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.
I am Debbie Voiles. a Tampa native, founder and 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 65.
My daughter, Wendy, brought me to running. In 1977, I was struggling to lose a few pounds after she was born. That was 42 years ago, and now, she and I have done many, many races, together. She did her first ultra before I did, but now, I stick to halves, mostly, with one or two marathons sprinkled in each year. The highlight of my running career came in 2018 when I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I ran it in 2019, and it was the single most thrilling, satisfying, amazing event of my running life.
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 find time to run, be with their families and also manage their club responsibilities.
I’ve been on other running club boards and witnessed that first-hand. 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. Much of what I provide is free, such as the race calendar on this site and the Run Tampa Facebook group where 5,400 runners meet to chat. Some months we’ve had over 18,000 interactions in that Facebook group.
Run Tampa is comprised of this website, the club, the Facebook group, race promotion, and coaching. The business is actually Run Club, Inc., doing business as Run Tampa. So, you may see that on your credit card statement.
My good friend, longtime club member, longtime runner, and owner of The Columbia Restaurant Group, Richard Gonzmart, has been instrumental in supporting Run Tampa, enabling me to continue doing this full time while keeping the membership fee at just $45 per year. Like me, he is passionate about the running community as evidenced by the many runs he supports and the two running events he puts on each year, Richard’s Run for Life and Richard’s Father’s Day Walk Jog, the proceeds of which go to cancer research.
A former high school English teacher/swim coach, I now devote all my time to Run Tampa, to my two running podcasts and my other website, mentioned below, Mojo for Running.
A few years ago, I had the honor of producing the documentary film, The Human Race, about runners over 50. It features five Run Tampa runners. It’s available on Amazon, Apple, and 32 other channels, but make sure you search The Human Race ‘documentary,’ because there are other films with that title.
I have a wonderful assistant, Loren Reed, who makes it possible for Run Tampa to do more and do it well, and I have several wonderful volunteers who help me year round.
The Run Tampa Facebook group I started in 2009, now has 5,300 members; if you’re not a member, please request to join. That’s where most of Tampa’s online running conversation takes place. 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 in one easily accessible place.
Run Tampa History: In 2008, I started this website because Tampa needed an online running calendar. It has been #1 for organic search for seven years. 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. Soon after we traveled to our first destination race, 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, Maine Marathon/Half, Grandma’s Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half, Big Cottonwood Marathon/Half, St. Augustine Half, Boston Run to Remember Half, and Niagara Ultra.
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 800,000 times in 163 countries. 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.