Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants

Entries in Profile (2)


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.


Running Survivor - Barbara Conley

Barbara ConleyBarbara Conley was born in May 1944 in Potsdam, Germany while her father was fighting for the Third Reich on the eastern front in mother Russia.  The family lived in Berlin, but relocated for a time to Potsdam due to the heavy Allied bombing raids. Barbara grew up in the late 40s and early 50s playing in the rubble of bombed out apartment buildings and balancing on beams of bombed out bridges. Due to the presence of dangerous, unexploded munitions left from Allied shelling, the police would report the children to their parents for playing in the rubble, where they made little caves and dungeons.

Barbara was fond of and excelled in school, especially athletics such as track and field (javelin throw and shot put included) and was on her high school swim team.  She matriculated in a three year technical college, majoring in accounting and economics.  She found herself with a position working for the Berlin city government in the family services office for a reform school for boys.  Barbara and JimIn 1964 she met and married her husband of forty-seven years, Jim, an American soldier from the mountains of NC.  They migrated to the United States in 1967, settling in Georgia.  They have two children, Bobby (age 46) and Patty (age 44), and several grandchildren.  For the next 30 years, Barbara concentrated on raising her children and maintaining a career with Lanier Business Products as a contract administrator.  She retired in 2005 after thirty-two years with the company.  Although an athlete in her youth, exercise was not in her lifestyle until her children were grown.Barbara's Family

Barbara gave up smoking in 1993 and began nightly walks that evolved into short runs from light post to light post or tree to tree. In 1997 Barbara was persuaded to participate on a Lanier Business Products company team that entered the Corporate Challenge 3.5 mile walk/run in Atlanta. She enjoyed the venture and began to participate in nearby 5K races with friends.  By chance, she picked up a Georgia Runner magazine and was surprised to see herself listed in her age group….with points for the races in which she had participated.  She made friends among the running circuit and began to look forward to Saturday morning races.  After four years of running 5K  races, Barbara ventured into marathons, marveling at the participation of Kathy Givens and Anne Patrick in the Ronald Reagan Marathon (the last full marathon at the Ronald Reagan in 2001). Her first marathon was the Museum of Aviation Marathon at Warner Robbins AFB in 2002, followed by one in her native Berlin, Germany, the Nashville Country Music Marathon, the New York City Marathon, another in Washington, DC and in the Atlanta Marathon twice.  She experienced extreme pain in her lower stomach the last six miles of her last Atlanta Marathon in March 2008 that continued when she participated in the Sweetwater Park (Douglasville) Cross Country Half Marathon.

This led Barbara to seek medical attention.  Tests led to a diagnosis of stage three ovarian cancer that had spread to her colon and liver.  Barbara was shocked, as she had no family history of cancer or illness.  Barbara underwent a series of surgeries in May 2008, where attending physicians concurred that she would not have survived had her body not been in such good shape. Nevertheless, she lost forty pounds during this period.  Barbara was encouraged to run again after six months of chemo treatment and did so, almost regaining her pre-cancer stride, only to have the disease resurface in April 2010.  The second round of surgeries, chemo, and hair-loss proved a more difficult recovery.  Barbara still participates running events and has been “overwhelmed” with friends who always wish her well.  Barbara undergoes maintenance chemo treatments every three weeks and appreciates life more than most of us.  She treasures the memories of her seven marathons and twenty-six half marathons, although she knows doing another half is a distant dream.

Bob checking out, from the back of the pack.  Look for the March profile on Athens high achiever David Eckles and the April profile on south Georgia race promoter, Brenda Gail Wall.