‘It’s about time’ she got in
A lot of people have been waiting for distancerunner Paula Wiltse to get into the HOF
Paula Wiltse is more stressed about reading her Brockville and Area Hall of Fame induction speech Thursday to a room of 200 people than the anxiousness she feels when she’s at the start line of a big race.
Both, the distance-runner said, are stressful, but she knows she can manage the feelings she gets at the start line. She’s dealt with it time-and-time again.
Like her races, she’s likely going to try to get through her speech quickly.
“Put me on the road solo and I’m good. Get me in front of people and I’m stressing over it,” Wiltse said.
There was never really much doubt Wiltse was one day going to have to make that HOF speech. The question regarding her induction was always more about when it would happen.
Wiltse said the most popular comment she’s gotten over social media regarding her induction is, “It’s about time.”
She has all the makings of a Hall of Fame career. It will be tough for anyone having to break it all down to put into roughly 200 words to fit on her HOF plaque that will hang on the Memorial Centre wall.
There are achievements Wiltse is hoping to see etched on her hardware like finishing third in her age category at the Boston Marathon, the four Canadian records she either currently holds or once held, and the two times she finished third at the Canadian championships in the half-marathon and marathon. The latter race she crawled across the finish line, a moment that helped her realize how deep she can dig when she has to.
The HOF committee might want to leave space on Wiltse’s plaque because she has her eyes on breaking more national age-group records in the future. In fact, there might have to be a lot of room left on Wiltse’s hardware as she doesn’t plan on giving up her sport, “Until I can’t walk anymore.”
Wiltse gave up running in Grade 10 and didn’t return to it until she was 30-years-old in 1998.
Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and Wiltse went with her mom to her Ottawa treatment. That’s when she saw an ad for the Ottawa Race Weekend and all Wiltse needed to know was the event supported a cure for breast cancer. She hasn’t taken off her running shoes since then.
There’s times in races when Wiltse will use her mother, who died in 2000, as a source of strength. When Wiltse is hurting on the course she’ll think to herself, “I’m not really hurting. I’ve seen a lot worse and I’ve watched what my mom went through.”
The thought has crossed Wiltse’s mind in the past, would she have started running again if her mother never got sick? Would she be entering her hometown’s Hall of Fame this week?
Those are just a couple questions Wiltse could ask herself because running has expanded into so many aspects of her life.
She met her husband Brock Davis through running. He proposed to her at the start line of a race with more than 10,000 people around them. She finished that race with a personal best time.
Her children are competitive in a variety of sports and help push their mother as well.
The running group Wiltse has organized, called Reason 2 Run, pound the pavement twice a week and understand the grind she’s had to go through. Wiltse doesn’t consider the group filled with trainees or running partners. She simply calls them friends and adds that, “80 per cent of my friend connections are runners.”
The hard part about writing an induction speech, said Wiltse, is figuring out a way to tell everyone how much she appreciates the role they’ve played in her life as a runner.
Wiltse looks at all these people affecting her life, but anyone who is around her regularly will tell you how much she has touched them in some way.
Wiltse got to see the nomination form sent in to the HOF committee. Included in it are testimonials from runners Wiltse works with and they vary in age from nineyears-old and up.
“She helps you to believe in yourself,” said Shelley Steenwyck in the shortest testimonial of the 25 handed in with the nomination and even though it lacks words it seems to carry just as much impact as any of the longer ones.
When Wiltse was a child her mother never missed a sporting event. When her mom was going through breast cancer she still didn’t miss a thing.
Wiltse knows her mother would have been excited to see her put into the Hall of Fame.
If you talk to anyone who knows Wiltse, though, you would get the sense a lot of people are excited about it.
Paula Wiltse from Brockville is greeted at the finish line at the Emilie Mondor Memorial 5K Race for Women in 2010. Wiltse will be inducted into the Brockville and Area Sports Hall of Fame on Friday.