Daughter of hit victim follows in his footsteps at Boston Marathon

This year’s Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 18, 28 years after the day Vanessa Welten’s father undertook it.

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CORNWALL — Of the more than 30,000 runners expected to run in this year’s Boston Marathon, one will have strong ties to Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

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It is the first time that Vanessa Welten, daughter of the late Hendrikus “Harry” Welten, participates in the event.

The Crysler resident who now lives in Boston decided to participate in the marathon in honor of her father, who died on a run in Ottawa in February 2019. statistician and tournament organizer Harry Welten was also an elite marathoner.

“He started running when he was in his late 20s,” his daughter said in a telephone interview on Friday. “He quickly established himself as an elite marathoner in the area. He won a few races here and then of course he went to the Boston Marathon in 1994 and finished as (fastest) Canadian there, which was quite a remarkable achievement.

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“It was a pretty big deal.”

Her father finished the event with a personal best of two hours 21 minutes 45 seconds.

This year’s Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 18, 28 years after the day Welten’s father undertook it.

“It just seems like good timing to me,” Welten said.

While she has not run the Boston Marathon before, she has competed in other distance running events, such as the Ottawa Marathon in May 2019.

“The first marathon I ran was in Ottawa, and that was after my father passed away,” she said. “That’s why I started running…I was inspired by him and wanted to channel it (tragedy) into something positive.

“His first marathon was also Ottawa’s, so it just happened that it was my first as well.”

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In November 2019 Welten ran the Athens Marathon in Greece.

“It was a really powerful experience for me and I felt closer to my father that way,” she said. “Running was such a big part of my father’s life, so I decided to make it a part of my life.

“Since then, I’ve been trying to build my own running skills.”

While she won’t try to be the first Canadian to attempt to cross the finish line, she does plan to raise money for the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation, which operates out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“It is a trauma center whose goal is to transform care, outcomes and research for trauma victims and their families,” Welten said. “They do that by raising money for research, education, injury prevention and community outreach.

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“Their mission is pretty close to my inspiration to start running in the first place, to what happened to my dad.”

The hospital is affiliated with the Harvard University medical school.

By Friday, she had raised $8,770. Donations can be made by visiting events.brighamandwomens.org/site/Donation

“As a general surgeon, I care for many patients who come to the hospital with devastating traumatic injuries,” Welten wrote online. “Every day in my clinical work I am reminded of the trauma my father endured that day.

“I don’t go a day without thinking about it. It has completely reshaped the lens from which I practice medicine and reframed how I understand what trauma victims and their families experience.”

In September, the senior driver who had a seizure before hitting and killing Harry Welten on Goulbourn Forced Road was given a two-year suspended sentence and a life ban from the Ontario Court of Justice.

fracine@postmedia.com

twitter.com/FrancisRacine

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