Meet our Ambassadors for 2015! Some are returning and some are new, one won the SLO Marathon in the Inaugural year. Give them a follow, like or join their team and get a discount.
2015 SLO Marathon Ambassadors
Dani Bahnsen has been an athlete for most of her life and has competed in numerous 5k, 10k, half & full marathons, and triathlon. Her certifications are through National Academy of Sports Medicine, American Aerobic & Fitness Association, Newton Natural Running Coach Certification, TRX suspension training. Dani is currently the running coach for the Ventura County Marathon Training program. She has served in the United States Marine Corp. and US Air Force Reserve. Dani lives in Ventura County.
Ashley Ballinger is a recent graduate from Cal Poly who co-created the SLO Marathon Brand Ambassador Program for her senior project. She now resides in Sacramento, California working at a public outreachfirm. She has ran the SLO half marathon the past two years and is excited to battle those hills again,especially after running the entire race last year. When not trying to battle shin splints or stretching, Ashley can be found doing photography, exploring her new town, dancing, reading athletic blogs, pinning crafts on Pinterest and blogging on her website (link below). She is excited to meet the otherambassadors recruited and making this the best year for the SLO Marathon yet!
Hey runners! I’m Jason Beitdashtoo and I caught the “running bug” in 2013 when I signed up for my first half marathon in Orange County. Since then, I’ve been hooked! As of October 2014, I’ve ran 11 half marathons and I decided to make the SLO Marathon my first marathon experience in April 2014. I’m a Cal Poly SLO alumni so I could not think of a better way to run 26.2 miles around my favorite city. Running for me is a great way to challenge myself, a perfect excuse to travel, and signing up for races is excellent motivation to stay in shape. My running goal is to run a half marathon in every state! I’m excited to join the SLO Marathon Ambassador Team so I can tell other runners how gorgeous SLO is and why our race is the best!
Hello! I’m Diane Bressem, AKA Runnin Rocker! I am super excited to help represent The SLO Marathon! I love all things running! In the past 2 years I have run over 30 half marathons in 12 different states and have been having a blast meeting so many great people along the way! I blog over at runninrocker.com about all things related to rocking a healthy lifestyle. Can’t wait to ROCK SLO 2015!
Martin Bressem, AKA (MarathonPitstop) Here, Hello Athletes, I started running in late 2011, and I hated it! However, I had made a comittment to run a half marathon, so I stuck with it. Who would have known I'd become a run "Junkie"! I challenged myself to running at least one marathon a month for 2014, As of November 1st I've completed 12 marathons. I have trained the distance of or competed in 118 half marathons and 28 marathons. I am honored to be an Ambassador for the SLO Marathon, for a number of reasons, it is truly an awesome well run race and I qualified for Boston running the SLO Marathon in 2014. YIPPEE!!!! I get so inspired every day watching ALL the athletes train, compete and achieve their dreams!
Katie Bull has been living on the Central Coast for 16 years. She graduated from Cal Poly and loved the area so much, she never left. Katie started competing in races in 2009. She has completed various races in San Luis Obispo County, including Miracle Miles for Kids, Tinley Triathlon, and the San Luis Obispo Triathlon. She is an avid soccer player, and currently plays in the San Luis Obispo Women's Soccer League. Katie is excited to train for and run her first half marathon, and to be a part of the 2015 SLO Marathon Ambassador Team!
Hi, my name is Falyn otherwise known as Slacker Runner.Hi! I had a love/hate relationship with running for awhile before really dedicating myself in 2012. I am working on becoming a stronger runner and bettering my paces but still having fun along the way. I have run 9 half marathons, and numerous 10k’s and 5k’s. Along with healthier eating choices, this running journey also helped me lose 40 pounds a couple of years ago and keep it off even with a desk job. Although, pizza does taste amazing after a long run! You can join me on my adventures at slackerrunner.com. As for SLO? I love the town, amazing weather, awesome food and the scenery? A knockout. Last year’s race was awesome and 2015 is going to be even better! Come run with us!
Paulette Ference grew up in Ohio and attended The Ohio State University. She later received a graduate degree in Cell & Developmental Biology from the University of Michigan. Paulette relocated to San Jose for a new opportunity at Google in 2011. She loves trail running as well as road running, and her big goal for 2015 is to PR in the half marathon. Paulette is thrilled to run the San Luis Obispo Half Marathon for the first time as an ambassador. She is also a member of the Oiselle Volée running team. In addition to running, Paulette enjoys craft beer, skiing, and spending time with her husband and cats.
Hi, I'm Glenda Finley from the Central Valley who loves traveling to the Central Coast. It will be my third time to run the SLO half marathon in 2015. I just recently completed my 16th half marathon since 2012 and I am training for my second marathon. I was never the type to say that I love running, or any exercise for that matter, before my friends pulled me in and we became a running group, BNB - Bad News Bears runners. Since then I love playing in the mud in OCRs and finding the best, and most fun, races around the state. I like to share my runs and experiences on IG and Twitter so that others can see what fun working for a goal can be and the celebrations of it!
HI, I'm Stephanie Ganiban, but in the Social Media world you can find me as Ganeeban. I live and breathe Sacramento, CA...However, SLO stole her heart when I transferred to Cal Poly in 2005. I fell in love with the city, the school, marketing, and introduced myself to trail running on accident. I've always "run," but only more recently decided I am qualified to call myself a “runner". With one full marathon under my belt, along with a handful of half marathons, I've slowly fallen in love with this sport. So when I realized I could run in my favorite city, I knew I had to be a part of it! I can't wait to share my love of this city with everyone, but I'm even more excited to race in SLO for the first time! Other passions that fill my life (and social media) are soccer, the SF Giants, blogging, Target, and copious amounts of bacon!
Erin Garvey has called herself a runner for most of her life and is absolutely stoked to be running the San Luis Obispo Marathon for the first time in 2015. Since 2007, she has run 25 marathons and more than 30 half marathons and loves the running community and the sport’s transformative effects on people’s lives. When she’s not running, you’ll find Erin spending time with her husband and young daughter; writing on her blog; or cooking and baking vegan deliciousness. She and her family recently relocated to San Jose, California, after living in Chicago for more than a decade, and she is looking forward to meeting more CA-based runners and exploring all the beautiful running locales this fine state has to offer!
Hi all, I'm Jason Gillespie. I've been retired for three years after 30+ years in public transit management. I've been running since January of 2013 but it wasn't until this year (30 lbs lighter and a number of inches slimmer) that I've done some serious running. My running partner and I ran eight half marathons and one full as well as a smattering of 5's and 10's. My learning curve has been very erratic as it has mostly been by trial and error; I've found it very hard to find information directed at the older runner. My hope is to share what I've managed to learn about what it is to run as a 65 year old and to generate some dialogue with other older runners. I expect to learn a lot in the process. I am surprised to find myself contemplating another marathon as my first and only was a bit of a slog. However, when I saw that I could contribute to this awesome local product as an Ambassador for the SLO Marathon, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I haven't decided quite yet whether to run the half or the full and I thought that decision making process might be interesting to include in my postings.
Haley Gonzales' love (obsession) with running started December 4th 2011. That day a friend of hers ran the California International Marathon. After watching the race she decided she would train for a half marathon herself, and the rest is history! Haley has run multiple half and full marathons since becoming a runner. Health and fitness have become her passion and in January 2014 she became a CPT through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also a coach for the women’s fitness group Kaia Fit. SLO Marathon 2015 will be the first time Haley will run this race & she is super excited for this opportunity! When she is not training or coaching she works at a specialty veterinary hospital in the Oncology Department. She loves cats, or as she refers to them “cat friends”.
Pepe Gonzalez started running with his dad at age 3 and a half years old when he was just a little kid. He hated running from the start, but all his dad was doing was trying to make his life a difference which reflected him for the rest of his life. Pepe's dad Max didn't have much opportunities to run much in high school, but all that changed when he started running with his son Pepe. From then on there, he knew his son was the one. Ever since 5th grade he started breaking records all the way throughout High School and until now. He's won many races all around the SLO COUNTY Area that he has become one of the toughest runners to race against and beat. Pepe has become a dedicated Ultra Runner that has been inspired by others around him to keep on going in life and to pursue his future dreams to making it to the Olympics someday.
Hi! I’m Danielle Janda, hailing from sunny San Diego. A baseball lover, total nerd, and Disney fanatic, I’ve always been athletic as I played softball and soccer throughout school but it wasn’t until some years ago that I discovered running to be the savior of my sanity. I ran my first organized run (a 10k) in 2010 which I followed up with my first half at the Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2011. I was hooked from that moment on and since then I’ve run over 10 half marathons, countless 5k/10k/fun runs, and have involved my entire family in my running schemes and dreams.
For this year, the last year of my 20s, I’ve been inspired from joining this wonderful event as an Ambassador to pursue my 1st full marathon! It is both exciting and scary to be taking this on and to be sharing my journey with everyone. San Luis Obispo is beautiful and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to enjoy its wonderful views in my running shoes!
Marc Kravets is EVP of Murad, Inc, a skin care and wellness busisness in El Segundo, CA. A long history of writing and directing for health, fitness and wellness companies led me to admit that I was personally none of the above. In 2010 I decided to take a shot at changing that. Started running (more like walking) by the beach in Santa Monica, and decided I loved it. My first Half was in Hollywood in 2011, my first full was the LA Marathon in 2012, and now I'm hooked. My 2nd year as ambassador, I missed the race last year with an injury. I'm only here to speak about my own personal experiences, I'm an amatuer, and my only goal is to share what I go through in case it can help someone else in a similar position. Outside of running I love sports, poker, politics, and most of all my now-grown kids and family.
Wayne Kurtz is the passionate about the lifetime benefits of endurance sports. Over the last 27 years, he has tested himself and triumphed over 300 endurance races throughout the world and most recently a Guinness WR finishing the 2013 Triple DECA Iron event in Lake Garda, Italy (30 Iron distance triathlons completed in 30 days (1 per day, 72 miles swimming, 3,360 miles biking, 786 miles running). When not racing ,Wayne is in the London office of Liquid-Investments serving as the Chief Commercial Officer. He is the founder of RaceTwitch.com, the world’s largest, free, online, multi-discipline, racing resource – “Helping Endurance Athletes Build Exceptional Race Calendars,” Endurance Racing Report, RunforBooks nonprofit organization and www.Chiefgoalsofficer.com. He is the author of Beyond The Iron and Never Say "I Wish I Had" and co Authoring the upcoming book - Stronger Than Iron (epic world record journey of the athletes who finished the 2013 Triple DECA Iron).
Charles Lim is an avid marathoner, ultra runner, and triathlete. He has been continuously running for over three years, since 2011, and in a short amount of time has completed over 7 marathons, 7 ultra marathons (including two 50 mile ultra marathons), and 2 triathlons (olympic and sprint). He has never run the San Luis Obispo Marathon before, but he is looking forward to running the whole 26.2 mile race for its beautiful scenery and promoting the race amongst his friends in and out of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Hi all! I'm Van McCarty...the inaugural SLO Marathon Champion (2012) and runner up this year (2014). I am a lifelong athlete from Fresno, CA, competing in bicycle races through college and after. In my 30's, I "transitioned" to triathlons, and quickly found how much I enjoyed (and was pretty good) at running. My current marathon PR is 2:36:35 at the 2014 Santa Barbara Marathon - finishing third overall. I race as a Master (over 40) but typically competitive across all age groups. I have raced at the Ironman World Championships on several occasions while winning my age group at Ironman races. My love for running, training, and fitness is infectious. I want everyone to get up, get out, and run. Fast or slow, walk or run...does not matter, just get outdoors and improve your health and life.
My name is Alex Magdaleno and I run to show Cancer that it cannot take away everything from me. SLO marathon will be my 15th marathon despite fighting Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. My marathon finishing times range from 4:40 to a personal best of 3:14. Regardless of the finishing times, what has come to matter to me is that I can still cross the finish line despite battling Cancer. My goal for SLO Marathon is get back on track andchase the elusive Unicorn that is the Boston Marathon and finish in sub 3:05. I am looking forward to running this gorgeous course and show Cancer it cannot break my spirit!
Laura Moir started running in 2009 and hasn't stopped since, completing over 60 races to date including two full marathons. At first, running was just a way for Laura to get back into shape after having her second child, but it quickly became a life-long commitment and Laura is always challenging herself to train smarter, push harder and run farther. This will be Laura's first time running SLO and her 19th half marathon. As a California native, she is very excited to complete 13 happy miles through the beautiful terrain of San Luis Obispo.
My name is Lisa Nagy and I am so excited to be a SLO Marathon Race Ambassador AGAIN! It will be my second year running this course and I am hoping to have enough training this year to concur the FULL MARATHON! I started running in January of 2013 after undergoing weight-loss surgery. I have completed 4 half marathons, two 15k's and multiple other short distance races. I am living proof that if you want something, you can achieve it with hard work and determination! I have encountered multiple injuries and challenges this past year but I am hoping with a little luck I will be able to complete this monstrous goal I have set for myself! I am a true believer that it doesn't matter how fast you run, as long as you are out there doing it! In my spare time when I'm not running or working I enjoy cooking and being lazy at home with a good book. I can't wait to see you all out there on this AMAZING
Hi! I’m Heather Purkiss. I’m a former Elite gymnast, mother of twins and a gymnastics coach. I’ve always been active, but after having the twins, a serious health scare and adding few extra pounds, I decided not only to start running but to set goals and become an athlete again. I started running in April 2013 and have now run six 5k's, a 10k and 7 half marathons so far. I loved the SLO half marathon last year and can’t wait to run again this year, only I’m planning on spending more time in the beautiful city! I’m really excited to be part of the SLO Ambassador team again this year.
Hey fellow runners I'm Kaitlyn Rispoli, I'm 17 years old. I go to Cabrillo High School! And I currently on my schools cross country team! I love running! I started when I was 14 ... I was running with my dad ...it started with just 2-3 miles.. then we started doing 5-6 and now I'm up to 13! I did the SLO half last and hope to get a new P.R. this year follow my training on any of my social media!
Starting at the age of 14, Nadia Ruiz began running after being inspired by watching the World Ironman Championships on TV. She said: "One day, I want to be an Ironman." So she signed up for her first marathon. 16 years later, Nadia has now completed over 100 marathons (3:16 PR), 50 half marathons (1:26 PR), 8 ultra, and 3 Ironmans (12:34 PR) frequently in the top of her age group or Top Overall Women. She aims to challenge herself at all distances and terrain claiming the more she feels pain, the more she learns about her strengths. Graduating with her BS, M.Ed, and Teacher's Credential from UCLA at the age of 20, Nadia has been a HS Biology Educator, running coach, personal trainer, and marketing consultant for 10 years. She shares the passion of fitness, health, and education with her family and friends in hopes to continue to encourage other to seek their goals, because she feels that the greatest achievement in life is living your passion daily.
Hi, I'm Melissa Stairs but the social media world knows me as "RunThisWeigh". I have lost almost 80 pounds and I owe it all to running! I just completed my 10th half marathon since 2012 and I will be running Big Sur Half in Nov 2014. I am part of an awesome local running group called "Bad News Bears" (or BNBRunners on Facebook and Instagram) and have gained several great friendships through the group. I am a mom to 2 young boys who are also gaining an interest in running. This will be my first year running SLO and I can’t wait to race in this beautiful coastal town where I grew up vacationing as a child.
Hi, I'm Debbie Woodruff! I'm the blogger behind Live from La Quinta. I've been running for over 20 years and I've completed 36 marathons and countless races of other distances. Way back when, my PR was 3:16. Now, I have less lofty goals. This will be my first SLO Marathon and I'm really excited about it. You can follow along with my training on my blog, where I will keep my readers updated. As a plant based athlete I also share hints for achieving athletic goals on a vegan diet. I am also a certified running coach and trainer so you can look forward to tips and plans to get you to the finish line in style.