Part 2 of 3: Kathleen Mahon

Part 2 of 3: Kathleen Mahon

Kathleen A. Mahon grew up in Colorado and was an avid skier. She still skis when she has time and proximity to a mountain, but her exercise routine has evolved and mirrored the changes in her life. In the 80s Kathi joined an exercise group and followed the aerobics craze. She says she even wore the leotard, tights, and headband, but decided the leg warmers were a bit too much. Then, in 1997, she was at a conference in New York when a couple co-workers suggested they wake up early the next day and go for a run. She felt confident in her fitness, but that run was more difficult than she had expected. Kathi decided she would start running on her own so she could keep up with her friends at the same conference the following year. She eventually joined the #BayouCityRoadRunners and agreed to serve on their board. A few years later she became the President of BCRR, and in 2015 she became the President of the Houston Area Road Runners Association. She says that #HARRA is starting to see a shift among the younger runners away from racing towards a more social experience. Kathi is working with the board to meet the new desires, as well as introduce running to more people in our area, while continuing to offer the programs, philanthropy, and advocacy that HARRA has always provided. She and Milan moved to Houston 20 years ago to work at Baylor College of Medicine as a researchers. She has a PhD from #Yale University where she metMilan Jamrich. They say the likelihood of dating someone in the lab at Yale was very high because they were practically living there and did not venture out very often. However, Milan will also tell you he thought Kathleen was beautiful and funny. They married in 1983 and are tremendous examples of individuals who balance their careers, fitness, and#volunteer efforts beautifully. (To be continued…) 

Part 1 of 3: Milan Jamrich

Part 1 of 3: Milan Jamrich

Milan (pronounced /mi-lahn/, like the city in Italy) grew up in former #Czechoslovakia. He is lighthearted & quick to see the ironic or humorous side of any situation, yet his Eastern European heritage taught him to be as tough as nails when required. As a young man in high school, he competed in the high jump. His coaches insisted he lift weights for hours until he was physically ill. Milan came to the US in the late 1970’s to pursue his post-doctoral fellowship at #Yale University. Today, as a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, he studies how embryos develop and why some infants are born without eyes. Although his job keeps him busy, he still makes time to lift weights and high jump. Despite the rigorous workout routine, Milan says he actually enjoys the hard days in the gym. He says that as his body gets older, he cannot compete as often as he used to, but he also prefers the daily grind of working out over competing at meets. Most high jumpers practice a technique called the#Fosburyflop in which they go over the bar w/ their backs arched and their stomachs facing the sky. However, Milan never altered his straddle technique from the one he learned as a teenager. He still goes over the bar with his stomach facing down. He says that when he competes at a track meet, crowds often converge to observe the spectacle. Despite his unique approach, he almost always wins. Milan won the Masters Track & Field National Championships more than 10 times and he won the World Masters Championships in 2011. He even holds the 60-64 age-group #AmericanRecord for Indoor #HighJump. Although he is a member of the#BayouCityRoadRunners, he says he does not run nearly as often as his wife Kathleen A. Mahon. He does not have time to work, train for the high jump, & run. Against his better judgement & despite his lack of training, Milan entered the 2018 Chevron Houston Marathon. He says the police stopped him around Mile 20 & insisted he was too slow to finish the race. Milan says the most painful part was sitting in the bus w/ others who had been pulled off the course. Some of them were crying loudly & begging the officer to let them out of the bus. (To be continued…)


Cody Rideaux

Cody Rideaux

Cody ran track & cross country at #WestsideHighSchool but after graduating his focus shifted to college & his career. In the summer of 2017, a friend suggested they enter the 2018 #chevronhoustonmarathon. Cody agreed & began to research what he needed to do to train for the event. He read books & magazines and created his own schedule, which he followed faithfully. The funny thing is his friend whose idea it was in the first place never did much more than sign up for the race. Cody says that he tried to encourage his other friends & family members to join him, but they refused. When they heard him talk about doing long runs, they assumed he ran that far every day & insisted they did not have time to train for such a lengthy race. Fast forward to race day when a cold front had just hit Houston. Cody says he prefers running in warmer temperatures & was completely frozen during the race. By mile 10 he knew he needed to slow down because his hamstring had cramped & he was not going to meet his goal time. Another thing that made the race especially difficult was his house is a short walk from the 14-mi mark on South Post Oak. Cody had to force himself to stop thinking about walking home & just continue running. His family was waiting for him at the finish line & became worried when he did not come through when they expected. They finally called him & Cody had to assure them he would finish, but that it would be a while. When he finally made it to the finish he was overwhelmed w/ pride & satisfaction. Not surprisingly, his friend who suggested they do the race in the first place barely finished before the 6-hr cutoff. He struggled to complete the race & has not run since. But Cody is still running today. Even though he was disappointed w/ his marathon finish time, he was thrilled w/ how far he had come in just a few short months. If that was not enough, Cody’s dedication & hard work were recently recognized by SWORD Performance Products, & he was asked to be a Brand Ambassador. Given his excitement & enthusiasm for running, he has hopes of setting many new PRs in the races to come. 

Loris Fusi

Loris Fusi

@lorisfusi1 looks like an All-American girl who loves to run, but if you are fortunate enough to speak to her, you immediately hear a beautiful #Italianaccent & know she did not grow up in Houston. Her upbringing & continuing world travels have given her an appreciation for the rich culture & history of European cities. Although Houston does not have thousands of years of historical traditions, she thinks the City should be tremendously proud of the grandeur & beauty of Memorial Park. When she is driving to her work at a high-end salon near #TheGalleria, she prefers to take Memorial Drive through the Park. The route allows her to be under the canopy of the majestic trees & glance at the people on the trail. In recent weeks, w/ all of the construction on the 610 Loop, she has been forced to take another route & says it is “just ugly” when compared to the beauty of the Park. In 2011 Loris decided to join the #BayouCityRoadRunners for one of their long runs. She appreciated that the club made sure someone stayed w/ her so she would not get lost. Also she enjoyed talking to the other members. She says she was surprised to realize that #BCRR has a many members who are highly educated and/or leaders in the business community. She jokes that if she ever gets sick during a BCRR event, there will be at least 10 doctors who will be there to attend to her needs. Although she enjoyed running & racing Loris never had a desire to run a marathon. Then in 2011 a friend insisted she apply for the 2012 #HoustonMarathon lottery. To her surprise, her application was accepted & she began training for the upcoming race. Then, to her even bigger surprise, she ran fast enough to qualify for the 2013 #BostonMarathon where she ended up finishing 34 min before the bombs exploded. Despite the devastating circumstances of that day, she was inspired to always run her best & be an advocate for the incredible, selfless individuals who make up the running community. Loris has a #tattooon her right arm that is written in Latin, which she studied as a child. It translates to “Live each day as if it was your last” & that unreserved attitude characterizes her compassionate, fun approach to life.

Joe Martinez

Joe Martinez

Joe started running when he was in middle school. He says that in the beginning, he was the slowest runner on his team, but by the end of the season, he had improved so much that he won the District meet. His friends called him @LoboJoe because he was like a wolf hunting everyone down from the back of the pack. The name stuck, and Joe has recently found himself in a similar situation. He has discovered a renewed interest in running, and his times continue to drop with each new race. After graduating from high school at #YESPrep Southeast, the athletic director asked Joe to coach the track & cross country teams. Finally, after 3 years of continued requests, Joe agreed to take on the job as coach of the 2017/2018 teams. The students range in age from 12 – 18 years old, and he is the only coach for both the boys and girls teams. Despite the athletes’ varied backgrounds, Joe is thriving in his role as a #mentor and #leader. He especially takes pride in seeing them realize their potential. Joe says he has to constantly remind them that they will not improve overnight. Instead, they must be dedicated to doing the work and then patient in waiting for the results. In his own personal journey, Joe took a year off from running when he started college. In the last 2 years, he started training again and has enjoyed meeting numerous individuals in the Houston running community. In 2016 he was planning to meet a friend for a workout and Googled “Parks to run at in Houston.” The #1 suggestion was #MemorialPark, and Joe was shocked when he arrived and saw so many people on the trail. Since then, he comes to the Park several times per week and trains with his friends @fmbanes21 and @catcreegan19. He is always smiling and loves to encourage everyone! 


Hans and Fiona Siemelink

Hans and Fiona Siemelink

@hans_siemelink grew up in a small town in Holland and moved to South Africa after graduating from college. There he joined the #FishHoekRunningCluband quickly heard about another celebrated member named @fiona_siemelink who’d just placed 2nd in the infamous #Washie100Miler trail race. Hans spent several weeks trying to buy her a drink at the club’s happy hour gatherings, but Fiona thought he wasmarried & kept refusing his offer. When a friend finally pointed out that he was single, she happily agreed & they quickly became an item. Then, Hans’ employer transferred him to Houston. At first he thought he would be there for a year, but when he was asked to stay longer, he called Fiona & asked if she was willing to become his wife (& move to Houston). He was living in an apartment on Heights Blvd, perfectly located between his office downtown & the #MemorialPark trails. The night Fiona arrived in Houston she says she was famished b/c she had been traveling for 30 hrs. Hans took her across the street to #StarPizza, and she promptly ordered a large pizza. In South Africa, a large would be ~8” wide, and Hans had to insist that there was no way she could eat a Texas-sized large! They were married in 2002 and both still compete in extreme endurance events. Between them, they have completed 45 #Ironman triathlons. They say that now, for them to enter a race, it needs to offer some new type of challenge. When other individuals in the race start to complain, Hans & Fiona become excited because that was the reason they entered the race to begin with. In addition to their own efforts to train for such long races, they have both dedicated countless hours to volunteering and supporting the #triathloncommunity. They are a wealth of knowledge and are happy to share their wisdom with anyone. They have traveled across the country to be the pit crew for other athletes. Fiona began & is the sole Administrator for the Houston Tri Marketplace, Houston Tri Community, & Triathlon Sports for Women Worldwide pages on Facebook. Their inspiration & impact on Houston’s racing community is tremendously appreciated!

LaTasha Gary

LaTasha Gary

LaTasha ran track & cross country throughout her high school years in LaMarque & her freshman year at Texas A&M, but after a foot injury & car accident, her doctor said she would never run again. In 1989 she obtained a job at Compaq & in 1991 she represented Compaq in the National Track & Field Meet. After Nationals, her job changed & she began traveling extensively. It was not until 2009 when shewas experiencing a great deal of stress at work that she decided to start running again. She says that in her heart she knew running would allow her to find relief from the demanding hours in the office & she finally had to just get started. At first she ran around her neighborhood in Jersey Village but she did not feel safe running alone on the dark streets. She is a#morningperson & decided it would be better to make the drive to #MemorialPark. LaTasha says she was perfectly happy to run by herself & use her time on the trail to get mentally ready for her day. Then, in 2010 she met Robin Proctor who also runs in the early hours. LaTasha quickly found herself doing tempo runs, fartleks, & other faster workouts with the group. Soon enough, she & her running buddies were entering local races & traveling across the country & the world to compete in races. In 2015, after a year of doctor visit & steroid injections to reduce back pain, LaTasha was diagnosed with#Lupus. Determined not to allow Lupus to get the best of her, she ran 5 marathons in 2016, with 2 of them resulting in a PR. She thanks God for the gift & opportunity to still run. Now, even on Fridays when LaTasha drives to #LaMarque to take care of her parents, she stops by the Park to get her run in before heading south on I-45. She will turn 55 next year & plans to do the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in #SouthAfrica w/ some of her friends from the Park. Today, after 9 years of running at Memorial Park, the friendships she has made & the habits she has formed define who she is. She says she would not have it any other way. Not only is she less stressed, but she loves the comradery of the sweet people she meets every morning who motivate, encourage, & inspire her to never give up.

Kirsten Stefan

Kirsten Stefan

Kirsten grew up in New Mexico and was one of the fastest high school athletes in the state. However, when she arrived at the University of Nebraska in 1991, she was not even fast enough to make the traveling squad on the cross country team her freshman year. In hopes of shaving off the time needed to make the team she developed an eating disorder, but she was never fast enough that year. The experience left Kirsten frequently injured, frustrated and depressed, so she stopped running after 2 years and focused on her degree in biology. She eventually moved to Houston and married. She works as a research scientist at M.D. Anderson studying cancer immunotherapy, and in 2012 her daughter was born. By this time, Kirsten still had frustration toward running and had mainly been swimming. She and her husband, who also runs, created a schedule so that they can both juggle work, exercise, and family. Then, in 2015 Kirsten was swimming at the YMCA when she met Doug Storey. They discussed her athletic background and Doug’s experience coaching some of the top runners in Houston. She was intrigued by the idea of running well again and eventually contacted Doug to ask if he would be willing to work with her. He agreed and set up a schedule that brought her back to running longer and faster workouts and gave her the confidence she needed to have pride in her achievements. In the last 3 years, Kirsten has gone from having bitter memories of the sport to being one of the top Masters runners in Houston. She says that today she does not have time to focus on both swimming and running. Her priorities are her husband and daughter, and she has to make her workouts revolve around those responsibilities. However, she also has grown to love the sport and her teammates again. Instead of feeling ashamed of her times, she celebrates each new milestone and takes pride in seeing her daughter smile and wave as she races in the kids’ events at local fun runs. Regardless of whether she is one of the top finishers, she is content with her performances and appreciates that there is more to life than athletic achievements.