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Quiet success obtained; Humble Duclos third amongst U.S. women.

Byline: Dave Nordman

BOSTON - As the top American female across the finish line at yesterday's 112th Boston Marathon, Ashley Anklam of Bloomington, Minn., sat behind a long table in the grand ballroom at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel and answered questions from the assembled media.

Meanwhile, outside and around the corner, Kim Duclos of Worcester emerged anonymously from inside the VIP tent with no idea - "not a clue," she insisted - that it could have been her, and not Anklam, smiling from behind that table.

The 42nd and final entrant in the elite field, Duclos led all U.S. women for most of yesterday's race before settling for a very respectable third place, 17th overall.

That's 17th out of 10,439, the largest women's field in Boston history.

Her time of 2 hours, 49 minutes and 31 seconds was a personal record by almost seven minutes, and just 48 seconds slower than Anklam, whom she led for most of the first 23 miles.

It didn't matter to Duclos that most of the best American women had competed in the U.S. Olympic trials here on Sunday. She was competing against herself.

"All I know is that I ran the race of my life," said Duclos, a sales coordinator for Courtyard by Marriot on Grove Street in Worcester, who ran her first of three straight Boston Marathons in 2001.

At times, she didn't think she'd finish yesterday's race. After all, she passed the half-marathon checkpoint in 1:21:48 - a PR for that distance and 1:20 ahead of Anklam. Her goal was 1:25:00 or slower.

"I saw that and I said, `No way am I going to finish,'" the 26-year-old St. Peter-Marian graduate said.

But she did finish, downshifting a bit while going out of her way to hit every Gatorade and water stop over the final 13 miles.

"I held on for dear life," Duclos said. "I kept telling myself, `I can't blow this race in front of all these people.'"

Yesterday was marathon No. 9 for Duclos - or No. 8-1/2 as she prefers to call it. She dropped out of the 2004 New York City Marathon after 14 miles with heart palpitations and was forced to take the subway to the finish line.

"I told myself I would never drop out again," Duclos said.

Not that anyone would blame her. After all, she's a relative newcomer to the sport and has battled an epidemic of injuries, including plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs, broken bones, tendonitis, back pain and pulled muscles - all of which she blames on track running.

Most recently, she suffered a stress fracture in her right foot while training last summer and her left hamstring was especially tight yesterday.

"I gave up on tape a long time ago," said Duclos, who had plenty of supporters lining the route from Hopkinton to Boston, including family, co-workers and friends, including former St. Peter-Marian teammate Caitlin Clark, who was camped out at the base of Heartbreak Hill.

"I'd recognize her voice anywhere," said Duclos, who broke a 20-year old Hyannis Marathon record while winning that race in 2:56:06 in February. That was her PR - until yesterday.

A casual runner in high school - she finished 24th in the 1998 state cross country meet that included Olympian and 15-time All-American Shalene Flanagan - Duclos did not run for the colleges she attended, WPI or Worcester State.

Instead, she began to focus on running 26.2 miles.

"I had been watching (marathons) on TV since I was 12 years old," Duclos said. "I used to run around the block during the commercials. I was so obsessed with them."

She didn't attend her first Boston Marathon in person until 2000 when her boyfriend's grandfather, Dick Girouard, brought her. She watched from the finish line and soon after was putting in 60- to 85-mile weeks.

"I said to myself, `This is insane. I can't sit here and watch. I've got to run it,'" said Duclos, whose immediate plans now include running the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., on Oct. 5.

"I didn't want to think about that until I finished this race," she said. "But now I'm definitely going to do it."

After that - well, who knows?

"They say women marathoners are in their prime between the ages of 27 and 34," Duclos said. "So the next few years, you never know. ... I`m going to give it all I`ve got, I know that."
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 22, 2008
Words:748
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