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Ambassadors

MEET OUR 2019 CLASS OF AMBASSADORS

  

HAMID AL-DLAIGAN

Hamid began running in 2014 when enrolled as a student at Highlands College, located right here in the Magic City. Highlands College requires the entire student body to run a half marathon annually. When Hamid began training, he had no idea that in the process, he would develop a passion and love for running. Hamid has completed two marathons and has plans for more. Raised in Birmingham, Hamid loves breaking in a new pair of Nikes on a good 10 miler through downtown. Hamid’s current half marathon personal record was achieved at the 2018 Magic City Half Marathon, when he put up a time of 1:39:49. For Hamid, running is much more than simply a hobby; it is an opportunity to explore, break free, and find out what barriers he can shatter.

 

ANDREA AUSTIN

Whether she is on the road or on the trails, Andrea has loved running for as long as she can remember. Nothing else has the ability to make her feel both humbled and invincible at the same time. Andrea ran her first marathon at age 19, and at age 36 has lost count of how many races she has completed. Last year, Andrea began training with Resolute Running and has since qualified for the 2020 Boston Marathon and completed her first ultra marathon. She shares her love of fitness with members at Life Time Fitness as an Elite Performer, and loves to encourage people to set their own health goals. In recent years, Andrea has enjoyed pacing others in The Magic City Half Marathon, which is her favorite half marathon in Birmingham. Andrea hopes to serve as a positive influence for her children and others, encouraging them to take good care of their bodies.

KELSEY BURTON

In 2016, Kelsey decided that it was time to focus on improving her health. She was a pack a day smoker; went for drinks several nights a week with friends; and had a horrible relationship with food. As a former runner turned smoker, Kelsey thought her running days were long passed since she could barely jog 50 feet without wheezing, but she was determined. On July 4, 2016, Kelsey smoked her last cigarette. The next day she went on a jog around the neighborhood that included a lot of walking and a few pit stops. Kelsey ran almost every day for the rest of that summer and has not stopped! She has since completed a marathon, several half marathons and 10Ks, and countless 5Ks. As a novice runner, Kelsey’s goal as an ambassador is to encourage anyone who may doubt that they are capable of running a long distance race; part of the joy of running is its inclusivity and availability to runners at every skill level.

  

ASHLEY DAWSON

After her third child and at the age of 40, Ashley discovered her love of running. She has always been very active and was a fitness instructor, but it wasn’t until a friend invited her on a run that she found her true passion. Within a short time she signed up for her first half marathon and has not slowed down since. Ashley has completed numerous half marathons and many races at other distances throughout the Southeast, including a handful of ultra marathon trail races, but she most loves running in her hometown with her regular training partners. In addition to the simple joys of fellowship and competition, running has become Ashley’s favorite time for meditation and prayer.

ROBERTA DUNNAWAY

Roberta was born and raised in Birmingham, AL. She’s a busy mom trying to find balance with work, family and exercise. Roberta is an avid runner and a fitness fanatic. After her first half marathon she was hooked. From the excitement of the gun going off at the start, to the accomplishment of the medal at the finish, Roberta finds enjoyment in every mile. She has a passion to help others find that same love for exercise and running. Roberta’s motto is “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

BETH GILBERT

Beth is married and has a 12 year-old daughter. She has always been active and has been a fitness Instructor for over 25 years, however it wasn’t until her father became ill and passed away did she turn to running as a healing outlet. Beth soon became hooked on the sport, and set a goal with friends to complete a half marathon – The Magic City Half Marathon, which she finished in honor of her father. Since then, Beth has completed numerous races and continues to look forward to The Magic City Half Marathon each year. Beth is passionate about sharing her love of running, and encourages other to set goals for themselves, as it’s never too late to start!

KENT GLOVER

Kent first found his passion for running in seventh grade while on his local middle school cross country team. He fell in love with the sport and continues to run both cross country and track in high school. Upon realizing that his exercised induced asthma was holding him back from competing at short distance running, Kent began to try longer distances. He continued to run for his high school team, while also training for his first half marathon: The 2018 Magic City Half Marathon. Soon after completing Magic City, Kent trained for and completed an ultra marathon, followed by another half marathon the next month. At the age of 16, Kent had surpassed his wildest running expectations. Now at age 17, he competes for Hewitt-Trussville High School while continuing to train for his own running endeavors. Kent’s favorite things about running are the friendships he’s made, and the runs with friends and teammates that he will never forget. He believes running is a superpower that can frustrate you, relax you, and make you go crazy all at the same time. Kent believes running is the best thing to ever happen to him.

JON GRAHAM

It wasn’t until age 35 that Jon discovered a love for running. He grew up playing soccer, but stopped playing in his early 20’s. For the next 15 years Jon focused his attention on his career and family, and placed very little focus on his personal health. Along with his wife Ryan, another non-runner at the time, Jon signed up for a local 5K. It was at this point that Jon recognized the joy running brings to his life. It’s exercise, therapy, community, and a way to pursue his personal goals. Since then, Jon has participated in multiple local and national races, including pacing the 2016 Magic City Half Marathon and running the Boston Marathon.

ASHLEY HARRIS

Ashley discovered her love for running when she was asked to run the Mercedes Marathon Relay in 2015. A member of the team was injured, and she was asked to step in at the last minute. As soon as her leg of the race was completed, Ashley realized she wanted to train for her first half marathon, which she completed in September of that year. Since then, Ashley has run several half marathons and two marathons, including The Bank of America Chicago Marathon. In addition to being a runner, Ashley is a nationally certified group fitness instructor, teaching various formats such as Aquatics, Strength, Kickboxing, Bootcamp, Step, and Dance Fitness. Fitness is a way of life for Ashley, who firmly believes “it’s not a trend, it’s a lifestyle.” Being an avid fitness professional has taught her that it is amazing to help others reach their goal, but it’s also very important to take time for “self.” Running is the perfect therapy for working on “self.” Why does Ashely run? Because it’s her therapy!

KAIT JEFFERSON

After a 16 year competitive swim career, followed by 5 years of coaching, Kait was looking for a new way to fulfill her need to compete. She discovered her love for distance running in 2018 when her mom asked her to be the runner leg in a 2019 Half Iron Man Relay. Although a half marathon was something she had never accomplished before, Kait gladly took up the challenge and began training for her first half—The Magic City Half Marathon! The experience was one she could never forget, and her running career has since bloomed as she continues to put in the hard work to improve. A Michigan implant in Alabama, running has become a way of life through the support of her running club. Kait can be found training with her partner in crime, Vader, her Malamute who loves running just as much as his mom. Kait looks forward to running The Magic City Half Marathon with her own mom in continuance of their beloved mother-daughter race tradition.

JOEY LONGORIA

In 1979 at age 6, Joey went on his first run with his mom and has been a fan of running and track and field since. He ran in junior national meets at Franklin Field, home of the Penn Relays, at Memorial Stadium in the Texas Relays, New York, Chicago, Brigham Young University and shared the track with Carl Lewis at The University of Houston track in his hometown. At one time, he held a national age group hurdle record and two Texas state age group records. These days, he’ll say he’s not nearly as competitive, except with his own goals. The track is still his happy place, but he has come to love long runs with amazing friends. Joey’s first half marathon was The Magic City Half Marathon in 2012, and he has paced the event on three separate occasions and has participated every year since 2012, only missing the inaugural year. He feels that running seems to give back when you least expect it, on days when you really need it. But, also seems to be very humbling when you need a dose of that too. Joey met his wife, Carrie, through running. So, more than any record or time or medal, that has been running’s greatest reward.

ABBI PEARMAN

Abbi is graduating from Hoover High School this spring, where she was senior captain of the cross country team. Magic City was Abbi’s first half marathon, and she has run it every year since 2016. Abbi loves running because it brings people together, and it makes you push yourself to do things you didn’t think you could. She enjoys having a big team of friends and family run Magic City with her every year. For many of Abbi’s friends and family, Magic City is their first half marathon and she loves experiencing the event with them. If you see Abbi out on the course this year, be sure to give her a shout out!

BRANDEE TICKLE

Three years ago, Brandee discovered her love of running quite by accident. What began as a means to lose weight after the birth of her youngest child has since become a favorite pastime. After following a couch to 5K program and completing several 5K’s, Brandee set her sights on running a half marathon. In 2018, she completed three half marathons and now plans to train for her first marathon later this year. Brandee enjoys encouraging new runners and reminding them that starting the race is more important than your finish time. As she tells her kids, “you can’t finish what you never start.”

SARA THOMPSON

Sara’s love for running started out as a dare. She had never been a runner – never even considered it. Then a friend dared her to do an adventure run 5K in 2011. From there things were never the same. Over the years, she has ran many races, but the Magic City Half Marathon holds a special place in her heart. In 2016, she ran the half with her brother, and then in 2017, Sara was able to achieve a sub two hour finish. She recently completed her first marathon, the Mercedes Marathon. She will race the New York City Marathon later this year. Sara hopes her love of running will inspire others to have big dreams and not be afraid to reach for their goals. When she’s not running, you can find her wake-surfing on Smith Lake or ‘One Wheeling’ with her husband and children.

KELVIN WALLACE

After being challenged by a friend in 2014, and being told that there was no way he could run a half marathon, Kelvin boldly entered a race with less than thirty days to train. During the race, Kelvin met a group of local runners, and at that point made a commitment to start meeting with them on a regular basis. Within a short time, Kelvin registered for a marathon the following year, this time giving himself twelve months to train. Since then, Kelvin has completed numerous half marathons and six marathons, including two majors. In his quest to obtain a Six Star Finisher Medal, Kelvin will be running his first international major marathon in Berlin, Germany in September of this year. Running is Kelvin’s escape, and a place where he goes to solve the world’s problems.

 
 
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