Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants


Mara Nance - Runner Who Pinned Her Hopes

Stacy “Mara” Nance was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Her parents, a brother and three sisters relocated to Augusta, GA when Mara was age five.  Her father, a civil engineer by trade, moved back to Coco Beach, Florida where he worked for NASA while Mara graduated from John F. Kennedy High School.  Mara was a cheerleader in high school and enjoyed an active social life.  Mara was fit and worked while in high school at Elaine Powers Fitness in Florida.  She accumulated enough spending money for a summer trip to Europe. Not bad for a high school student.  At the age of eighteen, on May 23 in the year before her graduation, she was as a struck by an automobile while walking.  She does not recall many details about the accident other than waking up from a coma with one arm and the rest of her body in a cast.  Mara spent the better part of two years in rehab with head trauma, her left leg shattered, left arm and fingers damaged.  Operations placed pins in the left leg, left arm, and the fingers of her injured hand.   These severe injuries explain Mara’s unorthodox running gate.  If you have ever run behind her, you will see she kicks one leg out as she strides. Mara acknowledges that this kick out motion is getting “worse” as she ages but she still remains competitive in the female 50-54 age group.   

Recovery led to attendance at Augusta College.  She continued her education in Winter Park, Florida at a community college.  While pursuing her education in Winter Park and working part time for a fitness center, Mara found ends were not meeting the needs and a financial crisis was looming.  This dilemma was remedied by a friend “daring” Mara to perform at an adult club as a stripper.  A dare became a career.  Mara was suffering back spasms that eventually led her to give up her dancing career after two years.  The money was good and solved the financial crisis. The high point of Mara’s “show” business career came when her physician, who was treating her for the spasms, came to view the performance one evening unannounced.  The low point was when a drunk jumped on stage, slung Mara over his shoulder and attempted to leave the establishment carrying Mara until confronted by the bouncer.  

Mara returned to Augusta, GA where she had back surgery to remove an offending budging disc.  After recovery Mara returned to school graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  She teamed with her father who had returned to Augusta in semi retirement doing consulting civil engineering work.  Mara would do the site preparation and information gathering portion of an engineering project for her father.  Mara found an opportunity in the lawn service industry to supplement her engineering income and started H & M (Holly and Mara) Lawn Care.  The lawn care business expanded over the years with a current stable of forty clients.  Sadly, her father passed away a year ago.  Mara is assisted in H&M by twenty-five year friend  and significant other Jerry Justice.  Some of you may recall Jerry as he accompanied Mara to races and served as the Holly (her pet Dachshund) keeper while Mara was running.  Mara’s life is consumed with lawn care eight days a week and caring for her two current pet Dachshunds Lucy Lu and Molly, both rescue dogs.

She has commuted to races since 1989 with Steve Strickland of Augusta.  Mara encountered Steve at local Augusta races and found he was willing to drive her to the races.  Mara can not drive long distances due to a lack of depth perception, a side consequence to her severe head trauma that occurred when she was a teen. Her running career started in Florida participating in the Sun Coast Race Series and continued with Run and See Georgia and now competes in the Black Bag Race Series.  Her first points race was in June of 1989, The Tar Baby 10K now known as the Torture Trail 10K.  Her favorite race is any one where she places first in her age group.  Mara participated in one hundred and thirteen races in 2001 and one hundred a year in following years.  She took a year off after her father’s death (her mother still lives in Augusta) but has become active again in the Black Bag Race Series.  Although not running the entire 2012 season, she was able to accumulate 136 Black Bag Points.  Enough points to finish fifth in her age group.  Her best 5K time was 21:39, 10K time 49:34, and she has participated in fifteen half marathons and three marathons.                 

Bob checking out from the back of the back.  Look for the March profile on Tucker’s own, pre teen runner, Charles Jackson.  In April Amber Hodor from Macon will be featured.   


Randall Martin - Quiet Achiever

Randall Martin was born in Winder, GA and was raised there as well (talk about being in a rut!).  The family lived off the land as many folks in the south were proud to do in past generations.  His father and grandfather cultivated large vegetable gardens in an effort to feed their offspring as well as fatten up neighbors for market.  Randall was hunting and fishing at an early age, getting his body accustomed to the future rigors of the Black Bag Race Series winter races.  Randall recalls riding his bicycle everywhere until he was of the age that his parents trusted him with a vehicle. 

Randall graduated from Winder High School where he was on the track team for one year.  He majored in hanging out in Tennessee, (this is where Bob Slowpants is from so this means he may need new underwear) with the “Wilder” crowd and minored in chasing girls (distances less than a 5K).  Randall considered joining the Army or continuing his education after graduation but married and started a family instead.

Randall’s first job was working in a warehouse for Johns-Manville Corporation, Randall with his company cara local industrial factory, loading trucks on a swing shift.  The strenuous physical requirements of the job led Randall to become interested in weight lifting.  Still a kid at heart but with responsibilities, Randall bought a bicycle and began averaging riding fifteen miles a day between playing tennis and softball.  Looking to the future, Randall after ten years on the loading dock attended Athens Technical College earning a diploma in Industrial Maintenance Technology.  Qualified as an industrial mechanic, Randall returned to the job market for five years and then opted again to further his education earning a diploma in Industrial Electrical Technology and an Associate of Applied Technology degree.  Eight years elapsed back on the job in industrial machine diagnostics before Randall returned to academics for certification in preventive maintenance using Thermal Imaging, Vibration Analysis, and Ultrasonic Diagnosis.  He is also skilled, due to this training, in laser alignment of shafts and electronic balancing of fans.   Randall’s current responsibilities include supervising a staff of nineteen mechanics and electricians.  If your personality is warped, see Randall for a diagnosis after any race awards ceremony.

Grandpa Randall with the GrandkidsIn between straightening shafts, Randall found time to sire three children (Daniel, Luke, and Amanda). The three have provided Randall with five grandchildren (Aubrey, Logan, Chase, Gavin, and Layton) with another one on the way (Olivia Kate).  Randall is currently not married and content, yet besieged by attractive females who have large t-shirt collections.  His extended family, work and running keep his plate full.  Randall’s earlier in life leisure activities favored competitive sports such as racing dirt track cars and bicycle cycling.  At age fifty Randall concluded that he was not doing enough to make a fool out of himself, so he began running and never looked back.  Speaking of never looking back, Randall does not recall the first race he ran.  His favorite races are the home cooking Summers End 5K in Winder and the Will Chamberlain Memorial Santa Stroll 8K in Bishop, both Black Bag Race Series races.  His fastest 5K time to date is 24:08. Randall has become a familiar face in theRandall with new friends Black Bag Race Series by participating in one hundred fifty four races in 2012, most of which were Black Bag Races, with twelve of those being half marathons.  ”Hooked” as Randall recalls after the first few races he became comfortable with the other runners that became fast friends and enjoys the pre/post race festivities.  Randall now observes that “the ones I now call my running family keep me going and wanting more”.  Randall earned 1041 points and ran 502.55 miles in the Black Bag Race Series in 2012. He was the clear leader in the competitive male 50-54 age group.

Bob checking out from the back of the back.  Look for the February Profile on Augusta’s light weight Mara Nance (the runner, not the dog) and in March on an emerging young runner from Tucker, Charles Jackson.


Colleen Stephens - Running the Numbers

Colleen is the second from the rightColleen was born in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin in 1952.  Her parents relocated to Hollywood, Florida to escape the Wisconsin Cheese when she was age five.  Colleen graduated from South Broward High School in 1970 and married shortly thereafter. Married life carried her to Anderson, South Carolina until a divorce in necessitating that she move to Atlanta in 1974.  With her daughter, they came to the great state of Georgia to be closer to Colleen’s father, his work and their family.


Colleen’s early work career was in the employ of K-Mart in various stores from Atlanta, GA to Columbus, MS, and eventually at the regional office here in Atlanta.  Colleen left K-Mart for an accounting bookkeeping position with a maintenance company, American Building Maintenance.  Later she joined a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firm in downtown Atlanta.  Despite the lack of formal training in accounting, Colleen excelled and knew she had found a vocation that she enjoyed.  While working at the CPS firm of Berman Mills and Company, Colleen met the love of her life, husband Chuck Stephens.  She also became determined to attend college and obtain a degree in accounting.


Colleen enrolled and attended Clayton State University until she and Chuck were married in 1984.  They relocated to Franklin, Georgia where Chuck had a family farm.  Colleen found an accounting position in nearby LaGrange, Georgia with another CPA firm.  Colleen's GraduationNot content with farm crops, Colleen and Chuck raised two sons.  Chip was born in 1985 and Clint in 1988.  Colleen transferred to the University of West Georgia in 1993 after placing her educational endeavors on hold when they relocated to Franklin.  Colleen reentered college graduating from West Georgia in 1996 and successfully passed the state CPA exam in 1997.  In the interim, Colleen and Chuck had started their own CPA firm in the metropolis of Franklin.


Colleen, in 2002, found herself gaining weight and wanted lose the extra pounds before she became taller lying down than she was standing up.  She began walking and eventually running.  She lost forty pounds in the first three months of running and exercising.  Her first race was a 5K on April 27, 2002 in Morrow, Georgia.  She placed dead last but finished and found the satisfaction of being out there.  Shortly thereafter she discovered the “madness” of running for points and found that we did not have a CPA runner, so she began to calculate, crunch and decipher the numbers, also known as “chasing the points”.  She finished fifth in her age group that year and finished sixth in the new 2012 Black Bag Race Series point standings and ran 102.7 Black Bag Miles in the competitive women age group of 55-59.  Colleen has run the Peachtree Road Race for the past ten years and intends to do so as long as she is physically able to do so, then she will transfer to the wheelchair division!


Chip leaving for AfghanistanAfter years of “nagging” (Bob cannot image a woman that nags!), Colleen has convinced other members of the family to run with her.  She is frequently joined by daughter Christine Carroll, who is a teacher at Roopville Elementary. Her grandson Luke Carroll is a sophomore at Heard County High and runs cross country and is on the basketball team. Participation includes granddaughter Lanie Carroll, a third grader at Roopville, son Clint, a LaGrange police officer, and daughter in law Amanda, a teacher also at Roopville. Son Chip is in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Afghanistan but no doubt ran there. He came home from Afghanistan at the end of September and is now stationed at Ft. Stewart in Hinesville.  When his enlistment is finished, he plans on returning to teaching at the middle school level.  Her daughter in law Marti also runs with her but she has been sidelined due to a back injury she received on a waterslide over the summer.


Not only does her family enjoy running but her dogs do too!  BeauBeau is a big dog that protects her on her runs.  You may catch her pushing a jogging stroller but be careful if you look in to get some baby loving.  Inside are her two little canines, Scappy and Boo Boo.  Boo BooThey may be too little to run far but they enjoy the run in style.


Colleen is struggling with plantar fasciitis and temporarily sidelined in the Black Bag Race Series injured reserve.  She is expected to rejoin the weekend “madness” at New Years at Noon.   Her injury regret this year is not earning her second 2012 Clover Glove.  Nevertheless, with one hand gloved, Colleen has a goal to run a race in every state and has done so in five states to date.  A secondary goal is to run a race in every county in Georgia.         


ScrappyBob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for more profiles in 2013 from Randall Martin and the winner of the Augusta feather weight division Myra Nance.


Tina Hunt - Running with Less

Tina was born and raised in the shadow of the Granite Bowl in Elberton, and remains there to this day. Her father was a brick mason and her mother stayed at home to raise three daughters and one son.  Tina loved the outdoors, and excelled in softball and basketball.  She graduated from Elberton County High School in 1979.

Tina met Brian Hunt in May 1982 and snagged him on April 16, 1983 (immediately after they filed their income tax returns).   Their union has produced four offspring-Holly (age 28 and resides in Miami, FL), Heidi (26 and resides in Baton Rouge, LA), Heath (23, Athens, GA), and Hanna (20, student at UGA in Athens).  Holly and Heidi are both UGA alumnus and Heath is an alumni of Athens Tech.   Currently empty nesters, Tina and Brian enjoy the never ending journey of traveling to races, biking, and hiking.   

After emulating her mother as a stay at home mom for twelve years, Tina supervised the Mothers Mornings Out program at Elberton First Baptist Church.  She also served as a nursery coordinator  and  taught a two year old preschool class.  These activities allowed Tina the flexibility to be involved in her children’s activities.  Tina has been a volunteer coach for the Elbert County Middle School Girls Track Team for several years resulting in Tina currently serving as an assistant coach.  August 2012 was another milestone marking Tina’s first month as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer at Bodyplex in Elberton.   

Many of us find that a busy life is not a physically fit existence.  In 2007 Tina though she might be slightly overweight and invested in a treadmill.   Exercise, a healthy diet and self discipline resulted in an amazing eighty pound weight loss in a nine month period.  Tina’s first 5K was in Elberton in Sept 2007 at the age 45.  She discovered the running series in 2008 and placed twelfth in her age group.  Tina placed second in her age group in 2011 and participated in seventy-five races, many of them timed by Classic Race Services and now on the Black Bag Race Series.  Tina’s best 5K was 26:59 in the Hurricane 5K.  Her best 10K time was sixty minutes at the 2012 Torture Trail.  Last year at age fifty, Tina ran her first marathon in Savannah.  Tina completed six half marathons in 2011 and set a goal of twelve to complete in 2012.  She has run twenty half marathons since 2009 and recently completed her ninth in 2012.

 Tina remarks that “obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal”.  Tina plans on continuing to set goals for herself and strive to accomplish each one.  One 2012 goal was to avoid Bob Slowpants.   

Bob checking out from the back of the back.    


Mel Garber - Always Messing with Plants


Mel Garber was born in Beaumont, Texas and reared in rural Louisiana near the big city of Lafayette.  Mel’s father was a dairy farmer.  Mel, the second of five children (three brothers and one sister), became accustomed to rising early at a young age to assist with family milking chores and to train for the later in life for early Saturday/Sunday morning road race starts.  He attended Judice School from grades one through twelve (they don’t make schools like this anymore, at least in Georgia) and was active in 4-H activities from grades 5-12.  During that time, he was the high scorer of a state champion dairy judging team.  Mel knows udders and is still very judgmental!  Mel’s first encounter with running was in a mile competition in high school where he peaked with a 4:46 time and he has been going downhill since.

After high school, Mel graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Southwest Louisiana, since renamed the University Louisiana-Lafayette.  As a “Ragin Cajun” (the equivalent to being a Georgia Dawg) Mel served as the President of the Agricultural Student Government Association and had the perk of watching Terry Bradshaw perform on Saturdays for the football team prior to his pro career with the Pittsburg Steelers.  Mel went on to his own pro career accepting a graduate assistantship offer from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  Initially placed on the snow shoveling squad, Mel showed promise and was moved to the PhD (post hole digger) program in Horticulture.  Mel graduated in 1974 with a PhD degree in Horticulture including minors in Plant Physiology, Plant Biochemistry (not Bo), and Plant Ultra Structure.

Mel next accepted a position at Iowa State University teaching and performing horticultural research for three years.  Mel alleges that Ames, Iowa winters were more severe than those he experienced in Ithaca, New York.   He next embarked on a thirteen year stint in the private sector with the Weyerhaeuser Corporation.  His places of operation resembled a tour of the USA, beginning in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he later was moved to Tacoma, Washington, then to sunny Orlando, Florida, and back again to Tacoma.  Mel held positions in addition to that of a corporate gypsy as research scientist, research manager, business general manager, and new business development manager.

Mel left the private sector for a more stable academic environment accepting a position at the University of Georgia in 1990.  Mel’s initial UGA position was as Cooperative Extension Specialist-Nursery and Greenhouse Crops (located in Tifton, GA where Mel fought gnat propagation). Mel thereafter relocated to Athens as the Associate Dean for the Cooperative Extension Service and currently is the Director of the prestigious UGA Archway Partnership. Mel is tired of moving and plans to take the wheels off his house and retire in the Athens area when he has enough points to win his age group.

Not content to propagate plants in a lab, Mel has fathered two children. His daughter Raegan (age 36), is the mother of his two year old grandson and resides in Orlando, Florida. Sadly, his son Dustin passed away prematurely at age nineteen.  Mel and current wife Barbara have a stepdaughter, Brittany, who teaches Spanish in the Thomasville, GA school system.

Mel has always been athletic, and played in adult soccer leagues prior to finding the running circuit. His favorite Black Bag Race Series races are “the short ones”-Tallulah Falls, the Dam Run, the Twelve Days of Christmas in July mini-series, and Watkinsville’s Scarecrow 5K.  He also enjoys fishing and recalls one occasion when fishing for salmon in the Yakutat River in Alaska when he had to scare away bears to get to the river.  Mel and Barbara attend all UGA football home games and are aiming for Jim “Snake” Rasnake’s record of perfect attendance for fifty years of home games.

Bob, checking out from the back of the back.  Look for more profiles on patriotic mother and runner Colleen Stephens, and January on age group leader Randall Martin.