Female Runner of the Year

Ashley Daily, January 2012

Thank you to everyone here tonight. It is truly my honor to present this award tonight.

Why do you run? Some of you might say health, fitness, addiction, you just love it or you just love cake and have to justify it somehow.  Whatever your motivation sometimes the motivation wanes; your IT is sore, work is to stressful, you had a horrible track workout, or you are just plain tired. It is in these moments that we as runners learn who we are as people. I would bet that every one of you is not only motivated by the measurable—time, distance, pain but by the people around you.  This year the female runner of the year is my motivator, mentor and inspiration as she is too many in this room. 

Runner of the year does not necessarily mean the fastest runner or the runner that has shown the most improvement throughout the year. Runner of the Year is the person who encompasses all of the qualities of our sport: passion, determination, and guts.  More importantly this person shows immeasurable kindness and compassion. She inspires others to be the absolute best they can be. By pushing herself she pushes others—leading by example.

I want to focus on a few things about this year’s winner in addition to her outstanding running résumé.

This year’s runner of the year is a friend, a mentor and an inspiration.

After my first half marathon in 2010 she put the bug in my ear that if I could run a half there was no reason I couldn’t run a full marathon. She helped me find a beginners running plan, introduced me to Nancy and the imitation adults and coached me through my first ever track workout. She even met me for coffee before I left Tallahassee to calm. My nerves and assure me of success. She was my mentor.

I have always looked at her as an inspiration bout this past year I came to admire her spirit, her passion and her determination. Sometime in the spring she sent a rather bullying email to a number of people trying to garner interest in training and running a marathon together. Finally we settled and trained for the Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon. Through bruises, swollen feet, attacking tree roots…she persisted. This was going to be the best marathon she ran if it took everything she had—and it just about did. But when the going got tough she put one foot in front of the other and kept running. She fought the whole way achieving along the way: a 19:01 finish at Women’s Distance Festival 5K during her first of successive 60 miles weeks and the she ran 16 miles and THEN raced a 10k. After all she has already accomplished she PR’ed her marathon by 5 minutes. Not the perfect race due to some headwind in miles 20-24 but she crossed the finish line hand and head held high because she gave it everything.

But the measure of a truly good soul is one who can in their moment of glory share in others glory. She is proud of her own accomplishments but feels equally accomplished when others do well. She almost won the Grand Prix this year and held strong till the last race but honestly Kelly you will always be so much more than a runner to so many people in this club. I am so proud to call you my friend and confidant.

Congratulations to this year’s Runner of the Year: Kelly Stevens