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From lab to stage, Vanessa Laflamme piles up the miles and dollars in support of research

Published on June 4, 2024

A biologist by training, having completed a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology at IRIC, Vanessa worked for a few years in the biotech industry before returning to IRIC in 2020. Since then, she has been working as a research advisor in the Drug Discovery Unit headed by Anne Marinier. A member of Équipe IRIC for a second year, she generously agreed to share her running and fundraising experiences with us.

Can you tell us about your running experience? When did you start?

Vanessa Laflamme (V. L.) : I started running on a whim in the spring of 2023, for a variety of personal and health reasons. As I was beginning to think about a more active lifestyle, I received a communication introducing the Équipe IRIC led by Mathilde Soulez at the Marathon Beneva. When I heard about the weekly training sessions she was offering to organize over the lunchtime, I jumped at the chance without thinking too much! I thought it would give me the motivation I needed to get active again!


What did it mean to you to complete your first 5 km as part of the Beneva 2023 Marathon?

V. L. : I was extremely proud of my achievement! I remember writing to Mathilde before the start of the training sessions to explain that I’d never run a race before. I also asked her if she thought it was realistic to aim for the 5 km distance just a few months after my introduction to running. She replied without hesitation that it was entirely possible! I think at that precise moment, she was much more convinced than me! (Laughs) I decided to give it a go anyway.

When you register for the Marathon, you have to indicate the estimated time to complete your distance. I selected the longest possible option, one hour, not really knowing what I was capable of achieving… As far as I was concerned, if I managed to complete the whole thing without the race bus picking me up on the track, I’d have accomplished my mission!


What would you say to those hesitating to take the plunge?

V. L.: Dare! In September 2023, I completed my first 5 km in 34 minutes (less than an hour… Hurray!). I didn’t think I could do it, but I surpassed myself. By integrating more physical activity into my routine, combined with nutritional and therapeutic approaches, I’m enjoying sports more. It’s so much easier when you feel better in body and mind. In fact, that very personal approach has led me to lose 55 pounds. Whatever your goals, I would like to say that all you need is the audacity to take the first step and persevere. As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Besides, what have we got to lose if we don’t try?


In addition to the physical challenge, you accomplished the impressive feat of raising over $2,600 for IRIC by participating in the Beneva 2023 Marathon; why get involved in fundraising?

V. L. : I like to say that we save lives behind the scenes, one experience at a time. It was obvious to me that I had to support research through this initiative. There are so many ways to make a difference in support of research. Whether it’s funding student scholarships or enabling the purchase of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, every donation enables us to continue advancing scientific knowledge, and make a real difference.



Best pre-workout snack?
I’m still working hard on my nutrition, which is the crux of the matter for me. I don’t have any particular recipe in mind, but I’d say something that provides me with plenty of protein and gives me energy!
What do you listen to while running?
In general, whether it’s running or any other task, I like to motivate myself by listening to my favorite list of Gospel music. Kirk Franklin is an extraordinary artist (nothing better to cheer you up when you have to clean!). If you want to discover this musical style, I recommend it! Otherwise, on the Marathon day, I let the ambient music of the event and the cheers of the crowd carry me all the way to the finish!
Worst race anecdote?
Training in the rain. We did a session like that with Mathilde one day at lunchtime. I hated it… deeply. Sorry Mathilde! (Laughs)
Essential accessory for the runner in you?
My smartwatch so I can receive text messages from my partner, who follows me on the GPS and encourages me to keep going as I get closer to the finish! And water. Lots and lots of water!
Your greatest post-race satisfaction?
My medal! The 2023 one hangs proudly in my hallway at home. Oh yes … and the post-race treats and snacks (yum!).
An unheard-of fact about you?
I’ve been singing for almost 20 years, and was part of a community choir for over 10 years. I passed an audition in September 2023 to join the Montreal Gospel Choir, and I can definitely say that my journey with them is THE highlight of my year. Music feels good, and it’s so easy to combine it with running!