Cross-Country / Track, Sports

Cross-country runner cut from McGill team after joggling during race

On Sept. 17, cross-country runner Henry Wellenstein participated unofficially in the McGill Cross-Country Open. Simply running the six-kilometre race, however, was not enough for Wellenstein. The fourth-year incorporated his own twist to the competition by simultaneously juggling three balls throughout the course of the race—an activity known as joggling

“I started juggling when I was pretty young, [around] fourth or fifth grade, and one of the books that I had gotten had a little paragraph in the back about joggling,” Wellenstein said in an interview with The McGill Tribune

He explained that the outlandishness of joggling was what initially drew him to the sport. 

“It is so goofy but challenging at the same time which makes it even weirder,” said Wellenstein. “So I like being competitive with something like that.”

This season, after returning from the summer with a shin splint injury, Wellenstein spent his first few weeks of training building up his endurance. A week or two before the McGill Open, he began  training with the team and assumed he would be competing. However, a miscommunication with his coach meant he was not registered to race officially.

“I found out on race day,” Wellenstein said. “They were handing out bibs and I was like ‘where’s my bib?’ and he said I wasn’t signed up.”

After a brief discussion, cross-country coach Dennis Barrett and Wellenstein decided that the best course of action would be for him to run the race unofficially, permissible by the rules as long as he did not cross the finish line. For Wellenstein, this seemed the perfect opportunity to practice his joggling. Barrett, however, was not happy with Wellenstein’s ultimate decision.

“[My coach] had no idea that I was going to [joggle] so afterwards he was upset about the juggling,” Wellenstein said.

Shortly after the race, Wellenstein was cut from McGill’s cross-country team.

In an email comment to the Tribune, Barrett wrote, “Henry and I had a meeting after the Sept. 17 cross-country meet and based on our discussion, we came to the joint conclusion that he would step away from the team.”

Wellenstein was obviously disappointed by the decision but has decided to view the setback as an opportunity to improve his joggling.

“I really like putting together training plans and I’ve only gotten one opportunity to do a full progression to a race, this past summer for the joggling mile. So I am really excited for that,” Wellenstein said. 

This fall, he hopes to do an informal 10-kilometre race with one of his former teammates and potentially a few other Montreal jogglers he is trying to recruit.

After unofficially breaking the world record this summer with a time of 4:39 on a joggling mile, Wellenstein is looking forward to an attempt at breaking the record officially and venturing into some longer distances as well. 

“The mile is the one I’ve been most successful with so far but I would like to get into the five [kilometre] and 10 [kilometre],” said Wellenstein. “And eventually I’d like to go up in distance to the marathon and ultra marathon.”

In terms of McGill Athletics, however, Wellenstein has permanently parted ways.

“The differences in opinion that we had which led to me getting cut, I don’t think they can be resolved at this point,” he said.

Since Wellenstein was running the race unofficially, he was not breaking rules or disrupting  other runners. By adding a unique and creative component to his run, Wellenstein could have had the opportunity to bring positive attention to the cross-country team. Instead, he will now train for individual races and joggling records. 
So if you see a blond man running through the streets of Montreal while juggling, don’t be alarmed—it’s just Welly the Joggler.

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