Check back for member spotlights and other running related stories.

Member Monday News - December 4, 2017

posted Dec 4, 2017, 6:12 AM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Dec 4, 2017, 6:28 AM ]

Member Monday News - December 4, 2017

Don't forget to renew your membership, or join now if you want to get all the benefits of being a SWMI RACERS Member! RACERS is an affiliate member of the RRCA and through the RRCA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. RACERS is also a USATF member club.
  • Individual Membership Online Payment $11 (Mail $10)
  • Household Membership Online Payment $22 (Mail $20)
    • All members must reside at same address
  • Complete registration online.
  • Pay online with Credit Card, or mail a payment.
  • Memberships valid for 12 months.
  • Check out our website for member exclusive Race Series.
  • Compete in more events, and get more bling! Train, travel & compete with SWMI RACERS members & enjoy post-race celebration time!
Just visit the SWMI RACERS Membership Application to JOIN or RENEW!

SWMI RACERS members are eligible to win a FREE entry to the 9th Annual Niles Frigid 5K! Just complete the entry form by 11:59 pm Wednesday, December 20. A winner will be selected by random drawing and announced by 5 pm Thursday, December 21. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

If you don't win, don't worry... members get a $5 discount on the registration fee!


With the weather we've had in the past few days, it's hard to believe it's already December!

We hope you have been enjoying the mild temperatures and are busy running and walking outdoors. As a reminder, the Tuesday Group Run and Walk in Harbor Shores is still going strong. The group meets on Tuesday evenings at 5:30 in the parking lot of the MTEC building at 400 Klock Road in Benton Harbor. Plan to follow the trails and golf cart paths in Harbor Shores. For safety, please wear reflectors and headlamps.

Both the 2017 RACERS M140 RACE SERIES and the RACERS RUN FOREST RUN OFF ROAD RACE SERIES have finished for the year. Members should complete the race series report form to get their finisher medal(s) for the series. A few events qualify for both series, so check out the event lists and see if you are eligible! 



Members are eligible for the 2018 RACERS TRIPL3 THR3AT WINT3R CHALL3NG3!

Participate in or volunteer at all three winter events
Save $$$ on registration fees!
 5th Annual run FROSTY run 5K in Watervliet on January 6, 2018 - SAVE $5
9th Annual Frigid 5K in Niles on January 20, 2018 - SAVE $5
4th Annual Break the Ice 5K in South Haven on February 3, 2018 - SAVE $3


Mother Daughter Running Duo Teaches Us Important Life Lesson

posted Nov 23, 2015, 5:23 PM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Nov 23, 2015, 7:10 PM ]

Mother Daughter Running Duo Teaches Us Important Life Lesson
Crystal Cowgill: “I'm setting a good example for my kids.”

By Andrea Arnold
November, 2015

Mother daughter duo, 33 year old, Crystal and nine year old, Mikaela Cowgill, have been bonding over running for over two years now.

Crystal attended Hartford high school where she ran Cross Country. She decided to start taking running seriously again in 2011, which was the same year that she completed her first half marathon in Midland, Michigan. She then went on to complete one more half and two full marathons all within a two year time frame.

Little did Crystal know that she had little eyes watching her every move. Her daughter, Mikaela, seems to have inherited her mother’s competitive gene. She told her mom that she wanted to run a 5K, and at seven years old, she did! She completed her first 5K at the Hartford Strawberry run. She was hooked. She went on to complete the Fruit Belt Series (twice)! 

At age eight Mikaela ran her first 10K, and she completed her first 15K a couple of weekends ago at The Hot Chocolate Run in Chicago! Mikaela finished 28th of 71 in her age group, which placed her in the top half of her age group. This little girl is nothing short of utterly awesome!

 I asked Mikaela what she likes about running, she replied, “I just really enjoy myself.”She loves fourth grade and her favorite subject is Math. When she isn't running she enjoys playing basketball and soccer. I asked Mikaela, “What else would you like to accomplish?” She very sweetly responded, “I want to run a half marathon!”

Let's talk a little more about Crystal…
She has been married to husband, Chris, for 13 years. Crystal is a busy stay at home mom to their four children, three boys and one girl, Mikaela (Kae for short). They currently reside in Hartford.

She really enjoys running for many reasons, including: her time to reflect on life, relieving stress, taking in the beautiful Michigan scenery, and meditating with God. “I enjoy the competition with myself, I constantly strive to beat my previous finish times, it's a great way to stay in shape, and I'm setting a good example for my kids”, says Crystal.

Cowgill learned of RACERS from fellow member, Scott Shipman (this isn't surprising)! She really enjoyed the encouragement of the group. So, she signed up herself and daughter, Mikaela. They've been RACERS members since 2014! “It's a great group of people to be around,” Crystal said. So many people are afraid to get out there and just start somewhere. They are often intimidated by groups like RACERS because they think it's about competition or assume it's a bunch of fast runners. I asked Crystal what she would tell someone who was feeling this way. “Just do it! We’re all on different levels but we’re all supportive of one another regardless of what pace everyone is at.”

We all have that one thing we can't be without when we run and Crystal is no different. She needs her Garmin and her running music!

Crystal and Mikaela have earned many medals and both have won first place, overall, and for their age group for many races. Their story is so truly inspiring. It shows us that someone is always watching us. We often times inspire others without even realizing it. We forget that we are constantly setting an example for our children--they are seeing our every move and they want to be just like us. We are the positive influence they need in order to be successful in life. It's never too early or they're never too young to be intrigued and inspired.

Crystal describes herself as extraordinary and persistent, and no one would agree with her more than her daughter, Mikaela.

Andrea Arnold is a full time runner mother with a blog, Three Little Apples. Her blog has been recognized in the US and the UK. Andrea moved to St. Joseph from Akron Ohio and joined RACERS in April 2013. Andrea will contribute monthly member spotlights and other running related stories.

Sometimes Peer Pressure Can Be a Positive Thing

posted Aug 30, 2015, 7:38 PM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Aug 31, 2015, 5:31 AM by SWMI RACERS ]

Sometimes Peer Pressure Can Be a Positive Thing
Jessica Disterheft: “I've really extended my circle of friends by joining RACERS.”

By Andrea Arnold
August, 2015

Hello fellow RACERS members and future RACERS members!

Meet 37 year-old Jessica Disterheft - wife of Ryan and mother of two kids, currently residing in Eau Claire. She is currently employed at Lakeland Health in the medical billing department. She's very busy, but that's no excuse to keep this vibrant woman from running and working hard at CrossFit.

Disterheft began running in the Fall of 2013. Her husband and son went for a run to condition for wrestling and she decided to join them. She ran one mile for the first time ever! “I decided I was going to keep on running”, she said.

So, a runner was born! She registered for the Niles YMCA Thanksgiving day 10K run with her husband and friend, Becky. It was her first long run! “I got the bug after that run. It was an ‘AHA’ moment for me!” She knew she wanted to participate in more runs. She set a goal to participate in at least one 5K a month. One 5K quickly led to many, which far exceeded her goal.

It wasn't too long after that Jessica and her friend, Becky, joined the RACERS club. I asked her what made her decide to join the club, “I joined The club because it was local and all my friends were signing up. It was good peer pressure that I could do.” She went on to say, “The best part about belonging to RACERS is that I'm not the only one showing up to a run. I've really extended my circle of friends.”

With running comes a lot of great memories and one of Jessica’s favorite memories and also her favorite run thus far was the DucknDodge 5K Mud Adventure Run that took place last  summer in Grand Junction. “It was such a sense of capability and accomplishment”, she said. Other favorite runs include the South Haven Blueberry Fest and the Mudarella in Chicago.

When asked what she feels her biggest accomplishment has been so far, she was quick to answer, “All of it! The mindset I’ve gotten from running has helped me in every aspect of my life.” She also casually mentioned earlier in the interview the accomplishment of winning first place in her age group for the Hartford 10K!

There are many things that keep a runner motivated and it can be something different for everyone, but the one thing she cannot run without is music. It keeps her motivated. She is currently debating her future goals. She would like to experience some more adventure runs and is also considering a sprint triathlon.

Jessica was such a fun interview. Her enthusiasm really shined through over the phone. She was full of energy and spunk. I almost didn't want to end the conversation but it was coming to a close. So, I always like to end my interviews with one question: Describe yourself in one word? After some brief silence she said, “Amazing”. I think we'd all agree with her on that!

Emmy Beidler

posted Aug 30, 2015, 7:38 PM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Oct 12, 2015, 10:23 AM ]

No Goal is too Big or too Small
Emmy Beidler: “RACERS make you feel welcome no matter what level you're at.” 

By Andrea Arnold
October, 2015

I’d like to introduce RACERS member 27 year-old Emmy Beidler of Watervliet… 

I was particularly inspired by Emmy because she has successfully completed 30 5K’s this year alone, which is undeniably impressive. Not only does she find the time to participate in so many events, she is also a full time employee at Whirlpool as a Lab Technician, a mother to two-year-old, Collin, and a wife of three years to husband, Eric.

Emmy joined RACERS at the beginning of the year. ‘Initially I joined RACERS to take advantage of the discounts. However, I quickly learned that I liked this particular group because I truly felt accepted being a walker. They make you feel welcome no matter what level you're at.’ She went on to say, “I also enjoy that so many of us are friends outside of the group. We actually get together outside of events and friendships are formed.”

It was her husband that motivated her to get involved in 5Ks. She decided to begin participating in events about 3-4 years ago, just doing one here and there. Her first 5K was the Sarett Spring Stampede. “What was it like crossing the finish line for the first time?” I asked her. “It was pretty amazing”, she responded. “ I felt accomplished!”

Speaking of accomplishments, I asked Emmy what she feels is her biggest one so far. “Participating in all the events was and is a personal goal. It's exciting every single race. As a whole, finishing all the races is an accomplishment.”

She does have her heart set on bigger goals for the future, like completing a 10K and/or a half marathon. 

I always like to ask those that I interview what they think about during their races and what's the one thing they need to have with them. Emmy said that she is always hoping to improve her time from the previous race. The one thing she HAS to have during a 5K is her phone with RunKeeper on and her music playlist playing.

“What would you say to someone who might be hesitant or intimidated by joining RACERS?” I asked.

“Any level of fitness can join. It isn't about how great you are. It isn't about time or fitness level. It's simply about doing it”, she responded.When Emmy isn't working or racing she enjoys spending time with her husband and son. She also enjoys knitting and loves soccer.

Beidler describes herself as hardworking and determined, which is pretty obvious. She is truly an inspiration to those closest to her and to those of us amongst the group. She is a genuinely sweet woman and her sincerity shines through, as she is one of those people that can light up a room when she walks into it. I have no doubt that she will get many more 5Ks under her belt before 2015 is over. We are all rooting for you, Emmy! 

Andrea Arnold is a full time runner mother with a blog, Three Little Apples. Her blog has been recognized in the US and the UK. Andrea moved to St. Joseph from Akron Ohio and joined RACERS in April 2013. Andrea will contribute monthly member spotlights and other running related stories.

A Running Group Is Much More Than Just Running

posted Mar 22, 2015, 6:12 PM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Mar 22, 2015, 6:13 PM ]

A Running Group Is Much More Than Just Running
Andrea Arnold:  "Joining RACERS is one of the best decisions I've ever made." 

By Andrea Arnold 
March, 2015

Andrea Arnold has been married for ten years and is a stay‐at‐home mom of three children for the past eight years. She is a blogger for threelittleapples.com and Member Spotlight interviewer/writer for the RACERS website. She moved from Akron, Ohio to St. Joe, Michigan in May 2011. 
Andrea says, "I hit age 33 and decided I really needed to start taking better care of myself. I wanted to do more than just work out at the gym or exercise at home, so I decided to give running a try."  She talked her best friend, Leslie, into running their first 5K ever in July 2012. 
"I will never forget the feeling of crossing over that finish line! I immediately knew I was addicted.  Leslie and I did another 5K the following weekend and the rest is history."

She joined the RACERS in 2013 for two reasons, "I needed to find a group that would keep me motivated and I wanted to meet new people and make new friends."
Her first run as a RACERS member was the LMC Steven Wilcox 5K where she won her very first medal for taking first place in her age group. "After winning my first medal I knew I wanted to win more medals and I knew I wanted to push myself even farther out of my comfort zone."

And she did...

Arnold completed her first half marathon in Cleveland, Ohio on May 19, 2013 with childhood friend, Cori Hammer. "Cori ran in high school and college. She was definitely my biggest motivator. I couldn't have done it without her encouragement."
"My goal was to simply finish without dying but I secretly wanted to cross the finish line in three hours." 
She surprised herself with a 2:35 finish. Not too bad for running less than a year. Since then she has ran many more 5K's and successfully finished three additional half marathons.

"My favorite race memory thus far is probably the Borgess Half Marathon in Kalamazoo.  I ran with other RACERS members as part of a team.  We had an absolute blast and that's when I really started started forming solid friendships within the group. It was a great experience. The Duck‐NDodge Mud Run was pretty awesome, too." 

Andrea’s  running goals for 2015 include running at least three half marathons. "I'd also like to get a PR for the 13.1 distance this year.

“What has RACERS done for me? They've pushed me past my limits. I've ran more races than I ever thought possible.  This group is not in competition with each other. We all encourage one another and are each other's biggest cheerleaders. Not to mention, they are a ton of fun!  Joining RACERS is one of the best decisions I've ever made.  It's so much more than just running. I am so happy that these people are in my life." 

Andrea Arnold is a full time runner mother with a blog, Three Little Apples. Her blog has been recognized in the US and the UK. Andrea moved to St. Joseph from Akron Ohio and joined RACERS in April 2013. Andrea will contribute monthly member spotlights and other running related stories.

An Impressive Journey For a First Time Runner

posted Feb 16, 2015, 5:40 AM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Feb 16, 2015, 5:46 AM ]

An Impressive Journey for a First Time Runner
Scott Shipman: "Join RACERS because we are like family."

by Andrea Arnold
February, 2015

RACERS member Scott Shipman is from Coloma, Michigan. He has been employed with Lane Automotive for 20 years! (Pretty impressive considering he's only 36 years old). He is obviously a dedicated hard worker, and not just for his employee.

Shipman began running to lose weight. Little did he know how good he'd actually be at it‐running his first 5K at the Glad Peach run in August 2012 with a finish time of 24:46, placing fourth in his age group (again, pretty impressive for a first ever 5K competitive run). “I really enjoyed the competition side of running, after that I was hooked”, he said. 

Unfortunately, in November of 2012, Scott suffered from a torn ACL and damage to the meniscus. He underwent Surgery in January 2013. This didn't keep him down long. Surprisingly, while still undergoing physical therapy, he got right back to running. In April he ran the LMC Steven Wilcox Spring Training 10K (also his first 10K ever), placing third in his age group! “It was difficult because I was so used to going all out and I had to take it easy”, he said. (Need I say it? Impressive).

Scott has been a member of the RACERS since the beginning of 2013. He said why he joined, “I wanted to get to know more runners in this area that were on the same level as me. I also wanted help with running faster and stronger; and I liked that this group didn't care about your running time.”

I know Scott personally and I'm aware that he's very consistent. So I asked him what keeps him motivated to stay so consistent. He jokingly responded, “Competition  with Jerry Street” (another RACERS member). 

Laughing, he went on to say, “What really keeps me motivated is competing with other people in the same age group as me.” I asked him to tell me his PR’s and naturally they're impressive: 5K‐21:52 10K‐48:08 half‐2:01.   “My goal is to finish a half marathon this year in less than two hours.” 

He'd also like to accomplish the goal of completing his first full marathon this year. I suppose this gives him the right to describe himself as “awesome” in one word. What's been your favorite race so far?” I asked. “The Santa Hustle in Chicago this past December. The group I went with and the atmosphere made it a lot of fun”, was his response. 

I ended our interview by asking, “If you were an advertisement for RACERS what would you say?” His response, “Join RACERS because we are like family.”

Andrea Arnold is a full time runner mother with a blog, Three Little Apples. Her blog has been recognized in the US and the UK. Andrea moved to St. Joseph from Akron Ohio and joined RACERS in April 2013. Andrea will contribute monthly member spotlights and other running related stories.

Proof That Hard Work & Dedication Goes a Long Way

posted Nov 16, 2014, 6:58 PM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Jan 26, 2015, 11:05 AM by SWMI RACERS ]

Proof That Hard Work & Dedication Goes a Long Way 
Becky Hotovy:  "Joining RACERS has encouraged me more than I ever imagined." 

By Andrea Arnold
January 2015

Becky is a 34 year old owner and operator of Borden Processing, a family owned blueberry farm in Van Buren County. She works alongside her mother, and husband JR. 

She is the epitome of a woman who does it all. She juggles the demands of being a mom to two young sons and working while managing to squeeze in the time to run and work out too

Hotovy's running journey began in November 2013 when her best friend Jessica, motivated her to give the Niles-Buchanan YMCA Thanksgiving Day 5K Run a try. Once the first 5K goal was met, they decided to run at least one 5K a month. That goal was quickly surpassed. One 5K soon became many.

"Running became a huge outlet for me. It was the best stress reliever of my life”,  she said.  

After several runs and the encouragement of fellow RACERS member, Scott Shipman, Becky and her best friend, Jessica joined RACERS running club.  

"Joining RACERS has made me aware of how many local runs there are in this area.  It's also made me aware of the support you get from fellow members. You get to meet people who have the same interest as you.  It has encouraged me to run way more than I ever imagined." 

Evidently it encouraged her enough to tackle her biggest accomplishment thus far, completing her first half marathon‐the Dawn of the Dunes half marathon in Indiana this past October. Once again she surpassed another goal, beating her target time by more than 30 minutes! 

Becky, describing herself as rambunctious, runs five days a week with distances ranging from 6 ‐ 8 miles on most days and 15 miles on her long runs. She also enjoys doing cross‐fit. 

Her goals for 2015 include running three half marathons. She's already registered for October's Great Turtle Half on Mackinac Island. 

With our interview coming to an end I asked Becky what advice she would give to someone who's thinking about starting to run but may be a little intimidated. She responded with, "You never know what you're capable of until you start."

Those are true words of wisdom spoken from someone who's truly an inspiration to all of those around her without even realizing it. 

Andrea Arnold is a full time runner mother with a blog, Three Little Apples. Her blog has been recognized in the US and the UK. Andrea moved to St. Joseph from Akron Ohio and joined RACERS in April 2013. Andrea will contribute monthly member spotlights and other running related stories.

RACERS Member Making Strides Despite Injury

posted Nov 16, 2014, 6:58 PM by SWMI RACERS   [ updated Nov 24, 2014, 6:57 PM ]

RACERS Member Making Strides Despite Injury
Theresa Rodriguez: “I never expected to get out of RACERS what I’ve gotten."

By Andrea Arnold
November, 2014

She is a 35-year-old mother of one, residing in Watervliet, Michigan.  Theresa has worked as a Patient
Registrar at Lakeland Community Hospital, Watervliet, for the past ten years. She considers herself a workaholic.

In March, 2008, Theresa suffered a broken fibula and tibia due to a fall. Her orthopedic surgeon told her it was the worst break he'd ever seen. A rod had to be placed in her leg, running from her knee to her ankle, along with four screws to hold it in place. She was forced to use a walker and underwent physical therapy to help her regain her strength.

Four years later, her best friend, Laura, asked her to join her in the Lory's Place Run, Walk, & Rock 5K. Theresa thought the request was crazy. She said to her friend, "Have you forgotten what I've been 
through? It's hard to walk up stairs and I'm hardly stable on my feet!"

However, Laura was successful in convincing her best friend to participate. So, on May 19, 2012, 
Theresa successfully finished her first, ever, 5K in 1:12:13. "I was addicted", she said. "Finishing a 5K is a high and an accomplishment that no one can ever take away from me," she says. The "high" became so addictive that she completed seven 5K's in the year 2012, which included earning a commemorative gold coin for the Michigan Fruit Belt Series.

2013 was an even bigger year for Theresa. To celebrate the five year anniversary of her release from the hospital and her 34th birthday, she only asked for one thing…"I wanted my friends and family to walk with me in the Breathe Easy 5K." She gathered 27 supporters to join her and walk on her behalf! So, it's no wonder that this was her "most memorable race." Theresa went on to respectfully complete a total of 22 5K's in the year 2013.

Her story alone is very inspirational, but she wants to take it further than simply telling a story. She has begun by starting a Facebook page called ‘Theresa’s Walking Crew’. Her page consists of race information, photos, inspirational quotes, and even apparel. Shirts she has had made display her 
favorite quote, “I want to inspire people”. She is also currently working on developing a scholarship fund that will pay the initial entry fee for first time 5K walkers. Theresa also promises to be their support along the way and cross the finish line with them.

What an inspiration she is! She has crossed the finish line 25 times this year alone! So, overall, she has a grand total of 54 5K walks under her belt since 2012. 

This is Theresa's second year as a RACERS member. She went on to explain why she joined the group, "I didn't want to lose my motivation. Joining the group made me accountable to someone." 

She also really liked the fact that the RACERS welcomed and encouraged walkers. "Not a lot of races in the area rewarded walkers and this group gave me the choice to be a competitive walker”, she said. "The group makes me feel like an equal.” She wasn't made to feel inadequate because her choice was to walk and not run. 

“I never expected to get out of RACERS what I’ve gotten.” She goes on to say, “I know that at the end of each and every race there’s going to be a RACERS member at the finish line waiting for me to tell me ‘Great Job!’ 

“They have become like family”, she added. 

I asked Theresa to describe herself in one word…“Unstoppable”, she replies. 

I would have to admit, it’s quite difficult to disagree with that. 

Andrea Arnold is a full time runner mother with a blog, Three Little Apples. Her blog has been recognized in the US and the UK. Andrea moved to St. Joseph from Akron Ohio and joined RACERS in April 2013. Andrea will contribute monthly member spotlights and other running related stories.

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