If you would like to share your stories, accomplishments, or anything else, please send them to Barb Meely, barb.meely@staging.steeplechasers.org.

“My running journey began with a youth track program that the coaches of my school district put together when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I tried a few different events and landed on 100m hurdles when the coach saw I had a natural 3-stride form. So, from that point through my senior year I was part of a successful track program, we were stacked from sprints to distances and all the relays. We had several state champions and lots of podiums. I do not start my story that way to brag but to set the stage.

I started out being used to winning without a whole lot of work.

When I got to college and showed up for the first practice, reality struck and I wasn’t prepared to handle it, so I quit and didn’t pick up my running shoes consistently for another 14 years.

In that span, I would call on my running when I was in a low spot because it reminded me of good days but I was not consistent and didn’t have much success getting to a point where I could run more than a mile at a time.

In 2004, I decided to train for the Spirit of Gettysburg 5K and my father joined me and we did it! From 2009 to 2015 I did 20 5Ks and I would set a big spring and fall goal to keep me motivated.

I ended up doing four Shamrock Half Marathons, the Key West Half Marathon and the Runner’s World Half Marathon and three Army 10 milers.

I was not a Steeplechaser, I knew of them, but thanks to all those successful years of high school track dominance (wink) I had a very strong, self-inflicted feeling of not being good enough, so I trained alone and stuck to the out-of-town events and avoided anything local.

In 2016, I finally summoned the courage to hit the “sign-up” button for the Steeplechasers Half Marathon Training and a whole world opened for me.

I showed up to the first February Training, knees knocking, nervous as hell, the weather was horrible, but I knew if I didn’t show up for that first day, I wouldn’t show up again. That is when I was introduced to the welcome arms of the club.

Billy Clem and Nicole Davis were running the group and the 12 weeks were an absolute life changer. My pace group was filled with chatty, friendly folks, we showed up every week for each other, didn’t win a darn thing, training was fun, and I made some lifelong friends.

Following my mentors down their path, literally, led me to the trails. Wherever Billy and Nicole went, I wanted to go and gladly take all my friends with me!

I showed up for a beginner trail run with a brand-new hydration pack that I didn’t even know how to put on. God bless Nicole for staying back with me and talking me through the hardest four miles of running I had ever encountered.

That trail now is an “easy run” but that day it was the most technical badass thing I ever did and it made me feel like a 12 year-old again.

Anne running the 2020 Yeti 50K.
Anne running the 2020 Yeti 50K.

The Trail Steeps were next level – I had never heard of anything more than a marathon and the world of ultras fascinated me. I read all the books and pestered all the Trail Steeps at pub runs to share their experiences. Luckily, runners love to talk about running, and they love to see others join the sufferfest, and the next thing I knew, I had pushed another signup button for the Trail Steeps 50K training group.

So, 2019 brought my first 50K and the next signup button after that was for the JFK 50 Miler and that finish line just got crossed on November 21st.

The network of friends made and examples of good leadership and stewardship shown since that first signup is priceless to me.

As a Steep Member, I wanted to return the favor and have volunteered as a Communications Committee Chair, writing the email blast newsletter, helping the race services committee with the paid promotions email, and working a few finish lines.

I was able to offer a facility for an RRCA Coaches Certification session, earned my coach’s certificate, and co-coached a Fall Half Marathon Session and last spring’s Trail 25K Training Group. I have made so many friends, had so many laughs, a few tears, and a sense of community that far exceeds the feeling of a podium or a ribbon across the chest.

Being a Steep brought me confidence and a running family and I will be forever grateful.

My husband still asks if I’m ever going to win one of these things and I gladly say, “No, but I’ll keep trying.” It is good to be a Steep!”