We’re proud to have over 45 Olympic Trials Qualifiers in the marathon on our app. The story of VDOT started due to an Olympic pursuit and the search for how to train properly in the sport of running.

In Atlanta we’ll be celebrating the sport we love and the continuation of Dr. Jack Daniels’ legacy. We asked some of our VDOT qualifiers how their running story started:

Sydney Devore

“I started running in high school and it was mostly just to add another extracurricular to my college application. I fell in love with the sport and my fellow runners right away. The feeling of getting better at something was intoxicating!”

Jeanne Mack

“I got back into running after some time away from it post-college because I felt this drive to see if I could do something I’d never come close to attempting before. Something that was intimidating – the marathon distance.”

Matt Welch

“I was inspired to get into running by watching my oldest brother, Ben, compete in high school cross country races. I was in middle school at the time and was immediately attracted to the grittiness of the sport. I loved that every athlete overcame an internal battle to push themselves to their limit and perform their best on any given day. As I started to run myself, I was captivated by the role I played in my own success. I had the power to write my own story.⁣”

Dylan Belles

“I began running as a means of helping myself overcome some personal battles I faced in my youth. As a young athlete I developed some poor traits that caused a lot of havoc on my body and mind. I had gone from a successful athlete with a lot of promise to an athlete who had now lost his identity – I was on a downward spiral. I found running at my worst, and it challenged me to look inward to become my best.⁣”

Mary Schneider

“My running began with a mile run with my Dad when I was 2 years old and my first race was when I was 8 (I won a mile run run beating all the girls and boys). I ran cross country all 4 years in high school. I was an alpine ski racer as well and I raced in high school and then DI at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. I was the Vermont State XC Champion in 2008.⁣”

Becki Spellman

“I started running because my sister, who is 10 months older than me, was on the track team and I pretty much did whatever she did. I wanted to be a sprinter but my coaches saw I was better suited for distance. I fought it but they pushed me to the mile. I won my first 1600m race and I was hooked! “

Erica Kirkwood

“I ran in undergrad for Texas A&M-Kingsville but took a 6 year break from running for graduate school, marriage and to have 2 children. As a new full-time working mom, I found myself neglecting my own personal well being. My husband, Jonathan, encouraged me get back into running so that I can focus on myself again. Initially, I had a hard time with this, often feeling guilty of leaving the kids but it wasn’t long before I noticed I was in a better mood when I able to run. It made me a better mommy to my beautiful girls.” ⁣

Kiya Dandenah

“I started running my senior year in high school. I was at my guidance counselor’s office getting advice about colleges. She suggested that I needed to have more extracurricular activities to make my application stand out. I played basketball my sophomore year and part of my junior year. As much as I loved basketball, I had to quit because I was getting bullied often by my teammates.”

Lauren Floris

“I fell in love with running over 20 years ago watching the Boston Marathon run through my hometown every April. At 7-8 years old I knew that one day I wanted to run a marathon.

On my journey to my OTQ I was inspired by many athletes. Of course, there’s the obvious ones like@karagoucher@shalaneflanagan and @des_linden, but I think even more than those ladies I was inspired by the women that were “just like me”. The women who weren’t high school or college standouts, the women who had jobs and families and kids and were still running at an extremely high level. Until I saw women that were like me running OTQs I never even considered that could be a reality for me as well.

Esther Atkins

“Running looks like an individual sport, but once I began to see my competition as my team, I was able to achieve so much more than I could for myself alone. When you call on yourself to help someone else, you will achieve so much more than you ever could alone.”