In the half-light of dawn, 52 weeks a year, two identical women with curly red hair can be spotted running at a brisk pace. Sylviane and Patricia, age 56, have always been runners and aren’t slowing down now.
At age 19, they finished their first marathon in 2 hours and 49 minutes. At age 22, they were already looking for a bigger challenge, so they signed up for the ultimate endurance test – the famous Iron Man competition in Kona, Hawaii, with 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of biking and a 42.2 km marathon.
Not only did the sisters win this competition, but they broke the course record. In 1984, they did it again, and continued to perform, always together, until they returned to Montréal in 1993.
“The first winter was a shock! Especially the humidity, after years of living in a dry climate. We were cold!” Patricia recalled, laughing.
Withstanding the rigours of January…
The slender, cold-natured twins didn’t want to stop running or shut themselves in all winter long. Ice cleats became their best friends for running to eliminate any risk of falling, and the bubbly redheads say they bundle up “like seals,” completely armoured against the cold and the elements.
“The most important thing to check in the wintertime is the direction and strength of the wind. We plan our run so that we aren’t running into the direction of the wind, especially at the end of a run, when the body is tired,” explained Sylviane
Ville de Montréal
…only to enjoy them all the more
“Wintertime has its advantages for running,” said Sylviane. “It gives us a good reason to not do intervals!” joked Patricia, calling herself… “lazy.”
The lively sisters exchange quick and light-hearted repartee. At daybreak, they pursue their passion without pressure, even though one might think that the season when everything seems to stop would slow them down.
At the Botanical Garden, with its landscape of evergreens bowing under the weight of the snow, Sylviane and Patricia join a crowd of runners as tough as they are.
In the wintertime, the sisters also enjoy running on sidewalks, where a thin layer of snow makes the surface easier on their joints. During these urban outings, they discover the city from another vantage point: that of the early riser who gets out of bed before the city awakens.
“You’ve got to get outdoors if you want to enjoy winter,” said Sylviane.
And with all the time the twins spend outside, it would seem that, yes, they love it!