5/3 Riverbank Run Mentor Group


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Our Program, Our Coaches, and Our Mentors

THE MENTOR TEAM PROGRAM is a program of the Grand Rapids Running Club.  It was established for the purpose of “mentoring” new runners who were interested in training for their first 25K River Bank Run but wanted the extra support and coaching they could get from experienced runners.  Although the program focuses on new runners, veteran runners are welcome too!  There is no cost for participating in the Mentor Team Program.

Beginning the first Saturday of December, and leading up to the Fifth Third River Bank Run (which is scheduled for the second Saturday in May), the Mentor Team meets for group training runs every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. 

We welcome first-timers and will run with you, support and encourage you, and be available to answer any questions you may have.  The only steps you’ll take alone are the ones to get off the couch and out the door to meet us on Saturday mornings!  One of the biggest challenges facing new runners is simply getting started.  Coaches and mentors will be there to guide new runners, as well as to encourage and motivate returning runners.  We will take you from ground zero to the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K.  You will not be left behind!

All aspects of running will be covered—from the type of clothing that works well, nutritional needs of runners, hydration, rest days, setting your pace, safety and stretching will be covered.  If you provide an e-mail address, you will receive weekly Newsletters with that week’s distance and location.

Stay up to date with the Grand Rapids Running Club Mentor Group by subscribing to the Mentor Group email list.
Simply click on the giant envelope below!

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THE 2018 MENTOR GROUP COACHES are: Francine Robinson (Leader), Abbie Stoppa, Bob Shaffer, Carl Nelson, Debbie Snider, Jeff Jauch, Jerry Roersma, Kathy Haase, Lisa Brady, and Sue Roersma.  They are experienced runners, as you will see from their biographies below:

Francine began running in the spring of 2001 and ran her first marathon in Chicago that fall.  Since then, she has completed 17 River Bank Runs and almost 162 marathons in 47 states.  She also qualified for and ran ten Boston Marathons.  This will be the 10th year for Francine as leader of the GRRC Mentor Program.  She has also volunteered for many other running programs and events, because she loves to inspire other to set goals that will improve their physical, mental and spiritual health and that will encourage them to discover their inner strength and potential. Francine has two daughters and gained a “son” when her daughter was married in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Abbie began running in August of 2012. Her first run was the 5k color run.  She never believed she could run and breathe! She finished that race with such a feeling of accomplishment and thought….what can I run next? She was hooked!  Since then, she has run numerous races of various distances, including 15 half-marathons, three 25K River Bank Runs, one full marathon, and various marathon relays.  Being the mother of a special needs child, Abbie says she needed something for herself, but she also needed something she could do with her son. Running allows her the best of both worlds. She feels blessed to be a part of the Mentor Group, to give back and give motivation and encouragement to new runners. Abbie says she would not be here today without the support she has received from the GRRC Mentor Program and thanks all who have helped her along the way.

Bob has been has been running for 47 years, from 100 meters to the marathon. He has won numerous age group medals, including a recent age group national championship cross-country and 3000m win. He enjoys helping more people run further, faster and safe with proper science and technique. This is Bob’s first year as a Mentor Coach.

Carl has been running since 1979, with some time off here and there. He has completed 12 River Bank Runs; his current streak is 4 straight. Carl has completed 3 marathons  and many races of varying lengths. He has been a member of GRRC  going on five years. Carl’s passion for running keeps him young. He looks forward to this first year as a mentor and meeting you.

Debbie started as a walker and competed in race-walking races for several years. When she and her husband (an avid runner since high school) moved, she no longer had her training partner or coach. Soon the non-activity had taken its toll. With the help of her husband, a “slow runner” began—1/2 mile out, 1/2 mile back. Debbie has run countless 5K, 10K, 15K and 25K races and said for many years “I will NEVER run a marathon.” Well, Debbie says “crow tastes pretty good” after she crossed the finish line of her 1st marathon in 2013 (Grand Rapids Marathon). She continues to run marathons and also competes in triathlons. Debbie and her husband have been members of the Grand Rapids Running Club for many years. She has been a “green bandit” for the Mentor Program and is now a coach.  Debbie is happy to help everyone achieve their goals.

Jeff is the owner of Striders Running Store in Grandville, MI. He is an avid runner and the race director for a number of races, including the Striders Classic 10 Mile run. The GR Running Club is partnering with Jeff and Striders to mentor runners training for the 5/3 RBR 2018.

Jerry ran his first 5k on a dare in 1999 and got hooked on running right away.  He now enjoys running with Sue, his wife of 39 years. They run many races every year, from 5k’s to marathons.  They have three adult children and three grandchildren.  Jerry has run 14 River Bank Runs, including running six of them as a pacer for the 9:00 minute per mile group.  Jerry enjoys sharing the fun and health benefits of running with new runners.  He very much enjoys seeing the smiles of runners that just finished their very first River Bank Run.

Kathy has been running for over 30 years.  She started off running 5K and 10K races.  She later moved on to the longer distance races when she moved to Grand Rapids and decided to run the River Bank Run 25K. Since then she has completed 39 marathons and ultras in 20 states.  She has been a member of the Grand Rapids Running Club for many years. She enjoys helping with the GRRC River Bank Run Mentor Program, as well as being Secretary of the GRRC.  In addition, she is on the Grand Rapids Marathon Race Committee.  Kathy looks forward to seeing new runners, and returning runners, each year at the Mentor Program Saturday runs.

Lisa has been running for over 10 years. Although the 2007 Fifth Third River Bank Run was supposed to be her bucket list, one-and-done race, since then she has been sucked into over 40 marathons and ultras as well as triathlons including the 70.3. Lisa is the runner your mother warned you about. She will talk you into a distance you didn’t think you were mentally prepared for, but she will pace you step-for-step to the race you are physically ready for. Lisa is frequently joined by her trusty training partner, Maxwell, who will happily dispense fur while covering the miles. Maxwell’s biggest disappointment is that even though he completes the training program, he isn’t allowed to race. This is Lisa’s first year as a mentor coach.

Sue has been running year-round for over 11 years. She has run over ten River Bank Runs and once led the 12 minute pace group. She has completed eight marathons, twenty 1/2’s, and too many to count 5k and 10k’s. Sue has been running with the GRRC Mentor program for many years and this year as a Mentor Coach looks forward to helping new runners achieve the goal of completing their first RBR.

THE AID STATIONSBarb Minier and Nan Hulst man the aid stations each week once we start running over 6 miles.

THE MENTORS:  The Grand Rapids Running Club has many enthusiastic, seasoned members who will mentor you at the group training runs.  They are nick-named the “Green Bandits,” because you can identify them by the green bandanas or headbands they wear.  The Mentors will run alongside you during the training runs and answer any questions you may have.  Enjoy a great support group in the GRRC Mentor Team!

For more information contact Francine Robinson at: [email protected].





How to Dress for Cold Weather

General Info for Beginning Runners

2018 Mentor Program Training Calendar