often bike beside her to keep her on pace.
With a cloudy yet humid morning on the day of the big race, Tessmann showed no signs of ill-training as she beat her personal goal of completing 26.2 miles in less than three hours. Her race finished with a battle for gold alongside second place finisher Meggan Franks. “We kept taking turns leading in the last mile” Tessmann explains, and it was her coach (Alphonse) and newly married husband, Eric Tranquada, who lined up along the course cheering her on that gave her the confidence and strength to pass Franks. She laughs when detailing the final minutes, “[they] were screaming to go catch her [Franks]… to keep on trying and finally within the last mile I was able to pass her!” Tessmann emphasizes how she could not have done it without her support group and the confidence they instilled in her. For spectators who witnessed Tessmann cruising past the finish line with grace and ease—we know it is for no lack of hard work and hours of training on Tessmann’s part.
So, what’s next for Gina Tessmann? She is aiming to run a few more marathons next year, as well as shave her time down to 1h20m in the half marathon. She also aspires to complete an Iron Man competition in a couple of years. It definitely appears we have not heard the last of our Gina Tessmann. The community of Providence University College could not be more proud.
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