By Brentney Hamilton
Social media has its drawbacks, but for all of the contemporary communication phenomenon’s more questionable elements, it has also created previously impossible connections between like minded people around the globe. Imagine, runners: We live in a world where you can check-in on — or potentially even chat with — Des Linden, Mo Farah, Kara Goucher, and Meb Keflezighi from your sofa.
Not only can you follow Olympians and other pros from around the planet, you can also meet a new training partner or drum up inspiration with a homegrown flavor right in your own backyard. Here are some of our favorite notable athletes with ties to D-FW.
Pros, Elites, and Podium Toppers
A native of Wisconsin, Grunnagle came to Texas for college, and she went pro in 2011. You’ll often hear the Nike-sponsored athlete’s name called out as overall winner at local races, and you can keep up with her current training as she preps for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials in February.
With roots in Collin County, Mehmen grew up to become a certified hometown hero. He won the BMW Dallas Half Marathon in 2016 and 2017 before stepping up to the full distance and taking the overall title at the 2018 Dallas Marathon – his 26.2 debut, no less. On Instagram, you can follow the mustachioed Mehmen – who was recently profiled in Runner’s World about his unconventional van-dwelling lifestyle – as he travels around the country and occasionally returns for dirt road runs in his native North Texas.
This 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier and 2018 Flying Pig Marathon champion made newspaper headlines in March, but not for her typical running dominance. While training on the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth, she was brutally attacked by a pit bull and sustained devastating injuries before eventually fighting off the dog with the help of passersby. Watching her recovery – the strength, passion, setbacks, determination, and raw truth – has been the very definition of inspiring. Just weeks after the attack, she returned to Flying Pig for a second-place finish.
You’ll see as many photos of gorgeous White Rock Lake scenery than of the humble Hendricks, himself, on his Insta account, but the account executive for Hoka One One is hardly an average joe. He won the Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Marathon in March. When he’s not topping major race results, you might see him looping the lake or extoling the benefits of max cushion kicks at local expos.
Carlos The Runner
If you’ve spent much time in the Runner’s Corner group on Facebook, you’ve likely seen the man with luxurious flowing hair who regularly fights laser-wielding sharks and tames unicorns during everyday training runs. Carlos Del Pino is what you might call a Photoshop savant. Online, you’ll find hilarious memes and plenty of #dinorunfies that have attracted nearly 20,000 followers from around the world. Here in Dallas, you’ll often see him posing with adoring fans at finish lines.
Vanessa Antoine – The Mom Who Ran During Labor
Many women run throughout pregnancy, but Vanessa Antoine took her love of the sport a step farther. In 2017, she was so close to hitting the 1,000th day of her run streak that she continued running at least 1 mile per day while enduring contractions after going into labor. Not only that, she gained her doctor’s permission to run again just 15 hours after giving birth — at a 9 minute mile pace and with her IV port still in place, no less. Antoine’s story was featured in The Dallas Morning News, and you can keep up with her current training on Instagram. As of this writing, she’s on RSD 1,664. Her stroller babe is up to 667 on his own Ride Streak.
This teen Cross Country and track star at Greenhill School – and Runner’s Corner Contributor – proves that the Class of 2020 is coming for your course records. Hatfield doesn’t post on this account as frequently as some others on our list, but when she does, you can bet the photo will exhibit enviable running form and a glimpse into the glamorous life of an up-and-coming champ.
Everybody loves Jenna – well, more than 30,000 Instagram followers do, at least. The blogger, coach, and Oiselle Volée team member writes about her favorite local races, gear, and training tips on her WordPress site. On Instagram, you’ll see photos of great Dallas scenery and her adorable Greyhound running partner, Derby.
How did we determine who made this list? We looked for public accounts that were active within recent days and have a sizeable following. There are – unquestionably! – other great locals worth noting. Let us know other favorites to follow @runproject.