I am really excited about our new brand look and feel. I am really excited about our website too. There are so many new different ways we will be able to engage, inspire, and energize the Pacers Running community with the new site. I encourage you to come back often for changing content and unique perspectives on the latest running products and events at Pacers Running. Our new platform will hopefully help you get out running. Because really that is what all this is about. To get you out there running…
Which leads me to our new tag line: “For EveryRun”. I believe it was our manager, Joe, in Alexandria who casually came up with the phrase. We were looking for a slogan that encompassed who we were as a brand. So Joe said, “How about instead of ‘For Everyone’ – ‘For EveryRun’?” I don’t even think he was serious at the time, but his little play on words has become our motto.
And, we are excited how this motto can help us relay stories about all the great friends that make up our community. Jamie Watts is a great example of why we do what we do.
I haven’t met Jamie Watts officially in person. I have seen her at a number of our races. But, I was motivated to post an Instagram video of her at our 4th of July race. She is inspiring. She is “For EveryRun.”
Jamie isn’t the fastest of runners. She actually starts our races (and some other races she participates in) about 30 minutes before the race starts. She also finishes them in last place. But, that is more than fine with her. She is happy to be out there participating as a member of the running community.
Jamie has cerebral palsy. She has lived with her disability for her entire life. However, in talking to Jamie, her disability is certainly not the only thing about her that stands out.
I caught up with her last week on the phone. She was awesome. One of the first things we talked about before her disability was, that she wanted me to feel comfortable. “I’m fine to talk about it,” Jamie said. “Disability issues are something that I try to be an advocate for. While I’m extremely proud of my identity as a member of the disability community, cerebral palsy does not completely define me as a person.” She’s not out there to make a statement, she is just out there to run and be a part of the running community she has come to love.
Getting out there wasn’t always so easy for her though. She explained, “I just really started out wanting to be fit, I was always competitive but couldn’t play team sports because there always has to be a time limit.” At first she was really self-conscious about running in a race. “What if I don’t finish,” she thought. But after working out and running in the gym for 6 months she signed up for the MCM “Gender Defender” 5k race in 2012. She finished, and loved every minute of it. Here was her result from Athlinks:
“Other runners and spectators were really supportive and it was really just about me being out there participating. I felt so empowered.” So she did another race. And another.
Initially the Arlington resident only ran races that were “far away” – in Quantico or other surrounding areas where shutting down the streets for a longer period of time would not be as stressful on the local municipalities.
Then she ran into a Pacers Running employee who encouraged her to come out to race in Arlington. “Just come out to one of our races,” the employee said, “We’ll make it work.”
Now she runs most of the area Pacers races and has completed a total of 18 since mid June of this year. She keeps track of her races meticulously. She is no longer worried about finishing or the fact that she will probably be last. She knows she is a strong runner. “I love it,” Jamie says, “The running community is about how we can be inclusive and not exclusive”.
Which brings me to my video at one of Jamie’s favorite races. The Freedom Four in Arlington. She was coming up the Wilson Blvd hill. I was at the finish not exactly sure what I was filming with my phone. But Jamie sets the scene:
“I remember coming up the hill to a packed finish area! I’m used to being last. I’m not down about it. It just is what it is. But this time people stayed around! They were cheering for ME. There were a ton of people there to share that experience with. It was awesome!
This is what is is all about! Last finisher #freedomfour #4miles4America
“I never set out to make a point. I never wanted to make it about me, I was just trying to do what was good for me and get myself fit. Build my own confidence. Stick to a goal and accomplish it. I did all of that. However, in the process I gained so much more,” Jamie emphasized.
I have been at Pacers Running for 15 years. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, outside of the store setting, “I’m not a runner.” I’m glad Jamie Watts was not one of those people.By Chris Farley Owner, Pacers Running