Runner of the Month

December 2018

Leslie Randall

Before I begin, let me first say that I am honored to be the Sly Fox Track Club Member of the month!    I have met so many friends because of this group over the past few years and am so thankful and blessed to have them as friends now!

Ok, a little bit about me…..

I started running (or should I say jogging) another lifetime ago back in 1995 because my boyfriend at the time was a runner.   I attempted my first race, a 10k, in August of that year.   I had NO idea how to run a race, went out way to fast, and then fell apart.   But I was hooked on running after that!    In 1996, I started running with a couple of my co-workers every day at lunch and my running just took off!

I moved to Charlotte, NC in 1998.   Since I didn’t really know anybody down there, I decided to throw myself into running more and train for a marathon.  My first marathon was the inaugural Rock and Roll marathon in San Diego, what a rush!!   I found something I was decent at and loved!  Charlotte is a very active running community and it wasn’t long before I met so many people!   To this day, my Charlotte running buddies are still some of my best friends!

I moved back to PA in 2002 and decided that year to give triathlon a whirl as well.   In 2003, I did my first olympic and half ironman distance triathlons and was then hooked on triathlon (although still a runner at heart).

From the early to late 2000’s, I continued to excel at running and triathlon.  I was invincible, or so I thought.  In 2008, I suffered my first major injury that knocked me out for most of the year.  At the end of 2011, I was told that if I didn’t stop running, I might never run again so I had to take 14 months off.   I would never return to running more than 3 days a week, but my past training kept me strong for many years after that.  The past few years I have slowed down a lot for many reasons.  I have had to learn to accept a new normal for what I expect from myself.  It’s a tough lesson but one we all have to face at some point in our lives.

Winter running is my favorite season because I can run with a dog.   Simba was my best running partner for 11 years.  She ran two amazing 22 minute 5k’s in the fall of 2017, but at age 13 now, her running has quickly come to halt, which breaks my heart.   Rokee, my young Husky, runs with me most of the time now instead of her but he will never replace my bestest girl.  Many of you know Rokee, Simba, and Tundra from the SFTC races.

Accomplishments:

I qualified for the Boston Marathon each year from 2000-2014 and ran 11 of them.   My last Boston was in 2013, the year of the bombing.  My life goal is to one day run it again so that year isn’t my last Boston.   I am not sure I will ever qualify again, but I will keep trying!    I have run 35 marathons in total.

Since 2005, I have been a member of Team USA for the World Triathlon Age Group Championships 8 times and raced in so many wonderful countries (Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, England, Canada, The Netherlands, USA).  In total, I have raced in approximately 150 triathlons and duathlons since 2002.

I did a full Ironman in Austria in just over 12 hours.   To this day, I still feel like this is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

Goals:

2018 was a difficult time for me with running.   Life has gotten in the way and I feel like I have lost my passion in running.    I did run the Chicago marathon but honestly I hated most of my training for it.  My goal for 2019 is to re-invigorate my passion because I really do miss the feeling I used to get while out on a peaceful run.   I would like to do some group runs because I think that will help me get back to enjoying all that running has brought to my life over the past 23 years.

I am going to race on Team USA in Spain this year for the World Duathlon Age Group Championships.  This will be the first time racing Duathlon Worlds so I am very excited!

I should say that I am going to eat healthier, get more sleep, and drink less beer in 2019, but I already know that would end up being a lie J.   So I just hope to run a little more instead!

Happy Running!

 

 

November 2018

Robert Mandziuk

My favorite saying I see printed on shirts, hats or headbands while running
is:

“I am only half crazy”

Turns out I am fully crazy when it comes to running!

I am a 42 year old father of 2 (Ethan 19, Caroline 15) who ran my 1st race
in 2009 down at the Jersey Shore town of Town Bank NJ with my wife
(Kathleen). For being my 1st race, I finished 2nd in my age group and has
been hooked every since!!
Since them I have ran in nearly 200 races and accumulated countless miles.

When I first started running in 2009, it was a way to keep active since I
stopped playing hockey. It quickly became a way to help relieve stress and
help clear my mind. Today, I maybe in the best shape I ever been, and when I
go a couple of days without running, I start to feel fidgety. There are
times I just don’t feel like going for a run, but once I get moving, I am
glad that I pushed myself to do it.

Running has also help me to living a healthier lifestyle, well sorta! I
still enjoy beer and of course Sly Fox’s pizza, but when I do eat (Kathleen
says I don’t eat enough), I certainly try to eat healthier then I did prior
to when I started running.
Over the last nine years of running, I have met some amazing people, been to
awesome locations and have countless memories.

October 2018

Shelley Friedemann

I am a 45 year old married mother of 3, dental hygienist.

If someone would have told me 10 years ago I would be a “runner” I would have called them a liar! But here we are today!

After the birth of my 3rd child I was heavy. After she turned 1, I joined a gym and made some Mom friends. I started personal training with one of my friends and the trainer would make us do intervals on the treadmill and hated every minute of it.

Fast forward to 2010, ran my first 5k and really enjoyed it.

2012 I ran my first major race with 40k of my closest friends-Broad Street. Again it was fun, great crowd support but the traffic out wasn’t fun.

September 2012 I ran my first 1/2 marathon. So what’s next? April 2016 I ran my first full marathon something I said I would never do. I did keep it a secret for a long time. Not sure how many 1/2 marathons I have done at this point but have completed 3 marathons now.

People ask how do I do it. They say they could never. I tell them if they pass that first mile one of 2 things will happen.

  1. You will like it, runner high kicks in!
  2. You won’t ever do it again.

Stay off the internet for 3 days after a race because you want to sign up for everything.

Running over these last few years has taken me across the country and to Canada. I have met some great people and made new friends.

It’s always an adventure and it’s not over yet!

 
2018 Philadelphia Women’s Sprint Triathalon

 

Rock-n-roll half marathon finisher

Shelley with Coach Bayless

 

 

September 2018

Max Gorelik

Unlike some folks, I absolutely love running. It’s my favorite thing
in the world, comparable only to hugging my dog and eating Sly Fox
pizza. This love for the sport isn’t something that I purposely
cultivated, like mushrooms or flowers, but rather a spontaneous
effect. Until my early 30s, I was just an average nerdy guy with
glasses. For most of my life I was blessed with the ability to consume
copious amounts of food without showing any external effects. And then
one day, this power dissipated and pants stopped fitting properly. The
appearance of a muffin whenever I put on my jeans began to upset me,
so I joined a gym; first to lift weights, and then to run as well.

In 2014 I did my first race. I wanted more, so I started to run daily
and discovered that I love running just for the sake of it. Last year
I set a goal of averaging a race per week. I ran my first marathon,
and enjoyed it so much that I did 4 more before the year was out,
along with a couple of halves, two ultras, and a bunch of shorter
events.

This year I’m celebrating the 15th anniversary of owning my own
business. Additionally, in December, I’m going to celebrate 20 years
of being an American. At age 18 I came to the United States to start a
new life. So, to mark these milestones, I plan to run 20 marathons
before December, which will include 15 this year. As of right now, I’m
on track to hit and, possibly, surpass this goal.

An amazing part of running is the community. The only other group of
people who are as awesome to each other as runners are, would be
Metalheads. The two groups, I found out, overlap. It seems that I’m
not the only person who plays air guitar while running. I’ve met, and
been inspired by, many wonderful folks in the running world.

Keep being awesome and inspire each other to get that PR or (and) eat
that pizza!

July 2018

Jeremy Rolston

I hate to run. I’ve always hated to run. I was an athlete all through high school; soccer (goalie – no running), baseball, track (throwing, not running). I hated having to run in gym class. I hated the warmup laps I had to do in track. So in college I traded athletics for fun and laziness. I went from 190lbs to 250lbs by the time I graduated. The only sport I could still play was golf. 

After getting married and having a couple kids, I was still overweight and out of shape, and reached my peak weight of 270. I really wanted to get back to where I use to be but couldn’t seem to get started. My Rotary Club held an annual 5K, and I decided to give it a try. I ran a few times leading up to it and surprisingly, I didn’t die! I didn’t exactly enjoy it but I knew I may be on to something. I joined the YMCA soon after and began taking classes. I was able to lose 60 pounds over the course of the next year. I ran a little more often, but still stuck to classes and biking. 

In October 2015 I saw an ad for a winter 5K series to be held at golf courses. I really liked the idea and figured a series would keep me motivated all winter. My first SFTC race was Halloween of 2015. I was almost 3 minute faster than the Rotary Race the previous year. And I won a medal. That’s what hooked me. The competition and always trying to get better, go faster, go further than I had before. I soon ran my first 10K, then 15K. I got addicted to trail running, and entered every trail race I could. I said after my first 1/2 marathon that I would NEVER run that far again. I’ve since done 2 more (1 road, 1 trail), and also a 30K. My goal this year is to do a 50K in the fall. 

But other than the competition, I found that it was also the people that kept me coming back. The friends I have met since I have started racing are some of the best people I have in my life. Runners are a special kind of crazy, but they are also the most fun group of crazy people ever! I love that I can share it with Becky and our kids, and the kids love having a giant extended family to run with. It has made such a positive impact in all our lives! 

But I still hate to run….

June 2018

Amy Drabinsky

I started running in October of 2016, looking for a hobby that would help me get back into better shape.  I had previously been running off and on over the past ten years, but had never stuck with it.  After about a month or so, I realized that I was actually enjoying running and it was not just about fitness at this point.  I started actually looking forward to my runs and the mental benefits I was gaining.  It was at this time that one of my friends encouraged me to sign up for my first 5K race.  After completing this first one, I couldn’t wait to sign up for another race and to beat my previous time.  Since then, I have done numerous 5K’s, a couple of 10 miles races and four half marathons.  I am registered for my first full marathon this September and training for that is underway.

I absolutely love the feeling of increasing my distance on my long runs and subsequently improving my pace.  I have met many friendly and encouraging people at races and look forward to each one, especially the Sly Fox Summer Series.

 ***

 

May 2018

Bryan Alderfer


Racing with a stroller for Ainsley Angel’s

My Story: Courage to Start, Strength to Endure, Resolve to Finish

In April of 2013 I went to the doctor for a check up and he said that I was pre-diabetic and that I would need to lose weight and start to exercise. My weight was 275 pounds. At that time I was working 2 jobs and sleeping about 4 hours a night. I thought there would be no time and plus I had never step foot in a gym before. My first time that I went to the gym with my wife I did not know what to do when I stepped on the treadmill. I saw a guy running next to me so I decided to give it a try. That was a mistake because I could not even breathe after a minute. Somehow I decided to sign up for a 5k in May not knowing what it even was. During the first half mile I got sick on the side of the road. I finished the race with a time of 37:00 but literally thought I was going to die. But, I continued to run not knowing that eventually I would get faster and enjoy running. I then challenged myself to run a race once a month just to keep motivated. In November of the same year I ran my first half marathon.  After that I realized that I was hooked and knew that I was not going to stop there. I had lost 80 pounds in less than a year and running was going to be a part of my life for a long time.

In the last 5 years I have ran countless 5k’s, 5 milers, 10 milers. Also, along the way have ran 17 half marathons and last year ran 2 full marathons 5 weeks apart. This year on the anniversary of the day that I ran my first mile, I ran my first 50k ultra marathon. Not only do I enjoy running but meeting people that also love it too. I love to hear and read about peoples stories on they started to run.

There are a lot of races that I enjoy a lot. The Broad Street Run I look forward to every year. And of course any of the Sly Fox races because they are the only group that puts on races in the winter. Last year I realized that God has given me the ability to run and I need to give back somehow. I joined a group called Ainsley Angel’s which you push disabled children in races. I have done it 4 times now and there is not one time that I didn’t shed a tear. Seeing the faces on the kids is so amazing and knowing that I was able to bring them that joy. I look to continue to be apart of such an amazing group.

Fastest 5k: 22:32

Fastest Half: 1:48:00

Fastest Full: 4:01:00

In the future I would love to run The New York City Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon or even the Chicago Marathon. But for right now I just look forward to going on a run no matter the distance, time or weather.

Bryan Alderfer before taking up running

 

 

April 2018

Val Jani


To be runner of the month, implies that the individual enjoys running.  I find that to be ironic considering that I spend most of the time during any run questioning why I’m putting myself through such torture.  If you look up “runner” in the Urban Dictionary you’ll find something like… “A runner will run in any kind of condition. Rain, below zero temperatures, hot and stifling humidity…” Ok, I can honestly say that I have run in every one of those conditions, as well as sleet and snow with the Sly Fox Track Club.   It’s hard to believe that April 2018 marks my second anniversary of running.

 

My Story…


2016 was going to be a big year for me given I was turning 40!  Early in the year, it occurred to me that I had the potential to live another 60 years given that my grandmother was about to turn 100.  The harsh reality was that I was not “In Shape”.  Little did I know that I was about to embark on two parallel paths towards a healthier lifestyle.


Path 1:  Back in October of 2015, I signed my daughter up for a strength and conditioning class during the off season of softball.  It turned out to be an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) training class.  For several weeks, I would stand around and watch everyone workout.  On January 21st, 2016 I was presented with a chair with my name on it.  Since I refused to sit in the chair because I sit all day at work, I decided to give the class a try myself.  It would later become a defining moment in my life.  I’m now a member of the “Hurakanes” OCR Team.


Path 2:  Around the beginning of the year a bunch of moms from my son’s daycare included me in a Facebook post about the Sly Fox Track Club Summer Series.  I politely passed on the opportunity given that I was not at all into running.  One of the moms was persistent and eventually convinced me to sign up for 2 reasons (1) they do not discriminate against walkers (2) you get a beer at the end of each race.  I ran my first Sly Fox 5K on April 6th, 2016 and completed with a finishing time of 37:28 which was likely the best time I ever had in any previous 5K runs. 


In the past, I never had the drive to work toward improving my finishing time.  I simply accepted that I was not a fast runner.  Well that was about to change with the Sly Fox Summer Series, given that I had 5 more chances to improve on my time on the exact same course.

Over the course of 15+ years I was putting on about 2 lbs. a year. I could only drop a few pounds on diet alone.  On April 16, 2016, after being disappointed with my inability to complete easy challenges at the “Goliathon Try the Obstacle Day Event”, I decided I needed to make a serious effort at losing weight.  Once I put my mind to it I found it to be a very simple problem to resolve.  My caloric intake needed to be less than the calories I burned.  The downside to working in an office environment is that I sit all day.  For over two months, I had been working out two days a week with the OCR class, but it wasn’t enough for me to lose weight.  After incorporating cardio into my weekly routine, I began to lose weight immediately.  A month later, I competed at the Goliathon Event, 10 lbs. lighter, and made tremendous improvement.  And as an added bonus, I was shaving minutes off my 5K finishing time throughout the remainder of the Summer Series.


September 7th, 2016 was the final 5K race of the Summer Series and I had a finishing time of 29:15.  I was confident that I still had room for improvement, so I registered for the Sly Fox Winter Series… I had no idea what I signed up for!   Burr!!  
On September 22, 2016 I reached my goal of dropping 40lbs! To ensure I maintain a healthy weight, I set my target weight at 125 lbs.  Believe it or not, it’s easy for me to drop below my target weight, so I need to monitor my caloric intake along with my daily activity.


In 2016, I ran 10 races mostly 5Ks.  In 2017, I ran 20 races which were a combination of 5Ks, 4-5 milers, 10Ks and a grueling Half Marathon.  My personal best was on August 2, 2017 at a Sly Fox Summer Series race with a finishing time of 25:27.  I’ve learned to appreciate that each course has a different challenge level and weather conditions can impact your finishing time.  I am grateful to have met so many amazing people through the Sly Fox Track Club.  I received an overwhelming amount of encouragement throughout this experience.  The most memorable quote was… “Sometimes you just need to show up”!  Never would I have imaged that I would place 1st in my age group.  I look forward, to many more races in my future regardless where I finish.


Making time to work out regularly has been challenging. I find creative ways to work out while at my kid’s practices even if it means running around a parking lot, or up and down the stairs of an ice hockey arena.  If there is one thing that you take away from my story, is that goals are achievable if you work toward them. 

Val Jani

#Goals!


Val after her first race

 

March 2018

Jim Schutawie

I’ve run on and off since I was 14.  I was inspired when running became so popular back in the 1970’s.  My high school never had a track team or a cross country team. I ran just because I enjoyed it and to stay in shape.  My first competitive run ever was the 1991 Broad Street Run. I’ve been hooked on racing ever since.  I’ve run with a great group of friends though the 1990’s and then took several years off when my kids were born.  

When I decided to get back into running I suffered through just about every running injury there is and had to stop. To keep my fitness up I started taking spin classes. That lasted until knee pain got the better of me. Since I was determined to get back to running I started lap swimming. I figured that was zero impact, so I couldn’t get hurt.  Eventually, I got back on the spin bike and back to running strong.  That’s when I realized that I swim, bike and run….might as well be a triathlete!  

I found a small group of friends to ride with and did my first Olympic distance triathlon in 2002.  The Escape from Ft. Delaware.  Even though I was physically ready to complete all three sports I quickly learned that I did not know how to swim a straight line in open water. After that I heard about a new triathlon class starting up at the Spring Valley YMCA, so I signed up right away. It was the first time I got to train with others interested in triathlon and I learned a lot.  Around 2010, the lead instructor asked if I would come to work at the Y and take over the triathlon class.  Training and helping people on their road to triathlon success was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  After about 4 years I decided to retire from the Y. I left it in capable hands. It has grown to a large group of athletes now known as the Spring Valley Gators.

I continued running and riding. My riding elevated to bike racing.  I started in local criterium races and eventually started racing on the track at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center Velodrome, in Trexlertown. It was there a fellow rider invited me to join his cycling team, Sunnybrook Trek. Competitive cycling with Sunnybrook was another fantastic experience.  The Sunnybrook team eventually folded into the Bikesport team who I continue to race for to this day.  

I never lost sight of of running and I have been running regularly every Tuesday night with a group out of Valley Forge Running Co in Collegeville for about the last 6 years. During my post-triathlon days I continued competing in running races of all distances including many half marathons and 4 marathons.  I finally got to compete on the track for the first time ever in 2017. I ran the 800 and the 200. Of course I got blown away by all the college age runners, but I had a blast and got to scratch that off my bucket list.

I’ll be 55 this year and most of my PR’s came within the last 5-10 years.  I’m either a late bloomer, or I was a stone cold slacker when I was young! 😉  I joined the Sly Fox Track Club in 2017. Here I found another wonderful group of runners and many new friends.  I greatly appreciate everything that Chris and the Sly Fox Track Club do to keep the local running community growing, engaged and fit.

Short Term goals: Break a 20min 5k, run a sub-6min mile and BEAT THOSE HUSKIES!!!

Long term goal:  Qualify for and run Boston

 

February 2018

Amy Hamilton

Me in high school: Faked being sick or hurt to get out of running the mile.

Me today: Pays to run 13.1 miles, short run is a 5k.

 My running journey began on July 18, 2015, with a very slow and painful 30 minutes on the treadmill, doing intervals of 30 seconds “running” and 90 seconds of desperately trying to catch my breath and not fall over. I reminded myself throughout the session why I started this in the first place: 1. I told my family I would run the Toss Your Turkey 5k on Thanksgiving that year and 2. I had been following several wounded veterans on social media, men and women who had every reason to curl up and stay in bed but were out there being competitive and active. Who was I to sit at home on the couch when I had the ability to run?

I committed to my first race in October of that year, the Kyle Pagerly Memorial 5k. I knew it would be a struggle to say the least, but I was completely unprepared for the hills that I encountered. I finished it though, and I was hooked on the atmosphere of a race. (It remains my favorite race each year.) I ran another one the beginning of November, then the Thanksgiving day 5k. I decided to keep going with a goal of at least 1 race a month in 2016. I ran 17 that year.

In September, 2016, I began kicking around the notion of running the Pottstown Half Marathon, despite still not always running the entire 5k and not even really going further than that regardless. I told a fellow Sly Fox member I was considering it, and she said “you can totally do it” and promptly turned around and told everyone else… oops, I guess I was kind of committed. I met with Chris in January and got a solid game plan to get prepared for the race. There were days I questioned if I could really do it (even though he always told me I could,) until I managed to get lost on a group run and ran further than intended (8 miles,) and in the rain no less. The first time I ran 10 miles was the best feeling in the world… until I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon 3 days before my 2-year running anniversary.

In 2017, I joined a challenge to run 1017 km in the year. At one point, I wasn’t sure if it was possible, but as the year end approached, it was within reach. With a lot of digging deep, I finished the challenge during the Kris Kringle 5 miler with .14 miles to spare. If you had told me on July 18, 2015, I would run 632 miles in one year, I would have definitely fallen off that treadmill from laughing so hard. We really can do what we put our minds to.

Aside from my personal accomplishments, the thing I value the most about running is the support everyone gives to each other and the friends I have made along the way. “Runners are friends before they even meet.” I am not sure I would have gotten as far as I have without everyone being in my corner. If I can give just a fraction of that back to someone else, whether a rookie or a veteran runner, then my job is done.

Run Happy.


Amy Hamilton (left) and Krista Lenhart

January 2018

Dave DeRosa

I’m 45 and I’ve been running for about 8 years.

I’m married to my beautiful wife, Wendy, and we have 3 children.

A little history: I’m a 5th grade teacher and I started to run when a former student of mine asked me to help them with their science fair project.  They needed 4 teachers to run a mile (something I hadn’t done since high school).  Long story short, I trained hard to run that mile and was pretty proud of myself for actually casting aside my excuses (my knees, my back, etc.) and just reaching my goal.

From there my wonderfully supportive wife introduced me to the world of 5k’s for food and beer.  My first race was the Tex Mex 5k in North Wales.  I figured free tacos and beer…I can run for that!  Since then, I’ve had a mild addiction to running.  I’ve completed countless races, including 5k’s to 10k’s, mud runs, color runs, 5 & 10 milers, & half marathons.

Some of my favorite races include: The Warrior Dash, The MS Muckfest, Broadsteet 10 miler, all of the Sly Fox races (of course), The Love Run, The Bird-in-Hand Half, The Valley Forge Rev Run, and the Atlantic City Half (which was my 1st half).

This past fall season I completed 5 half marathons along with a bunch of 5k’s.  Running is my release, my stress management tool, and my time for me to think and reflect on everything.

I’ve never been the fastest runner, but I’ve improved.  For me, running has been about competing against myself…Of course, picking up a medal or two along the way doesn’t hurt! J

Now, my wife and I hope to inspire our children to chase after their own dreams and stay active through fun mud runs, color runs, turkey trots, etc.  We try to lead through example with a healthy, active lifestyle.

Future goals: running a full marathon (possibly this spring or next fall)

Long term goals: running a race in every state in the U.S. and parts of Europe.  Most of these may have to occur after my wife and I retire, so I’m hoping for a long running career. J

My “Race day” shirt quote: “One day I won’t be able to do this.  Today is not that day!”

December 2017

Kim Smith

In late 2011 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis that had prevented any type of activity for a few months. The desire to lose weight is what initiated my walking/running lifestyle. I started walking and had a friend that consistently ran 5ks so I met up with her for my first race (a Color Run) and there began my love for running.

In November of 2014, I met a SFTC member, Nora, who introduced to me to this fabulous group of runners. This group has transformed my life and love of running, beyond what I ever thought it could be. I found other members who suffer from RA like I do and give me the drive to push through any obstacles (my PR 5K is all thanks to Alli and my PR in my half marathon – by 16 minutes – thanks to Coach pushing me) and lifelong friends that I couldn’t imagine racing without!

Now, 6 years after my diagnosis I have run countless races (5ks, 10ks, 15ks, 10 Milers, and half marathons). Did I ever imagine that I would be a runner? No, but at this point, I can’t imagine my life without running (even with all the falls and broken bones)! I continue to be inspired by my fellow Sly Fox Track Club friends and will continue racing until I can’t do it anymore.

Favorite race – SFTC’s Howlin’ at the Moon 5k (Coach and I’s friendversary)

Future Goal – sub 30 minute 5k

Favorite Song at the Start Line – Tootsie Roll

Favorite Song at the Finish Line – The Wobble

Words of encouragement – CHOOSE HAPPY

November 2017

Scott Armstrong


Hopper’s Hands, local San Francisco runner’s landmark

My running career started in 2013 when my wife and I enrolled our son in an elementary school running program called STRIDE. The students ran a few times a week and learned leadership skills. The program culminated in a Girls on the Run/STRIDE 5k in West Chester. Each student needed to pick a running buddy for the upcoming 5k. My son’s teacher had run track at Susquehanna and I was hoping he would pick her, but another student asked first. So I was the running buddy. Concern that I could not run a whole 5k caused me to start training.

My first run was April 3, 2013 and I remember how hard it was (1.5 miles with generous walk breaks). Two months of training followed with most of the running being done around the perimeter of my yard. Race day arrived and we were off. Hundreds of runners from all of the area elementary schools filled the course through the streets of West Chester. With the mantra of “no stopping,” my son and I completed the race with a sprint to the finish line on the Henderson HS track.

Since my son had let it be known he was retiring from running after the race, I began to wonder how fast I could run a 5k on my own. So I kept up with my training and entered a few 5k’s. At the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, I heard about a new running club that was forming called the Sly Fox Track Club.

I consider myself fortunate that I came to running in my 50’s. For one thing, I’ve avoided a few decades of wear and tear (I ran track in Junior High, but that was it). The best thing, however, is that I don’t have any old PR’s to measure against. Reaching top running fitness is a process that takes years so I’m still setting PR’s. This year I’ve set PR’s at four different distances (mile, 5k, 5-mile and half marathon). Each year I set some running goals. It may take a few years to reach some of them, but I’m confident I’ll get there if I’m consistent with my training.

One thing I never had as a goal because I didn’t think it was even remotely possible was to actually win a race. But that has happened a few times now (including once on my birthday!). It goes to show that good things happen if you just keep showing up and running.

Running is a constant so I run wherever I am: London, the Swiss Alps, Yosemite National Park, across the Golden Gate bridge, Boulder, CO and anywhere else I’ve traveled. I do most of my runs solo, but I like to run with a partner when possible. One thing that amazes me about running with someone is no matter who I’m running with or how long, we never run out of things to talk about. One of my favorite runs was around Hyde Park in London in the dark. I had no idea where I was because I couldn’t see, but I just stuck to my running partner as we circled the park numerous times, chatting the whole way.

For the past year, I’ve worked at the Chester County Running Store. This has given me a chance to work alongside some top-notch runners (HS, college and masters level) and given me new running opportunities. I also get to help local runners find the best shoes and equipment for them.

Advice I give to new runners: You can’t rush running fitness, you have to build it over time.

Race mantras: “How bad do you want it?” and “Finish Strong”


Magnolia Road, Boulder, Colorado. Made famous by the book Running with the Buffaloes. 
This road is at 8,000 feet of elevation. I ran eight miles there on the day this picture was taken.


Hartshorne Masters Mile, Ithaca, NY. January 2017

October 2017

Barbara Raifsnider

I always liked being active. In grade school I played softball, basketball, & field hockey. During the summer I didn’t have any friends my age that lived nearby. So I would ride bike and run through out the Oley Valley. After High School I was on bowling teams and racquetball leagues. As times changed and my work adventures changed so did my time for sports.

Later in life, I could tell I needed to get back to being more active.   In 2013 my Mother suggested I should give up something for Lent. I chose Ice Cream and all variations of frozen treats. I love my dairy products, but being concerned for my health, I chose to continue this lifestyle. I’ve added some other foods to the list too.

In April of 2013 I decided to start walking the trails near my work. That just didn’t seem like exercise to me because I’m on my feet most of the day at work. I started to ride my 9th grade bike on the trails, and again, it just didn’t seem like enough. So I tried running & walking fast until one day I said I needed to run where I can drive to measure my distance. I was running every day faithfully.

I didn’t know anyone that ran. One day, I was talking to a customer about how I was running 1 mile and I didn’t feel like it when I was finished. He said that means you can run farther. What??? I said. I do 1 mile! He said think about it! So there it was, in my head as I’m running. Ok go to the next pole or mailbox or stop sign. How many laps around the track can I do? Naa, road is more scenic.

One day I saw an ad for a 5k race in Oley. I didn’t think I could run a whole 5k. The race director said run some, walk some.  I thought, “What it’s called a run?” Well October 19, 2013 I ran my first race, The Dr. Zackon Memorial 5k in Oley. I ran the whole way and found out they give awards. I hung around for the award ceremony. I was surprised and hooked when I found out I placed 3rd in my age group! I saw a table full of race apps and found another taking place a few weeks later near my home. And so the adventure began at age 51.

I race a lot. Now you don’t have to run races to run but I look at it like this: If I prepay in advance (Which tends to be cheaper), I will not talk myself out of going out the door and getting exercise. In 2014 I was so hooked that I managed to attend and run 156 races. I have done events in 8 different states. I love posting about the events I attend. There are a lot of great charities out there to support while getting exercise.

I’ve met so many great people from near and far that have been great supporters. I’ve run over 20 half marathons. Trail running in the woods has become my passion. Each year I choose a different challenge. This year I decided to attempt an Trail Ultra (farther than 26.2 miles). I did my first 26.2 mile distance in April 2017. By the time you read this I should have run my first 50k (31 miles)! Hope I conquered it!

 

September 2017

Josh Bolan

I started running in 5th grade when I ran my first 5k.  This is when I found that I really liked running.  I continued running and competing in races throughout middle school and I am still running going into my junior year of high school.  I plan to keep running throughout my life because of the many benefits running has for you and your body.

I run track and cross country for Perkiomen Valley.  I would like to improve my PR 5k of 19:21 by achieving under 18:15.  I know that if I am going to get there I need to train hard and keep at it.

I love being a part of Sly Fox Track Club.  The races are a lot of fun because of all the great people who attend and run them.  I especially like the Summer series races because you run the same course once a month and you are able to compare your times to see if there is improvement being made (and also the wings).

Favorite Race- 5k Summer Series

Future Goal- Sub 18:15 5k

August 2017

Tundra Randall

I started running when I was 1 year old with my older sister Simba.  I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew that I was out with my Mom, Dad and big sister, so it had to be okay.  Plus, I had seen how excited my sister got when she went out with my Mom, so I was ready for that.  After running for a little while just around our neighborhood, I ran my first race, I had no idea what that was, I just thought we were running with more people.  Once the race started I was hooked, no more boring sidewalks and streets, I got to run on grass and through the woods.  Of course, I followed my sister and Mom because I still had no idea what I was doing.  My Dad was talking to me the whole way telling me which way to turn and that I was doing great. He also was making sure I was having fun, after all, I’m a Husky what else would I rather be doing than running!  On that particular day my sister Simba and Mom finished ahead of me, but I didn’t care, it was so much fun.  I couldn’t wait to do the next one.

From that point on I was hooked.  Some of you have probably seen me at some Sly Fox Track Club races, I’m the one that takes off like a rocket when the person with the microphone says “GO”.  I don’t follow my sister anymore, which I know she hates, but I wouldn’t be the runner I am today without her showing me the ropes. My Dad and I continued to train for the past two years and with a special thanks to Sly Fox Track Club  (Coach for allowing me to run and Allison for watching my siblings and me when my Mom and Dad go away), we have been able to compete in numerous races.  Just this past year we completed over 15 races and ran 250 miles together. My Dad and I even came in first overall in one of the golf course races.  Unfortunately I can only run during the winter months, my long hair prevents me from doing anything during the summer, so you won’t see me around much.

I’d like to thank everyone in the club for making my sister (Simba), my little brother (Rokee, who is now running as well and is a favorite of Coach’s) and me for feeling welcome at all of the races we do.  We love competing with everybody and hanging out after the race.

Favorite race – St. Patrick’s Day 10k (or anything below 30 degrees)

Future goals – 5k in under 20 minutes (I’ve been close but my Dad needs to get a little faster) and to run a 10 miler.

Words of Wisdom – Just live in the moment and RUN – you’ll feel better!!

July 2017

Charmaine Merkel

I have been running off and on for a couple of years, doing a couple of 5K races but that had been the most I had run.   Then, thanks to my daughter (Yvonne D’Luzen) introducing me to Sly Fox Track Club I found the support and confidence I needed to run longer distances.  Running has now become a definite in my life.

As I started running later in life it has been a challenge at times.  I do not have the speed to keep up with the younger, faster people, but I keep going – never giving up.

I am proud to say that I run several 10Ks, Philly Broad Street this year for the first time and have done two half marathons in the past year.

Of course, my first half marathon was with Sly Fox last July at the age of 64.  With the support of my track club friends, I have been able to accomplish things I never thought possible.

Being a member of the Track Club has been a great experience, I have made so many great friends and consider the members my extended family.   They have been very encouraging and have helped me tremendously to step out of my comfort zone and go for it.

Favorite race – July 2016 Pottstown Half Marathon (of course)

Future Goals – Complete a 5K in 40 minutes or less.   Complete a half marathon in 3 1/2 hours.

Words of encouragement – Never give up.   You will be amazed at what you can accomplish with a great support group and lots of determination.

June 2017

Richard Mitchell

I have been running for a long time.  I remember being in my first race in junior high where I ran a leg of the 4×400 relay, my team won even though we dropped the baton. I could always run fast, but running long distances was not my thing.  Bicycling long distances was though.  I started doing triathlons out of college with a couple of work friends, for this I had to start running longer distances.  I got into all kinds of fitness activities but family put the breaks to my running and triathlons for a while, and I started back doing run races 4 years ago when my kids got old enough to drive themselves everywhere (and I was turning 50).  Since then I have done everything from 1 mile to 13.1 miles, but that elusive 26.2 is haunting me.  Sometimes I think I am too big to run a full.  I am 6’4” and was 210lbs, but I have dropped 20 lbs in the last 2 years and it seems to help with avoiding the repetitive injuries?  I will try again this fall.

What do I like the most about the SFTC?  First – not trying to kiss ass but the coach is fantastic.  I enjoy the teamwork I see when we run speed drills at the Hill School on Wednesday nights.  I also enjoy the comradery of being with the other runners of the club.  I really feel great when I see or hear about the members who have accomplished a running goal with the help of the club.  I also am glad that coach has decided to put the race info on the back of the medals this year!  I think I am the member who lives the farthest away – 25 miles. So while I am not around that often, it isn’t because I don’t care to be, it’s just a distance thing.

Favorite Race – Broad Street 10M.  Straight and flat.  I do not want to have to think while I am running.

Future Goals – My Buzz Lightyear moment – To infinity (26.2) and beyond.

I do not do music anymore when I run.  I have tested this, and I run faster in races when I am unplugged.  I also was invited once to run with a group of Amish and Mennonites at a full moonnight run, and ran with my headphones in, and I think I’ve been shunned since doing that.

My Favorite Quote: “So Hum” – which is a meditation mantra that means a reflection of the sound of the breath but also carries a contemplative meaning: “I am that”. Here, “that” refers to all of creation, the one breathing us all.  Therefore, for me this has meaning in the running I do, with the people I run with.

May 2017

Susan Flavin

We could not think of anyone more fitting to be our First selection as Runner of the Month. Susan is one of the most positive and encouraging women you could ever want to be associated with. Her drive and determination to be a better athlete every single day is an inspiration to anyone who comes in contact with her.

She did not start running until she was 47 when challenged by a High School friend to do a mud run, her ego could not let herself be embarrassed and trained for 8 months like most of us train for marathons.

The woman who was a 2 pack a day cigarette smoker can now call herself a marathoner and soon to be Half-Ironman Finisher.

Since that First mud run she has completed 6 Half Marathons, a few 10k’s, countless 5k’s and numerous Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlons.

Susan quotes that after she completed that first race, she immediately signed up for another event and through a friend was introduced to Sly Fox Track Club and was instantly attracted to the encouragement, humor and friendships she found. Some of her closest friends (Ruth and David) she met through the club. Those three began meeting at 4:30am to run because that’s when their schedules permitted them to train, this group became known as the vampire group throughout the club.

While Susan really never kept track of her pace daily, she does know she was running 13:30 per mile when she started and now she is comfortable at 9:50-10:15 pace. In fact at this years Love Run she shaved 15 Minutes off of her time from two years earlier. WOW!!!!

Favorite Race– Marine Corps Marathon

Future Goals

Sub 30 Minute 5k

Sub 4 Hour Marathon

Full Ironman Triathlon

Favorite Song at the Start Line– Right Now- Van Halen

Favorite Song at the Finish Line- Kryptonite-3 Doors Down

Susan’s one Tip she would like to share

For me I can’t run every day. I don’t perform well at this point in my development. So I work in other Cross-Training Distance Cycling, Swimming, and core work. It has made me a stronger runner, and less prone to repetitive injuries.

Susan’s Favorite Quote

There will be a day when you cannot do this. TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!!

This was given to me by a dear friend the night before Marine Corps Marathon, I carried it on a piece of paper in my phone case for the entire race.

This sport has changed my life, and has given me more great experiences than I could ever give back. I do try to give back when time permits volunteering for SFTC events and runs/My children Mia, Liza and Adam have learned that this is fun, and even more so when you run with friends. The people in SFTC have been great examples for them. You cannot buy or teach that, and it doesn’t come from organized kids sports, that’s for sure.