Spotlight on Marcus Grunewald

This month I had the pleasure to interview Marcus Grunewald. He is unique to Race Guards in that he is the Race Director for the BMW Dallas Marathon and therefore knows firsthand how important it is to provide a safe and rewarding race experience for his race participants. We are fortunate to have someone with his race day savvy and behind the scenes knowledge on our Dallas Race Guards team. He also has an incredible passion for the sport of running which is evident in his interview.  

Marcus partners with Dr Laura

Marcus partners with Dr Laura

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member? 

A. I first heard about Race Guards at a running conference, and then saw a few runners in their uniforms at a race. I thought it was a great idea, but didn’t know enough about them to join at the next Dallas Marathon. Race Guards then   invited me to run with them at their next event in Dallas. During that event the team member I was partnered with (Dr. Laura Dowd) saved a runners’ life by performing CPR. Although I knew Race Guards would be an amenity to any race, I was 110% convinced after that incident.

 

Andy Voggenthaller, Ron Tran, Marcus Grunewald, and Dr Laura Dowd at the BMW Dallas Marathon

Andy Voggenthaller, Ron Tran, Marcus Grunewald, and Dr Laura Dowd at the BMW Dallas Marathon

Q.  What is your career and how does it relate to being a Race Guards member?

A. I am Executive Race Director for the BMW Dallas Marathon, a position I have held longer than I care to admit (since 2002). I’ve always kept my CPR certifications up to date, and enjoy running. I also like giving back to the running community, which makes me a pretty good candidate for Race Guards.

 

Q.  What is your favorite event that you have done so far?

A. My very first Dallas Marathon. I think everyone’s first marathon is special.

 

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards team member?

A. Watching Dr Laura Dowd tell paramedics helping her with a downed runner that they could refer to her as “Dr. Ma'am” (She said this right after they told her, “We’ve got this Ma’am”).

 

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped and how you think it impacted their race experience?

A. There are too many runners that benefited from their interaction with us as Race Guards to try to pick one out, although I truly believe the downed runner mentioned above is probably alive because of Dr. Laura Dowd’s  quick actions.

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Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. Dr Laura and I handcuffed to a police car at the Cowtown Marathon. I won’t go into the reasons why we were handcuffed, but let’s just say we were proven innocent. (I hope Dr. Laura Dowd isn’t upset I disclosed this!)

 

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A. Texas Barbeque. And Starbucks.

 

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I’ve been a runner ever since college, and have progressed into ultra runs with a 50 miler under my belt. I had quintuple bypass surgery (due to genetic high cholesterol) earlier this year and am just now getting back into running. I can tell you firsthand that you appreciate the runs you get in, even the bad ones, a lot more after heart surgery.

 

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

 A. Life is short – love what you do and do what you love.

 

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. Giving back to others. I believe we are here to help others have a good life, which in the end makes our own lives abundant.

 

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. I left the corporate banking world to work full time asa  race director because I liked the people I was around in the running world better. The Race Guards team is a subset of some of the best runners I have had the privilege of meeting.

Thank you, Marcus, for your dedication to Race Guards. We are so glad that you are back to running and helping others out on the course. You are an inspiration!      

Spotlight on Mimi Cox

This month I interviewed Mimi Cox who is a seasoned team Race Guards team member in Dallas. You can tell how passionate she is for running and for Race Guards in her interview.

Smiles for miles: Mimi (left) with Dr Laura

Smiles for miles: Mimi (left) with Dr Laura

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A.  I saw a friend post about Race Guards and I thought “how fun!”  I would be able to run the distance of the race, help people and run with my friends!

Q.  What is your favorite aspect of being a Race Guards member?

A.  I really enjoy giving back to the running community and watching the athlete that I helped cross the finish line.

Q.  What is the most recent event you participated in and what is your favorite?

A.  The most recent event I participated in was the 2017 Dallas Running Club Half Marathon. My favorite race is the Cowtown Marathon in Ft. Worth, TX.

In great company: Mimi (right) with Founder Andy, Expo Director Rich, and Medical Director Dr. Laura

In great company: Mimi (right) with Founder Andy, Expo Director Rich, and Medical Director Dr. Laura

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A.  My very first race as a Race Guards team member put such a big smile on my face.  It was so exciting to have helped runners finish something that they had trained for.  Sometimes it was just an encouraging word, but the runners still appreciated it. I also loved watching the Race Guards veteran team members do their thing out on course.  It was very impressive.

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at an event and how it impacted you?

A.  Just giving someone something so simple, like salt, Perform spray, or a smile can have a big impact. Sometimes an athlete will find us after the race and thank us and tell us that we helped them finish the race.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A.  It is hilarious to run with Dr. Laura Dowd ( Race Guards medical director) because when you can’t find her for a minute you need to remember to look for a dog.  And yep, there she will be, probably taking a selfie with the dog.  Priceless!

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food? 

A.  Anything!  But tacos are probably my favorite.

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Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A.  I am the Assistant Training Director for the Dallas Running Club.  You can find me running and in the gym 4-5 days a week.  I travel to run with my friends all over the US. 

I once tore the ligaments and tendons in my foot when I stepped on a rock running an overnight relay at 2:00am.  The doctor said I would never run again.  That was in 2007.  Hmmmmmm

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A.  In the midst of our good, hard, happy and sad times, find your Blessing.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A.  I am so thankful for Race Guards.  Running is so fabulous.  Anyone can do it.  And Race Guards enables the runner to be successful.  Usually, when we are needed, there isn’t a medical tent close by.  We are able to help the runner and keep them on the course.  And if the medical situation is more serious, we are there to get the medical attention the runner needs.  I think all races need Race Guards.   I am so blessed to be a Race Guards team member.  I am always encouraging my fellow runners to sign up and volunteer to join Race Guards.

 

Thank you Mimi for being such a big part of our Dallas area team! Your enthusiasm and experience is what helps make Race Guards so incredible. 

Spotlight on Nicole Chartier

This month I interviewed one of our fabulous San Diego area Race Guards team members, Nicole Chartier. Nicole is not only an endurance athlete, but she is in the medical field and adds her medical knowledge and experience to every event she participates in.

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A. I happened to see a booth at the San Diego Half Marathon expo 2 years ago. I started chatting with the volunteers there, and it immediately sounded like something I should be a part of!

Q. What do you do for your career and how does it impact being a Race Guards member?

A. Right now I am a medical assistant and applying to Physician Assistant School. Medicine is a huge passion of mine so it's great to be able to combine that with running and volunteering.

Q. What is the most recent event you participated in and what is your favorite?

A. I just did the Disney Half Marathon, which was an amazing experience!! So far my favorite would be the Beach to Bay Half. It was such a beautiful course, but a very hot day. I really felt like I was able to make a difference being out there on the course as a Race Guards member.

Q. What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A. My favorite moments are when runners come up and tell me about how a Race Guards team member helped them finish their last race or saved their day with Perform spray or salt. I love knowing that people were able to accomplish their goals and have a great time doing it, thanks to Race Guards.

Q. What is your favorite post race pig-out food?

A. Pretzels and coffee!! Basically caffeine and salt. J

Q. What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I started running and doing triathlons about 4 years ago. I was instantly hooked. I'm not very fast, but I love how many interesting people I meet by being a runner. I have managed to stay injury free, which is pretty amazing, I tend to trip and fall a lot while trail running!

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. Enjoy everything :)

Thank you Nicole for being our October spotlight and helping keep athletes safe. If you race in the San Diego area, look for Nicole out on the course or at Starbucks afterwards, getting her caffeine fix!

     

Spotlight Lisa Klinkenberg

Our September Spotlight features Lisa Klinkenberg, one of our awesome Boston Race Guards Team Members

 Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards? Were you a part of the original Boston Race Guards team?

Lisa Klinkenberg (left) and her Race Guards partner

Lisa Klinkenberg (left) and her Race Guards partner

A.  I noticed the Race Guards booth while attending the Race Mania expo in Boston this past summer, and thought, “Wow, that’s awesome!” On second pass through the expo, I stopped to ask questions, and immediately went home to apply. I signed up for the first Race Guards event in Boston – Run to Remember – and the rest is history!

Q.  What do you do for your career and how does it impact being a Race Guards member?

A.  I am a physical therapist assistant at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, so I have a broad background in anatomy & physiology, kinesiology, exercise science, running/gait mechanics, and injury prevention and recovery. It helps me spot runners who may be having musculoskeletal issues while racing as well as medical issues, and gives me the knowledge to help runners before those issues become race-ending problems.

Q.  What is the most recent event you participated in and what is your favorite?

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A. Most recently, I participated in the Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod. My favorite race so far this year was the Beach to Beacon 10K in Maine. By then, runners and race staff were starting to recognize us, and cheered for us during the race as much as the runners. I felt like a super hero on that very, very fun course.

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A. Stripping wetsuits at the Patriot Half Triathlon was definitely a memorable experience. It was my first exposure to triathlons in general, and being involved in such a direct and physical way was so much fun – and so much work! Before we even started the run, I was soaked and exhausted, and it was really inspiring to see runners who had done much more than I cross the finish line.

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at an event and how it impacted you?

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A. At Beach to Beacon, my Race Guards partner, Nikki, and I assisted a young boy in respiratory distress after he tried to run full effort uphill in scorching heat. Being a mother, it frightened me, and hammered home how important our role is in the events we serve. I was so grateful to be a part of making sure he was able to go home with his family.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. Oh my gosh, there are so many... people say the craziest things when they are tired, hurting, and still determined. Also, I know what Perform spray tastes like.

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food? 

A. French fries, extra salty. And a cheeseburger, extra pickles (maybe dipped in ketchup), if I'm not too tired to pick my head up to chew.

Lisa (right) with her partner and medical director Tracy Kilvinger (pictured left)

Lisa (right) with her partner and medical director Tracy Kilvinger (pictured left)

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I was never an athlete when I was young. I never even set foot in a gym until my OB ordered me to join one after my body literally fell apart during the birth of my daughter (not a story for the faint of heart). Once I did, however, it was love at first sneaker, and I spent nearly a decade teaching group fitness and yoga before going back to school for my physical therapy degree. Since, I have become an athlete, and thrive on long-distance endurance events, preferably in the mountains, which brings a whole host of nagging pains. My biggest challenge/injury was a broken leg and torn quad after ignoring a tibial stress fracture that benched me for more than two months. I don't recommend doing that.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. "Fall down seven times, get up eight."

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. You're my favorite person if you have a coffee for me before an early race start. Cream, no sugar. 

 

Spotlight on Heather Poffenbarger

This month I interviewed one of our fabulous Chicago area Race Guards team members, Heather Poffenbarger. Heather is an athletic trainer and brings to the Race Guards team the skill and training that comes from treating a variety of injuries daily. She also has an optimistic outlook and positive energy that is contagious.

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A. I first became interested in Race Guards after I saw their booth at a race expo in Chicago. I have always wanted to get involved on a different level within the running community and this was the perfect opportunity to help. I have been a member since 2015.

Q.  What do you do for your career and how does it impact being a Race Guards member?

A: I am a certified athletic trainer. I work in preventing and caring for athletic injuries. I see many athletes each day throughout the school year that have minor to severe/season ending injuries. Each athlete comes with their own set of craziness/attitude/why me moments and this often spills into other aspects of life. I am able to utilize my professional skills while working as a Race Guards team member to help those who are needing assistance and encourage them to stay calm and keep moving forward.

Q.  What is the most recent event you participated in and what is your favorite?

A. Esprit De She Triathlon in Naperville, IL. I have enjoyed all the races I have participated in as a Race Guards team member and can’t pick a favorite…yet :)

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A. I have worked the Boston Qualifier races in Geneva, IL. It is exciting to witness the runners who qualify for Boston. How can you not be inspired to give it your all after their hard work and determination with each loop that they complete.

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at an event and how it impacted you?

A.  I worked a triathlon last year and had an athlete collapse right near the finish. After we completed the event, a fellow Race Guards team member and I stopped by medical to make sure she was okay. Luckily she was responsive and being taken care of by the medical staff. It is in that moment that I realized my importance and how amazing it is to be a part of something that has such a large positive influence in the running community.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. During the Rock-n-Roll Chicago Half Marathon my friend (fellow Race Guards team member Holly Lindroth) and I kept smelling the Perform spray, only to realize that she was hitting it with her elbow. Not once, but several times throughout the race. At least her elbow felt good for a while.

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food?  

A. Fountain pop…I crave sugar!

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I played soccer my entire childhood and into some of my adult life and was a dancer for a local studio at home. I now mostly run and once in a while enter a sprint triathlon. I do teach yoga (vinyasa and aerial) now and continue to practice as often as I teach. As I get older, I have finally learned to listen to my body in hope avoid any injuries that would decrease my fitness levels. Once in a while I do get slowed down by nagging injuries but continue to keep moving and taking it one day at a time.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. The only time you should ever look back, is to see how far you’ve come. — Unknown

Thank you, Heather, for your dedication to being an outstanding Race Guards team member!!

 

Spotlight on Allison Fitts

Allison at the RnR Dallas (bottom row, far right)

Allison at the RnR Dallas (bottom row, far right)

This month I interviewed one of our new Race Guard members from our Dallas/ Ft. Worth team. Allison is a wonderful example of someone who truly wants to help and goes out of her way to assist others in her life in general. She embodies what being a Race Guards member is all about.

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A. I first saw Race Guards in the 2016 Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, Texas. My sister-in-law, Nicole Wright, who is also a Race Guards member, ran that race with me and we talked about how we should sign up with that group, and so we did shortly after! I have been a member since October of 2016.

Allison (left) and Shannon

Allison (left) and Shannon

Q.  What do you do for your career and how does it impact being a Race Guards member?

A.  I am currently in graduate school pursuing my MBA and I am also a nanny for a spunky, now 2nd grader, and for my niece and nephew. With my Bachelors in Nutrition/Dietetics, I hope to take each of my degrees into the food industry working in a management position in my future.

I enjoy telling people that we help along the course how important nutrition is in their running careers and how everything can be pointed back to their nutritional status.

Q.  What is the most recent event you participated in and what is your favorite?

A. The most recent event I have participated in was the Boston Run to Remember this past weekend. My favorite races include both the Boston Run to Remember and the Disney Tinker-Bell Half because I have never travelled to those parts of the country before and it was exciting to take my volunteering outside of Texas.

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards team member?

A. My most memorable experience was during the Dallas Rock and Roll Half. My partner and I were dealing with a runner who needed ambulance assistance and when we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive, another runner stopped and asked me for some Perform spray. Well not only him, but a dozen other runners lined up like an assembly line to be sprayed. Needless to say I ran out of Perform spray and lost count of how many people I helped in that short amount of time.

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at an event and how you think it impacted their race experience?

A. Although it is not someone specifically that I can remember, after I stop to help somebody back on their way, I always encourage them that they are really okay and that they CAN finish the race. No matter the distance, we have all been in their shoes, where we just want to quit and feel that there is no way we can finish. I find that some people need a little more encouragement than others, and this is a huge part of why I absolutely love volunteering my time with Race Guards. We can all remember our first big race and how nice it is to have a support system cheering you on, no matter if it’s your family or a random stranger on the side of the streets. Picking somebody up on their feet (sometimes literally) and dusting them off and telling them that they are fine can really change somebody’s attitude in the moment.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. My funniest Race Guards moment happened this past weekend at the Boston Run to Remember race. I roomed with Tracy Kilvinger, Race Guards National Team Director, and the night before the race, she and Janice Penrose, Race Guards President, realized that the local Starbucks was not going to open until 6 a.m., which was when we were all supposed to meet as a team. So, I got put on Starbucks duty that next morning. I was given the orders to get the Starbucks and then go straight to our meeting spot afterwards. The security was so tight at this race that I ended up having to walk all the way around this Starbucks before I could even get close to it. When I finally found it, they informed me that they weren’t opening until 7 a.m. and I told them that I was with the medical team with the race and it was really important that we got our Starbucks before the race :) . So, as a result of my sweet talking, the awesome lady took my order and made our drinks before the Starbucks even opened! I then hustled all the way back around the building then through security to meet up with the group. I’m pretty certain I had a couple miles under my belt before the race even began that morning! I was out of breath by the time I made it to the group meeting, and we just laughed about what I went through just to make sure we had our Starbucks before that run! Starbucks dilemma of 2017!! :)

Allison (bottom row, 2nd from right)

Allison (bottom row, 2nd from right)

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food? 

A. I love breakfast/brunch food after a race. Biscuits, turkey sausage/turkey bacon, cinnamon rolls, eggs, French toast, pancakes, waffles, orange juice, etc.

Editor’s note: I’m pretty sure she doesn’t eat all of this after one race.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

 A. I played college soccer for 4 years and just transitioned into running shortly after. I also enjoy triathlons every now and then. I would like to say I have kept my discipline of working out after college soccer, so the transition into running was easy. I have had the usual ankle problems and plantar fasciitis that soccer players develop, however nothing that has kept me down for too long.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

 A. If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it! No matter the task on hand, with a little faith you can get through anything.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. Becoming a Race Guards member has truly made me want to help people more than I ever have before. Even though I only have medical experience through Race Guards (CPR, AED and basic first aid), I am not afraid anymore to ask if everyone is okay at the scene of a car accident or something as small as a child falling at the park. Like I mentioned, I may only know and have experienced minor incidents through Race Guards, but you never know, maybe basic skills are all that is needed in the case of an emergency. I am no Registered Nurse by any means, but I can definitely thank Race Guards for giving me that confidence I never had before to not be afraid to step up in an emergency to help in any way I can.

Thank you so much Allison for becoming a huge asset to Race Guards in a short period of time. Not only are you a valuable member out on the course, your efforts in the pursuit of coffee are truly remarkable.

Spotlight on Kate O’Donnell

Kate in 2012 at the San Diego Half Marathon, sporting our original Tech Shirt

Kate in 2012 at the San Diego Half Marathon, sporting our original Tech Shirt

Our May spotlight is on Kate O’Donnell. She has been a Race Guards team member since 2012 and an incredible asset to Race Guards ever since. Kate is an endurance athlete and worked as an EMT for 10 years. She makes every effort to participate in as many races as possible, and we are fortunate to have her on our San Diego area team!

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A. I have been a Race Guards team member for 4.5 years. Thanksgiving will be my 5 year Race Guards anniversary!! A friend told me about Race Guards and what they did, and I knew I needed to get involved.

Q.  What do you do for your career and how does it impact you as a Race Guards team member?

A.  I am currently a stay at home mom to Emmitt who is 3 and Ella who is 1. They are awesome training partners, both routinely go on runs with me in the stroller or go with me to the gym. I was an EMT for San Diego Medical Services before I had my kids. Since I no longer work as an EMT, I love being able to still use my skills when they are needed during races!

Q.  What is the most recent event you participated in and what is your favorite?

A. The most recent race I participated in as a Race Guards team member was The Encinitas Half Marathon. I think my favorite race is Finish Chelsea’s Run because it has always been such a significant race for our Race Guards team.

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A. I can think of so many memorable experiences with Race Guards... Jumping over fences to get to a youth who fell during a kids run. …Holding a man with heat stroke during a 90* race in August. I also appreciate the shared learning and teaching methods with other Race Guards team members!

Kate (center) with Vincent and Adrienne, Encinitas Half Marathon

Kate (center) with Vincent and Adrienne, Encinitas Half Marathon

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at an event and how you think it impacted their race experience?

A. I love being able to wrap someone's knee or ankle and watch them feel better and be able to finish the race because of the support I provided!

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food?  

A. Someone once brought pretzel bread to share after a race! It's been a go-to favorite ever since.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I have a degree in Kinesiology as a Fitness Specialist. I ran cross country in college, and love to swim and bike. I do an Ironman 70.3's annually. Knock on wood, so far my body has tolerated everything I have put it through without any injuries!

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. Everything happens for a reason!

Thank you Kate O’Donnell for all the support you give Race Guards. We are lucky to have you!

 

Spotlight on Rebecca Wyatt

Our April spotlight is on Rebecca Wyatt. She is one of our fine Race Guards team members in Dallas, TX. Rebecca has been with Race Guards since early 2016 and has participated in most events in the Texas market since she joined the team.  She is also a fitness instructor and has developed her own methodology of power yoga and strength training called TriKona yoga. 

Rebecca (left) and Annabel at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin

Rebecca (left) and Annabel at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin


Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A. I was introduced to Race Guards by one of my fitness students, Allison Fitts, at Texas Women’s University. 

 

Q.  What is your favorite event that you have supported with the Race Guards team?

A.  The Cowtown in Ft. Worth!  Awesome event with incredible support!

 

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A.  At the Cowtown event, I was walking across to the start line and a woman approached me to shake my hand and saying “Good morning, are you running this event today?  Turns out it was Mayor Betsy Price of Ft. Worth. 

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at an event and how it impacted their race experience?

A.  I was about a mile out from the finish line and ran up to a woman who was limping with significant calf pain.  She wasn’t about to give up so I told her I’d run her in.  We stayed together and she made it!

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A.  After the Austin Half Marathon, we decided to go into the Capitol building.  At this event, I had run with one of the first aid vest on, to carry an AED on course.  As I entered the Capitol building, I looked to my right and the armed security guard and another guard were approaching me, one with gun raised saying “You’ve got to take that off”.  It never occurred to me (before going through security) that the vest would present a security issue!

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food? 

A.  Pasta with meat sauce!

 

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A.  I am a Master Trainer with 32 years experience as a fitness professional.  Yes, I’ve had many physical challenges from being hit by a pickup truck while cycling to some pretty good mountain bike wrecks.  But, no matter what, you push through. 

 

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. J’aime la vie!

Thank you Rebecca for your valuable contribution to Race Guards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Rob Disotell

The March Spotlight is on Rob Disotell. He is one of our ultra dedicated San Diego Race Guards team members. Not only does Rob rarely miss the opportunity to help out at our local area races, he traveled to Austin, Texas in February to support our local Austin team. Rob is an accomplished marathon runner with the Boston Marathon on his list of accomplishments.

Rob and Dr Laura at the Austin Marathon in February

Rob and Dr Laura at the Austin Marathon in February

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A. I was running the trails out near Raptor Ridge in San Diego, and I took a turn and got a bit lost.  A runner came by and offered to show me the route if I wanted to follow him.  Turns out it was Andy Voggenthaler.  We exchanged the usual "what do you do" questions, and Andy told me about Race Guards.  Fortunately, it was at the bottom of a hill, so I asked him to explain further.  Very strategic.  I got to listen all the way up a pretty brutal hill and made Andy do all the talking!  He did it - impressive!

Q.  What is your favorite event that you have done so far?

A. I would say the Austin Marathon.  A great city and a fun trip.  I really got to know some fellow Race Guarders and learned a lot at the Expo.  Every member of Race Guards should make a point of working the expos.  The day of the race was 93% humidity, so we were really busy that day.

Q.  What is your most memorable experience as a Race Guards member?

A. It was at Austin.  Laura and I had run the half marathon, then we worked upstream on the marathon course.  We positioned ourselves at the base of a hill about 3/4 of a mile from the finish.  We spent a lot of time getting runners up the hill, which was not that hard on its own but looked like Mt. Everest at that point of the course.  We noticed a woman running towards us who was leaning so far to the right we thought she was going to fall over.  We stopped her and administered electrolytes and water and got her back to a coherent state.  She kept mumbling 3:40, and it became clear she was shooting for a BQ (Boston Qualifier time).  We slowly escorted her up the hill, and as the salt kicked in she became more upright, coherent, and walking with a purpose.  When we hit the crest of the hill she started to jog, then sprint the last two blocks.  We got her to the medical tent, then went back to the finish line just as the 3:40 pacer crossed.  We went back and told her, and she was crying and telling us we were her Guardian Angels.  Not a dry eye in the house!

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. First, I should clarify that I am almost 63 years old and I am hard of hearing and have to wear hearing aids (too much rock ‘n’ roll). During races I don't wear them because they are uncomfortable and the sound of the wind is really annoying.  So, the funniest moment is really all those times my partners have to put up with me saying "what" or "huh" a million times during the race.  I'm sure after a while I will be like the last kid picked for the kickball team.  No one will want to run with me!

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food? Is it garlic risotto?!

A. The garlic risotto was pretty awesome at Austin, but during the last few miles of a marathon I literally start hallucinating for a Smashburger, fries, and chocolate shake.  Also, the chocolate milk at the finish line, although it's usually gone by the time we get finished.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I have been very fortunate in avoiding injuries.  I have been blessed with good knees, hips, etc. and have been able to run a lot of miles pain free.  However, I spend extra time with dynamic warm-ups before each run, and I don't start getting comfortable until about 3 miles in.  I try to do cross training like P90X and boot camps, but I need to be more consistent.  I didn't start running until I was 48, but up until then I played a lot of competitive basketball in various adult leagues and tournaments.  I developed plantar fasciitis at 47 and had to lay off for about a year, and in order to get back in shape I started running (I couldn't do one mile at 5 mph on the treadmill!).  Before I knew it, I was hooked and gave up hoops before I experienced any serious injuries like all my basketball buddies.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. Uncomplicate your life and enjoy the simple pleasures it offers.  And, try to give more than you receive.

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. Running is probably the most simple and joyful activity that I can imagine.  It's a great way to de-clutter your mind and experience pure euphoria. Race Guards keeps me motivated to stay in running shape, serve others, and continue to do what I love.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. Life is all about timing, and crossing paths with Andy and finding Race Guards was perfect for me.  I was training for my first Boston (motto - you don't have to get faster, just older) and I had decided that after the race I would do less racing and approach my running differently.  Race Guards provides me with the motivation, camaraderie, and sense of purpose that I was seeking.  It's been a great experience for me.

Spotlight on Heather Pearl

This month I interviewed one of our San Diego Race Guards team member, Heather Pearl. Heather is not only a wonderful asset to Race Guards, but she also works for the event management company that is coordinating “Finish Chelsea’s Run” this year!

Heather and Tracy, making a difference and smiling big every step of the way.

Heather and Tracy, making a difference and smiling big every step of the way.

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A. I ran into a few friends at the Safari Park Half Marathon in May 2012 in San Diego. I asked what they were doing, what they were wearing and how I could get involved. The rest is history.

Q.  What do you do professionally and how does that fit in with being a Race Guards member?

A. I work in race event management. I manage running events from conception to finish line. Permitting, vendor orders, registration, customer service etc. I’m not a doctor, not a nurse, not an EMT… I’m a running enthusiast that loves the running community and loves helping people get from start line to finish line.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your involvement in Finish Chelsea’s Run?

A. I was a Race Guards team member at Finish Chelsea’s Run in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2015, I had a vendor booth in the vendor village. I’m back this year as the Operations Manager for High Performance Movement, the event management company for the 2017 Finish Chelsea’s Run. I’m involved in the planning process from obtaining the permits to ordering t-shirts. I’m one of the people responsible for getting thousands of smiling faces to ban together to finish the run Chelsea King started in 2010.

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at a race and how it impacted their race experience?

A. I was partnered with one of my favorite Race Guard,  Erika, at the Carlsbad Marathon in 2014. We were about one half mile from the finish line and we saw a guy sitting on the ground with a sneaker off and a sock full of blood. We ran right over to him and introduced ourselves. We found out that his name was Dennis. He told us that he might need a sag vehicle because a blood blister popped on his foot and he didn’t think he could go anymore. He then got upset because he was on a 30 minute PR and he knew the finish line was close but he couldn’t go any farther.
I sat down next to him and said “Dennis, we are happy to call you a vehicle. BUT if there is any part of you that will be angry tomorrow morning, let us know now. Erika and I will give it all we have to carry you to the finish line.” He laughed and said “let’s give it a try”. We cleaned his foot, bandaged his blister as best we could and got him on his feet.
Dennis put his right arm around Erika’s shoulder and his left arm around my shoulder. While holding his sneaker in his right hand he hopped on one foot. We had to take a few breaks; that was the longest half mile any of us had ever done. When we got to the finish chute his adrenaline kicked in and he started to use both legs to jog/limp his way across the line. He gave us each a hug, smiled with tears in his eyes and said, “I still PR’d by 5 minutes”. I think about Dennis often.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. My funniest moment was at the Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon around Halloween in 2012. Erika and I decided to dress up as cowgirls while running with the Race Guards team. It seemed like a good idea until we saw how serious the participant field was at the race. We immediately regretted the matching gold lame shorts and sequined cowgirl hats.
Come to think of it, after that race, Race Guards members started to have a uniform of black shorts. Coincidence? Or did people complain about the gold shorts?!

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A. Do mimosas count? I kid I kid, but I’m a fan of breakfast foods. Eggs, bacon, French toast, waffles, breakfast burritos etc.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I joined the track & field team in Jr. high school because I didn’t make the volleyball team (or the basketball team, or the field hockey team). I’m not very coordinated but still wanted to play sports with my friends. Running just takes determination, so anyone can do it!
I ran my first marathon at age 23 and got hooked. I’ve now run 7 marathons and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I was sidelined for a year with a hip injury but I’m back on my feet now and ready to crush a few more

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. May the only thing negative in your life be your splits!

Q. How does being a Race Guards team member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. Race Guards team members are there to make you happy; whether it’s a smile on the course when you need one, Blister Shield in your sock or PERFORM Pain Reliever spray on your calf. We want your day and your race to be positive the whole way through. If you’re going to have any negatives that day, I hope it comes through only in your mile times the second half of your race!

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. Being a Race Guards member has had an amazing impact on my life. I’ve met friends, saved lives, run races and traveled with some fantastic people. Running a race in a jersey with a first aid kit and hearing a participant yell “thank you for being here” gives me chills every time.

Helping others reach their goals safely while having fun is what being a Race Guards member is all about. And if anyone happens to see a Race Guards team member in gold lame shorts, you will know who it is!

 

Spotlight on Rick Young

This month I interviewed one of our San Diego Race Guards, Rick Young. He has been a valued Race Guards member for almost two years, and hopefully it is just the beginning of his Race Guards career.

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A.  I caught my first glimpse of Race Guards during the 2015 America’s Finest City Half Marathon.  I was attending the race as a spectator and supporter for my wife.  Though I had completed the race the year prior, I had recently completed knee surgery and had just begun my rehabilitation.  Standing with the crowds on the sidelines of the 6th Ave hill at mile 12, I watched three pairs of Race Guards rally together after the challenging climb.  I noticed the smiles they wore as they turned toward the final stretch while the race participants wore signs of agony.  That display of humility, camaraderie, and sportsmanship was the selling point I needed.  I rehabilitated my knee and volunteered for the 2016 San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon.

Always smiling, Rick (right) charges up those hills.

Q.  Can you tell us a bit about what you do for work and how your work ties into being a Race Guards team member?

A.  I currently serve as a Senior Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist in the United States Coast Guard.  That is a very lengthy title and in layman terms, it translates to a Coast Guard Policeman.  I’m very fond of my career as it has provided outstanding opportunities including a variety of emergency medical training.  Though Law Enforcement is my primary duty, I routinely serve as an EMT for the Coast Guard.  The experience gained with Race Guards helps build confidence in my abilities.

Q.  What has been your favorite Race Guards event?

A. Every event has its own challenges and memories but I would place the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon at the top.  I went out expecting to run the half marathon, and ended up logging over 19 miles on the course including two ascents up the 163 freeway.  My Race Guards partner was a machine.

Q. What moment sticks out for you in terms of helping someone during a race?

A.  I would actually say it’s not a moment but a series of moments.  I really enjoy seeing runners during the last couple of miles after we assisted them earlier on the course. The Silver Strand Half Marathon in November was unseasonably warm and the preferred treatment of the day was salt and GU.  We started helping runners as early as mile 3.  I was overwhelmed when they cheered the Race Guards and shook our hands as they ran past us at mile 12.  Knowing we provided that extra push either psychologically or physically to get someone across the finish is a great feeling.


Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A.  I’m a fan of Pizza and Beer.  I routinely go to the local spot near my house after the race.  I figure I earned it.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A.  I have a very broad fitness history.  I started with water polo and soccer throughout my school years.  I began running and triathlons nearly a decade ago.  I competed in Xterra and ½ Ironman distance races.  Now I spend more time surfing and lifting weights.  Running is exclusively done on the weekends.  My greatest challenge was overcoming a ACL, MCL and meniscus tear I received during a gnarly dodge ball match.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A.  Life’s potential is only achieved if you stop repeating what comes easy and start embracing what is not.

Rick at CAF in 2016 (back row, 2nd to right)

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A.  I think Race Guards are familiar with this concept.  Every race provides a new challenge.  Every runner you assist has the potential to be life altering.  It is easy to get out of bed the morning of the race, do your pre race rituals then meet your friends at the start.  But when your friends are there to help protect the runners and are expected to appropriately react to a runner that might need emergency assistance…. that's difficult… and is inspiring.  

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A.  My wife Michelle is my biggest advocate.  She loves running and is always on the course when I am running with Race Guards.  We always try to convince her to become a Race Guards member but she always refuses because she “loves to run for the bling.”  At least she is always there to snap our group picture.


Thank you, Rick, for being such an asset to the Race Guards team. You are most likely the first member who was seriously injured during a fierce dodge ball match! We’re glad you recovered so you could become a Race Guards member.


 

 

 

Spotlight on Shannon Puphal

Our December spotlight is on one of our valued Dallas/ Ft. Worth area Race Guard members.  As you can tell when you read the interview, Shannon Puphal brings a tremendous amount of experience to her Race Guards participation. She also happens to have a heart of gold.

On-course with a smile, Shannon Puphal (rt)

On-course with a smile, Shannon Puphal (rt)

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A.  I learned about Race Guards through a triathlete friend that was familiar with the team. I had an experience several years ago, where a runner in front of me nearly passed out at about mile 22 of a local marathon.  He was upright, but unresponsive and weaving. I was able to get him to the side of the route safely and get another runner to alert medical. When I found out about Race Guards, I knew I wanted to volunteer.

Q. What is the most recent event that you participated in and what did you enjoy most about it?

A.  The most recent event I participated was the Dallas Running Club ½ Marathon with Race Guards. I just enjoy getting to meet the team members and take care of the runners.

Q.  What has been your favorite Race Guards event?

A. My favorite Race Guards event has to be the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth. That’s a hometown race and it’s just fun to see a lot of friends out on the course and supporting the race, as well as the opportunity to meet new people.

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Q. What moment sticks out for you in terms of helping someone during a race?

A.  My first race with Race Guards, at the Dallas Rock N’Roll ½ Marathon was the most memorable. My partner and I ran up on a below-the-knee amputee who was running his first half marathon, but was having problems with his prosthetic. We were able to help re-wrap and use some anti-chafe medication a couple of times along the course to keep him up and running.  We saw him at the finish line, and he was so appreciative of our help.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A.  I think trying to explain to a new runner that his nipples were bleeding.  He didn’t know why they were tingly or where the blood was coming from.  

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A.  Pizza!

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A.   I grew up as a competitive gymnast, but I had a growth spurt at the end of high school, which ended any future college competition.  I ran my first marathon back in 2000 and was hooked.  I have since completed two Ironman races and a 100-mile ultra marathon.

Thank you, Shannon, for being a Race Guards team member and our December spotlight.

 

 

Spotlight on Grafton Houston

Grafton (rt) at La Jolla Half

Grafton (rt) at La Jolla Half

This month, I interviewed one of our extraordinary San Diego local Race Guards team members, Grafton Houston. Grafton is a veterinarian and avid runner, and has been actively helping keep athletes safe as a member of the Race Guards team for the last 4 years.

Q. What has been your favorite Race Guards event?

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A. I’m trying to decide.  I have enjoyed all of my many events as a Race Guards team member, but I might have to say MedWars, which wasn’t technically a Race Guards event (see more below on Medwars )

Q. Can you tell us about the Challenged Athletes Foundation event that you participated in last weekend?

A. That was a truly inspirational event to participant in as a Race Guards team member. What role models the challenged athletes were for all of the kids there with prostheses, crutches, and wheelchairs. Everyone was happy with life that day.

Q. What moment sticks out for you in terms of helping someone during a race?

A. Coming up to a woman who had just collapsed 300 yards from the finish line of a half marathon, running to the medical tent and back with a wheelchair and paramedics while my partner stayed with her, and then at her request, trotting her, paramedics trailing, across the finish line where her brand new fiancé and family were waiting. Many tears and thank you’s. And her medal.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your career and how it helped you win a race with other Race Guards members? ☺

A.  (Editor’s note……in 2014, Grafton participated in the famed Med Wars adventure race with three other Race Guards team members -- Randy Slezak, Christian Palouda, and Patty Mas. The other teams were comprised mostly of medical residents but Grafton’s team won largely due to Grafton’s ability to answer obscure medical questions)

My 25 years as a veterinarian served our Race Guards team of four well in the Med Wars race. Teams ran, rowed, repelled, and biked in the Cuyamaca Mountains, answering questions about rattlesnakes, ticks, cougar wounds, and a lot of other medical questions along the way. I guess the answers to those things are not taught in normal medical school.

Q. What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. Not really “funny” but more ironic.  It was my first event with Race Guards, and we were supporting the Safari Park Half Marathon.  I was running next to, and talking to a woman who just then stepped on a lane reflector, twisted her ankle, and fell over onto me. After calling in an ambulance and finishing Race Guarding the run, I saw her in a wheelchair at the finish. She had broken her ankle. Poor girl, but perfect timing.

Grafton (rear left) at San Diego Rock n Roll

Grafton (rear left) at San Diego Rock n Roll

Q. What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A. Beer. And apple pie. Except I never get any apple pie.
(editor’s note. Grafton won a Julian apple pie at the Med War race but teammates Patty and Christian gave the pie to Randy to take home before Grafton got as much as a sniff)


Q. What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I started running 25 years ago. Before that, and after, I was a competitive fencer. From stabbing people to helping people, I guess I am progressing.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. Do what you love and love what you do.

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. Ditto

Thank you Grafton for this entertaining and informative interview!! We owe you a piece of apple pie.

 

Spotlight on Anita Murphy

This month I interviewed another of our fabulous Chicago area Race Guards team members. Anita Murphy has the distinction of being one a handful of Race Guards members who have actually saved a life during a race.  She is extremely humble and dedicated to her work as a Race Guards team member.  It was all in a day’s work for her as you’ll see in her brief interview.

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?
A.  I first became interested in Race Guards during the Hot Chocolate race in Chicago.  I noticed someone wearing a Race Guards shirt and when I got home I looked it up. What better way to enjoy a race than helping people while running? Those are my two favorite things to do! I love being a Race Guards team member. I’ve met so many nice people who I consider my family now.

Q.  Can you tell us a bit about your career path and how your work impacts being a Race Guards member?
A.  I've been a Respiratory Therapist in a hospital for 20 years.  I use that experience while running with the Race Guards team.  On May 17th 2015 a participant of the Michelob ULTRA Chicago Spring 13.1 collapsed while running and was determined that he was pulseless and not breathing. After participants had stopped to offer support.  I came upon the scene and provided CPR. I worked with other Race Guards and the medical providers that were dispatched to continue CPR and get him to advanced life support care. Fortunately the participant, Martin Mortimer, the participant, made a full recovery.

On September 25th, 2016 Martin returned for the first time to run at the Chicago Half Marathon 5K. During the opening ceremony Lifetime Events and the Chicago Half Marathon crew recognized Anita for her role in responding to Martin.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?
A.  My funniest Race Guard moment was when I was with rookie Race Guards member Dave. It was his first race with us and it was a busy one.  We were helping a group of four runners from being dehydrated and hot. We sat them down and had them relax and hydrate. Well, to break up the quietness, I started singing. I'm far from being a good singer but I got a smile out of our runners. I look forward to every race with my Race Guards family.

Thank you Anita, for the excellent work you do for Race Guards. I’m sure you’ll be out singing at another Race Guards event soon!

Spotlight on Jacob Szmuilowicz

Each month I am amazed when I learn more about the incredible Race Guards team members that we have throughout the country. This month was no exception as I interviewed Jacob Szmuilowicz.  He has been a Race Guards member since 2012.
 
One of the fascinating facts about Race Guards is that we have medical professionals as well as endurance athletes that make up our team. Some of our members are BOTH a medical professional AND an endurance athlete. Dr. Szmuilowicz has all the bases covered.
 
Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?
A. I was in the process of completing my EMT training and was looking for more opportunities to get involved with emergency medical care. My friend, Michael Buxton, told me about this group he was a part of that was providing on-course emergency care for endurance events. Seeing that I was a competitive triathlete at the time, Race Guards was the perfect combination of my two interests--emergency medicine and endurance racing. So I signed up. I have been with Race Guards since 2012.

Jacob Szmuilowicz (left)

Jacob Szmuilowicz (left)

Q.  Can you tell us a bit about your career path and how becoming a doctor impacts being a Race Guards member?
A.  After working as an engineer at a medical device company for a few years, I found that I really enjoyed the experience of interacting directly with our customer patients. Helping them feel better and decreasing their pain was extremely rewarding. My best friend was applying to medical school at the time, and he convinced me to apply as well. I was accepted at UCSD, recently graduated this past June, and just started residency as an Emergency Medicine Doctor.

As a physician, I love having the opportunity to talk and teach medicine with anyone interested in learning. My favorite part of being a veteran Race Guard is when I get teamed up with a new member, especially if they have little or no medical background. I get to use our time together during a race to educate them on common race-related injuries.

Q.  What has been your favorite Race Guards event?
A. I have two favorite races. “Finish Chelsea's Run” is always a special event, as it was Race Guards inaugural race. I also really enjoy the San Diego Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. The music and energy of the competitors always makes for an entertaining day.

Q. What moment sticks out for you in terms of helping someone during a race?
A. My most memorable moment as a Race Guards team member was during a half marathon on a really hot day. My partner and I came upon a relatively young competitor that was sitting on the side of the road. He didn't look particularly bad, but we stopped to see if he was okay or needed anything. When he couldn't remember his name or where he was, we knew the guy was in bad shape. I laid him on the ground and lifted up his legs to increase blood circulation to his core and brain while my partner called 911 and then ran a half mile back to get help from a medical tent. The volunteers from the medical tent brought bags of ice, which we used to cool him down. The paramedics showed up, started an IV line and gave him some fluids. After about a half liter, the guy snapped out of it and returned back to his normal mental state. I'll never forget that one.

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?
A. The perfect meal after a race or tough work out is a Carlsbad pizza from Pizza Port and a cold beer (preferably a red ale). I'm also a big fan of plain tart frozen yogurt.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?
A. My first endurance event was an Olympic distance triathlon in 2008. Since then, I have raced in many sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, a few Half Ironmans, and completed one ful Ironman. I have also raced many 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons. I have no interest in running a marathon (unless it is the end of an Ironman😁). Luckily, I have not experienced any significant injuries.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?
A. I have 2 one-line philosophies: "Don't sweat the small stuff" and "Learn at least one new thing every day."

Jacob Szmuilowicz (left)

Jacob Szmuilowicz (left)

Thank you, Jacob for taking the time to do an interview with us. As a medical resident, I know that every second of your day is valuable. We are so lucky to have you on our Race Guards team!

Spotlight on Matt Keller

Our August Spotlight is on Matt Keller.  He is one of our Chicago area Race Guards, and has been a key member of our growing Chicago team for the past two years.  Matt doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, but agreed to do this interview because he wants to do everything he can to support Race Guards. Thank you Matt! You are such an asset to the team.

 

Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards and how long have you been a member?

A.  I first became interested in Race Guards about 2 years ago when I heard about the concept at an event and then researched it. I was instantly hooked on the idea.  I participated in my first race in my home town of Saint Charles, Illinois. It was The Great Western Half in early 2015, and I have tried to do every race that my schedule and body allow me to do since that first race.

Q.  How does your career as a paramedic/firefighter fit in with being a Race Guards member?

A. As a Firefighter/Paramedic we are called to assist people with any and every problem you can think of.  A lot of the people we are seeing are having one of the worst days of their lives, and they need everything from basic support to serious medical attention.  All of the people we help, and even the ones that don't need us, are grateful that we are there when and if they need us.  In joining the Race Guards team, I have noticed the same principle; most racers will not need us, but are grateful that we are there.  The ones who do need us will need anything from morale support and a blister bandage to CPR.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the Chicago Race Guards team and any recent events you have done as well as any events you have coming up?

A. The Chicago team is truly awesome, from our amazing lead Tracy Kilvinger to every one of the Race Guards I have had a privilege to run with out on the course.  We always hear about people doing bad things, and not enough about the good things.  I have been privileged enough to witness and work with some truly pure and unselfish people and see firsthand some of the great things that people are capable of.  We have had 7 events in Chicago alone this year, with at least another 8 coming. During each, we have a team of dedicated Race Guards team members that come out in force and bring so much dedication and knowledge with them.  We have everything from firefighters, to nurses, doctors, physical and respiratory therapists, etc! Each brings something special to every race.

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at a race and how it impacted their race experience?

A. During a race, my partner Jeri and I ended up being near a girl that was having serious IT band issues and was almost ready to stop at mile 6.  Having experienced IT issues myself, I had become knowledgeable in how to make it tolerable.  We stopped and sprayed her with Perform, showed her a few stretches and self-massage techniques for her IT band and sent her on her way.  After mile 9 we never saw her again until a race few weeks ago.  During that race a girl ran up to me as we were standing and watching runners pass by and gave me a hug, and at first I had no idea who she was.  She explained that she had been able to complete the race that we helped her in and has since been working on her IT band as we discussed and her issues were almost gone. She was so thankful for not only the help in the race, but for the assistance in being able to continue to heal from her injury.  People often ask me if anyone ever says thank you in my line of work.  My answer is always that a thank you is not needed, but when we do get them, and they are special.

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. The tick. We were running in Leon's Tri in Indiana and the run goes through a path under a high voltage area and tall grass.  As two other Race Guard members and I were waiting for some of the last runners to come through, I felt something on my leg. I looked down and could see a tick had landed on it.  I quickly brushed it off. Our team lead Tracy saw me and asked me what it was. Not thinking, I answered that it was a tick.  She instantly did a body check of herself and started looking around for ticks and wondering where the tick was that I knocked away. A few minutes later another tick landed on her, and she knocked it off and again didn't see where it went. Needless to say, we spent the next few miles avoiding the tall grass and triple checking ourselves for the "ghost ticks" as she referred to them. Try going to sleep with that in your head later!

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A.  Probably my easiest question to answer; pizza.  I try and eat as healthy as I can, and actually switched my diet about 9 months ago to Pesco/vegetarian, but the one thing I can never give up is Chicago's pizza, which is still amazing with veggies on it.

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

When I was younger shortly after high school I was overweight and not very active.  Most male members of my family were also overweight or died very young of cardiac related issues so I just accepted this as my fate.  Then one day I "woke up" and decided that maybe I could be different and do things that I never thought possible.  So I changed my diet, began to exercise and run, and lost weight.  After a while, I decided to sign up for a few races and even a triathlon to stay motivated. I was hooked from the first one.  This year I will compete in my 5th straight Chicago Triathlon and my 3rd Fox Valley Marathon.  Last year I was blessed enough to be able to complete the Lake Placid Ironman after 2 years of training, a goal I once thought unobtainable.  Unfortunately I have not been able to do these races without my share of injuries.  I have suffered the usual strains and sprains, from hamstrings, to quadriceps, to ankles, and have been able to heal and continue through each.  Last year while training for the Ironman, I suffered a back injury in early March.  An MRI revealed a very small bulged disc in the Lumbar spine, with a larger issue as well.  The doctor informed me that I was born with Spinal Stenosis, a narrow spinal canal, which was causing the bulge to feel worse in me than most.  I was fortunate enough that the injury was small, and that I could continue training toward my goal.  After the Ironman, I guess my body had enough and needed a few months of therapy, injections, and just plain rest; yuck!   Today I feel better than I have in years and think about the times I wasn't able to run which keeps a smile on my face and keeps me motivated for the last few miles of the long run. The doctors have told me that if I can stay lean and strong then I shouldn't have many restrictions and can continue living an active life, which is awesome.

Q.  How do you stay in shape during Chicago winters?!

A.  Treadmills and bike trainers during the worst months, unfortunately.  But if there isn't ice on the ground, then running outside after bundling up is much better than running in place.

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A.  We are all capable of doing something to help make this world a better place, whether it be a large impact or a small one, we each can play our part.

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. I think when you find something you can do to help make the world better, and it's also something you love to do, then it just comes naturally.


Thank you Matt for an inspiring and interesting interview!
 

Spotlight on Sara Athey

This month I was fortunate to interview one of our star Dallas/ Fort Worth Race Guards team members, Sara Athey. Sara is such an asset to the Race Guards team and you will soon see why!


Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A. When my husband returned from a race conference, he told me about Race Guards
and I knew it would be something I would love to participate in.
 

Q.  What do you do professionally and how does that fit in with being a Race Guards team member?

A. I am a firefighter/paramedic for the city of Denton in Texas. I have been working
there for almost 8 years. I am also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and
have been doing that for ten years. (editor’s note; Sara participates in the annual 9/11 stair climb every year in which a group of firefighters climb 110 flights of stairs in full gear!)
 

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the Dallas Race Guards team and the events that you have coming up?

A. I have participated in 2 events in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area with Race Guards, the
Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and the Cowtown 10K/5K/Half Marathon. I definitely plan
to do many more with them as the races pick up in the Fall.
 

Q. Can you give an example of someone that you helped at a race and how it impacted their race experience?

A. All of my encounters have been extremely minor in nature, which is good! However, each of those individuals were incredibly thankful for the Nexcare bandages, the sports spray or even the encouraging words given for them to continue on and finish strong. I feel like a cheerleader of sorts. They appreciate us being on the course for them; I appreciate being there and getting to run with them. Honestly I just can't run by myself, so they are big encouragement for ME to finish strong!
 

Q.  What is your funniest Race Guards moment?

A. It was during the Cowtown half marathon when I was paired with Andy Voggenthaler. He is Mr. Ironman, runner man, founder of Race Guards, and I’m not a big runner but I think I can hang. We get to the marathon split, and he asks if I want to run the full marathon instead of the half. He had a crazy look in his eye and I thought for sure I was going to die this day. Thankfully he was only half kidding.
 

Q.  What is your favorite post race or training pig-out food?

A. Oh man, post race I eat anything and everything I can get to. Beer definitely. I love to eat, so I'm not picky.
 

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I am a firefighter peer fitness trainer through Cooper Institute. I also teach yoga/piyo, and a group fitness class called Rip, which is a full body barbell class. I love to work out! I am currently running a half marathon a month for this whole year with a friend of mine. We pick a day and just run until we hit 13.1. It was her goal this year and I just go to keep her company because running that far by yourself is no fun ;). It keeps me motivated to run and keep my conditioning for any last minute Race Guards events I sign up for, so Andy doesn't kill me again. ;)
 

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. You are given this one life, one body. Take care of it. Live life, don't let it just pass by. Be ready for anything! I'm always being asked at the gym what I am training for. I'm training for life and my job as a firefighter. If anyone ever asks me if I want to run a big race tomorrow, I can say yes without worrying I need to train first.
 

Q. How does being a Race Guards team member tie into your philosophy of life?

A. It gets me to run, and as I've said, I have a hard time doing this by myself. I need to be ready at a moment's notice so I can be available to participate.
 

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. This is such a great organization. It offers me the opportunity to run in more races than I could ever afford to do on my own, and better yet, I get to offer assistance along the way. It ties in with my current career so obviously I enjoy helping others. So I get to run in fun events AND help out. It's a win win for me.


Thank you, Sara, for being our July Spotlight Race Guards member and for the work you do as a firefighter/paramedic. We are lucky to have you!   

 

Spotlight on Vera Lordan

This month I interviewed one of our long-time Los Angeles Race Guards, Vera Lordan. Vera very recently moved to St. Paul Minnesota and now will be the lead Race Guards member in Minnesota!

Thank you, Vera, for your dedicated service to Race Guards throughout the country!

Vera (rt) with Dr Laura.

Vera (rt) with Dr Laura.


Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A. A friend of mine heard about Race Guards, about a year after Race Guards was formed, and suggested that I look into joining because she thought it sounded like something I would enjoy doing. She was 110% right!
 

Q.  How has becoming a Race Guards member impacted your life?

A. Being a Race Guards team member gives me an even tighter connection to the running community and provides me with endless opportunities to ‘pay it forward’. In every race I support as a member of Race Guards, I feel good knowing we are bringing peace of mind to athletes on the course. The thank-yous we hear out there say it all.
 

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the most recent event you participated in?

A.The Chesebro Trail Half Marathon --one of the many races that takes place as part of The Great Race of Agoura --in Agoura Hills, CA. The Chesebro trail is absolutely beautiful but also presents runners with a few challenging climbs. We provided as much moral support that day as we did physical support. I’ll never forget the young man we were checking in with over the last few miles. We treated him a few times for fatigue and cramping (it was his first half marathon). When we saw him struggling to keep running in the last mile, my partner and I stayed with him and ran him into the Finish Line. Talk about a rewarding feeling – for the runner and for us!!
 

Q. What is your most memorable moment from a Race Guards event?

A. This would have to be running in the middle of the night at the Tahoe Ragnar Trail Relay last summer (2015). We were running in 2 hour shifts and had already been on this particular trail during the day but the nighttime brought on a new set of challenges for all of us. The combination of the altitude, the pitch black that surrounded us (aside from our headlamps and flashlights) and the terrain really took my senses to a whole new level that night. It was an unforgettable and FUN couple of days!!!!
 

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Q.  What is your funniest moment?

A. I can’t think of a funniest RG moment but I definitely have a favorite funniest running moment. I got off course during a trail Ultra a couple of years ago. Just as I was figuring out that I needed to turn around and find the right course, my right foot clipped a large root that was sticking up from the ground. I landed so hard that half my bib ripped away from the pins. I was already frustrated from being off course so that fall was just the icing on the cake…..or so I thought.  That was until I turned around to head back where I came and tripped and fell over the SAME root AGAIN! I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I think it actually helped my mood because I was able to let go of the frustration and I got myself back on course within a mile or so.
 

Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food?

A. I don’t really feel like pigging out necessarily after a race but I definitely enjoy a big helping of extra salty french fries!
 

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?

A. I’ve been an athlete my entire life, starting with softball at the age of 5. I’ve been a distance runner since 2007 and became a certified RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) coach several years ago. I’ve never had a major injury other than some on-again/off-again ITB pain for the first few years that I was training for half and full Marathons. I’m currently battling a minor case of tendonitis in my ankle but I take full responsibility for this one. I jammed in a ton of climbing with frequent big trail runs the last couple of months I was living in Southern California, but it was worth it. :-)
 

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. This is an easy one: All you need is love and running!
 

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?

A.  Running is a huge part of my life. Being a Race Guards team member allows me to give back to the community that I love so much! Every time I put on the uniform, I know I’ll be helping athletes on their way to the finish line and completing a major goal in their lives.
 

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. Help us grow our Minnesota Race Guards team by helping to spread the word in your running circles!

 

 

Spotlight on Adrienne Candalore, San Diego

This month I interviewed one of our most dedicated and hard working Race Guards, Adrienne Candalore. A member of our San Diego team she participates in every race that she can and is always willing to do whatever task is needed. We are lucky to have her on our team!

Dr Laura Dowd and Adrienne at Finish Chelsea's Run 2016


Q.  How did you first become interested in Race Guards?

A.  I had been running for about 5 years.  I was doing 3 or 4 races per month.  I originally started running after a coworker was diagnosed with cancer.  A group of about 30 began training through Team in Training for the 2008 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.  After running so many races for my own reasons, I didn't know it, but I was looking for a better reason.  One of my social media savvy running buddies told me about Race Guards. That reason ended up being Race Guards.
 

Q.  How has becoming a Race Guards member impacted your life?
 
A.  In my Law Enforcement profession, I sometimes see a side of humanity I would just as soon forget.  My volunteerism and being part of the running community help add much needed balance and perspective to my life.
 

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the most recent event you participated in?
 
A. I last participated in the La Jolla Half Marathon on April 24th.  We had a fantastic group of 20 Race Guards.  The runners were so gracious to us and did not hesitate about asking for assistance. The lack of shyness of the participants reinforces what a wonderful job the organization does as a whole. Race Guards exhibit professionalism, are well-trained, and are completely approachable. We are well stocked with our sponsored supplies and frequently hear the athletes request Biofreeze, Perform, chafing remedies, salt, and water among other things.  
 

Q. What is your most memorable moment from a Race Guards event?
 
A.  Laura Dowd and I were partnered up at the San Jose Rock N Roll last year. We were getting toward the end of the course and decided to turn around and watch the runners as they came toward us.  One man immediately grabbed our attention.  He was a large man, 6 ft. or so, medium build, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary except for his facial expression.  As he got closer, he started to weave a bit.   Laura and I moved toward him and without saying a word to each other, we flanked him and grabbed him under the arms.  We quickly moved him to the side of the road as he lost consciousness. EMS was called, and we monitored his ABC's until they arrived.  He was in such bad shape he wasn't treated at the scene.  The paramedics scooped him up onto a gurney and transported him to the hospital for treatment.   
 
We never found out what exactly was wrong with him, but what we did know is that he did not sustain any injuries from collapsing while still running.
 
 
Q.  What is your funniest moment?
 
A.  There have been so many silly moments over the pasts several years.  We were at a run out of town a couple years ago. The lead Race Guards member realized we were missing a crucial supply and out of desperation sent Laura and I to the store to try to find it.  She and I ended up at Target in the costume department.  We were ridiculous and have the photos to prove it.  I am sure that store security officers watching on the cameras wanted to come join in our fun. Who knew bacon and eggs was a "hot" costume for 2014?
 
 
Q.  What is your favorite post race pig-out food?
 
A.  In-N-Out Burger is my post-race guilty pleasure.
 

Q.  What is your fitness background and have you had any physical challenges or injuries along the way?
 
A.  I was rather a late bloomer as far as running goes.  Like a lot of people, I shared the, "If you're running you stole something" mentality. I was in my 40's when I started running without someone yelling at me to do so (military or academy).
 
Once I got that first full marathon under my belt, I just kept on.  Now that I am a Race Guards member, I just keep on!
 

Q. How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a tear. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you're the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.
 

Q. How does being a Race Guards member tie into your philosophy of life?
 
A. Race Guards is one of the rare opportunities to do pure good for others.  We ask for nothing in return but the chance to be of service to others, and perhaps a smile.  We get to assist race participants while participating in an activity we enjoy doing.


Thank you, Adrienne. We are so glad that you keep on keeping on with Race Guards!

 

Interviewed by Race Guard Patty Mas

 

Spotlight on Rich Heine

This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Race Guards team member Rich Heine. He has been a Race Guards member for just over a year and has already participated in over 15 Race Guards events. Rich has been a huge asset to the Race Guards team and is always lending an extra hand with whatever extra jobs needs to get done. Thank you, Rich, for your support of Race Guards as well as for doing our April spotlight interview!

Q.  What made you decide to join Race Guards?

A.  My first encounter with Race Guards was running the Mammoth Half Marathon a couple of years ago. It was around Mile 9 and had become very sunny along the course. I had neglected to put on sunscreen that morning, I saw a couple of Race Guards helping another runner out with a blister and asked if they had any sunscreen. One of them reached into their race pack and came out with some sun creen for me.  It made the remainder of the run much more enjoyable and I was not too sun burnt at the finish line.

A few months later I met Andy Voggenthaler at the Race Guards expo booth at the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon.  I learned more about Race Guards’ support out on the course, and I knew that I wanted to give back to the sport and help other runners to reach their goals and finish strong.

Q.  Can you tell us a little about what you do and how Race Guards relates to your career?

A.  I was a Firefighter EMT-D for over 20 years in New York before retiring and moving to San Diego a few years ago. I also served as a Corpsman in the Navy Reserve and was mobilized twice with my Marine unit, once in 2003 and again in 2005-06.  Assisting runners with Race Guards goes hand in hand with my training and experiences that I have had in the past.

Q. What is the most recent race you participated in as a Race Guards team member? Were there any moments that stood out at this race or any other recent race that you have done?

A.  I was able to participate as a Race Guards team member in three of our recent events;  Cowtown Marathon/Half Marathon (Ft. Worth, TX), the San Diego Half Marathon, and Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K.  They all were great experiences. In Cowtown, I was able to meet several new Race Guards and experience firsthand the famous Texas hospitality. The San Diego HalfMarathon is such a well-organized event and the course really shows off my adopted home town of San Diego!  Being a part of Finish Chelsea’s Run is an amazing experience as the community comes together to honor and remember a remarkable young woman.
 

Q. Do you have a favorite Race Guards event?

A. It’s hard to choose a favorite but I really enjoy the Mammoth Half for the scenery and the San Diego Half and La Jolla Half Marathon for their courses along the coast.
 

Q. What is your fitness/racing background?

A. I had always tried to stay fit as a Firefighter and as a Corpsman but was never really a distance runner until after I moved to San Diego.  I was running along the beach at Torrey Pines and decided to start training for a half marathon that was coming up in Las Vegas.  The energy level from the crowds and fellow runners was amazing.  After that experience, I was bitten by the bug and have done over 25 more races since then.


Q. How long have you been a member of Race Guards and how has the organization changed since you have been involved?

A. I have been a member of Race Guards for a little over a year now.  The membership has grown and new races are being added to the schedule frequently. I think that even in the short time that I have been a Race Guards member, more and more race participants know about Race Guards and what a great service that they provide out on the course.
 

Q. What is your most memorable Race Guards moment?

A. Wow, there are so many and at each event there are more memorable moments.  I’ve been able to meet and assist a runner who recently had a triple by-pass, to runners who had knee surgery/replacements or who are running their first organized distance race. I guess the one that stands out to me the most though was getting to meet Ron Phu and his family this past November at the Dallas Half Marathon.  Ron had collapsed at an event in March of 2015 and Laura Dowd, our Race Guards Medical director, was on scene and performed CPR and along with the Dallas Fire Department, was able to revive Ron that day. Through his own perseverance and determination, Ron was out on the course eight months later running with his family.
 

Q. What is one of your funniest Race Guards moments?

A. At one race, I came around a corner on the course and found a pair of my fellow Race Guards had ducked into a donut shop during the race and were carrying a pink baker’s box of pastries, which they were kind enough to share. It was the tastiest in-race nourishment that I have enjoyed so far!

It is always funny when we hand out packets of our Perform gel that is used for topical pain relief and a participant tries to eat it (again)!  It doesn’t have a very pleasant taste to it and won’t do much to boost energy levels!


Q.  Have you had to overcome any injuries or setbacks since you began running?

A. I injured an ankle a while back and recovery has been slow. It has knocked me off my training schedule and has slowed me down a bit, but I am working through it and getting stronger.


Q.  What is your favorite post race pig out food?

My favorite after race pig out food is sliced apples and baby carrots with hummus.  Just kidding!  After putting in some serious mileage, I’ll take a heaping plate of Whole Foods Nachos, some sweet potato fries and an ice cold local IPA.  If there isn’t a Whole Foods nearby I’ll make do with a nice pub burger, fries and a stout.


Q.  How would you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

A. It’s pretty simple really. Life is good, enjoy it!

 

Interviewed by Race Guards Patty Mas