Passion in something you truly love helps guide your life. Along the way, in my running career, I have had a few people I really admire and look up to. I hope you have a few people in mind that you admire and follow but if you don’t feel free to look up some of the people I admire from here. These runners have inspired me in one way or another and I am grateful for what they have brought to the running community.
The first person on my list is Connie Gardner. I had the amazing honor of her pacing me for the last 20 miles in my very first 100-mile race in Destin Fl. The race report on this blog talks about the whole experience. She was wonderful and so very helpful. I had followed her on Facebook prior to the race and already had a ton of respect for her but after meeting and running with her she will always be my runner I admire the most. She is a ‘get down to business’ kind of woman and I enjoyed every minute I was able to run with her. We talked about so much on that 20-mile run and she gave me great advice that I cherish. She is also an extraordinary runner and holds many records in so many races all over the US. She has been running professionally for over 35 years and is still going stronger than ever. I admire her love for the sport and her focus when she is on a course. She gave me my first finisher belt buckle and whole experience helped me become hooked to the sport of ultra-running. I also saw her in action at the Mohican 100 race on 2016 and was star-struck as she passed me during the night. She is an awesome person and I hope to see her again in future races.
The next person I admire highly is Pete Kostelnick. I admire him so much because of his personality and will to set his mind to a goal and then conquer it. He is a very humble man that was not a big time runner who got a big head as he started doing well in the sport. He admits to being emotional and having struggles just like the rest of us. He is an amazing runner as well. He holds the record at the Badwater 135 ultra-marathon and recently holds the new Guinness World Record for running across America in 42 days. I have had two brief conversations with him over Facebook messenger and he is such a nice down to earth person. I love his humble personality and love for running. I actually saw him one night as he was pacing his friend when they both ran past me at Tunnel Hill. I was giddy with excitement and felt excited to be in the presence of such an amazing runner. He is my idol because of what he has accomplished but more so because of who he is. He is a sweet person that has a passion for running and does not need to inflate his ego to do it.
A runner that has brought a lot of knowledge to the sport is Scott Jurek. His books are very educational and I have learned some great ideas I have put into practice. He is a plant based runner and I admire his dedication to a healthy diet. He has many records as well. I have never met him but admire all that he has accomplished and what he brings to the sport. He recently had a baby and I love that he runs with her when he trains. His wife is a big supporter of Scott and I have enjoyed hearing how she crews for him on his various challenges. They seem like a very good team and I admire that they can run as a family.
A runner that has brought a lot of positive attention to the running community is Dean Karnazes. He is a great long distance runner that has worked hard to make health a priority in children’s lives through various programs. He also has a great family support team that crews for him during his races. I like that he is not afraid to admit that a race has been unsuccessful. He learns from his mistakes and then gets it done. He is pretty much the face of the running community. His dedication to a healthy lifestyle and getting others into a healthy lifestyle is admirable.
I admire all the race directors out there that make it possible for us to come together and have an amazing experience. Their hard work and dedication make these races happen. I know that so much goes on behind the scenes and I have a great appreciation for all they do so that the races can go on. Ultras tend to have a smaller amount of runners which makes it a little easier for the directors to be more involved with the runners. The director at the Destin 100 really is involved as he stays out there on the beach all night and encourages the runners at ever loop. The director at Blind Pig and Tunnel Hill personally gave me my belt buckle at the finish line and congratulated me. These little things really make the whole experience even better.
A runner that I met at the Destin ultra-race and greatly admire is Christy Johnston. She and I were the only two women to finish the race in the 27 hour 100+ category. She had a great personality and very kind words that I appreciate. It was fun corresponding with her after the race. We became friends and I had a great time following her as she became a Badwater 135 finisher in a very respectable time of 34 hours. She has a great love for the sport and it shows. She also is a very sweet and humble person. I hope to see her soon in February for the next Destin Ultra.