Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants


Jocelyn Davis - A Firefighters Dream

Jocelyn is a lifetime Athens native but spent her childhood weekends in Hiawassee, Georgia where she traveled to see her grandparents and enjoyed playing in the North Georgia Mountains.  As a teenager, she attended and graduated from Clarke Central where she was a member of the Cross Country team. Jocelyn admits to not being very fast but she enjoyed and appreciated the camaraderie with team members.  Her love for running was initiated during this period but she did not have the reward of personal accomplishments.      

Jocelyn’s education continued at the University of Georgia where she achieved Honors status and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in social science education.  During her collegiate career, Jocelyn was a counselor at Rock Eagle and Wahsega 4-H Centers.  Her running during these stints consisted of running to the cottages, hollering for recreation activities and hiking.

Jocelyn taught middle school for five years before returning to UGA earning a Master’s in Social Science Education degree acquired attending night classes.  During this busy period in her life, she started entering Athens area 5K races.  Like many of us, Jocelyn suffered from pre registration anxiety-if you registered for a race you show up!  She enjoyed the Saturday morning races and their different routes through Athens.   Jocelyn found racing acquaintances that transitioned into friends.  Running and participating in the race series became like “supportive team”.  

Jocelyn married husband Ryan, a firefighter, who got the hots for her.  She completed her Educational Specialist degree in School Leadership Administration from North Georgia.   She currently teaches at Winder Barrow High School where she devotes extra curriculum time to coaching the cheerleading squad.  When Ryan is occupied Jocelyn enjoys knitting, playing with her miniature schnauzer Roxie and serves as an advisor to her college sorority, the Delta Zeta chapter at UGA.

Running has become a constant in her life and she feels “out of balance without running with her friends”.  She relishes her accomplishment of completing the Chicago Marathon with the Darius Goes West running group.  Jocelyn’s favorite races include the Elberton Granite Bowl Twilight Stroll and the Naples Florida Half Marathon.  Jocelyn doesn’t know her PRs but she is always “happy and feels good at the end of a race”.  Jocelyn states that she appreciates the running community for “their gracious spirit and loving hearts.”  She is also “delighted to stand on the starting line with them every chance she gets”.

Jocelyn finished first in the competitive 30-34 female age group in the Clover Glove Race series and third in her age group in the Black Bag Race series.        

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profiles of retired but not yet exhausted UGA professor Bill Davis and Pine Mountain’s pride Barbara Nasworthy.   


Lauren Freeman - Wanted to be wired but is all wet

Lauren Freeman has always resided in Cleveland, Georgia with the exception of a few years during college.  He grew up playing baseball and basketball but found the most success at White County High School running cross country and track.  After a 17:52 PR in a 5K distance and running 6-8 training miles a day, Lauren developed shin splits and a stress fracture his junior year.  The injuries affected his finish times when he returned for his senior year track competition.  

Young Lauren competing in Cross CountryLauren matriculated at nearby Gainesville College graduating with an Associate Degree in both engineering and business.  He transferred to Southern Polytechnic State University seeking a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering.  Scheduling problems limited the classes Lauren could take to be considered a full time student and maintain his insurance coverage.  Returning closer to his roots, Lauren moved to Dahlonega enrolling at North Georgia College as a full time student.  Lauren commuted to Marietta to continue taking engineering courses at Southern Poly while taking a full load at North Georgia.  This allowed Lauren to eventually qualify as a full time student at Southern Poly.  Not willing to forfeit his credits at North Georgia College when he moved to Marietta, he continued to take night courses at the Gainesville’s North Georgia College campus 2 to 3 times a week.  Persistence resulted in two degrees-an Electrical Engineering degree from Southern Poly in 2005 and a business administration degree from North Georgia in 2006. Lauren was now uniquely qualified with two degrees plus the experience to drive across North Georgia to Run and See Georgia, Black Bag, and Clover Glove Series races.   

Multitalented Lauren worked for his father’s business, Freeman Electrical and Pump Service, during high school and college.  While in college Lauren qualified for an unrestricted electrical contractor license.  After graduation Lauren began work full time for his father as an electrician while seeking an engineering position.  Lauren wanted to be a hands on field engineer rather than sitting at a desk doing designs and CAD work.  Lauren was on the verge of accepting a position with a large electrical firm in Atlanta as an engineer when family loyalty surfaced when his father asked him to manage his other business, American Water Services.  Lauren preferred the pace of life and lack of commuter traffic that Cleveland had to offer as opposed to Atlanta so the choice was easy to rationalize.

American Water Services owned and operated community water systems in North Georgia.  Lauren wanted to improve his resume so he studied to achieve certification as a class three water system operator.  Lauren expanded the firm, developing its own water lab and now does water filtration. With additional courses completed by now, professional student Lauren obtained licenses as a Certified Lab Analyst and as a Certified water Filtration Specialist.  In his spare time Lauren still does a few electrical jobs to maintain proficiency in that field.

Lauren with the 2013 BBRS champ Jim LatimerIn 2010 Lauren found that he was gaining weight and not having the energy that he used to have while commuting to complete his dual degrees.   Being a high mileage type of guy, he started running in a few local races and found in 2011 on the Georgia Runner website that he was in the top twenty-five in the 25-29 age group.  He ran a few more races that year finishing fifth in his age group.  After overhearing Bo Ryles (not hard to do as loud as Bo is!) discuss the Black Bag Races Series with another runner, he begin to seek races that were in the Black Bag Race Series.  Lauren completed 2013 winning overall top point achiever in the Black Bag Race Series plus his age group in Clover Glove.  As the overall winner in the BBRS, Lauren won a BBRS dri fit shirt, BBRS Hat, BBRS Bag, a pair of shoes from Fleet Feet Athens,  a pair of Red Star Sunglasses  and the grand prize of running in as many Black Bag Race Series races as he wants for FREE along with the coveted Will Chamberlin Memorial Cup!  His best PR in a 5K since high school was 19:20 in the Lawrenceville Flashlight 5K and 43:27 in the 10K Kennesaw Summer Steamer.  His favorite race is Cleveland’s Crow’s Calling 5K which is a short commute.  Lauren remarked that what he enjoys the most about the multiple race series is that “we can be extremely competitive with each other and still be friends at the end of the day”.  Goals for 2014 include running his first marathon and getting his 5K time under 19:00!                        

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profile on Jocelyn Davis and the retired but not yet exhausted UGA professor Bill Davis.


Sarah Wishnietsky - A Military Brat on the Run 

Sarah Wishnietsky was born of Air Force parents at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.  Sarah’s mother retained her maiden name when she married so Sarah and her younger sister, Rebecca, were both given their mother’s last name.  Their mother hopes that one day the Wishnietsky name will continue down to her future grandchildren.   

Sarah and StevenTypical of military parents, Sarah left Mississippi after the first month of her life relocating to respectively to Massachusetts, Hawaii, Virginia, Arizona, and Alabama.  Sarah was “shy” and required some time to forge friendships, so her sister was her only long term friend during childhood.  When she did form friendships, her parents would move.  Sarah’s nomadic life ended when her mother retired as a Lt. Colonel in Montgomery, Alabama.  Sarah attended High School at Montgomery Academy where she played varsity softball, sang in the school choir, acted in school plays and was on the competitive math team.  Sarah excelled in foreign language study and spent time in France in a student exchange program between her sophomore and junior years.

After graduation Sarah attended and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). While Sarah played the piano in high school as a hobby, she was relegated to the xylophone and vibraphone in the front ensemble of the university marching band.  Sarah graduated in 2007 with a double major in Math and Biology and a minor in Chemistry.  While at UAB Sarah went on medical mission trips to Belize and Ecuador.  She also availed herself to ecology courses in Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands.  This early entry into the world of travel led Sarah to visit to date more than forty states and fifteen foreign countries.    

Graduation led to a diagnosis of severe scoliosis.  Her vertebra was fused with her entire spinal column with metal rods inserted on both sides of the spine.  During an extended recovery, Sarah discontinued her hobbies and activities she had developed in college.  Her muscles grew weak from disuse so she attended cardio classes to recover her muscle tone.  Lifting weights did not appeal to Sarah but running did.  Sarah ran casually for a few years before discovering that Georgia had multiple running series.

Sarah and CherylIn January 2012 Sarah found the Black Bag Race Series/Clover Glove Series race, the Jaycees January Jog.  She learned about the series and began to look for races that awarded points for participating.  The more races she attended, the more fun she had.  What she really loved was that “she saw familiar faces at each race”.  After almost a year, she feels like some of the friends she has made on the race series are “some of the closest friends she has ever had”.   They “encourage each other, sympathize, and offer to help when someone is going through difficulties”.  Cheryl Cook, in particular, has become a good friend and is attending the Dopey Challenge with Sarah at Walt Disney World in January.  Her favorite races are the Bainbridge Half marathon and the Twelve Days of Christmas in July.   

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profile on 2013 Black Bag Race Series Champion, Lauren Freeman and on 4-H’s Jocelyn Davis.


Ricky Hayes - Building up the Points

Ricky Hayes was born in Gainesville, GA.  His family relocated from Hall County to Lumpkin County when Ricky complained about Gainesville at age two.  Dahlonega was agreeable with Ricky as he has never left except to build houses and for an occasional (every weekend) race.  He graduated from Lumpkin County High and worked at a local hatchery during high school which kept him from participating in sports.  After graduation Ricky became the hatchery manager over chickens that produced over 30,000 eggs a week.  The eggs were shipped via air out of Atlanta with some going international through Miami.  Ricky burned out frequently working seven days a week and decided that this job was for the birds.  He entered the industrial revolution of North Georgia working for five years at Torrington Bearings.  Ricky ran a machine that chopped wire into roller bearings.  This became just as boring as the job for the birds.

Ricky had a passion for painting and remodeling and dreamed of starting his own business.  The dream was “to build houses and manage my own money”.   A local banker took a chance on Ricky in 1990 when he built him a spec (not under contract and not presold) house.  His homes became known for their quality craftsmanship and were delivered at “a great price”.  Ricky’s son joined him fifteen years ago forming a team that, to date, has build over five hundred single family homes  in Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin, Habersham and Hall counties across North Georgia.  They provide quality homes so that is what they named the company, Quality Homes.  Ricky and his son have developed nine sub divisions during their tenure together.  He has never advertised as all his clients are “word of mouth” referrals.  His clientele base is retirees seeking value and rustic homes in the North Georgia Mountains.  Ricky soon learned that the general population was not increasing and jobs in North Georgia were shrinking.  The only new blood of potential home buyers was old worn out retirees from other states that were potential competition for the senior members of the running community.  

Not all times have been good in the home building business.  The 2008-2009 housing slump caught Ricky with nine spec houses built and over a hundred unsold building lots.  Unlike many of his competitors who were less conservative, Ricky weathered this slump and currently has three homes under construction but still is the proud owner of over eighty unsold building lots.  At the peak of the pre housing slump era, Ricky had as many as ten homes under construction at one time.  The industry is recovering but is a long way from being as robust as it once was.  Ricky’s cousin, southern charmer author Ronda Rich, has a book currently being published titled “There’s a Better Day A-Comin” .  It tells the stories of people she has known that have overcome great adversity.  Ronda has a chapter devoted to Ricky.

Ricky began to run four years ago and did so consistently until he accidently cut his leg with a chain saw. Fearing that he would be unable to run again, he doggedly began to walk and finally run again. Don McClellan and I encountered Ricky at the Black Bag Race Series event, the Dawson Dash Young Life 5K, two years ago.  We found him later that same day at another BBRS race in Jefferson, the Speed Read 5K. Realizing we had met a mentally unstable person who was a borderline potential Black Bag Race Series multi race participant, we encouraged him as did his friend Lauren Freeman.  Ricky ran fifty two races in 2012 and to date has run one hundred and eight y races in 2013, currently being third overall in male Black Bag Series points to Lauren Freeman and Roger Keel.  His best 5K time is 21:40 and best 10.4K time is 51:20.   

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profile on Sara Wishnietsky and Ricky’s friend Lauren Freeman, and later on 4-H’s Jocelyn Davis.


Belinda Moon - Multi Sport Long Tenured Athlete

Belinda was born in Augusta, Georgia and moved to Appling, Georgia when she was age six.  Her father worked construction and step mom was a housekeeper.   Summers were spent camping at nearby Clark Hill Lake.  Belinda and her parents would stay at their rustic lake campsite (no electricity) for weeks with occasional trips home for supplies.  As a youngster, Belinda loved climbing trees and collecting bugs but now she still loves climbing trees but collects rocks.  The family relocated to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina just before her junior year in high school.  Belinda graduated from North Myrtle Beach High in 1983. She was not involved in school sports but wanted to be a cheerleader. Belinda’s inability to do a cartwheel precluded her from being selected for the cheer squad.   After graduation Belinda returned to Augusta for a few months, thereafter soon moving to Chicago, Illinois to live with her mother.

Belinda and her mother moved back to Athens, Georgia in 1985 and she has resided in the Athens-Watkinsville area since.  She found employment with DuPont and currently works for Invista (formerly DuPont) in Planning/Scheduling with twenty-six year tenure.  She started her athletic apprenticeship after initial employment by going to a gym with friends after work for aerobics.  After a few months, Belinda and her roommate evolved their exercise routine into distance biking.  Belinda started taking courses at Akers Computerized Learning Center in order to advance at work but found she succeeded more socially as she met her future husband Paul whom she married in 1990. Belinda started running in 1992 by training and participating in a Duathlon at Jekyll Island.  She was ten weeks pregnant by race day and was relegated to the role of a pouting spectator.  After the birth of son Justin she began to run regularly with the goal of shedding the weight acquired during pregnancy.  Her first 5K was the 1995 Colbert Canna. Disappointed at not placing and frustrated at the speed of others in her age group, she pushed herself a little harder and took advice from new running friends.  Her friend Tony mentored and pushed her from two miles up to five miles on weeknights and thus success at races.

Her first marathon was in 1999 at McDonough with her first and only marathon in 2000 at Tybee Island. Accomplishments to date are nine half marathons, one marathon, two sprint triathlons, three duathlons, a one hundred century bike ride, four fifty mile charity bike rides, two metric century rides (sixty-four miles),  and a lot of 5,8, and 10K races.  Belinda is currently ranked in both the Run and See Georgia and Black Bag Race Series in the 45-49 female age group and has been so for years.  A special sprint triathlon was at Callaway Gardens a few years ago where Mark and Nancy Kelly were married after the event.  Belinda observed that she “has traveled to many races with my awesome friends over the years. We are all so spread out in different towns, but that was a fun way to meet up and socialize and get some running in.”  Belinda did the Thrill in the Hills Half Marathon and plans on repeating the event in 2014.  It rained so hard prior to the 2013 race that Belinda felt she was running in a creek for the entire course.  Training for trail runs has resulted in a few cuts and bruises over the years.  Her favorite race was her first Peachtree.  

Son Justin, now twenty, begin running at age twelve but has not done so consistently in his teenage years.  Recently on a weekday run at Veterans Park with son Justin he caught up with her at the two mile mark and ran the last three miles of her training run with her.  Belinda describes this as “a mother’s dream! “Her weekly fitness routine is Yoga two days a week, running at least three days, and taking Friday off with a few bike ride thrown in at random.             

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for articles on Ricky Hayes and Sarah Wishnietsky.