Wiltse races to record
Local runner Paula Wiltse earns national record at the Chicago Marathon
Before Paula Wiltse even hit the halfway point of the Chicago Marathon this past Saturday she knew her game plan was going to have to change.
The adrenaline and excitement of competing in a race she had always dreamed of being a part of more than any other marathon in the world got to her right out of the starting gates and by the time she hit the 21-kilometre mark she was about 90 seconds ahead of her planned timed.
“When I got to halfway point I thought, ‘Oh boy, that’s faster than I wanted to be.’ It probably plays on your mind a little bit knowing that it’s going to get tough,” Wiltse said. “I’ve done enough marathons to know that you can make or break a race even in the first five-kilometres.”
She never hit a wall, but her pace slowed in the final 10 kilometres, Wiltse said. Then she thought about all the reasons why she was there and as the answers piled up, her time went down.
There was being part of a runner roster consisting of 44,000 athletes. How she was getting a chance to experience the event with some friends and how even more friends were back home in Brockville tracking her over the Internet to get instant results. And, there was the hope of putting her name in the Canadian running record book again.
Those were the reasons that got her to the finish line just a little quicker and, ultimately, earned her the Canadian women’s marathon record for the 50-54 age division with a time of 2:58:52 to finish first in her division.
“I think those little things get you through those tough spots,” said Wiltse, who turned 50-yearsold this past July.
Going into the race Wiltse thought the Canadian record she had to beat was 3:00:15. She found out after the race that it was a little under that time at 2:59:41. It didn’t matter, though.
The elite Brockville runner knew she had put her name in the record book when she crossed the finish line and looked at the clock, even if she didn’t have the correct time in her head.
The Chicago Marathon added to her list as she currently owns the national record for the best result in the 30-kilometre women’s 45-49 category with a time of 1:57:52, which she earned in Hamilton in 2013. She also once held records in the women’s fivekilometre and half-marathon in the 45-49 division that has since been broken.
“For me it’s an achievement. It’s that goal I set and they’re not easy to get,” said Wiltse, adding a special shout-out to friends and Saucony Canada, who have been sponsoring her for 15 years. “I never ever take anything for granted and it’s an accomplishment.”
Wiltse joked that if you told her 20 years ago she would be going for a Canadian record, “she would have laughed.”
It should be pointed out, though, that Wiltse isn’t just going for Canadian records. She’s breaking them.
Other local results from the Chicago marathon included Ilona Thomas, 54, crossing the finish line with a time of 4:17:02, despite battling through a nagging calf tear injury; Mike Crawford, 46, picking up a time of 3:21:14, while his wife Sarah Crawford, 45, clocked in at 3:56:20; Brenda Young, 48, earning a time of 3:51:15; and Don Lewis, 50, getting a time of 3:28:42 and qualifying for his first-ever Boston Marathon.
From left: Sarah Crawford, Don Lewis, Mike Crawford, Paula Wiltse and Ilona Thomas represented Brockville, along with Brenda Young, who is not shown in the photo, at the Chicago Marathon this past weekend.