The moment we knew the future of the Permar family’s four generations of running was in good hands officially arrived last Friday night.
Cam Permar — the four-year-old great-grandson of the late Ralph Permar, grandson of Terry Permar and son of Sean Permar — already had been doing some fun runs in previous races while dutifully tethered to his mom, Tina.
But in the Saucony Mile in Pottstown, Cam turned to his guardian and said he wanted to do this one on his own.
Now that’s an honest-to-goodness Permar for you.
It certainly drew a chuckle from his grandpa, who’s one of the finest distance runners Bucks County has ever produced.
“He (Cam) had done about three fun runs at the Bucks 5K Series but he was tethered to his mom,’’ Terry explained. “He had to hold her hand.
“Before this race, he said, ‘you know, I think I can run a lot faster if I don’t hold mommy’s hand.’ He still had to hold her hand but he was so funny.’’
At 65, Terry is still going pretty fast himself. The 1972 Council Rock High School graduate and long-time Pennridge High School cross country coach finished the Saucony event in a tidy 6:02.
Sean finished barely ahead of him in 5:50 and Cam later checked in just past 10 minutes.
This all took place only a couple days before Father’s Day, so the whole scene was rather heartwarming.
The Permar running tradition – which includes Sean and his sister, Lindsey — goes all the way back to Terry’s dad, Ralph, who took up running in his 50s but made up for lost time with some inspired performances.
“He was like Forrest Gump,’’ Terry said. “He saw me running by our house on Windy Bush Road (Upper Makefield Township) and up until then had never done anything athletic in his life.
“He was a thin, wiry guy – born and raised on a farm. He started with a half-mile run, got himself a pair of running shoes and soon he was running eight miles. I was really proud of him.’’
Ralph would go on to run the Philadelphia Distance Run (13.1-mile half-marathon) at sub-eight-minute-mile pace. So it’s easy to see where this segment of the Permar DNA comes from.
It looks like Cam is carrying on the tradition.
In his hey-day, Terry set himself up as a national-class runner after competing for Bucks County Community College.
All the hard training paid off with a brilliant 2:25 clocking in a marathon down in Huntsville, Alabama. When he turned 40, he placed third masters there with a 2:29.
His crowning achievement may have come when he entered some elite company by running a sub-three-hour marathon for a record fifth straight decade.
“I had no business running under three hours (for No. 5),’’ he said with a laugh. “Before the marathon, I did the Revolutionary Run and averaged seven minutes a mile for a 10K. That was a tough seven-minute average. I’m thinking in four months I have to average 6:52 a mile for 26 miles and I can’t break seven minutes for six. How am I going to do that?’’
But do it (2:58) he did, a testimony to his dedication to fitness.
What keeps him going, half a century after taking up running at CR?
Well, for starters, his high school coach Bill Preston instilled in him a competitive drive which carries on to this day.
“The biggest thing is I have a passion for running,’’ Terry said. “Somehow it’s in my DNA and I brought it out. That’s the best thing.
“I think we all have it in our bodies. It goes all the way back to when we hunted our food. . .chased it down and survived. Eat or be eaten.
Some of us bring it out now, some of us don’t. For me, I embraced it. I love the feeling of going out and running.’’
His children are following in his footsteps.
Sean ran cross country at Pennridge (where he was coached by his dad). He’s also an accomplished tennis player. Today he’s a structural engineer employed by a firm in Lambertville, N.J. His family, including Cam and his sister Anna, lives in Pipersville.
Lindsey was a standout pitcher for Pennridge and also makes it a point to stay in shape. She and her husband operate a college placement organization.
It’s safe to say Cam will continue the Permar family legacy for years to come. Hard to argue with those genetics.
Fitzgerald ‘escapes’ Alcatraz
A few weeks back we wrote about Doylestown triathlete Derek Fitzgerald, who survived both a heart transplant and a cancer scare to compete in Ironman events.
We are happy to report that Fitzgerald, 46, completed the 39th annual “Escape from Alcatraz’’ triathlon in 5:53.31. The race consists of a 1.5-mile swim in San Francisco Bay (59-degree water), an 18-mile bike and eight-mile run.
Congratulations on a great effort.
Tullytown Fire Company 5K, 8 a.m., Tullytown. Contact www.runsignup.com