My guest today is someone who is involved with running on multiple fronts.
She’s run 52 marathons in 38 states, organized a running club, coached runners, and launched a race company in her spare time.
We will have no shortage of topics to cover as I go a few easy miles with Lee Ann Yarbor today!
Lee Ann Yarbor has been running since the early 2000s.
She ran her first 26.2, the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2005.
Prior to that race, she hadn’t officially run a race longer than 10k.
A friend challenged her to run a marathon, and Lee Ann isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
Lee Ann was hooked on running after that first marathon and hasn’t looked back.
She began her quest to run a marathon in 50 states between 2010 and 2013.
She is over two-thirds of the way there after completing multiple back-to-back marathons in various states.
Lee Ann faced many challenges doing marathons so close together and is now focused on single marathons.
The Thrill of the First BQ
Lee Ann will never forget the feeling of qualifying for Boston for the first time.
She was 45 when she first ran a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time.
Her first Boston Marathon was in 2009 and she has run 8 of them so far.
Along with pushing herself to qualify for the race, she also coaches others to reach their goals.
Lee Ann swears by 4 key runs to incorporate into training for anyone looking to get faster:
- Tempo run
- Track workouts
- Long runs
- Hill repeats
Lee Ann ran Boston the year that the bombing occurred.
Heading into the race, she convinced herself it was going to be her last Boston since she had already done two.
Everything changed during that race.
Boston 2013 started just as every other Boston had.
Lee Ann couldn’t have asked for better weather and she had 4 other friends from her run club running the race.
When the first bomb went off, Lee Ann was at the finish line.
She was so close to the explosion that it shook her entire body.
Initially, like many others, she didn’t know what was going on and assumed it was a gas line explosion.
After speaking with her husband on the phone, she got a more accurate depiction of the situation.
Lee Ann was thankful that she didn’t have any family at the finish spectating that year.
The horrific event gave her a new perspective and she vowed to continue to run Boston as long as she was able.
USA Endurance Events
Lee Ann loved running so much that she eventually became the race director (RD) of a race company.
USA Endurance Events holds half marathons and marathons in races all across the United States.
Their first big event, the San Diego Holiday Half, took place in December of 2013 and has grown from there.
USA Endurance Events has quite a few races that have gained considerable popularity over the years.
Even with the rapid growth, Lee Ann felt they were missing a niche part of the racing market.
Her first race was the Nike Women’s Marathon and it ceased to continue in 2016.
Lee Ann realized that there were no other races that were similar in format to what that race offered.
A Luxury Race Feel
Lee Ann wanted to create the feel of the Nike Women’s Marathon on a much smaller scale.
Her ideal race would have more of a boutique luxury feel, allowing only a few thousand people to participate.
The race is only open by lottery, which opens a few times a year.
Initially, Lee Ann partnered with Tiffany & Co. for the custom necklaces that were given to finishers.
The merger of Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton ended the partnership with the race.
With the help of hindsight, Lee Ann realized that their new partner was the perfect fit.
The jewelry brand Kendra Scott is the official partner of USA Endurance Events, creating a custom piece for the finishers.
Along with the custom jewelry, participants get a Lululemon race shirt and other swag that goes above and beyond.
Behind the Scenes
Being a runner herself has helped Lee Ann do her job as an RD.
Lee Ann knows what she likes and dislikes in races which come in handy when planning events.
Each race, regardless of size, has many moving parts at all times.
Anything can and does go wrong on race day.
Lee Ann recognizes how important race day is to each individual and the amount of prep that leads up to the day.
Having a good relationship with the city workers and volunteers is crucial to navigating race day smoothly.
Lee Ann credits running with changing her life, including 18 years sober.
She gets immense satisfaction from seeing other people feel the way she does about the sport.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- USA Endurance Events
- San Diego Holiday Half
- Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon
- Martha’s Vineyard Marathon
- Leading Ladies & Dakota Spirit
Stay connected to Lee Ann Yarbor by following USA Endurance Events on Instagram.
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