Mtre Philippe Viau-Dupuis

Mtre Philippe Viau-Dupuis: the euphoria of the long-distance runner

By Mélanie Dugré, lawyer

(Article published on January 26, 2021)

Straight off, Philippe Viau-Dupuis confesses: "If I hadn't had sport in my life, I would probably have been diagnosed with ADHD!" An active and spirited little boy, Philippe found a way to channel his boundless energy through sports.

In the spirit of its EN-CORPS campaign, which aims to raise awareness in the legal community of the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle habits to stay in good physical health, the Barreau de Montréal is pleased to profile an exceptional athlete who embodies the essence of the EN-CORPS campaign's message.

Although he was born into a family of lawyers, Philippe had intended to pursue a career in Psychology, but before settling on his final choice, he devoted himself body and soul to endurance sports, and especially to cycling, a discipline he fell in love with when he was only eight years old.

At the age of 11, Philippe distinguished himself in many mountain bike competitions and, at 14, was crowned Quebec vice-champion at Mont-Ste-Anne. At 17, he switched to road biking with the avowed goal of riding professionally, a goal he achieved at 20 when he joined Team Sympatico.

While remaining dedicated to his sport, Philippe continued his studies. However, the requirement to obtain a doctorate to practice as a psychologist began to dissuade him. After a sabbatical year during which Team Sympatico was disbanded, Philippe contemplated his academic career. After a discussion with his father, Philippe headed to Université Laval’s Faculty of Law.

"Almost immediately, I was attracted to criminal law, and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to plead cases in court," he says. Through a friend with whom he carpooled, he got a student job at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), a job he kept for the duration of his studies. He worked on the fraud prosecution against Imperial Tobacco, a huge case that helped him get to know the PPSC realm. Unsurprisingly, Philippe began his career as a lawyer with the PPSC, where he continues to work to this day.

While he was still studying, cycling was a mainstay in his life. Animated by a dynamic competitive spirit, he joined the Sleaman Clear Radio Énergie road cycling team. With his teammates, he garnered many prizes and trophies – most notably the Mardis cyclistes de Lachine – and covered between 20,000 and 25,000 kilometres per year. He did this in addition to cross-country skiing and weight training in winter.

In 2007, love makes an appearance and helps him discover running. Philippe regularly visits his wife in New York, where she is completing a post-doctorate in Virology. As cycling in New York can be perilous, he accepted his wife's invitation to join her on a running club sortie. "I was introduced to running – a sport that, frankly, I used to consider detestable. However, to my great surprise, I discovered the cycling peloton effect during interval training and wasted no time signing up for organised races," he recalls. In the spring of 2009, he completed his first half marathon in 1 hour and 19 minutes.

Philippe Viau-Dupuis eventually met renowned coach Dorys Langlois, who became a mentor and friend. To get the most out of his training and integrate his active lifestyle into a healthy work/family balance, he developed the habit of running to and from work, something he still does to this day. "I was quickly dubbed "the strange PPSC creature" since I arrived at work wearing sportswear," he says with a laugh, while thanking his employer for being open-minded in the same breath. His diligent efforts and perseverance very quickly allowed him to clock some of the best running times in Quebec. 2012 to 2015 were big years during which he ran 160 to 170 kilometres every week. He completed his first marathon in 2014 and finishes third at the Canadian Championships with a time of 2 hours and 23 minutes.

The birth of his daughter in 2014 did not prevent him from finishing fifth in the Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 2 hours 20 minutes. He is also very proud of his 23rd-place finish in Boston the following year, where he ran 2 hours and 21 minutes despite challenging weather conditions.

With five marathons and countless hours of training under his belt, Philippe is well aware that his body has delivered more than he could have hoped for. Still, he dreams of getting one last taste of competitive euphoria before making the transition to a more moderate pace. While the pandemic forced him to miss his appointment in Valencia, he’s hoping for good results on the next go-around.

Philippe Viau-Dupuis admits that his natural intensity could have backfired on him and that the sports were a lifesaver in his case. And, while he feels fulfilled by his work and his role as a mentor to PPSC students and interns, sports will always play a central role in his life, despite his imminent step away from competition and high-level performance. The future will tell whether his introduction to the guitar, which began during the pandemic, will have him dancing to the tune of music contests!