Runner of the Month

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.