On Sunday, our community lost our beloved Jane Welzel, an icon of Fort Collins track running. She passed away from pancreatic cancer. Stephen Meyers and The Coloradoan published a somber but endearing article about Jane which you can read here.
As Nick wrote yesterday, “Jane Welzel personified running and community, and her selfless organizational efforts were instrumental in building the wonderful and welcoming running community that we know today in Fort Collins. Jane’s beautiful spirit will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.” Over the last decade Jane has organized Tuesday Night Track (TNT), Tuesday morning City Park runs, the Mountain Avenue Mile and the Bacon Strip Races, among others.
I remember first attending Tuesday Night Track several years ago after hearing about her legend. What first struck me was how fit she was—she had the most impressive six-pack for a woman in her 50s.
Not only did she organize the workouts, but she participated in them as well. Even decades after qualifying for the Olympic Trials, she had good speed, and in local races she was often winning her division. In the 5Ks we both raced in, she usually would cross the finish line only a few steps behind me, despite me being 20 years younger.
After she was diagnosed with cancer in April, she was no longer running with us at the track but she still was coming out, even up until a few weeks ago, to organize the runs and offer support. She remembered everyone’s names—even though there were 30-50 of us—and each time we rounded the track she could be heard saying, “Go [insert name here].”
The one good thing about cancer is that it gives friends and family some time to prepare, and a few weeks ago, the TNT group was able to commission a special bench in honor of Jane that will reside permanently at the CSU track. The bench was dubbed the “Quada Quada Bench,” named after Jane’s distinctive Bostonian way of pronouncing “quarter quarter.” (E.g., when we had to run a half-mile followed by a quarter and another quarter, Jane would say, “half, quada, quada. “)
One August 12th, the TNT group held a special ceremony for Jane where we presented her the bench. It was unpainted at the time, but in the ensuing weeks it would be painted Jane’s favorite color of green. Below are photos of Jane, the bench and the ceremony.