Since Zellah and Jerry Swartsley founded and held the first Pear Blossom Run in 1977 the Rogue Valley Family YMCA has continued the long-lived tradition. From its takeoff, the race has grown to 5,648 entrants, all participating for their own personal achievements.
One of those athletes was Cole Watson, a Rogue River native and head coach for cross country here at Rogue Community College (RCC). He is a successful athlete having captured seven state titles in multiple distance runs and a state cross country title. Watson has also earned the Nike Steve Prefontaine Award in 2010.
Watson’s motivation for running in Medford’s annual race was simply to do better than last year.
“Running is a cumulative thing. It takes a great deal of time, patience, and persistence. In the end, if you hit your mark or not, it’s all about the journey and sacrifice it took to get there,” he said.
Saturday, April 8, 2017, Watson hit one of those marks by breaking the Pear Blossom course record with a time of 49 minutes, 5 seconds. The record was previously held by seven-time winner Max King with a time of 49:10 recorded in 2011.
Watson explained, “What’s important is what we do with what we have been given. I can’t emphasize enough, the importance of consistent, relentless, and repetitive practice.“
So what does the future hold for Cole Watson. The driven athlete has a 50K race planned in California later this month and intends to enter the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in June with a goal of qualifying for the world championships.
Ultimately, the 25-year-old champ is focused on a marathon in Sacramento, California scheduled for the end of this year with his eye on qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
For more information on the Pear Blossom Run check out their website.
Check out the article posted on Mail Tribune for more information on Cole Watson’s victory.