Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants


Veronica Doster - Flipping Off and Running

Veronica was born in Gainesville, GA yet her parents were residents of Athens.  Being the youngest of the litter, she was raised in a gaggle of seven brothers and one sister in Athens.  Veronica’s parents were lifetime textile industry employees, and Veronica worked part time in the summer in the same mills. Veronica’s parents both had been previously married with her mother contributing five sons and her father two sons and a daughter to the union.  Veronica was the one offspring of eight from their second marriage.  The age spread of the offspring resulted in Veronica’s sister being age nineteen and her oldest brother twenty-five when she was born.

Veronica graduated from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, and attended the University of Georgia.  As her father’s health declined, she decided to leave college in 1984 to join the work force at Westinghouse in Athens.  The Westinghouse plant manufactured large electrical transformers.  Veronica left Westinghouse after thirteen years for a position with Danaklon-Fibervisions, a firm that made industrial fibers.  The grass was not as green at Danaklon-Fibervisions as Veronica had hoped, and seven years later she returned to Westinghouse.  Veronica experienced Westinghouse selling the Athens plant facility to the Swedish/Swiss multinational firm ABB Group (now called Powerpartners), and has remained there for a tenure of twenty-seven years and still counting.  Most of us envy Veronica who only has a seven-minute commute to work.

Veronica at age forty-six married bearded Randy Booth. Randy was a Mustang, but has been converted from Ford to a Chevrolet by Veronica.  Veronica is a Chevrolet Camaro enthusiast as seen modeling with her favorite mode of transport in the photos.  Randy has her heart, but Veronica still has her maiden name like many professional marred females. They have only four legged children-two dogs, two cats, and a two-legged bird.  Her hobby, besides running, is roller skating, and helping Randy acquire properties that need tender loving care.  Together they have acquired five rental homes and have been refurbishing acquired homes to flip.  They have sold one home and have two others that are a work in process.  Their real estate venture operates under the name Misty’s Pawperties, named after a deceased pet Husky who expired at age seventeen.  Veronica and Randy invest a lot of sweat equity in their properties doing most of the renovation themselves.

Veronica only begin her running hobby three years ago.  She participated in an American Cancer Society Relay for Life event that was sponsored by her employer.  Then Veronica participated in twenty 5K races in 2015, maybe forty to fifty in 2016, and well over one hundred in 2017 earning a Black Bag 1,000-point jacket.  Her favorite race is the Watkinsville SOAR and any other race that promotes pet rescue.  She improved her standing from fifth in Run and See Georgia Grand Prix in 2016 to first in the age 55-59 female age group.  Veronica also is first in her age group the Black Bag and Clover Glove Race series in 2017.   Veronica acknowledges that “people who race have become awesome friends” and a part of her life.      

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for theprofile of Tom Wendle and profile of Tammy Miller.


Dr. David Beeland - Running Hobby with Eat More Chicken Children

David was born in Macon but grew up in Thomaston, GA where his parents worked in the local Martha Mills cotton mill.  David fondly recalls that the mill would shut down for 4th of July vacation week facilitating annual family treks to Panama City Beach.  David was very active in 4-H in school.  He was a   4-H Central District Officer in 1985 and a Rock Eagle camp counselor in 1989.  David played trumpet and transitioned to baritone in the Upson High School band.  He has worked since the age of sixteen, initially at a Dairy Queen then Winn Dixie while in high school.  He continued working in the grocery business during his two years at Gordon Junior College in Barnesville. 

David’s college tenure continued at a satellite campus of Mercer University in Thomaston before transferring to the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1990.  In addition to working in the Gingko Tree Restaurant, front desk, and eventually night manager at the downtown Athens Holiday Inn, David served in the Georgia National Guard from 1986-1992.  David was activated and served stateside on active duty during Operation Desert Storm.  Upon deactivation, David returned to UGA and graduated in 1993 with a B.A. in Middle Grades Education. This explains why David can so easily engage in conversation with fellow Black Bag and Clover Glove runners.  He persevered and earned Master and Specialist of Education degrees in Instructional Technology and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Valdosta State University.  David worked fulltime to support himself through every degree that he earned!

David’s career as an educator began with a six-year stint as a 7th grade science teacher followed by five years as an instructional technology coach for teachers at Upson-Lee Middle School in Upson County.  For the past fourteen years, David has been a district administrator in the Upson, Monroe, and now Barrow County School systems.  In addition to his duties with the Clover Glove Race Series and Barrow County School system, David is a part time Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University teaching online courses in instructional technology.    

David has been married for twenty-three years to April Eskew Beeland, a first-grade teacher at Auburn Elementary School.  His daughter Whitney is a sophomore psychology major at Georgia Southern University.  Their youngest child, son Will, is an eleventh grader at Winder-Barrow High School.  Both currently or have in the past worked at Chick-Fil-A in Winder.

Using his instructional technology expertise, David used the Couch to 5K app on his smart phone for his first foray into running.  David began to run in October 2014 with the goal of losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle.  He ran his first 5K in December 2014 with a time of 31.25.  The number of races progressed and David’s time came down, with thirty races in 2015 with a P.R. of 23:19, one hundred and twenty-five in 2016 with a P.R. of 21:41, and one hundred and fifty races in 2017 with a P.R. of 21:31. David has run many 10Ks and a few half marathons.  David reflects that “when I started running I had no idea that I would become part of a running family that has reunions every weekend.”  He is “most thankful for the support and encouragement I have received from my fellow runners who have become my friends.” His favorite thing about running is meeting and getting to know new people.  He stated “my hobby is running.”                                                 

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile of Veronica Doster, and profile of Tom Wendle.  


Jackie Phillips - Hanging in There

Jackie was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Jackie parlayed her good grades in business subjects, shorthand awards, and typing skills into her first job after High School graduation as the secretary/treasurer of the South Side High School, the high school she attended.  This was unfamiliar territory as Jackie had never been to the principal’s office as a student!  Jackie admitted that early in life she “never set the bar very high for her life goals”.  She enjoyed the work because as far back as she could remember, she wanted to be a good secretary.  After two years on the job, Jackie married a soldier and moved to Germany, from there, relocated to Biloxi, Mississippi, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and then Fort Benning in Columbus, GA.  When the dust settled at Fort Benning, Jackie had two babies and was content to be a stay at home mom.  Shortly after arriving at Fort Benning, her husband was deployed to Vietnam.  Unfortunately, their marriage dissolved after his return from the war.  The husband moved on with the Army and Jackie stayed in Columbus, which has been home ever since. 

The divorce necessitated that Jackie become employed again.  She was offered a job with a manufacturing firm, as a secretary at Wipo, Inc, which manufactured industrial wiping cloth.  Another “dream job” that she enjoyed for the next sixteen years.  In 1991 Jackie transitioned to clerical work in a physician’s office, and is still employed with the same group of physicians transcribing medical records.  Jackie remarried in 1974 to an Army retiree. They were married for sixteen plus years when he was tragically killed in a house fire.  Although Jackie still works full time, she spends her quiet time reading, taking care of her cats, and traveling to races. 

Jackie started walking initially for weight control and transitioned into running.  Her first race she recalls was the Americus 5/10K in 1980.  She found the entry form in a local shoe store and began to ask where was Americus!  At that race, Jackie peaked in two blocks and walked/ran the rest of the race, finishing the 5K with some of the 10K runners.  The time didn’t matter, but the endorphins did as Jackie was hooked on running.  The camaraderie, the crowd support, and the feeling of accomplishment are worth the effort.  Her late husband used to tell friends that “running is the only thing that Jackie ever stuck with”.  After thirty-seven years of running she is still out there with us.        

Jackie’s PR’s are: 5K-21:23 in Montgomery; 10K-44:10 in the Rose City Run in Thomasville, and 1:44 for a Macon Half Marathon.  She has ran three marathons, and remarks that that was “two too many!”  The two were the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC, the New York City Marathon, and one in Portland, Oregon.   Jackie, like most senior members of the running community, have found that her times have doubled as their age doubles.  Her granddaughter Allyson Barron travels with Jackie to most races. Her two favorite half marathons are the “Teardrop half” in Chatsworth, GA and “The Scream” in Jonas Ridge, North Carolina.  Jackie has enjoyed participating in the Greater Atlanta Athletes Series.  Her goal in 2017 is to run twelve half marathons, and “maybe” eighteen in 2018.  This total includes the Publix Half and Thanksgiving Half in Atlanta, the Soldier’s Half in Columbus, and the Snickers Half in Albany.  Jackie consistently ranks high in her age group, including the 70-74 female of which she is now a member.  Not too many years back Jackie came is second overall female in points in the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix series.  She is considered the premier senior female runner in the Columbus, GA area.  Her maternal grandmother lived to the young age of one hundred and three and her paternal grandmother also one hundred.  Her granddaughter Allyson has agreed to take over the driving duties enroute to races when Jackie turns 90.      

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile of David Beeland, and Veronica Doster. 


Jim Merritt - The Day NEVER Ends

Jim Merritt was the second of four children born to Lois and Lula Merritt in November 1947.  Just for the record, Jim’s father was named Lois.  This was almost like the Johnny Cash hit a boy named Sue before anybody thought about it!  Jim, like Bob Slowpants, grew up in the hills of Tennessee.  He graduated from Rutledge High School in 1965.  Jim attended Hiwassee Junior College in Athens, Tennessee for two years and obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education and Phycology with a minor in Biology from Tennessee Wesleyan University.

Jim began his career as a public-school teacher in the spring of 1969 and continued in that profession until 1974.  Jim taught middle school, with 5th grade being his favorite.  His second career was as a Greyhound bus driver after the movie “Midnight Cowboy” became popular.  Jim drove those buses hard until sidelined by a strike in 1990.  Jim began a third career as a delivery driver for a printing company in Lawrenceville, GA until retiring in 2014. 

Jim and his wife Linda celebrated thirty-one years together in August.  Jim describes this as the “second go-around” for both.  Jim has four children from his first marriage and Linda has two from her first marriage.  For those keeping score, Jim has eleven grandchildren, all produced by his four children.   

Jim and LindaBoth Jim and Linda had been smokers since they were teenagers.  Linda was diagnosed in the summer of 1998 with emphysema and they both ceased smoking.  Jim feels it was a misdiagnosis, but he accepted it as a wake-up call.  About a month after Jim stopped smoking, he found he was adding weight.  He tried walking it off but, in a fit of impatience, began running.  His first run was a half mile and Jim thought he was going to die!  Shortly thereafter Jim was doing pre-dawn runs before he went to work. Jim ran his first race in the spring of 1999, the Heart Trek 10K.  Speed dialing to the present, Jim has participated in three hundred and seventy-nine races, with majority being 5K distances.  He was running on almost every day except Sunday.  Jim began to wonder on October 28,2001 (a Sunday!) how many runs in a row he might be able to string together if he included running on Sunday.  When Jim completed his run on October 28th, he has completed sixteen years of running without missing a single day.  Even die hard Georgia Runner Grand Prix and Black bag participants cannot say this!   

 Jim has concentrated on trail runs the last seven years, competing in the Dirty Spokes series and occasionally in the Georgia Runner Grand Prix and Back Bag series.  The photo of Jim with a torch is from the Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama in June 2017 when Jim was honored as the lead runner for the opening games ceremonies.  In 2017, Jim has a goal of 1390 miles.  If he succeeds his total as of December 31, 2017 will be an amazing 20,000 miles.  Jim is a member of the United States Running Streak Association and currently is one hundred and eleventh on the active streak list.  Four competitors of Jim’s have forty-five years of consecutive daily running.  Jim prides himself on having a short term and long-term goal.  Short term is to run tomorrow! As of September 16th, Jim has completed a total of five thousand and eight hundred and one consecutive days.  His long-term goal is to run every day the rest of his life!  Jim has been running at least a mile a day despite a pesky left knee problem.  When you are Jim and a streak runner, there are no days off!       

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profiles of Columbus runner Jackie Phillips, and David Breeland.      


Donna Presley - Records are made to be broken

Donna Presley was born and raised in Clayton, GA and attended Rabun County High School.  Her father had a service station in Clayton while Donna and her younger sister were attended to by their stay at home mom.  An exciting Saturday night was going down to the service station and jumping on the hose that ran from the pumps to the station until the bell would ring for service.  Donna graduated from Truett McConnell University with a B.A degree in fine arts.  Clayton offered few job prospects other than moonshine running, but nearby Toccoa did have an Oxford Industries manufacturing plant that was seeking administrative help.  Donna soon was attracted to, and forty-nine years ago married, a young man named Tony Presley who worked at Oxford in the distribution center.  Donna later changed employment, moving to a firm that was purchased by Standard Register which produced printed duplicate business forms.  Her position at Standard Register was in Graphic Arts.  Tony became a high school Chemistry and Physics Teacher.

Donna with her awardsDonna is better known as a premier female runner from age forty to her present 70-74 age group.  She has for years, consistently placed in area Run and See Georgia Grand Prix series as well as Black Bag Race Series races.  A check of discloses that Donna holds the state record for female ages 45-49, 60-64, and 65-69 in five distance categories.  A 2014 article in the Senior Times ranks Donna second in her age group nationally.  Among her personal records are an 18:51 5K, a 40:15 10K, and a 3:20:28 marathon.  Donna’s consistency is apparent with her Georgia State record in age group 65-69 with a 22:26 5K time and a 46:26 10K mark.    

Donna and TonyDonna and Tony Presley were an award-winning running combo until a 1988 bout Tony suffered with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and required a subsequent bone marrow transplant for cancer.  Tony, now cancer free, cheers Donna and helps her prepare for races.  Tony was the first of the pair to begin running in 1978 with Donna later feeding off Tony’s enthusiasm for the sport.  Donna admits that if it were not for Tony’s running she would never have become involved in competitive running.  Neither considered themselves particularly athletic, but both had the self-discipline and drive to excel.  The Presley’s were the fastest husband-wife duo in the Huntsville, AL Rocket City Marathon for two straight years.  A Senior Times article in 2014 describes the pair running twenty-six to twenty-eight miles in marathon preparation, and on one occasion Donna covered thirty-two miles.  Tony has run seventeen marathons prior to his health complications and Donna six.

Donna's 10K state recordDonna’s favorite races include the above-mentioned Rocket City Marathon and the Red-Carpet Half Marathon in Dalton, GA.  Her 10K favorites include the Marigold 10K and the Hartwell Dam Run 10K.  Her favorite 5K races are the Chris Gault 5K in Gainesville, and Pounding for Paws 5K in Arcade near Jefferson, GA.  She also lists the Carpet Capital 10 Miler in Dalton as a favorite.

They both enjoy hiking in the local Old Folks Hiking Club of Toccoa, and volunteering their time assisting at the Toccoa Soup Kitchen and with the Toccoa Stephens County Humane Society.  When not on her feet either running or hiking, Donna enjoys gardening and reading.    

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile of Jim Merritt, and of Columbus runner Jackie Phillips.