You may have seen her at track and cross country meets if you are a parent or fellow high school athlete, as Lorelai Phillips is a senior at Heartland Christian. Lorelai runs local road races when she is not in racing season and volunteers when she is. Lorelai wants to inspire young girls to take up an interest in the sport through sharing her experiences with racing. She's going to make a great role model as she's heading off to college and plans to be on her chosen school's team! Lorelai says she has been running in races the past nine years because challenging courses aid in her training, themed races help her take a break from the seriousness that comes with the sport, and seeing her favorite running buddies has built a sense of camaraderie she looks forward to each event she attends. The racing community is "priceless" to Lorelai. Lorelai's favorite race is the "Clipper Cross Country Series", a four-week event that takes place in Columbiana and that is open to any age just prior to the competitive season beginning for school-aged athletes. The series was the very first race Lorelai ran at nine years of age. Lorelai admits that the race series never allowed her the ability to dominate the location, and she's even had to walk a time or two, but the location kept things normal for her especially during the Covid years when so much of the sport was closed down; this was one location that was able to get through the pandemic without having to stop. Lorelai has had to overcome some running injuries in recent years and has just been permitted to take her brace off! She is eager to prove what she can do and to bring you along the journey with her.
Megan was one of the first applicants because she really is a super fan of GCXC events! Megan says GCXC events are well organized, above and beyond, and the runners involved are always amazing, so she wanted to be a part of the events through an ambassadorship. Megan believes that running is for everyone and that it is a supportive community like no other. Her ambassadorship will allow Megan to share how great the running community is and how much fun the races are. Megan is always sharing her post race victories and her after training run selfies. She's highly motivational for getting out there when a long day or the weather might be making you think twice. Her running motto is "I can't fly, therefore I run" and her favorite song to run to is from the movie Brave, "Touch the Sky." Megan's favorite distance is the 10K, but she has raced all the way through a half marathon and is scheduled to race the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. Megan loves running because "it's just me against me." Megan's favorite race is Twas the Night Before 5k in Columbiana. She started running it in 2018 and says the weather there always makes the event memorable.
Beth is rocking out the race-walking category and representing GCXC Racing Youngstown as one of our inaugural year ambassadors! Beth started walking in 2012 and has accumulated twenty half marathons, a full marathon, and countless other races in other distances. Her eventual goal is to walk a 50k! Walking was a way for Beth to maintain her health and she loves how she has made friends through race events. Beth isn't afraid to travel and has competed in Hawaii, Las Vegas, Canada, Michigan, PA, Washington DC, and of course locally here in Ohio. Beth feels it is really important for people to understand that race events are not just for those running fast times but also for people who are walkers! Fitness is important and camaraderie makes these events a double plus in Beth's eyes! If Beth isn't walking in a race, you can bet you will see her volunteering at the registration table! She's one of our right-hand volunteers that has been working with us for years, so you probably already recognize her! Beth's favorite races are holiday themed and Twas the Night Before 5k is her ultimate favorite because you receive an "awesome medal" and get to go through the Christmas lights in Firestone Park. In general Beth choses her races for the medals she can collect to show off her hobby and her accomplishment.
Carolyn didn't come to GCXC in the typical I'm a fast runner from high school and now I'm going to race my way through the scene as an adult. Carolyn came through friends. Carolyn recognizes that not all runners are elite and that some of the participants in local races are actually walkers! Carolyn jumps between walking and running as she has learned the value of recovery after an injury and the value of a walk /run training plan to get to the next distance. She is eager to bring new participants with like-minded speed to the "racing" scene because Carolyn believes in the motivational value of the running community. Carolyn said she is passionate about the philanthropic role GCXC Racing Youngstown plays in the community through giving back with the events. It may be a check being donated to a charity or through the empowerment of organizations that partner such as Ainsley's Angels or even just a canned food drive. You will see Carolyn out and about with two of her besties training for events and hanging out at races. They are always cheering each other on and staying to cheer other familiar faces on as well. Carolyn is the gal that will go back after a group run and find the walkers so they aren't out there by themselves. Carolyn's favorite race is the "Wine Not Run 2 Mile Race Series" because it's a nice length for just about anybody, the locations have beautiful scenery, and it gives participants the opportunity to "break bread and maybe sip a little wine with fellow participants."
When you think about someone that has boundless energy and is always moving...that's Julie Pittman! Julie didn't start to run until she was in her 40s. She's worked through some health issues from asthma to cervical spine surgery and she's out there to prove that runners can overcome difficult health diagnosis and to place in age groups! Julie started to lift weights at 47 and has since competed in bodybuilding contests! You can see Julie working out in the local gyms and running in the community working hard. She has finished three half marathons and many other shorter distances. Currently, Julie is working on earning her personal training certification and she is aiming for her first full marathon later this year. Julie's favorite race is Twas the Night Before 5K and her favorite distance is the 10K. Julie is everyone's friend, she's personable, and she's eager to participate in group runs. Julie has been seen volunteering at events after she finishes her race. It really is hard to keep up with her energy and those pigtails!
Our newest Ambassador is Albert Blake Headen. We actually share him with GCXC Racing Pittsburgh because Blake just can't get enough racing in Ohio and PA. If you know Blake, you know you can't see him at a race and not be in a selfie with him. He is truly the most appreciative athlete at every event sharing his awards, finisher medals, shirts, and his hugs in social media posts. Blake frequently brings his mother to races so she is a familiar face too. Blake loves participating in races in the tri-state area and has been for 42 years! When he was in high school and college he competed in cross country and track and because of that he really loves giving back to school programs and races that help those teams out. Blake believes that promoting races for walkers and runners alike encourages people to "get off the couch and have fun." When we asked Blake to tell us what his favorite race ever was, he said he doesn't have one because he loves all of them, being at all of them, and seeing all of his friends.