Émilie Mondor, athlete, middle-distance runner (born 29 April 1981 in Montréal, Québec; died 9 September 2006 in Ottawa, Ontario). In Paris, in 2003, Émilie Mondor confirmed her exceptional talent by becoming the first Canadian woman in history to run a 5,000-metre race in less than 15 minutes. Unfortunately, her brilliant career ended when she died suddenly in a highway accident in 2006.
Growing up in the Montréal suburb of Mascouche, Québec, Émilie played soccer and volleyball, mountain biked, and competed in track and field. At age 14, she developed a passion for competitive running, and two years later, she began to specialize in middle-distance events. That was the start of a career in which her personal quest for performance became paramount and running truly became her way of life.
Competing in youth and junior divisions in the late 1990s, Mondor set several Québec indoor and outdoor records for the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000-metre distances. A great nature lover, she also excelled in cross-country running. She finished 10th in the World Junior Cross Country championships in 1998.
But Mondor’s early years as an athlete were also marred by injuries. In 2001, she moved to Vancouver to train in its milder climate. The change of scene paid off: in 2002 she took gold twice, in the 1,500-metre competitions at the Canadian and North American championships. She also secured the title of Canadian women’s cross-country champion. In 2003, she had another exceptional year, achieving personal bests in the 800, 3,000 and 5,000-metre events. In road racing, she also scored the first of three consecutive victories at the North American 5K championships.
Mondor continued her winning streak in road racing in 2004, chalking up the best Canadian time in the 5K (15 minutes and 16 seconds) and the world’s third fastest time in the 10K that year: a speedy 31 minutes and 10 seconds. That same year, she also competed in the 5,000-metre event at the Olympic Games in Athens.
But these brilliant successes were followed by a painful time when Mondor was bedridden with multiples stress fractures and had to sit out the 2005 season. In January 2006, her doctors discovered that she had osteoporosis. A few months later, she issued the surprising announcement that she was quitting track to dedicate herself to marathon running. Explaining this change in career direction, she said that the intensive training regimen for track events was no longer right for her.
In the summer of 2006, Mondor clocked a very respectable 32 minutes 26 seconds over 10K in Toronto and sent in her registration form for the New York Marathon, which would be held that November. But on 9 September, she died in a car crash while driving from Gatineau to Montréal. This intense athlete, so completely dedicated to her sport, would never get to run the marathon.
Since 2007, Emilie's Run, a 5K race specially dedicated to women, has been held in her memory in Ottawa each year. Her home town of Mascouche, Québec has erected a statue of her in l’Étang-du-Grand-Coteau park. The Émilie Mondor Classic was held for the first time in Mascouche in 2010.