The Local Joes Complete a 5K for Their First Group Run

Saturday was a big day for our running project, The Local Joes. They took on their first group long run and I got a chance to get to know these great people who have already inspired so many.

I had the privilege of running with the Joes this Saturday morning. We met bright and early at the start of the three-day weekend and took off for a three mile run. We were short one Joe as Cassandra Schwartz wasn’t feeling well. A mighty group of three Joes took off and endured my incessant talking for about a half mile and then I realized they were all on their individual interval plan from their trainer, Holly Perkins, and I shut my mouth and let them do their thing.

I just helped by showing them the route and the mile markings to help them get familiar with the course. This provided one of my favorite quotes of the day. As our 6’7”, 300-pound, football player Nathan Carr reached the spray painted one mile mark, he said, “Awesome. That’s the furthest I’ve run in a long time.”

Gives me chills. I can still recall my first mile and all the unknown possibilities that followed.

I ran back and forth between the remaining Joes, Jennifer White and John Thompson. Jennifer was looking strong as she completed her first interval and sweetly mentioned, “I made it through the first twelve (minutes), now let’s see if I can make it through the second.”

If she was struggling, her soft voice gave no implications.

Finally, I caught up to John. He was nice and smooth as he prepared to finish his last mile. Due to his incredible weight loss and commitment to get healthy, this distance was not new to him. He continued his mile with a pleasant smile on his face; even elites can’t always pull that off.

I got back to the start and made sure they all made it back in. One by one the Joes marched in. Not a one of them made an excuse, or even whined about the terrible heat and humidity. I was very impressed. I passed out water and Gatorade and bid them farewell.

As they left, I bragged on them to all the other runners out there that morning. I was excited to tell them about the Local Joes and the fantastic plan Holly Perkins has them working on. Without a hint of uncertainty in my voice, I told the other runners, “These guys will be finishing the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in October.”

Special thanks to trainer Holly Perkins, New Balance for their shoes, and Justin Ochs for photography.


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