KIPPENS Rosie Ryan-Forsey spent a number of years trying to keep pace with Nicola Will when she was a fleet-footed runner in her prime, but she never beat the St. John’s runner.
“She was the only one I couldn’t beat,” Ryan-Forsey said Monday. “She was amazing. She was long and lean.”
Will, who is now a medical writer in Quebec, proved to be one of the best runners in the country.
Forsey finds it ironic that one of Will’s longest-standing provincial records was shattered by her daughter, Jillian Forsey, over the weekend.
The 18-year-old Kippens native broke Will’s 28-year-old provincial record in the 5,000 metre with a final clocking of 16 minutes and 24.62 seconds for third place in her section at the Stanford University Invitational Track and Field Meet in Stanford, Calif. on Friday.
The time broke Will’s senior women’s record of 16:57.3, set in 1986 in Toronto, by more than 60 seconds. It also broke Forsey’s own junior (19 and under) women’s record set at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
Proud mom Ryan-Forsey said she was always eager to compete on the same track as Will, even though she never had the training and coaching in place that she felt would have improved her chances against some of the elite back in the day.
For Ryan-Forsey, seeing records broken is a positive thing when you see how far an athlete can go with the right mindset, training and opportunities. She also sees how records falling can be a sad moment for some.
“If it was mine, I probably would be devastated, but knowing Nicola like I do ... I think Nicola would be happy for that,” she said, noting Nicola took time out of her schedule to watch Jillian race at the Summer Games.
The Forseys actually got to spend some time with Will last summer at an awards banquet in St. John’s. It was a chance for the two to catch up and also an opportunity for Jillian’s future to come up.
“I just said to (Will) I hope some day Jillian can be as good as she is and she said, ‘Oh, Rosie, she’s always there,’” she said of the encounter. “A year later, Jillian beats her 28-year standing record.”
Will is the daughter of St. John’s distance runner-coach Ray Will, who just happened to be play a role in grooming Forsey at the provincial level for three years before she graduated from high school and joined the West Virginia University Mountaineers in September.
“No,” Ray Will said from St. Phillips on Monday when asked if he was surprised his daughter’s record had fallen. “(Forsey) is a very talented girl.”
When his daughter set the record, not very many came close to challenging her other than Kate (Vaughan) Bazeley, who now lives in Corner Brook.
“She got quite close to quite a few of Nicola’s records actually, but she never quite made it,” Ray Will said.
Will, who still has a number of elite distance runners under his tutelage on the east coast, wasn’t prepared to make any predictions about Forsey’s potential for future greatness, but was quick to point out that Forsey’s résumé speaks volumes about her ability to compete with the elite in her age group.
“She’s already represented Canada four times so she’s well on her way,” he said.