Metro

She’s running the Boston Marathon on 30 minutes of sleep after driving all night

Willa and Lisa at the airport in Toronto.
Willa Wanke, left, and another runner at the airport in Toronto.

For these Canadian runners, it was practically a marathon just to get to Boston.

“It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure,” Willa Wanke told CBS Boston early Monday morning.

Wanke, a 52-year-old teacher from Penhold, a town in Alberta, Canada, drove overnight from Toronto with three other runners after the second leg of their flight from Vancouver was cancelled. The voyage took the determined marathoners nearly 11 hours.

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Wanke says she met Lisa, a fellow Canadian and first-time Boston marathoner, at the airport in Toronto after they noticed each other’s Boston Marathon jackets. Wanke, who ran the race in 2016 and 2017, told CBS Boston their original flight was scheduled to land in Boston by 9:30 a.m. Sunday. But repeated delays Sunday threw their arrival into doubt.

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Eventually, they found out their flight was canceled.

“There was nothing else,” Wanke said. “Lisa started to cry because this was her first Boston. She had never been to Boston before and she was missing everything. Her family is all there waiting for her because they flew out the day before.”

But she and two other stranded runners they met at the airport were determined to get their companion to the starting line. With the help of another stranger, they obtained a rental car for their cross-border journey. According to Wanke, the group started to drive around 8:30 p.m. She and another of the co-travelers split the driving, allowing Lisa to catch come sleep.

According to CBS Boston, the group arrived at their hotel almost around 7 a.m. — which is when many runners are making their pre-race preparations. They missed the marathon expo, but Wanke tweeted that race organizers allowed friends and family to pick up their bibs.

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“Piece of cake,” she also tweeted.

Despite getting about only 30 minutes of sleep, Wanke was at the starting line Monday morning for another grueling adventure Monday morning — in less than ideal conditions. By 11 a.m., less than 16 hours since the group departed Toronto, Wanke was already more than three miles into the 26.2-mile course, according to the BAA’s website.