NC Deep Dive

Running Toward Community: The Story of the Holly Springs Runners' Project and the Interplay of Fitness, Philanthropy, and Craft Brews

January 21, 2024 Amanda Lunn
NC Deep Dive
Running Toward Community: The Story of the Holly Springs Runners' Project and the Interplay of Fitness, Philanthropy, and Craft Brews
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Embrace the power of community and personal resolve with Ryan Monteleone and Sarah Larson, two local heroes shaping the vibrant heart of Holly Springs. Their inspiring stories unveil the transformational journey of the Holly Springs Runners' Project, from a sole half marathon to a beacon of health and charity in the community. As you listen, you'll uncover the secret ingredients that make this project a catalyst for year-round fitness and philanthropy, all wrapped up in the joy of mutual support and achievement.

As the conversation flows, we delve into the innovative concept that marries the love of running with the communal spirit of craft brewing. Discover how Pace Yourself Run Company, an ingenious running store, weathers the storm of a global pandemic by fostering solidarity through sweat and suds. All the races along with the weekly Run Club events open their doors to all—from the fleet-footed to the casual walker to the adaptive athlete—creating a shared space for wellness and wonder.

The episode rounds out with Ryan and Sarah's candid reflections on the drive that propels us towards our goals, and the importance of a community that cheers us on every step of the way. They offer a peek into their personal lives, revealing favorite books, relaxation techniques, and childhood dreams. As we look forward to the Holly Springs Runners' Project's upcoming events, we're reminded of the profound impact an enthusiastic "yes" can have on our lives and the lives of those around us. Join us for a heartwarming celebration of connection, resilience, and the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

Holly Springs Runners' Project
Race Against the Sun-Endurance Event-Saturday, February 24th 7AM-Sunday, February 25th 7AM
NC Spring Classic 5K, 8K, & 16K-Saturday, April 20th around 7AM
Holly Springs Half Marathon, 10K, & 5K-Saturday, November 23rd

Pace Yourself Run Club/Holly Springs Run Club Opportunities
*Make sure to check the Pace Yourself Run Club Facebook group beforehand as the following times and events are subject to change.

Mondays: 
Location: Tapline Growler
Time: 6:30pm
Distance: 3 – 5 mile routes
Pace: ALL PACES WELCOME

Tuesdays:
Location: Pace Yourself Run Company
Time: 6:30pm
Distance: 1, 3, 4, & 5 mile routes
Pace: ALL PACES WELCOME

Wednesdays:
Location: Local Time Brewing
Time: 6:30pm
Distance: 1 & 3 mile routes
Pace: geared towards walking

Thursdays:
Location: Bombshell Beer Company
Time: 6:30pm
Distance: 3 & 4 mile routes
Pace: ALL PACES WELCOME

Saturdays:
Location: Pace Yourself Run Company
The Saturday run from the store doesn’t have an official start time as groups meet up at various times that best fit their schedule. However, runners can still earn a Pace Yourself reward credit by scanning the QR code posted in the window anytime on Saturday mornings as they start, finish or swing by the store during their run.

Trail Club:
The Trail Club is open to all and meets once a month at special off-site locations. Each run has a range of distances and is open to all levels. Event deta

Support the show

As always, if you are interested in being on or sponsoring the podcast or if you have any particular issues, thoughts, or questions you'd like explored on the podcast, please email NCDeepDive@gmail.com. Your contributions would be greatly appreciated.

Now, let's dive in!

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Hello friends, happy 2024 and welcome back to the newly renamed NC Deep Dive Podcast, formerly known as the Holly Springs Deep Dive. I am your host, Amanda Benbow Lunn, and today I have the immense privilege to be speaking with local community members Ryan Monteleone and Sarah Larson. We will be exploring the ideas of community, connection, and motivation, while highlighting the Holly Springs Half-Marathon Foundation, which has just recently been renamed to the Holly Springs Runners' Project, Pace Yourself Run Company, the Holly Springs Run Club and how they all may support our town, its people and possibly each of you, as you strive to meet your New Year's resolutions and goals for 2024. Without further ado, friends, let's dive in.

Ryan Monteleone:

My name is Ryan Monteleone. I'm a financial advisor with Edward Jones by trade here in the Holly Springs, also the president of the Holly Springs Half-Marathon Foundation, along with the president of Pace Yourself Run Company.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And how long have you been in the area?

Ryan Monteleone:

Been in Holly Springs essentially for 21 years.

Sarah Larson:

And Sarah. My name is Sarah Larson. I've been in Holly Springs for 10 years in the area, North Carolina, for 12. All three kids born in this area. So we love Holly Springs, we love the accessibility, we love the community. We live in Oak Hall where I'm the president of the HOA, there. Love to volunteer for the community, so I sit on the Parks and Rec Advisory Committee. I was on the Downtown Village Advisory Committee and then through that I've been asked to work as the executive director for the Holly Springs Half-Marathon Foundation and I do social media and event planning for Bombshell and social media I take a breath because there's so many options, so many things to check off. Social media for Endurance Fence Solutions and Southwest Greens. I also have my own LLC where I do social media and other event planning throughout the community. So very involved. Love it here.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Awesome. That's why I love both of you, because you are super involved and your list of things that you do is way longer than your list of things you don't do.

Sarah Larson:

That's true. Don't mind me running out of breath. You're trying to say all the things, All the things for sure.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

All right, so tell me about the Holly Springs Half-Marathon Foundation

Sarah Larson:

Sure. It's been around since 2017. And since then we have given back over $145,000 back to the community through scholarships and race chariots and to the Parks and Rec department. Here in Holly Springs we have a really good partnership with the town. You'll see our water fountains throughout town. They're ADA accessible, they have dog drinking bowls, water bottle filling stations and we have some athletic exercise equipment on some of the greenways. With the foundation putting on these races and encouraging Holly Springs and surrounding community residents to come and be active and to push themselves and to let them know what they can do. Whether you're a walker, runner, rucker, adaptive athlete, our races are geared for everybody.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Awesome. So, as one of the founders, Ryan, why was it created? What was the inspiration? What was the need that you and others felt that needed to be filled?

Ryan Monteleone:

Yeah, I mean, like Sarah said, the organization started in 2017 and was really born out of the Holly Springs Run Club. I mean, the Holly Springs Run Club is an amazing community of people in Holly Springs or in the surrounding area, you know, came together, not only ran together, but they had that charitable awareness. They're always looking for ways to give back, and when we created the first event, which was the Holly Springs Half Marathon, which is run the Saturday before Thanksgiving every year, we decided to take the extra step and go ahead and form a foundation you know 501C3 organization and really come up with a vision on how we wanted to give the money back to the community. And so our mission really is to promote health and wellness and charitable awareness in the Holly Springs community.

Ryan Monteleone:

Again, as Sarah discussed, we've done that in several different ways. We've done that in scholarships, race chariots for our adaptive athletes If you happen to be on the Carl Dean Greenway, you'll see our exercise equipment that we donated. Drinking Fountain Project is what we're working on now but also just other support we've done during COVID, we did Frontline Feet, which we gave away several hundred pairs of shoes to our first responders, teachers. That was a partnership with Pace Yourself Run Company and On Running, so that was a great event. They're always looking at ways that we can, you know, give back, and creating this foundation in 2017, it really gave us the vehicle to do that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Perfect. What kind of events does the Holly Springs Half Marathon Foundation put on?

Sarah Larson:

Right now we put on the races. So, like Ryan said, started with the Holly Springs Half Marathon, which is 13.1 miles, then it includes the 5k and then, a couple years later, we added a 10k option. A couple years ago we incorporated the North Carolina Spring Classic, which runs in April, and it has a 16k, 8k and 5k. And new this year, which is really exciting, is our inaugural A Race Against the Sun event, which is a 24-hour endurance event here in Holly Springs at Sugg Farm and Bass Lake. Four mile loop, very doable for everybody. Like we said, we really try to gear our events just to the movers, you know, walkers, runners, ruckers, adaptive athletes. We're excited about that event, just to kind of prove to yourself how much you can push your body and be active and knowing that you can do these things. So we have several, like I said, races that really just showcase Holly Springs.

Ryan Monteleone:

And add a little bit to it. You know the Half Marathon is the first event. You know that started, again, just we were just running down the Greenway group of us and we said, wouldn't it be cool if we had a race here in town instead of driving a Raleigh or outside of town to not to do those events? And so we immediately partnered with the town. And you're gonna hear that a lot, I think.

Ryan Monteleone:

For me, and from Sarah, it's all about partnership. None of these things that we've done do we really do on our own. We find other groups to partner with, whether it's, you know, Kiwanis or Rotary or other non-profits, schools, different things like that. And so the Half Marathon started. You know we wanted to partner with the town, we wanted to give back to the town Parks and Rec, so partnered with Adam in Town Hall and we're able to create this vision for that. The next step was North Carolina Spring Classic. That vision was born out of having a community event where we would have a race and a festival on the same day. So we created Springs Fest. We created the North Carolina Spring Classic and then, in the spirit of partnership, we approached the Chamber of Commerce to operate Springs Fest for us on our behalf, since that is our event. And so, again, partnership, right, bringing people together. And then the Race Against the Sun, since it's new. We're still looking for partners, we're still trying to figure out exactly how that one's gonna work. It's much different event than you know, the normal just road race.

Ryan Monteleone:

But a couple cool things. I mean this is the first time, I think, Parks and Rec will have people overnight at Sugg Farm I think that they had said that, Sarah, right. So a lot of these events that we've done, we've kind of pushed the envelope up a little bit with the town. They've never closed roads before and done this mass event. Holly Springs Half Marathon was the first introduction to that. So now they're a lot more comfortable doing those types of things because we've created, with Captain Patterson at PD, Robbie at PD, kind of a blueprint on how to do that. So now they're able to do it with more events. Same thing we've never had a downtown close the streets festival before.

Ryan Monteleone:

So we were able back in 2019, when we did the first Springs Fest, to create a blueprint right to do that Right. And so now we're able to do that for more events. And now we're looking at, you know, having this overnight event at Sugg, and so again, creating this blueprint for future events. Those are the three events as of now, but we've been talking about some other exciting things, maybe, some things that maybe aren't just running. You know kickball tournaments, dodgeball, you know just some fun things where people can be active. But maybe you know different, you know. So I think some folks maybe are a little intimidated by, you know, going out and runni ng a 5k, 10k, half, but they'd love to throw a ball at somebody.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

All right, so tell me a little bit more about this race coming up, the endurance race in February. What does that really look like? Like, if you say half marathon to me, I know that that's 13.1 miles, right, and people are going to come and they're going to walk, slash, run until they finish it, but I have no idea really what an endurance race like that looks like.

Ryan Monteleone:

So you have events that are ultra marathons right, and those are typically anything that's over, you know, over 26 miles. Over a marathon is going to become an ultra marathon, right, and so those are going to be distance right. We decided to do a timed event because it's an endurance event, right. So we want to be less intimidating, and I think some people are thinking, oh my gosh, it's a 24 hour event. There's no way I can run for 24 hours or 12 hours, or, you know, we do have some relay options as well. But the point of it is, if you come out, it's a four mile loop. If you come out in 24 hour period and you can run one or walk, hike, whatever you do one lap, the answer to the question is you can go four miles in 24 hours. That's the answer to the question, right? The idea is it is a 24 hour period of time and you do as much as you can or are willing to do. There's no stipulation between, you know, starting and going to work and coming back and continuing. There'll be tents and fires and food and you know people can hang out and they can take a two hour break and then get back out after it if they'd like. So it's just about you know, knowing for that 24 hour period of time, you know you're going to attack something and just doing the best you can for that period. So I think you know we're trying to get the word out so people understand that. Don't be intimidated. You walk forward, you walk one lap, you get your medal, you've achieved the goal, you've completed the task, you're okay, right? So we wanted it to be more inclusive. You know, if it was a 50 mile race or 100 mile race, it takes a special person to do that, but we'd still have kind of the feel too of what would be an ultra marathon. So one thing ultra marathoners are very proud of if they can finish 100 miles in a 24 hour period of time, they get this really fancy belt buckle. We have belt buckles for those folks who are really going to go out and get after it and try to get their 100 miles. We obviously will have winners.

Ryan Monteleone:

But, as I mentioned also, we're going to have the relay option. So we have the 24 hour-That's a six person relay option and it's just. You know, man, if you want to be on the team with me, if you run one lap and everybody else runs the rest of them, that's okay. There's no stipulation on how many, it doesn't have to be divided equally amongst everybody. Then a four person, 12 hour relay.

Ryan Monteleone:

And then we just added and we'll talk about run, we can probably talk about Run the Springs here in in a few minutes but and then we just add, added a four mile, just a one lap option for those folks that really are just like I'm only going to do one, I just want to have it start and end and be done option, and those people would qualify for a new rebirth, what's called Run the Springs, which if you don't mind, I'll just go ahead and go into it. R un the Springs is if you participate in all three of our events in the year, then you will qualify for someone who ran the springs and we will have some pretty cool awards for people who do that.

Ryan Monteleone:

So again, we didn't want people to be intimidated by that 24 hour and 12 hour time period, so we said, okay, come out and do four miles walk, run, however you do it. Four miles, one lap. You qualify three, five or ten mile right at the North Carolina spring classic, the 5k, the 10k or the half marathon. At the Half Marathon, any of one of those or the relay, and you know, whatever you do, you qualify, Run the Springs, you get this swag that those participants will be awarded at the how springs half marathon.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So I think that's really important because I am one of those people who was very intimidated like that might not be for me, but I like that it's inclusive to everyone within the community, because almost everybody has the ability to walk or to ride in some sort of way, and so it does really open it up. Is the course open to those who might be in strollers or wheelchairs or something of that sort?

Ryan Monteleone:

It is not. Okay, glad you asked that question. That's something we need to consider because our organization is, you know, really founded on inclusivity and we want to make sure that everybody can, no matter what their skill level or their personal situation, are able to participate. We should consider and talk with Jaren about maybe having a modified route for those who may be, you know, our assisted athletes. The majority of it they can, and it's a little bit off-road, but there is one path through. One trail is fairly rooty, if that is a word, and would be very, very difficult for them to navigate. So, with that's something we should probably look at is having some sort of modified route for them to participate. Yeah, for sure.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And sign-ups for that are already going on Already going on.

Sarah Larson:

They are. We'll have a shirt deadline on Valentine's Day, February 14th, so if you sign up prior to that then you'll be guaranteed a shirt. But I appreciate you bringing that up and thinking, you know, like asking that question about accessibility and just kind of proves that as an organization we really do take community feedback to heart and try to make our events as inclusive as possible for everybody involved and whoever we partner with is our focus, and so I mean I love that that just happened on air live today. You heard of your here, folks, so I appreciate that, so thank you Amanda.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Yeah, absolutely, let's talk a little bit about Pace Yourself Run Company. Okay, when was it established? Again, what were some of the thoughts behind the foundation?

Ryan Monteleone:

Yeah, so Pace Yourself Run Company. We opened our Holly Springs location in 2019. The vision behind that started right along the same time as the Half Marathon. Many of us, obviously, we ran together and we'd run from Bombshell, we'd run from CBC, we'd run from these different breweries and I think one day we were actually at Aviator and on a Friday afternoon after work, and one of us said you know, we were talking, we need to have a running store here in Holly Springs and it'd be really cool if we had beer. It'd be really cool. It'd be so cool. You know, since we always run from the breweries, let's bring the brewery to the shoe store, right. And you know, in true, you know, Ryan fashion, I took that ball and ran with it and you know, we had a group of people who wanted to participate in that. They're part of that conversation.

Ryan Monteleone:

At the time, we started meeting and, like said, around 2017. And this is right along the same time as the new Holly Springs downtown was being developed, being built, right. And so we had this vision of, again, the shoe store, this community, the bar, if you will, inside it's called the Runners Clubhouse this community inside the store, the runners that hang out, whether it's through RunClub or just meet, collaborate, talk about running, talk about fitness, talk about whatever they want to talk about. And then what better place to have that than downtown right, this new downtown?

Ryan Monteleone:

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That was a very interesting time. We had just opened. Because we had just opened, it was very challenging for us to get much help from the government, you know, as far as PPV, loans and whatnot. So we were able to get a little bit of support.

Ryan Monteleone:

But what was amazing about that time is people had to get out and they had to get out and do things and I think they realized when they dusted off their you know, their shoes they bought at Kohls four years ago that are dry, rotted and went out and they disintegrated on their feet or they came back hurting or hobbling they realized that they needed some help and some support. Us being a local provider, you know they would come to us and we were very blessed. A lot of our customers come to us because of injury, so we were deemed by Wake County as an essential business, so we were able to stay open on a limited basis in order to continue to serve the community. Since then, we opened Pace Yourself Run Company in Southern Pines in 2022. And more recently, just four months ago, we opened a Pace Yourself Run Company in Wendell. So now we have three locations, kind of northeast Raleigh, down south in Southern Pines, and then still the mothership or flagship here in Holly Springs.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Do each of those towns have the running community like you have here?

Ryan Monteleone:

They do, they all do. You know Wendell is such an amazing town, it's growing, it's fascinating and they have a running community, a good run club, and more and more people being added to it every single day. Southern Pines you know the store that we have. There was already a store, so it had a running community, so we acquired it. So that one was great because we kept the staff, we kept the run clubs, we kept most everything. You know. Just put some new logos up and you know whatnot, and so that community is huge. Of course, big military presence as well. So everybody's pretty active and wanting to get outside and get together and have fun.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So All right. So this involves a little bit of the Holly Springs Run Club. I'm not sure how much of it is the Run Club versus the various businesses, but do you want to talk about the events that happen on a weekly basis for those who might have made their New Year's resolution to get out and about on a more regular basis?

Sarah Larson:

Sure. So, like Ryan said, a lot of this started with, like the Holly Springs Run Club and so a lot of these runs were kind of happening and then birthed, you know, the store and everything since then. So it's exciting. There's a Run Club that leaves from Tap Line, which is over in like Main Street Square, like kind of where Dunkin Donuts is. Tuesday they start and finish downtown at Pace Yourself and then Wednesday, I think, there's a walking club that goes from Black Dog and they used to have one at CBC.

Ryan Monteleone:

It's at Local Time now.

Sarah Larson:

At Local Time, okay.

Ryan Monteleone:

But everyone like has it. Black Dog started it.

Sarah Larson:

CBC had one, Local Time on Wednesday, Thursday at Bombshell. And then shout out to the racers from Bombshell who did the Mill Chill this last Sunday. That's a race up at Rocky Mount and they get all these breweries together to race to see who's the fastest brewery. Basically they were supposed to have it in December but it was like raining, that was like that crazy storm on a Sunday and that generates money for MS. So they just got to move that race to this last Sunday and so all these area breweries sent people you know Mason Jar, Bond Brothers, Bombshell so shout out to the Bombshell team for doing pretty good. So it's active when breweries bring people to the table. It's kind of like that German feel. You know where you're at a beer garden and you can sit down wherever and like have that community. And with run clubs, same thing. You want that to be accessible where everybody can show up and you can run and have that community. So partnering with breweries really goes hand in hand. People might not think it but it really is like a good partnership.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Awesome. And what time do those walk runs happen? Are they all the same time, or?

Ryan Monteleone:

6.30. 630, but always check. So if you go to ace Yourself Run Clubs Facebook page or the Pace Yourself Run Company website you can see all the run clubs. Always check that. T hey're subject to change. Most of them haven't, I think, just one the walk club, I think changed times a little bit.

Ryan Monteleone:

The other thing I'll add you know all paces are welcome, so you can run, you can walk. You can run during walk club, you can walk during run club. Do what you need to do, go whatever pace you are comfortable with. We have routes, typically at least three miles and they'll go up to five. If you're looking to run or walk farther than that, Our race leads or run leads, I'm sorry, can give some advice on how to add on distance. And then, last, also, if you don't like beer, every place has other options, including non-alcoholic beverages, for you to enjoy. You know the brewery itself, I think we're talking about the community, like Sarah said, so don't think that, " Well, I don't really drink beer so I'm not going to. I don't want to go to bombshell on Thursday night. It's okay, with a lot of folks that come in, they run with a group that hang out and chat and then they head home. It's very little pressure and very comfortable atmosphere we try to create.

Sarah Larson:

Yes, so people can run with their dogs, run their strollers, like Ryan said. I think one of my favorites like even during 2020 when the run clubs are still active you know I'd bring my kids. My husband was deployed so I had to get the kids out. But running from the store running to Womble, letting them play at the park, running some loops, getting the kids running back to the store, like it, just gives you an outlet to get off of online right Like having those human interactions too. So run clubs are pretty important to the community.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Awesome. So I guess that brings me to the next point. Y'all are creating space for health and wellness. You're creating opportunities for connection, to bring the community together. You're uniting people with somewhat of a shared goal getting out there and running or walking, or just being active or doing your best at whatever that means for you. Let's talk about motivation and drive. This is the beginning of the new year. A lot of people have made New Year's resolutions. I'm not really a fan of New Year's resolutions because I feel like they're just set up to fail, and so I too have wellness goals, but it is difficult for people to maintain them long term. So what tips, tricks, advice do you have for those who may have various health and wellness goals this year?

Sarah Larson:

I would say, you know, take it one step at a time. I mean, if you haven't gone to the gym maybe a handful of times last year, don't say you're going to go to the gym five days a week this year, like you don't want to set yourself up for failure, and accountability partners are really big and a lot of our run clubs I will, you know, tip my hat to the organizers of that they're really about you know, accountability, be like hey, let us know if you're coming, or give us a like that you're going to be on your way, and so we know that if someone's counting on you, you might not do it for yourself, but you're going to do it because someone's waiting for you.

Sarah Larson:

I mean, I don't like to get up and go to the gym in the morning, but I know my partner's there and she's gonna be like, where are you? I'm like, oh sorry, I'm coming. So if I don't want to do it, at least you could do it for somebody else, and then you benefit at the back end for sure. But I would say, just step by step, little you know pieces that you can chew, like if you want to just try one run club and you met somebody and they'll be like, hey, they'll invite you on Thursday. Be like, oh, I'm available on Thursday, but if it's, if you have one bad day, don't say, oh, I'm done for the year. You know, it's like it's okay to take two steps forward, one step back, just one step at a time, that's okay.

Ryan Monteleone:

Yeah, I mean, I couldn't have said it better myself. I think it's important for people, when they're making change, to make small change first and make you know these goals that are achievable and that knock out all the roadblocks you might have. I mean, why do I think that running or walking ends up being a great way to start? Is because you can put on a pair of shoes and walk out your door. That's it. You don't have to go anywhere to do it. You don't have to necessarily be a member of anything to do it. You can just go out and do it. It's easy, right? It's simple.

Ryan Monteleone:

So, just starting there, like Sarah said, you know you're not going to go from I ran zero miles to 1000 miles in a year, right? As soon as you start falling off track, a lot of people will give up. You know, understand what's driving you to do it. I think that's important as well. You know I've chatted, I think, actually, with you the difference between, in my opinion, motivation and being motivated and being driven right. Being motivated get you out of bed in the morning on a day like today to go work out, right.

Ryan Monteleone:

The problem is that when you open the door and it's raining or almost snowing out here now. Motivation a lot of times isn't enough to get you out the door, but being driven will. If you're driven to accomplish the goals, the tasks, if you're driven to be part of the community with your friends because you're supposed to meet them for that run, that drive is going to get you out the door. Right, maybe go back and get a hat or some gloves, but it's going to get you out the door. So I think that's, and being part of a community you know, try. Be part of a community. Doesn't mean you have to always walk around or work out with that group, but be part of that community that you can support each other and be there for each other. Because all of us go through those periods of time where we lose drive, we lose motivate, we lose those things. And having that, those friends in that community to help pick you up right Is so important, especially in the beginning.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So, Ryan, for you, what drives you? Because you are somebody who one year you had a goal to run a marathon every single month, I think you have a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states, possibly all the countries, continents. All co ntinents. Yeah, so what drives you, what allows you to create those goals and to continue to strive for them?

Ryan Monteleone:

Maybe it's a little bit of a FOMO, I don't know. No, I think what drives me is, you know, I look at I'm blessed with so much time here and I just don't want to miss any of it. I don't want to waste any of it. I don't want to be 60, 70, 80 years old and saying, man, I really wish I would have tried these things. So that sense of accomplishment. So there's that, it's me, it's that fear of like I don't want to regret that I didn't get a chance to do some of these things. I'm healthy. Now I have an opportunity to do them, so let's go ahead and do them.

Ryan Monteleone:

I also think it's just a healthy competition with myself. You know, getting in my own head and saying, you know this is hard, but you know you're going to do it, you can accomplish this. And putting in that work I mean it's the reward, is the race right? That's the reward for all the work. So I you know that really motivates me as well that just that accomplishment is setting these goals, seeing it through and getting it done. And then you know, in addition to that, I mean many of the events that I run.

Ryan Monteleone:

I try to run for other people, you know, whether it's Flags for Fallen or different, in the past times where I've pushed race chariots and whatnot, I think when you start doing it for other people, it feels a lot different, that extra drive right that you get when you're, you know, I'll never forget running a marathon in Oklahoma City and I was carrying a flag on American Flag for Family and I just remember, you know, turning the corner and seeing all the signs for all the people who lost their lives in Oklahoma City Bombing, and I'm thinking what am I complaining about? I know I hurt, I know this is hard, but really like this is no, Ryan, you're doing this for them. Right? They would be here, they could be here doing this, that's what they would do. So you know, those types of things really drive me as well.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And Sarah, I don't really know much about your run history, but I do see you bee bopping all around town. You're all on social media. It seems like you have a role in all the things. So, for you, where does your drive come from and your motivation to do all of those things?

Sarah Larson:

That's really great too. Yeah, I've always been one to make sure that everybody feels included. I'm the oldest of nine kids and just like which is chaos, but organized with chaos right, and if someone needs help, I want to be. I am that person. It's like Sarah, can you help me? I'm like yes, like you don't know what it is yet. I'm like I know that's my downfall, but I'm in, I get that. I get I say yes a lot, but, like Ryan said, I don't want to miss out too, I mean, I think a lot of people miss opportunities because they're scared to say yes.

Sarah Larson:

Should I say no sometimes? Sure, I get it to balance, but I like saying yes and I like helping people and I like making sure everybody's included, and if I can make someone else feel comfortable, then I did my job. You know, I've been in those positions where you don't know anybody or you're suffering for whatever reason, and it just really makes a difference if you had somebody on your side. So I just really like to be that person. If anybody has questions around town, like you know, I'm going to town council tonight. Am I going to say anything? No, but I just want to be informed. So if other people have the question they feel like it's accessible to ask Because, like I know, it's hard to ask sometimes and I don't want to make anybody else feel uncomfortable so ask me, I'll figure it out.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Awesome, all right. So, Ryan, you recommended Extreme Ownership to me a few years ago. This book was written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, and for me that is a piece of the motivation drive conquest type conversation, because I find that myself, but others as well we decided to do a thing. And then for me, in my running journey I never was a runner, I hated running, I didn't even want to try, and then one day I had Audible. So I was like, okay, it's very hard to set aside time for me and I'm supposed to be exercising and I'm supposed to be doing all these things. I don't have time to read anymore.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So my hack was if I go for a run, that is the time when I'm allowed to quote, unquote, read and listen to this book, and if I want to know what's coming next, I have to go for a run or walk or whatever that means in that moment. And normally where I lived, it was maybe 0.2 miles out of the subdivision. If I would have started running prior, I'd get to that point, and then there was always an excuse why am I doing this? I don't like running. It's cold, it's hot, the sun is super bright. Oh, I have to use the restroom, I better go back, and I'd always come up with an excuse.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

At that time when I listened to the book. I ran for five miles, a whole five miles. I didn't know I could do it, but when it was loud enough that I shut up the voice in my head I was able to accomplish that, and so that started a whole journey. So the book Extreme Ownership kind of talks about making those excuses and making sure that you are owning your part of the blame for any given situation. So do you want to add anything?

Ryan Monteleone:

No, I mean, that's perfect.

Ryan Monteleone:

You know your life, your journey. You need to own it right. I mean, when good things happen, you need to own it. When bad things happen, you need to own it right. You know, if you do something wrong, you need to own it. It's the only way as humans we're going to learn and get better right, and so it's not being mean to yourself to own it right. I mean that's just the way we are, and too many people make those excuses. I mean I've done it in the past too. Too many times in my life I've been.

Ryan Monteleone:

It's so easy, it's so easy just to say oh, you know if it's raining out, or oh, but this person did this or this person did that. No, that's not how it works. There's bad weather, there's mean people, there's injuries, there's just bad things that happen in the world, and you are in control of yourself, right? So you got to fight through those things and then you have to internalize it and understand that you own it.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And we just observed Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday yesterday and I was looking at a myriad of his quotes and so many of them kind of fit our conversation, One of which is people fail to get along because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don't know each other. They don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other. And so, as I'm hearing this discussion today like I'm thinking about that and I'm loving the way y'all are bridging community, you're creating opportunities for people to get together to get to learn more about one another. You're creating those opportunities so that people get off of social media and learn about one another in person, to find out. You know, maybe we're not alike in a lot of ways, but in so many ways we are alike. I guess that' s going to wrap up this episode, but do y'all have anything that you would like to add before we do?

Ryan Monteleone:

Yeah, I mean I add a little bit to that. You know, I'm just very grateful for the opportunity to talk to you. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have this organization and the rest of the people who have helped create it. You know where there's our volunteers for the events, our board for the nonprofit. You know, I think we've just been able to do some wonderful things together and I think that's a powerful word and that's changed me a lot this year.

Ryan Monteleone:

The word gratitude, and you never know; it's tying into the quote, right? I mean, I had somebody this year very special to me, challenged me to come up with a word of the year and was gratitude, but tying into that. And when you think back and you think about everything you have, you never know what other people's situation. Right, we're scared of people because we don't know them right and we don't know them, we don't know their story, we don't know their life right, we don't know what they're going through. And as an organization we want to help with that. We want to bridge those gaps. We want to build, continue to build, that community so that everyone is grateful for the things that they have, whatever it is, whether you run in a five minute mile, or you can run 100 miles in 24 hours. Whatever, it is just being grateful that you have the opportunity to do. Whatever it is you are able to do, share that with other people and build the community. That's what the organization is about.

Sarah Larson:

that partnership For another quote you know it's always the right time to do the right thing. And if you feel you know, thank you for listening to this podcast and thank you for all that you do, Amanda. But if you feel called, I would challenge everybody here to step out of their comfort zone. You know, if running is not your thing, that's fine. Join a volunteer organization or a sporting event or you know, the race or something Volunteer at the school, just something that gets you out of your own bubble, and you'll start bridging that gap. And you know people who are listening here. You are the community. We are the community, like we're all in this together. So I just challenge everybody to kind of step out of their bubble and to join something new and say hi to somebody you might not have said hi to and join us, you know always looking for people that want to help with the organization of the events or new ideas serve on our boards or committees, if that's something you're interested in.

Ryan Monteleone:

hy don't you give your email address, they can.

Sarah Larson:

Yeah, Sarah@ Holly Springs HalfMarathon. com. Sarah with an H.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Perfect, and so that will bring us to our lightning round of questions. What's your favorite book?

Ryan Monteleone:

Oh, Can't Hurt Me.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Sarah: I'll just say Harry Potter. Amanda: What's your favorite way to relax and let go? Ryan: Go for a run. Sarah: Hot tub. Ryan: Nice. What's one thing that fills your heart with joy. Sarah: My kids laughing.

Ryan Monteleone:

My children for sure.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What's your greatest weakness?

Sarah Larson:

Saying no.

Ryan Monteleone:

Oh man, I mean, I'm not weak. So, me thinking I'm not weak is my greatest weakness. There we go.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What is one thing you wished for as a kid?

Ryan Monteleone:

To be a professional hockey player. That's what I wanted to be. So, really, that's what I wished for. Yeah, hockey, that's what I played. Growing up I played hockey.

Sarah Larson:

Okay, I mean, it was the 90s. Lisa Frank, marine biologist.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What's something on your bucket list?

Sarah Larson:

To go to Alaska. So I've been to 49 out of the 50 states, so that's the last state I need to go to, so that's the closest. It's a big bucket, right, but that's going to happen soon Awesome. So go to Alaska.

Ryan Monteleone:

Marathon in every state and on every continent, along with the North Pole, which is the only marathon that isn't run on land, it's on ice.

Sarah Larson:

I was, like you run on a boat, like in a circle? Amanda: You need special shoes for that?

Ryan Monteleone:

You need some yak tracks, which you know shameless plug you can purchase at Pace Yourself Run Company.

Sarah Larson:

Oh, wow, sweet. We can almost use it in this weather, I know.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And what is your favorite thing about yourself?

Sarah Larson:

Honestly my ability to say yes and to try new things, knowing that if I fail, it's okay that I tried.

Ryan Monteleone:

I would say that it's my drive, that I don't really let much stand in my way. If I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it and I'm going to do as well as I can. So I would say my drive.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Well, thank you, Ryan and Sarah, for being with us today. I appreciate the conversation and love seeing y'all doing all the things that you do, and thank you for being such a great support for the community and all of us who live within it.

Sarah Larson:

You as well. Ryan: Thanks, Amanda. Sarah: Thank you. Al right, Byeeeeeee.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

We generally create these conversations with perhaps a brief outline or gist of what we may be talking about, but really it's a genuine, authentic, off-the-cuff conversation. I found it wonderfully synchronous to have spoken about the running themes "beloved community and pushing oneself where one can the day after we celebrated Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr and his achievements. To quote MLK Jr again, it does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it. And if you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving. And I'll add, you'll have to keep moving towards whatever the goals you have set for this year and your lifetime in general. You are the captain of your own shit, so make sure you are sailing in the direction that you would like to go.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Shortly after the recording of this podcast, the board of the Holly Springs Half-Marathon Foundation officially voted to update the name of their 501C3 organization to the Holly Springs Runners' Project. That way their name could be inclusive to each of their races. As a reminder, the Race Against the Sun Endurance Race will be Saturday, February 24th, starting at 7am and will run through Sunday, February 25th at 7am at Sugg Farm in Holly Springs. The NC Spring Classic 5K, 8K and 16K will be Saturday, April 20th, starting just after 7am, and that will be followed from 11am to 4pm by Springs Fest, which is helped to be put on by the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce. Both the Race and Springs Fest will be held downtown, near Pace Yourself Run Company and Town Hall. There will be food, a beer garden, music, vendors, kids activities and entertainment, along with a car show featuring classic and exotic cars. The latter will start at noon. Finally, the last race of the Holly Springs Runners' Project for 2024 will be approximately their 9th annual Holly Springs Half-Marathon, which will be Saturday, November 23rd. There is still time to sign up to run the race, and they could always use volunteers. I will include all this information in this episode's show notes, along with the general schedule of the regular runs and walks that happen throughout the week in Holly Springs.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Thank you again to all who help make these events happen to provide opportunities for building community and connection, as well as space and encouragement to be more active and inclusive. A special thanks to those on the Holly Springs Runners Project Board and those who help organize the races, which include Jim Wyland, Mary Flannigan, Lisa Burnham, Scott Lefferts, Stacey Head, Captain Michael Patterson, Courtney Holmes, Edgar Garrido, Ryan Monteleone, and Sarah Larson. I wholeheartedly appreciate all you do. There will always be a memory engraved in my mind. It was the NC Springs Classic of 2021.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Mind you, for over a year we had been dealing with COVID. All major events had shut down. This was the very first big event we had had since the after time. I remember vividly the aura of joy, the smiles on people's faces, the feeling of togetherness. While completely different, it was a celebration of the return to some semblance of normal. Each of you reach many hearts through your races, but that race, that race, was the first in the healing of our community and for that I give you my deepest gratitude. Thank you to all of you for tuning in and helping us acknowledge those who touch our local communities. Your part within our community is important. Thanks for showing up.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

That brings this episode of the NC Deep Dive to a close. As always, if you have any topics or thoughts you'd like to share, you may do so through social media or by emailing NCDeepDive@ gmail. com. If you found value in this episode, I'd love for you to subscribe, rate, and review it so that you'll get a head's up each time a new episode is released, and others may be given a head's up as well. Be on the lookout for further episodes at www. NCD eepDive. com, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, or wherever you currently listen to your podcasts. Until next time, my friends, namaste: the love and light in me sees and honors the love and light in you.

Community Motivation in Holly Springs
Running Clubs and Breweries
Motivation and Drive in Achieving Goals
Running, Books, and Personal Growth