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What does it mean to be on our ambassador team?

Our ambassadors represent everything it means to be a Detroit Free Press Marathon participant. They are dedicated, hardworking and love a good comeback. Our ambassadors represent us on social media through takeovers, virtual workouts, group runs, and other race events. They get a behind the scenes look at some planning meetings and play a vital role in the race weekend by volunteering at the expo and with invites to exclusive events. Meet the 2021 team!

 

Victor Reynolds

First Detroit event: 2018

Favorite part of race weekend: Finally meeting people from the marathon’s Facebook group whom I’ve interacted with, chatted with, made friends with, or even just read their posts, all throughout the weeks of training leading to race weekend.

Goal for 2021: Train for (not necessarily run) a 3:30 marathon. No pressure.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I love ice cream, I’ve struggled with self-acceptance, and I’m a friend for life.

Social media: Instagram

 

 

Erin Dawkins

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Free Press Marathon race was the U.S. Half in 2016. Up until that day, I never exceeded 10 miles!

Favorite part of race weekend: Definitely the Expo – volunteering as an Ambassador and engaging with runners and spending time with the Ambassadors and Freep staff is the absolute best!

Goals for 2021: My main goal for 2021 is to push myself out of my running comfort zone. 2020 was a difficult year for running without in-person events and races so I didn’t push myself the way that I normally do. This year, whether we have in-person races or not, I plan to work on speed and intensity in my training. I definitely plan on incorporating more strength training and resistance into my plan as well. I also started a writing blog dedicated to running and mom-ing…I plan to write more this year and document my running journey (check Erin’s blog out here!).

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I lived in a camper for six months while I trained for my first full marathon with the Detroit Free Press Marathon. I will run extra miles for Red Vines. I was the South Side Saint Patrick’s Day Queen of Chicago in 2003.

Social Media: Instagram

 

Tanya Thornton

First Detroit event:  2018 Marathon.

Favorite part of race weekend: My favorite part of race weekend is the energy and excitement of the entire weekend! From meeting my runner friends at package pickup/the expo to the energy at the start line to the cheers along the way!

What’s your goal for 2021: I am choosing to have laser focus on only the things that are important to me: family, peace, business and health and wellness.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I love to read and I love music (Ironically, I may listen to an audiobook while running but rarely ever listen to music.). I am obsessed with coffee and oatmeal. I love the rain. It is very calming.

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Harvey Steinhoff

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Freepress marathon event was the international half in 2017.

Favorite part of race weekend:  I can’t just pick 1 thing as my favourite (did you know Harvey was Canadian?)  thing about the race. I love the hype of the start line, the sunrise on the Ambassador bridge, and the underwater mile.

What’s your goal for 2021: My 2021 goal it to stick to a training plan so that I can run faster in all my race distances, especially the marathon.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I have been a licensed amateur radio operator since the age of 14.  I am a part-time firefighter at a station with over 450 calls a year not including medical calls. I am not myself without a daily dose of sunshine.

Social Media: Instagram

 

Carlos Orosco

First Detroit event: The 2019 Marathon.

Favorite part of race weekend: My favorite things about the event was going down to Detroit on Thursday to do the television, and newspaper interviews, volunteering at the expo, and at the Saturday races, doing the television interview on Sunday morning at 6am, and of course getting into the corral with my running partner, and just taking in the atmosphere of race day.

What’s your goal for 2021: to complete in my first (and second) NPC Bodybuilding and Physique competition. One in April, and the second show two weeks after the Detroit Free Press Marathon. Also to complete my first evet Spartan Race.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I used to weigh 650 pounds, and now weigh 170 pounds. I will be competing in my first NPC Bodybuilding, and Physique competition in April of 2021. I know how to size, and drill the holes in bowling balls, and also know how to re-string tennis racquets as well.

Social Media: Instagram

 

Jacqueline Reneaud

First Detroit event: The 2019 International Full-Marathon.

Favorite part of race weekend: I love the energy of the weekend. The excitement at the starting line, the comradery of the participants, and the LOUD spectators!

What’s your goal for 2021: Get a BQ.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I’m obsessed with lattés.  I was a high school basketball state champion. I’ve been running since I was one.

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Lauren Marcon

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Free Press Marathon race was the full marathon in 2019. This was also my first full marathon – it was the PERFECT first 26.2!

Favorite part of race weekend: The Expo is HUGE and super fun – I loved watching a video drive of the 26.2 route they had on replay on a big screen! Also, flags are hung from each country that has someone racing that weekend and you walk through them all as you enter – so cool!

What’s your goal for 2021: Run in 10 new places!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I love all kinds of music and rarely go running without it – right now my favorite is The Bee Gees. I’m a huge football fan – college and pro. Go green (And obviously, go Lions!)! I’m a gummy worm connoisseur!

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Dominique Passanante

First Detroit event: 2020 will actually be my first year doing a race with the Detroit Free Press Marathon.

Favorite part of race weekend: Race weekends are always full of excitement and I’m always in my best mood when I know it’s race week.

What’s your goal for 2021: Run the entire kal haven train from Kalamazoo to South Haven!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I Actually fractured my leg on mile 18 of the 2020 virtual marathon, but still finished it by myself because it was my first one! In 2021 I’ll be graduating from WMU with a B.S. in Exercise Science & ending my 6 year contract in the Marines Corps as a Sergeant. Cooking and weightlifting are my favorite hobbies! I Try to homecook every meal!

Social Media: Instagram

 

Brian Schembri

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Free Press Marathon race was in 2014 when I did my first official half marathon with my lovely wife. I have been back every year since, rotating between the Half and the Full.

Favorite part of race weekend: There are so many great things about the weekend; such a great group of racers and volunteers. Highlights include sunrise while on the Ambassador Bridge, the fans after leaving the Tunnel, “breaking the wall” in Indian Village are just a few.

What’s your goal for 2021: Obtain a personal best in the Marathon and run 2,021 miles in 2021

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: A couple of my passions are helping other runners and supporting the local community. Currently, on a 2km a day streak (around 1,700 days and counting) 7 years ago, I hated running. I never understood why anyone would run for fun. Now, I exercise every day and hope to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon and complete a Full Ironman.

Social Media: Instagram

 

Jessica Smith

First Detroit event: I ran the International Half in 2016

Favorite part of race weekend: My favorite thing about race weekend is the energy, the camaraderie, being part of something bigger than just myself.

Favorite part of race weekend: There’s something electric about Detroit that weekend: from the excitement at the Expo to the night-before jitters, the adrenaline and music at the start line and overwhelming gratitude at the finish line, thousands and thousands of people are feeling the same things. The volunteers keep the energy going for miles on end, and you can feel that the pride of the city and all its people with each mile you run.

What’s your goal for 2021: To complete my home renovation! I would also like to jump back into the marathon this year, I haven’t run a full since 2018 and it’s time!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I am a refugee foster mom, expecting my first placement this spring. I am actually pretty musical. I sing and know how to place four instruments. I am a die-hard Michigan fan…GO BLUE (yes, this is to battle Lauren lol)

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Caroline Brooks

First Detroit event: My first year running was 2019! I feel like I got a taste for how amazing an event it is and can’t wait for 2021.

Favorite part of race weekend: There’s something electric about Detroit that weekend: from the excitement at the Expo to the night-before jitters, the adrenaline and music at the start line and overwhelming gratitude at the finish line, thousands and thousands of people are feeling the same things. The volunteers keep the energy going for miles on end, and you can feel that the pride of the city and all its people with each mile you run.

What’s your goal for 2021: Be better about taking rest/recovery days!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I am a huge animal lover (dog mom to two!). Music is my medicine. I’m working [hard] every day on self-esteem, but running and movement make me feel powerful.

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Lindsay Parsell

First Detroit event: My first marathon was Detroit in 1999 when the finish line was the home plate at Tigers Stadium.

Favorite part of race weekend: My favorite thing about race weekend is spending the whole weekend with my family.

What’s your goal for 2021: Main goal of course is always to just finish. But it would be nice to get a PR.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I can clap with one hand. I can hold my body parallel to the ground on a pole. I read 143 books in 2020.

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Robyn Childers

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Free Press Marathon race was the Half Marathon in 2016!

Favorite part of race weekend: Running over the Ambassador Bridge!

What’s your goal for 2021: My goal for 2021 is to have a successful Grand Opening and relocation for Welcome Home Yoga & Wellness Center, where we continue to build an even bigger yoga and running community within the great city of Detroit!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I am a Newlywed, who recently married to the woman of my dreams on Zoom! I am a yoga teacher, studio owner and identity as non-binary. I love dogs & the smell of puppy breath is life!

Social Media: Instagram Facebook

 

Tamil Arunachalam

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Free Press Marathon race was the 1998 Free Press Marathon!

Favorite part of race weekend: Picking up the package and hanging out with my running friends.

What’s your goal for 2021: Stay fit, healthy and have fun!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I’m fun to run with and friendly, a reliable friend, and I like getting things done

Social Media: Facebook

Tamil is one of our Gazelle Sports Ambassadors!

 

 

Maggie Chen

First Detroit event: 2019 International Half Marathonfun fact: I competed in the Spartan Race Beast in Texas exactly a week later and won first place female ^_^

Favorite part of race weekend: Right before the race starts… Your adrenaline is pumping, you’re so nervous, and the atmosphere is so intense you can almost touch it… The gun goes off and all that energy shifts into your legs!

What’s your goal for 2021: To travel again! Oh, and to break 1:35 in a half marathon ^_^

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I’m a two-time OCR World Championships qualifier, a CrossFitter who sometimes puts CrossFit on pause to run and a fat-adapted athlete—nutrition matters!

Social Media: Instagram

Maggie is one of our Gazelle Sports Ambassadors!

 

Cheng Chen

(Yes! He is married to Maggie!)

First Detroit event: 2019 International Half Marathon

Favorite part of race weekend: I loved the temperature in 2019. Fifty degrees is perfect for racing after a summer of heat adaptation. Add a bridge crossing to that and you’ve got a phenomenal course!

What’s your goal for 2021: I’ve ran too many hilly races and would like to run a truly flat half marathon course—2021 Detroit U.S. Half, here I come!

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I used to lift more than I run. Now I run more than I lift, I’m a running gear reviewer and prototype product tester. Find my work at www.roadtrailrun.com, I run the Oakland County Track Club racing team. We train and race together around Michigan. Contact me directly to join.

Social Media: Instagram

Cheng is one of our Gazelle Sports Ambassadors!

 

Dianne Bondy

First Detroit event: The Full Marathon in 2002!

Favorite part of race weekend: Running with my friends.

What’s your goal for 2021:To keep my running consistent and try a duathlon.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you:I am a proud Canadian; I love Bubble Tea and I love to share yoga

Social Media: Instagram TikTok

 

 

Shelby Anderson

First Detroit event: The Detroit Marathon in 2018

Favorite part of race weekend: Running over the Ambassador Bridge! It’s hands-down the best part of any race I’ve ever been a part of.

What’s your goal for 2021: To run a race IN-PERSON and qualify for the Boston Marathon

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I’m a huge animal lover! My husband and I have two dogs, Charlotte and Maya, and a kitty, named Shiraz. They bring us so much joy! I grew up in metro Detroit (White Lake) and started running while in college at Central Michigan University. Since then, I’ve moved around the country – from Knoxville, TN, to Cleveland, OH, and now to Tacoma, WA. I love running because it gives me the opportunity to explore the new area I’m in and, through running, I’ve connected with people who’ve become my best friends! Not so fun fact: At the Cleveland Marathon in 2018 I fell and split my forehead open. I had to go to the hospital and needed 25 stitches in my face! To top it all off… I hadn’t even crossed the start line, but that hasn’t stopped me from running – I’m just a little more cautious now 😉

Social Media: Instagram

 

 

Jason Banks

First Detroit event: My first event with the Detroit Free Press Marathon was in 2018. I ran my very first official Half Marathon and had the time of my life!

Favorite part of race weekend: My favorite part of race weekend is seeing and experiencing all of the energy from the participants and spectators. I love seeing everyone at the expo getting ready for their race. I also love conversing and reading stories of both veteran and first-time runners in the Detroit Free Press Marathon Runners Facebook group. There is always so much energy in the group leading up to race weekend and it just makes the anticipation of the race even better! In 2019 while running the half marathon, I felt myself fading a bit. A kind runner who had been running near me noticed tapped me on the shoulder and motioned in the direction of the finish line to get moving. That kind gesture re-energized me and helped me to finish strong with a PR. It’s moments like that, that make race weekend so awesome!

What’s your goal for 2021: My biggest race goal for 2021 is to run my first official full marathon on race weekend. I also have another half marathon on the list that I am running in the spring.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: I’m a very friendly person, If you see me out running, feel free to say hello!  I recently completed running for a full year when I went on a run streak, running every day,  from the beginning of January 2020 to the end of December 2020. Never underestimate how strong you are! When I’m not running, I lead a team of amazing tech support heroes who routinely save the day, one computer at a time.

Social Media: Instagram

 

Shannon Myrand

First Detroit event: My first Detroit Event was the Relay Marathon in 2009 followed by the International Half Marathon in 2011.

Favorite part of race weekend:

My favorite part of race weekend is the EXPO! I love making an afternoon of it and checking out all the different booths. I love all the photo opportunities and just the excitement of all the runners. You also cannot beat running over the Ambassador Bridge as the sun is rising – another favorite of mine 🙂

What’s your goal for 2021: My goal for 2021 is to worry less! My goal is to focus more on the present and enjoy that in the moment and worry less about things that are out of my control in the future.

What are three things you would want someone to know about you: : I am a single Mom to my daughters Ellison – 10 and Emme – 7. The motto in our house is “girls run the world!” I am always working to show my daughters that you can achieve anything with hard work, dedication, and self-confidence. I love to be outdoors – running, camping, hiking, being at the beach or pool, playing sports or coaching my daughter’s teams. Just give me all the sunshine and fresh air! Running is my “me” team. I look forward to my runs every week to give me a chance to put my headphones in and escape. Whether I’m listening to my music, My Bachelor podcasts or my own thoughts – it’s MY time 🙂

Social Media: Instagram