Danielle Gross

My story

Growing up I wasn’t much of an active girl. Sure I played sports for rec leagues in grade school and then some in high school but they consisted of throwing a javelin and diving off a diving board - nothing that took too much energy and effort. Even as an adult and into my first years of motherhood I would admit I was quite lazy. My bed and my couch were where most of my days were spent.

 

After my second child was born, I was realized just how out of shape I was. Caring for them and keeping up with them took more energy than I had so I signed up for a boot camp my friends were doing - an eight-week class for women to get their body back. This class required LOTS of running and many other strength-training exercises. I felt like I could keep up with the strength training and even at times, I felt like I could lead the pack during those exercises, but the running . . . I was ALWAYS last. I hated it, and often made excuses to use the bathroom during the running laps to avoid it.

 

When the 8 weeks were over, my sister and I had this wild idea to do a 5k. We thought, come on how hard could it be. Surely we can do it. It happened to be Thanksgiving time, and she lives right by Bridgeport Village. So she heard about the Turkeython happening on Thanksgiving Day. So, we hesitantly signed up, and went right into planning our outfits and creating our tutus, because that’s what we learned about 5ks on Pinterest. We showed up that morning more nervous then we had ever been.

 

Standing in the crowd of people at the start line I felt like my heart was going to beat out of chest. My knees were shaking so badly that I was worried I would not be physically able to run. “3, 2, 1 GO” was the scariest thing I had ever heard, but, off we went - Tutus and all. I was yelling at myself (in my head) the whole first mile saying “don’t let these people see you walk; don’t stop running”; ugh, but it didn’t work. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, but, with every runner passing me it ended up being a boost of encouragement rather than a moment of defeat.

 

It was that very feeling that made me fall in love with racing. The camaraderie, the support, the amazing speed of other racers racing by me. There is just no other feeling than those feelings you find on the race course.

 

So, I kept going, and, with a smile on my face I was going to cross the finish line! Even if I finished last, I was going to cross the finish line. I was not sure what to expect at the end, or, if people would be judging me for being slow, but, to my disbelief, no one cared if I was 1st Place, or 10th Place, or even if I was the 327th person to cross the finish line. They all cheered for me; called my name over the speaker; and, placed a medal around my neck. I had never earned a medal in all my years on sports teams, and, now I, me, the lazy couch potato mom was walking around Bridgeport village with a medal around my neck. That was one of those feelings you never forget.

 

I hung that medal loud and proud on a wall in my house and instantly sought out the next race.

 

I can remember going to lunch with my sister and dad and talking about how much fun we had and wanted to do more and more. At this time, my sister and I had not been super close, and, never had all that much in common, so, this was an exciting thing for us to do together. Our bond grew tremendously over the last few years because of this sport. After that lunch we made a pact to do 15 races in 2015.

 

Uberthons was our go to race as we loved the fact that even if we waited until the day before to sign up, we could still pay the same price. As a busy mom of two kids, sometimes I couldn’t commit to a race months before hand, and, some races would almost double in price making it impossible to afford. We also loved seeing the same faces at each race. The guys running the show were always so welcoming and full of energy making the start line an even more fun place to be. But let’s get real, the best part was the bling. Some days I dream of becoming a medal designer for races because some are just so lame and such a disappointment after crossing the finish line, but, Uberthons always made us feel like we had just won an Olympic medal.

 

So with all of the Uberthons races in 2015 and others we snuck in throughout the year we completed our first year of running with 26 races! 26! And by the end of the year, I felt like I was fast!

 

I was no longer a walker or a quitter or even a light jogger. I was a runner. No stopping, no water. Just running. Heck I even earned a 3rd place pin for my age group.

 

Now I have 3 kids, I am 34-years old, and I have never been healthier. Running does not feel like a chore that I want to skip out on and hide from in the bathroom. Running is now something I miss if I don’t get to do it, and something I look forward to. I have completed 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, half marathon, mud races, spartan races, hood to coast and even a triathlon. All of which could not have been possible had we not found the Turkeython in late  2014.

 

That race changed my life, and, has made me the healthy active mama I am today. You’ll even see me now out on the race course with my kids.

 

Forget video games and TV, my kids are gonna be runners. Just like their mom.

Leslie Mcleod

My story

Hello! My name is Leslie Mcleod, also affectionately dubbed the ‘Norwegian Diesel’ by my running family. I am excited for the opportunity to be a 2020 Uberthons Ambassador. I have ran many Uberthon races since 2016, and, completed the half-marathon series in 2018. In 2019, I was one of several who earned Uberthons Runner of the Year award. Uberthons are my favorite races because they are welcoming to all abilities, the swag is amazing, and the atmosphere is so caring and encouraging.

My official running journey began in late 2015 when I finally decided to overcome obesity and depression that had accumulated in the last 15 years. I had neglected my self care after throwing myself into the workforce following college. Ready to do something, but not knowing what or how, I knew I had to find a way to feed my inner-competitive nature. Without something to drive my inner ambition, I would fail, as I lacked self discipline to get there. But where or what is there? I had to find a means to a healthy lifestyle - and stick with it.

Attempting many activities and memberships to no avail, nothing I looked into clicked with my character, and quite a character that was. My mentality of dismissing myself as a runner naturally placed any running as a last resort. I was born to be a softball player, but, here I was signing myself up for a 6-mile trail run because I had become desperate. I had yet to find a year-round activity that fulfilled my competitive spirit.

I admired those with dedication and self discipline that fuel their competitive spirit; I did not believe I was one of those people. I needed a State Championship on the line or a zombie chasing me to get fired up. With a trail run approaching, I did what I thought I had to do to train. Without experience and nothing in common with the running community, outside of legging out a triple, I walked to work and tied myself to the treadmill. I did not know anything about intervals or couch-to-5k programs. After much walking, and being passed by a runner who thought I was a horse from my apparent heavy breathing, I finished second to last. In that moment when I approached the finish line I thought I was going to be embarrassed, and, run off course to hide, but people were clapping and a medal was hung around my neck. I had felt something magical, a sense of accomplishment, the stirring of that competitive spirit. I HAD FOUND IT!!

I stuck with it, increasing my distances, types of events, and frequency. I was racing every weekend and working out each week to prepare, something I thought I never could do consistently -because I now had something to work towards. By 2019, I was well on my way to being an accomplished and knowledgeable runner. Not with victories or speed, but by finding myself and achieving my goals. Races had become a means to a healthy lifestyle. I amassed 88 half marathons, achieved several bucket-list items like a major relay, full marathon, triathlons, and finally running a half under 2 hours. I had set my sites on an Ironman 70.3 and surpassing 100 half marathons by year end. But that goal was not to be.

On July 11, 2019, I underwent emergency brain surgery to repair a major bleed - one that I had unknowingly had for a month. A brain bleed that was silently with me through running four half marathons, three of which were within a four-day period just days before emergency surgery.

In weeks and months since, I have had a lot of time to reflect. Running saved my life, yet I did not know if I would be able to return to it. No doubt that it had prepared me for the physical and mental battle in the coming months.


I write this introduction within days of being released to finally run. It has been six long months, and every day I have had to watch my endurance slip, my muscles lose their tone, but, happily my toenails have grown back.

Although I am unable to pick up where I left off, the journey has made me even stronger and wiser. I am not starting over; I embrace this as part of my journey and my story.  As I am approaching my fifth year running, I had hoped I was further along towards my goals. I realize now, I am. Though not the path I had imagined, somehow through these last six months, I am farther along. I am mentally tougher. I have a greater appreciation for each time I am able to toe the line, and I found I had a huge running family who picked me up. I am grateful to be able to give back and inspire someone to be a warrior and awaken their competitive spirit. 

I am humbled to be asked to be an ambassador. My hope is that by sharing my story, it encourages people who are runners to never give up. Runners come in every size, shape, and speed. I encourage you to find yourself in running. Toe the line with me. #norwegiandiesel

Definition of Competitive Spirit - the atom of self improvement. The basic unit of life for an individual who is willing to do the work to get it. The spirit of a competitor is what gives you drive. It’s what eliminates distractions and makes you focus on the task at hand. It gives you purpose.

Kristen Bloom

My story

Up until about 8 years ago, (and the twenty-ish years leading up to that), I weighed over 200 pounds. Like others in the same situation, the road leading to that came from too much tv and french fries, and, too little exercise and veggies.


I was able to take charge of my health and weight - little steps at a time. My initial goal was to get healthy. So, over a period of two years, small decisions to be healthy each day led to a stronger, fitter me. When I reached my fitness goal, I realized I needed to make more goals, to keep progressing.

 

I wanted to take something I hated and turn it into something I loved.

 

That thing was running. I was the girl who made every excuse in the world to get out of running in gym class in high school. It never came naturally, and I had no desire to do this. But by that time, I was already 50 lbs lighter and walking 30 minutes 
every day. So I tried running. I could not run 30 seconds without being out of breath and stopping to walk. I tried again and failed. I was so frustrated! So I vented my frustrations to a friend and she said “Just run slower.” Why didn’t I think of that? The next day, I tried running slower. It worked! I “ran” two miles on my first try! It was glorious! I researched and found that the speed would come later, if I just ran what I was capable of now.


I signed up for my first 5k race. My goals were to run the whole race (not walk), and to not finish last. It was a groomed trail run through the woods. What surprised me the most was to see how many different types of people run. These people did not all have the cookie-cutter running physiques I had
imagined that runners should look like. This was a way for people of every fitness level to come together to do the same thing – run. I enjoyed every minute of my first race. I met my two goals and I was hooked!


Flash forward to two years ago. I had completed a year of racing – mostly 5Ks, then worked up to 10Ks, and, even 3 half marathons. I was born and raised in south Florida and after the year of training and racing in the heat and humidity, my husband and I decided it was time for a change.


After a few months of research, we felt compelled to the Portland area, where we discovered a huge racing community and Uberthons!


We now race nearly every weekend. We love Uberthon events because they are so well organized, provide lovely race courses, and that beautiful finisher medal!


I am not a fast runner. I have placed in my age category only once (3rd of 4 runners). In Uberthons' terms, I am a
“good looking” runner. My goals are not the same as those who strive to win the entire race. I run because I love it. I love seeing the varying people involved. I love getting that finisher medal at the end.


Most of all, I love seeing those tiny improvements each race, knowing that my training is paying off.

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