Friday, September 5, 2014
History of the Wednesday Night Run
At the first Wednesday Night Run, on February 25th 1981, Mary Edwards, Susan Ng Williams, and Nate Krug went out on a 10 mile from Mary’s house followed by some food and drink…..and it was all good. So good in fact that the following week they were joined by the late Jack Boyer and others in the ensuing weeks that started a “long-running” tradition of 33 years which came to be known as the “Wednesday Night Run” (WNR.) The WNR tradition continues 52 weeks a year no matter what the weather. There have been temperatures extremes of zero to 100 degrees but runners always show up.
Everyone is welcome to participate in the weekly WNR, whether you run, walk or just show up to be social. The Kansas City Track Club supports the WNR by supplying paper plates, cups, plastic ware, signage, a webpage with schedule and a facebook page.
The WNR continues without any formality. The only structure is Maggie McCoy who organizes the WNR schedule as everybody should take their turn hosting at least once a year, The motto is, “Host one – Run fifty-one”. It is a pot luck supper in which the host provides the main course and the guests bring a side dish and/or something to drink. The host creates a running route of 2 to 10 miles for the participants. Back in the earlier days ten miles was the norm, and the host would not allow anybody to eat until most of the ten-milers had returned. Now the runners seldom run more than six miles. Hosts have invited WNR to their homes, apartments, condo complex clubhouses, parks and businesses. Some have hosted in apartments that were so small that you had to go outside to change your mind. If there is a spot on the floor to sit, the runners are happy.
The WNR is a nice environment to meet new friends. It is good to know that you don’t have to put out ash trays for guests when you host a run, and that everybody you meet is going to have a fairly healthy life style. Many of our runners have formed friendships that last a lifetime. Some friendships formed at the WNR occasionally blossom into romantic relationships. There have even been a number of marriages over the years including : Mary & Doug Edwards, Deb Calloway & Jim Darnell, Martha & Terry Friedrich, Jeff Perry & Laurie Chipman, Anne & Bob Cook, Dave Suptic & Jane Smeltzer and Angie & Matt Green to name a few. There is no truth to the rumor that Mary Edwards founded the WNR in the hopes of finding a husband – it just worked out that way.
WNR has had 15 minutes of fame! Former Olympic runner, Don Kardong joined a run in May of 1991 at a shelter in Shawnee Mission Park and wrote an post run article which appeared in the October 1991 issue of Runner’s World. The same year the Kansas City Star sent a writer and photographer to Susan Ng’s house to record the WNR activities, which then appeared in an article of the May 12th issue of the Sunday Star Magazine. About 15 years ago a local TV station, WDAF channel 4, sent a reporter and camera crew to document the WNR at Loose Park. They interviewed several runners that night, and aired the story during the 10:00 pm new cast.
Loose Park is the locale for the yearly “Re-Run” one of many WNR traditions. It is the first or second Wednesday after Labor Day and tends to be a reunion of past and current WNR runners. Other traditions include Lou Jolines house on Lake Tapawingo in July, Ryan