Following is my column, written for the Republican Herald newspaper, published on May 11.
Among the 3,500 runners who ran the Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5K on April 21 was Wayne Parfitt, a resident of Newport News, Virginia, and a 1983 graduate of Pottsville Area High School.
A distinguished cross country and track runner at Pottsville, Parfitt was a member of the 1982 cross country team that defeated the nearly invincible Blue Mountain team of harriers, snapping the Eagles’ remarkable streak of 144 consecutive dual-meet victories. He was invited by a group of Berks County runners to join their Junior Olympics team. That team went on the win the National Junior Olympics team title in 1982.
After graduation and before pursuing his higher education, Parfitt concentrated on running marathons. He ran his first marathon in Philadelphia at the age of 18, and a year later he returned to Philadelphia to turn in an incredible time of 2:31:09, earning him the No. 1 ranking in the country for marathon runners ages 19 and under.
Parfitt went on to run for Williamsport Area Community College. He ran for one year and became the state champion among Pennsylvania community college runners.
In 1986, Wayne Parfitt officially retired from running and competition.
Due to obligations associated with raising a family and pursuing a career, Parfitt “paused’’ his running pursuits, not for a year or two, but for 30 years.
When he returned to competition, he did so with a vengeance. In 2014, at age 49, he ran the Richmond Marathon in a time of 2:56. After an absence of 32 years, he returned to the Boston Marathon in 2016, and at age 52, he has achieved a personal age-group marathon time of 2:54:09, ranking him as one of the top over-50 marathon runners in the country.
At the Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5K, Wayne made the 6½-hour drive from Virginia to run in his hometown for the first time since 1983. It was as if he just released the pause button. Parfitt won his age division, clocking a time of 19:28, placing 10th overall in the massive field of runners.
Wayne Parfitt quit running because, according to him, “It wasn’t fun anymore.” Today, his passion for the sport has returned, and the reason, as he states, is simple. “I found the fun again.”