‘It’s about time’ she got in

A lot of peo­ple have been wait­ing for dis­tancerun­ner Paula Wiltse to get into the HOF

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - JONATHON BRODIE

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.

DAVID KAWAI/oTTaWa ci­Ti­Zen

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.

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