YMCA Training Team: Making a Difference


Kim Cosby-Johnson at the Massey Mile
Kim Cosby-Johnson at the Massey Mile

Starting this week, you may see some additional foot traffic in and around the neighborhoods of Richmond.  Although the popular Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K race owned and operated by Sports Backers isn’t until 3/29/14, the YMCA Training Team for this event officially begins on Saturday, 1/18/14. They are welcoming all levels of walkers and runners to participate and everything in between.

According to Dan Blankenship, Head Coach for the YMCA Training Team, (affectionately known as “Coach Dan”), each year, approximately 4,000 participants train as part of the team.  The race itself has grown over the years to be the 4th largest race in the US, with almost 43,000 participants.  Even with such significant numbers, Coach Dan makes it his business to get to know many of the participants. He enjoys how they share their individual stories.

Coach Dan put Richmondmom in touch with one mom whose entire family has now embraced the active lifestyle.

Richmondmom.com sat down with Kim Cosby-Johnson to learn more about the impact of the YMCA Training Team for her family.  Kim, a Richmond wife, mother – and now athlete – shared her story of how she and her entire family made the 10K training team part of their lives.

Kim, who initially began training to complement her weight loss journey, has been involved in several races over the years, including the local 8K training team.  While she was looking for an exercise program, her then 13-year-old son, Trey, was interested in finding a service project.  He became involved in the Massey Challenge, a component of the Monument Avenue 10K, benefiting the VCU Massey Cancer Center.  She credits Trey’s involvement with Sports Backers for nurturing his sense of purpose in running.

Kim’s husband, Bill, has also participated in running events.  She shared that different milestones along the way have been challenging for each member of her family, but they always get through them together as part of the Training Team.  “For one participant, the first mile might be the hardest – for another the 3rd mile.  But the important thing is that there are all these people around you, with their hands up supporting you,” explains Kim.

Several years later, this formerly “non-running” family has transformed themselves into runners.  Trey is now on the cross-country team at school and Kim and Bill are running a half-marathon this weekend.  Not only has running become a way of life for this entire family, but they have forged connections within and beyond their initial hopes.   They also continue to be active  fundraisers for the Massey Cancer Center.

Bill Johnson, Kim Cosby-Johnson, Trey Johnson
Bill Johnson, Kim Cosby-Johnson, Trey Johnson

This year also marks the first year that Kim will coach other members of the training team.   Kim views this as the greatest gift she has been given to share back, and says, “The best thing about the team is that the coaches and the program itself sets everyone up for success.  No matter whether you’re just starting or you’re trying to beat last year’s time, Training Team supports those personal goals and cheers you on to victory.”

So if you are looking for some teamwork and a challenge with cheerleaders (yes, there really ARE cheerleaders, bands, strolling minstrels and magicians on race day) along the way, Kim says, “The Monument Avenue 10K is a great way to get started.  There is no time pressure (for race completion), and it is a wonderful place for beginners and families.  This event is a huge way that Sports Backers lives its mission to power an active RVA.  I am so glad that our family got out there and joined the party!”

Although the training team officially begins this Saturday, 1/18/14, registration for the training team continues through 1/31/14.  But don’t wait – sign up now to avoid the price increase on 1/19/14.  And with over 18 area locations, there is a training team near you.

I will be at the John Rolfe YMCA on Saturday – where will you be?

To sign up for the YMCA Training Team or for additional details, please go to this link.

Monument 10K