Inspiring Runner: Eugene Lenford
It's always beautiful to see someone is making a difference in the lives of others. This story of inspiration and more importantly appreciation comes from a running club member, completely inspired by her dedicated and caring coach. Read her story of how Coach Eugene Lenford encourages and coaches his team to out do themselves time and time again...
This is a story about a runner but more importantly a coach!
Let me introduce you to Eugene Lenford, fondly known as Coach Lenford. Coach Lenford is the coach of the #TopRunner’s (morning) group of Celtics Harriers.
At the young age of 29 this runner has 3 Comrades medals as well as 4 Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon medals to his name.
But it's not the medals or his PBs that make this runner an exceptional character. It is his ability to lead a diverse group of runners to achieving things beyond their wildest dreams.
Most mornings at 5:30am a group of teachers, advocates, moms, dads, students, party animals, chefs, academics, accountant and business owners gather together at Villages to start the day in the best possible way, to run. Each arrives with their own stories, goals, challenges and strengths.
There to greet and welcome us is our coach, Coach Lenford. He is the glue that brings all us weird and wonderful individuals together to form a passionate, fun loving running group.
From the moment we hit the road the sound of laughter and friendly banter fills the air as this positive and happy group of people move through the streets and hills and sometimes mountains of Cape Town.
If you listen carefully to the conversations you will realise that we are a bunch of people who love running but care less about positive and negative splits and more about the camaraderie of running and the social aspect of it. Truth is we probably know more about each other than about running.
Even though we all bring our own energy and personalities to the runs it is our Coach that we have to thank for creating and orchestrating this amazing family of runners.
Eugene is young and not even 30 years of age but he has managed to motivate and coach many of us through our first half marathon, our first full marathon, first Ultra marathon and Comrades. He has inspired us and given us goals to strive for and he has shown us how to achieve those goals but most importantly he has made us believe in ourselves. And that is what makes him great.
He doesn’t lead from the front by talking a big coaching game and dishing out challenges. Sure he plans our training, leads us and has the responsibility to get the training done and all of us home safely and injury free. However, his success comes from spending time with each one of us during our runs. He takes the time to find out who we are and what drives us and then he turns these little pieces of personal insight into motivation. Eugene teaches each of us to motivate ourselves and lead ourselves and by teaching us to lead and motivate ourselves he moves the team forward towards their goals.
Eugene is a leader who despite his young age has taught people older, wiser and more powerful something about themselves and what is means to set a goal and go after it. He is kind, caring and genuine. He personifies what it means to engage on an authentic level. He may only have changed a small group of people but I believe he has changed the course of South Africa in this small way.
His motto is Start Slow. Have Fun. Finish Strong. something that he lives and coaches by and something he encourages all of us to run by and live by.
Eugene Lenford is an excellent coach of the human spirit, a person that has united a group of diverse individuals to create a strong , passionate group of runners.
We pitch up for our runs as individuals but hit the road as one.
To Eugene and all other coaches across South Africa thank you making us better runners, better people and better South Africans. We salute you.
#RunAsOne #WhyWeRun #TopRunners #move
A special thanks to Rae-Lynn Fletcher for her beautiful words.