parkrun’s ethos encourages us to celebrate every personal success as we seek to make running more accessible to all. We’re more likely to acknowledge the wacky achievements of globe-trotting parkrun tourists, the quirky milestones, and the “pretty” finish times than the occasional extraordinary sporting feats that take place in our runs. Sometimes, however, we report – in awe – on athletic history.
At 9, Ani Veltcheva had set an age grade 5 km World Record with an astonishing 18:47. By 12, already Middle School State Champion in Florida, Ani was ready to repeat her feat. Broni, her mother, tells us: “Ani was really close to the previous world record for 12-year-old girls (only one second away), so we were looking for certified courses where she could race and try to beat it. Jacob Smith from RaceSmith recommended the parkrun to us, so on the morning of March 18 we woke up at 4:00am and headed to Clermont.”
The rest is history: Ani’s blistering time of 17:16.8 matched the all-time Female Course Record at Clermont Waterfront, blew up the overall nationwide parkrun age grade record and reached a certified single-age 5 km Women’s Road World Record. Ani topped it off, like any Clermont parkrunner, with breakfast at Cheeser’s Palace Café.
You could be excused for worrying that, at this age, all this running would have taken over Ani’s life. But, as she told MileSplit Florida, “Outside of running, I have many hobbies. I swim for 2 hours almost every day after school at Gator Swim Club. I also love math and compete in different math competitions throughout the year. Another hobby of mine is competing in the school Spelling Bee. In 6th grade I finished top 10 in my middle school and in 5th grade I was the school champion. Reading is what I love doing most in my free time.”
Are we likely to see Ani again at parkrun? “Most definitely. Ani liked the course, the people, and the atmosphere at the run. You have a very supportive running community in Clermont!”, says mom Broni.
Xander is a regular at College Park parkrun who recently reached his 10-run milestone. He stands out because he is only 4 years old, and while other parkrunners are recovering from their runs he is cheerfully running around with our parkrunning dogs. What nobody would realize from watching this exuberant boy is that running plays…
This month’s newsletter is packed with stories about new parkruns and how they got started. Event Directors from Eagan, Mansfield and College Park share their personal accounts, little secrets, stories of support, near disasters, and more. And we also focus on one of the important elements of every event, the Run Report – just as…