Sonora native Nick Waelty has always wanted to do something competitive and fun with his two children.
Jesse Jones / Union Democrat. Sonora’s Nick Waelty (50, above) pushes his kids Charlie, 4, (left) and Mack, 1, across the finish line in first place Saturday during the Jamestown Run’s 10k race.
And in the 25th annual Sonora Sunrise Rotary Jamestown Run on Saturday, Nick captured a special moment that he will cherish forever.
The 32-year-old finished first in the 10k race at 44:17 despite pushing his two children, Charlie Waelty, 4, and Mack Waelty, 1, in a baby stroller throughout the hilly 6.2-mile course.
“It definitely was more of a struggle to be with a stroller than to be without it,” said Nick, who estimates he was pushing over 65 pounds of extra weight. “It was fun. It’s cool to include my kids in stuff like that. Hopefully, they will be into that when they get older. It’s kind of like a family thing to do.”
Nick, and his two boys, started the race with his wife, Erica Waelty. They ran together until Nick picked up the pace and started to inch ahead of the pack. He kept sprinting with his two children providing inspiration.
“Hurry up, dad,” said Charlie at one point in the race when Nick was slowing down. “You gotta hurry.”
Soon, there was only one person ahead of Nick.
Throughout the race, he had been trying to cut the distance between him and Mike Morris, who led for the majority.
When Jamestown Run coordinator Lisa Mooney jumped into her car in the middle of the event to see how the runners were faring in the sunny and warm weather, she saw that Morris was still the leader.
“When I went driving, I was on mile three, and I just wanted to check on everybody,” Mooney said. “There was a gentleman in front of Nick substantially. I saw Mike Morris. He was in the lead and then all of a sudden, I saw this guy with a stroller, but he was still behind Mike Morris.”
At that point, Nick started to gain some ground on Morris in part from motivation from his children and the stroller.
“You’re pushing a little bit harder than you expect too,” Nick said. “I just ended up running faster. I got into the spirit of the race and pushed myself really hard. It was fun. I’m glad I got to take my two kids like that and run with them. It was a good race. Everybody had a lot of fun.”
Towards the end of the course, Nick finally passed Morris.
“I didn’t realize that I was in first place really until late in it,” Nick said. “There was another guy. I’ve seen him in a few other races before. I saw him out ahead. If I could catch him, I knew I’d be OK. I was just chasing him down. I caught him, and we kind of traded places somehow. When I got to the finish line, I was first. It just worked out that way.”
Mooney couldn’t believe the finish.
“At the end, I was at Jamestown school,” Mooney said. “I couldn’t believe I saw Nick coming with that stroller. Everybody was so impressed. He was running beautifully. He was flawless. Everybody was just so in awe. He was so good. He really did a great job. Everybody was cheering. Very impressive. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that, that’s for sure.”
But for Erica, who came in sixth at 47:56.1, she didn’t see any of that. She didn’t realize her husband placed first until she asked him.
“I was actually running, so I didn’t know that he was going to win,” Erica said. “I saw him there with some long rollers. I saw him catching the guy. I didn’t know he was going to win. He didn’t even tell me right away. I faintly asked, ‘Did you win?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’
“I think it’s cool for the boys to be part of it,” Erica added. “To kind of see what it’s like to compete. It’s something that we definitely want to show our kids. That fitness is important. It’s a priority and having a healthy lifestyle is fun and exciting.”
Morris was the runner-up at 44:38.9.
More than 200 participants combined competed in the 2-mile and 10k race. Sonora Sunrise Rotary donated use of its new chip-timing system this year to immediately record results.
Sonora’s Jack Camara, 14, took first in the 2-mile race at 13:38.
“We had a very nice turnout,” Mooney said. “Close to a little over 200 people. The 2-mile race, we had over a hundred runners. That race went very smoothly. Everybody was doing fine. It was just a beautiful day all around.