One of the things I love about running is that runners are cool people. Whether they’re road runners, trail runners, ultrarunners or all of the above, running seems to either create or draw people you want to know, people with generous spirits who use their time, energy and talents to help others. Through magazines, movies, blogs, tweets and word of mouth, I’ve learned about runners around the world who impress and inspire me with their attitude, their actions and their continued striving to be and do better.

These amazing, ordinary/extraordinary people remind me we all have so much inside us that can go untapped, so many possibilities and opportunities to explore and use our gifts. I thought I’d share a few of my more recent finds with you.

I hope you enjoy learning about them and their projects, admire them, and let them inspire you!

    • Marvellous Mimi – recovering anorexic, ultrarunner who’s got amazing accomplishments and also uses her time to help others. She’s set up a project called Freedom Runners with Samantha Gash (the first woman to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, see her in the Desert Runners movie), to raise money for hygiene products for girls in South Africa. Right now 60% of women and girls in South Africa don’t have access to feminine hygiene products. (stop and think about that for a minute) 30% of South African girls do not attend school while they have their period.
    • Jacquie Millet – the recent V60 winner at Comrades Marathon (V60 = “veteran” 60 years of age, aka age group) She came to running only recently, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Her interview on Marathon Talk is worth a listen. Jacquie doesn’t, as far as I know, have a project, but she’s an inspiration to me anyway.
    • Harriette Thompson – survivor of multiple cancers herself, concert pianist, and new holder of the 90+ women’s marathon WR from Rock-n-Roll San Diego. I listened to this interview with Harriette on Competitor Radio during my Sunday run. Her positive and enthusiastic descriptions of the facility in which she and her 90 yr old husband live, her activities, and her friends were wonderful to hear. For her 90th birthday, she went on a performance tour, giving piano concerts around the country! Makes me want to be like Harriette when I “grow up”. (heck, now!) I actually thought while I was running, “I wonder if, when I’m 91, I can beat her record? I think I’d like to try.”
    • Felicia Wilkerson, who I wish I’d met at the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon! A military helicopter pilot, injured in service, she’s doing 12 Races, 12 Months, 1200 Miles to benefit the Semper Fi Fund and MARSOC Foundation (a very worthy group I’d never heard of before). Here’s her first post.
    • Lisa Smith-Batchen, ultrarunner (profiled in June Trail Runner Magazine) who is doing 4 Badwater ultramarathons back to back to raise funds for AIDS orphans in Africa via Badwater4Goodwater.
    • Liza Howard, ultrarunner (and new mom who won a recent race while stopping multiple times to use a breast pump!) who founded a trail running camp, partnered with TeamRWB, that brings together experienced and novice runners, active military, veterans and civilians to share and learn about the joy of trail running and an active life.
    • Anna Judd, running across America to raise awareness of veterans’ needs and to raise support for them. Her blog gives you more on why and how she felt compelled to take this on. More info on the project here.
    • Amy Pope Fitzgerald, a local-to-me runner/ultrarunner and mom (of “twins+1”) who shares her struggles with Lyme disease as part of her active, busy life. She uses her running and time to advocate for others who have Lyme disease as well as to raise awareness and funds for research.
    • And one non-runner: Jo Moseley, who’s rowing 1 million meters this year to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer (UK) in memory of her mom and in thanks for their support of both her parents.

These are just a few people that inspire me – the list is pretty long, and I keep finding more people to add to it, which I love!  This collection happens to be all women, but there are plenty of male runners who inspire me and are doing amazing things too. Perhaps I’ll post on them soon. Maybe I’ll even set up a collection of these posts or links on my blog.

Who inspires you and why?