Welcome to Run Tampa, your new running family. There is just one thing I love more than running and that is the people I run with. That is the secret to Run Tampa’s continued success, the people and the camaraderie, the diversity of our members, from self proclaimed turtles to Boston qualifiers, young and old, beginners to veterans.
My name is Debbie Voiles. I am the founder, CEO, owner of Run Tampa. Meeting runners and becoming friends makes my heart full. Run Tampa is a family, and I kind of feel like the mom, or maybe the grandmom, since I’m 64.
Run Tampa is my passion, but it’s also my business. Most running clubs are non-profits directed by a board; the problem with that model is that most runners don’t have a lot of time for board responsibilities. It’s easy for them to get overwhelmed with trying to have time to run and be with their families and also manage their responsibilities to the club.
I’ve been on other running club boards and witnessed the difficulties. That’s why Run Tampa is organized the way it is. I listen to my members and the running community and try to provide what’s wanted and needed.
Run Tampa is comprised of this website, the club, the Facebook group, race promotion (advertising), and coaching, and there are no employees. As you can imagine, there is very little profit at $30 a member; so, it’s largely a public service, but I do it because it’s my passion. The business is actually Run Club, Inc., doing business as Run Tampa. My good friend, longtime club member, longtime runner, and owner of The Columbia Restaurant Group, Richard Gonzmart, has been instrumental in backing Run Tampa, enabling me to continue doing it full time while keeping the membership fee at just $30 per year.
Like me, he is passionate about the running community as evidenced by the many runs he supports and the two runs he puts on each year, Richard’s Run for Life and Richard’s Father’s Day Walk Jog.
I’m a retired English teacher/swim coach and 40-year runner. I devote all my time to Run Tampa, my running podcasts and my other website, mentioned below, Mojo for Running.
I am the only employee of Run Tampa. The buck stops with me; however, thankfully, I do have several wonderful volunteers who help me. This has worked well for years, because I make the decisions based on what I feel will best serve the club members and Tampa Bay area running community. Since the club and the Facebook group continue to grow, I don’t plan to change anything.
The Run Tampa Facebook group I started in 2009, now has 4,700 members; if you’re not a member, please request to join. That’s where most of Tampa’s online running conversation takes place. I’m on there everyday. In 2018, I also started the Run Tampa Group Runs Facebook page to provide a hub where I could keep all the group run information and invites in one easily accessible place. There is no conversation there, thought. The conversation is in the group.
If you’re not on Facebook, don’t worry, if you are a club member you will receive the monthly magazine to see group photos and such and get the details about group events, and all the group run information is on the group runs page of this website as well. You can register to receive the magazine here.
Run Tampa History: In 2008, I started this website because Tampa needed an online running calendar. In 2010, I hosted the first group run and started the Run Tampa Coaching Program soon after. In July of 2011, I started the club , and we had our first social, then in December, our first destination race was the Jacksonville Marathon and Half.
Destination races: Destination races have included the Napa to Sonoma Half, San Francisco Marathon & Half, Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Spacecoast Marathon/Half, Maine Marathon/Half, Grandma’s Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half, Big Cottonwood Marathon/Half and St. Augustine Half.
Podcasts: About the time I published, After Your First 5k, I started the Mojo for Running podcast, available on iTunes and at MojoforRunning.com. Later, I launched a second podcast, the Beginner Runner Village Podcast. Between the two, they have been downloaded over 700,000 times. I receive emails from all over the world, and do you know what I’ve learned?
A runner is a runner is a runner, whether it’s a newbie training for that first 5k or an ultra runner training to break the 24 hour barrier, we’re more alike than different.
If I have one piece of advice for runners, it would be this: As the years pass, always make running whatever part of your life best facilitates all the other parts of your life. There may be times, sometimes stretches of years, when you’re tied up with raising the family, and you run only to keep fit and provide stress relief, or maybe for months at a time, your job precludes you from doing any races or an injury means you have to cut back or take time off. Just do whatever helps you at that time. Never let running add stress. Never feel compelled to do a marathon or run faster or get in a certain number of miles. Your life will change from year to year, and your running should, too. Remember, you are the boss.
Sometimes you may go though a period when running occupies many hours a week, but that may not always fit into your life. Life happens; just be flexible, and you’ll find yourself running happily. That’s what I’ve been doing for over 40 years.
For me, whether running solo through the woods of Croom, running along Bayshore or the Riverwalk, sharing conversation with a clutch of Run Tampa friends, or racing with thousands of others, running never gets old. I hope to meet you at one of the Run Tampa group runs soon. I’m the one with the gray hair and the smile.