Legacy of Hope is proud to sponsor Wynnefield Track Club (WTC) co-founders, Freddy Mahugu and Felisha Harris, for the 2022 Love Run Half Marathon. Wynnefield is likely the hardest working run club in Philly. This friendly multinational crew hits the pavement every day at 5:30am, except Saturday—when they afford themselves the luxury of “sleeping in” for a 6am start time. Weekday runs usually have six to ten core members, with as many as 15 or 20 for long runs on Saturdays. But don’t let their dedication intimidate you. “We’re very much runners at all levels, from all walks of life…” emphasizes Mahugu “...you really see this on long-run Saturdays. It’s legitimately all faces, all paces. Even when we do our structured workouts on the track, you can learn new things in a fun environment.”
Wynnefield Track Club was established in 2020 after two groups in the Philly running community coalesced into a larger group at the suggestion of Mahugu. Harris elaborates a bit more on the history: “the group I was running with, we called ourselves Team UN, because we had people from all over the world— Kenya and Nigeria, Jamaica, Philippines, England, Vietnam, Cameroon—and I was the only person from the United States.” The other group had members from New Freedom Striders who have been running together in Philly for 30+ years. So the history goes deep with this crew.
The club’s motto Better Together, evolved from the idea of strength through unity. “We’re a community/family supporting each other on our journey to improve fitness and have a healthy lifestyle.” explains Mahugu. A perfect example of living their motto is when several WTC teammates traveled to NYC last November to surprise Mahugu, cheering him on, at mile 23 of the NY Marathon. Another example is Mahugu's Plant-Based Monday initiative to help more people start living a healthy lifestyle, beginning with a commitment to one plant-based meal a week. (Check the link above for more details.)
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, a son of foreign affairs diplomats, Mahugu has lived in Kenya, Australia, Zambia, NYC and eventually settled in Philly after running the 2010 Philly Marathon and falling in love with Philadelphia. He typically runs about 50 miles a week, and bumps that up to 65-75 miles when training for a marathon (of which he has run several world majors). While often cited as the leader of WTC, Mahugu quickly (and humbly) notes that “We all play a big role in leading the club.
“We’re excited to support Legacy of Hope, because cancer is something we’ve all been affected by in some capacity, whether it be our immediate, extended family or friends. I connected with Legacy after seeing their different initiatives to support the local community—the PHL24 stair climb, Earn Your Break running all 109 miles of the Schuylkill River Trail—you can’t help but jump on board, that’s why as a club we’re there to support them.”
Teammate Harris is a longtime runner; she “started in 6th grade tryin to beat the boys.” A mid-distance runner in high school and college, she’s now a seasoned marathoner, thanks in part to getting called out by a 15 year old when she was volunteering for Students Run Philly Style. Harris was wearing the green armband (for folks who had decided to run the half marathon) when a student approached her and asked “why aren’t you wearing the blue [full marathon] armband?!?” Harris tried to play it off telling the student “I’ve already run a marathon, besides there are no more blue armbands.” Not missing a beat the 15 year old replied, “It’s okay, you can have mine.” Harris bit the bullet, and committed to get herself into marathon shape. She’s been running marathons consistently ever since. These days she's logging 35-40 miles weekly and prepping for a 50 miler.
Harris discovered Legacy of Hope when she happened upon the PHL24 last September. She introduced herself to Mike Rowe and committed to participate. She has lost multiple relatives to cancer, including her brother. “I hate cancer! I know what it’s like, trying to work and take care of your sibling with your parents. It was a really tough time. Whatever we can do to help cure cancer, or help families fighting cancer process; it’s absolutely necessary.”
Support Freddy and/or Felisha at this year’s Love Run. Wynnefield Track Club supports Legacy of Hope, and as an official training partner of the Philadelphia Love Run is working with them to raise $250,000 to provide emergency support for Philadelphia cancer patients. If you want to run with Freddy and Felisha, register at www.PhillyRunsFree.com; if you raise $250 for Legacy of Hope your registration is free!
Join Wynnefield Track Club this Saturday, February 26th, at 6am for a Love Run Training session! Meet in the parking lot by Lloyd hall (by the azalea garden). There will be options for all levels: a 5 mile route, an 8.5 mile route, and a 10+ mile route.