Achilles International-Nashville

Upcoming Events

Guide and Athlete running the 1 miler

John Hardin is Running the Appalachian Trail and Raising Money

“Guess-When-John-Stops-Running” Appalachian Trail Game!

On June 21st, 3:11 EST, Nashville’s John Hardin set off to break the record for the fastest time of the 2,189 mile Appalachian Trail. The current record is 41 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes. Will John be faster?  Will he be slower?  Just exactly WHEN will this man stop running!? Make your guesses and help support Achilles!  For a suggested donation of $10 per guess — 100% tax deductible — we’ll keep a spreadsheet of your name and the times that you choose, the day, the hour and the minute.  The guess that comes closest without going over to the time that John stops running will win two tickets to an Edible Nashville farm or creek dinner, a $300 plus value!!!  The next four runners up (pun intended) will each win a $25 Fleet Feet Nashville gift card! There will also be door prizes with cool swag from Achilles and HardWin Adventures!

All guesses must be made by midnight July 4. One of the projects we hope to fund is a power-steered running stroller for Will Ferrell, one of our newest Achilles athletes. This vehicle will allow Will to actively participate in runs and races, steering his own vehicle while his running teammate pushes from behind. To follow John’s progress, sign up for his 2022 FKT Appalachian Trail page on Facebook and read dispatches of his efforts in The Pamphleteer.

farm table

Countdown to Beat Karel

National Blind Running Unity Day

In place of the canceled 2020 Marathon National Championships, USABA will be holding its first-ever virtual Blind Running Unity Day. We encourage visually impaired joggers and runners of all ability levels across the country to lace up your shoes and go for a run, whether it is indoors on a treadmill or outside with a sighted guide.Many may never desire to travel to a destination race or run a marathon, but there is no reason why you can’t become part of this ever-growing community of visually impaired runners.

In place of the canceled 2020 Marathon National Championships, USABA will be holding its first-ever virtual Blind Running Unity Day. We encourage visually impaired joggers and runners of all ability levels across the country to lace up your shoes and go for a run, whether it is indoors on a treadmill or outside with a sighted guide.Many may never desire to travel to a destination race or run a marathon, but there is no reason why you can’t become part of this ever-growing community of visually impaired runners.

Please speak to Amy or Sara if you want to join in this event!

National Blind Running Unity Day logo December 6

Achilles This Week

Wednesday’s Practice: We sure have had our share of wet Wednesdays. As much as it rained on Wednesday though, the two-hour window for getting to and from practice was the best of the day Wednesday. With temps in the 50’s that made a great outdoor run/ walk! 

This Wednesday’s (Feb. 9): Layer up and come on out to practice. Hope to see you at McCabe Park Community Center at 5:30 ready to run, walk, or roll!
Remember to: RSVP 24 hours in advance to achillesnashville@gmail.com or text Amy or Lizzy. That allows us time to assure there are enough guides for all our awesome athletes.

Wear your mask when entering the Community Center and please stay home if you have any Covid like symptoms or have been around anyone who does. 

Joanne in an Achilles Jacket
Hot Chocolate is like a Hug from the Inside

Hot Chocolate 5k/ 15k February 12

Hot Chocolate 5k/ 15k February 12: Be sure to wish Good Luck to all the athletes ( and guides participating in the Hot Chocolate Race on Saturday, February 12, 2022. Athletes Registered: Amy S., James, Shelby, Dwaine, Chris, Lizzy, Matt, Kassondra, Eddie,  Christel Guides: Aaron, Allison S., Taylor S., Carrie, Bridgett, Amy H., John S., Dana, William, Jessa, Aramis, Randy, Shannon

Hope & Possibility® Planning Help Needed

Allison Sims and Lauren Lowinger, co-chairs for this year’s annual Hope & Possibility® Race, are asking for help with the planning and organization of this year’s race. If you are willing to help out on one of the H&P committees please them know. You can email achillesnashville@gmail.com or talk to Allison or Lauren at practice.

The Big Payback 2022

The Big Payback is coming back, and we are participating!

The Big Payback, a community-wide, online giving day hosted by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, returns at 6 pm on Wednesday, May 4, and goes through 6 pm on  Thursday, May 5, and Achilles International-Nashville is thrilled to be participating for the 5th  year in a row. Last year our organization received $10,000.00 in donations during this day of giving.

In its six-year history, The Big Payback has helped Middle Tennessee’s nonprofit community raise $16.6 million dollars for more than 1000 nonprofits, religious institutions, and schools. The spirit of generosity shines bright during this annual giving event.

How does The Big Payback work? Kicking off at 6 pm on Wednesday, May 5th,  donors can donate online to The Big Payback participants located in or providing services to the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee. Your contributions to Achilles International-Nashville could be amplified by additional incentives, bonuses, and prizes made possible by The Big Payback sponsors throughout the day. If you are going to give, this IS the day to do so!

For more information, please visit www.TheBigPayback.org and thank you in advance for considering donating to Achilles International-Nashville on this day of opportunity!

Tips for Guiding Athletes

Achilles guides serve as the athlete’s eyes, ears, guide, motivator, and most importantly…trusted running partner!  Guides help to welcome Achilles athletes to the wonderful world of running, by promoting friendship, encouraging the athlete, helping them build self-confidence with running activities, & having fun!

When you ask a guide how they feel about guiding they generally always respond that they get back much more than they give.

Things to ask your athlete prior to guiding

Achilles athletes have a wide range of disabilities. It is critical that guides and athletes have good, open communication. When you are assigned to an Achilles athlete, don’t be afraid to ask the following:

  • Have you been exercising/walking/running? What is your exercise experience?
  • What specific challenge(s) do you have related to running, walking, cycling?
  • Do you use any special equipment? If so, what equipment or adaptations do you use? (ex. tethers, quad canes, braces, crutches, prostheses, wheelchair, handcycle)
  • What do I need to know about your equipment and how to best help you?
  • What are your goals and how can we best help you meet these?

What you will do as a guide

Guide Bib

As an Achilles guide, you might do the following:

  • Help an athlete with a disability become familiar and proficient with any special equipment if needed (e.g., using a tether, using a handcycle)
  • Participate in training workouts with the athlete; consistency helps.
  • Provide companionship and positive feedback.
  • Provide guidance and running advice during workouts and/or races if you are comfortable and knowledgeable doing so; generally this is left to the team coaches.
  • Help with race-day or day before logistics (e.g. packet pick-up, attaching timing chips).
  • Participate in the race alongside the athlete with whom you’ve been training
  • Carry the snacks or nutrition for the athlete during a run.
  • Get water/ Gatorade at water stops as needed.
  • Provide encouragement and positive feedback. Your job is to ensure that he/she has a positive experience.
  • If your athlete becomes tired, encourage him/her to walk or take a short break.
  • Provide course navigation.

If anything else is needed or requested, bring it to the attention of your chapter leaders. (Note: Guides for travel races might have more responsibility, and these will be clearly outlined before trips).

Running with a visually impaired athlete 

  • Run beside your athlete. If you are in front, even slightly, the athlete can trip on your feet.
  • We will give you a tether, which is simply a shoestring with a loop on either end. Hold onto the loop with your hand. Do not tie it around your, or your athlete’s, wrist, which could be dangerous if either of you fell.
  • In the beginning, have your athlete hold your elbow, or hold the tether closely to your athlete’s hand. As you get more comfortable with your athlete, you may loosen up, allowing more distance between you.
  • Give an estimated distance to the top or bottom of a hill, bridge, curb, etc.
  • Otherwise, just look at the landscape, and tell your athlete what you see! Bridges, trees, golfers, other runners, bikers, creek, sunset, etc.
  • Offer key directional verbal support such as:
    • “Gentle right/left” to indicate a gentle curve in the path
    • “90 degrees” or “sharp left/right”
    • “Tighten up” tells the athlete to get close, and hold your elbow as you navigate a narrow or congested passage (bridges, runners coming towards you)
    • “Stop” when guide and athlete need to stop quickly (dog/car/obstacle darts in front of path)

Click here for more information on running with a visually impaired athlete

Running with a wheelchair or handcycle athlete

  • A flag at standing eye level height is required.
  • Safety helmets must be worn by Achilles athletes on wheels.
  • Pushrim wheelchair and handcycle athletes are generally fast, especially on the downhill. They will likely get ahead of you. You can catch up on the inclines.
  • Some races do allow guides on bicycles on the course.  Contact the race director at least 6 weeks prior to the event to inquire…never assume!

Sarah Hart Hometown Hero

Headshot of Sarah Hart

Sarah Hart is the founder of a local non-profit chapter of Achilles International. Achilles partners athletes with and with out disabilities so that all can enjoy the sport of running and participating in running activities and events. Sarah started the Nashville chapter about 6 and a half years ago when she recognized a need in the community for athletes with disabilities. She is the sole reason our Nashville chapter exists today.  Without Sarah’s dedication and her vision, we would not be able to offer this great opportunity to those in the Middle Tennessee area. Sarah began this journey by gathering a group of folks together from various non-profits, running clubs and healthcare companies.  After sharing her idea for a Nashville chapter of Achilles International with the group, she realized there was, indeed, a need for such a service here.  She began to advertise this new opportunity to The National Wheelcats (an adaptive sports organization), the Tennessee School for the Blind, the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes, the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital recreation therapy department, various orthotic and prosthetic companies and many more.  By the time our first practice rolled around in April of 2012, she had garnered support from many individuals in the community.  The first practice had one athlete with a disability.

Since then, our chapter has continued to grow thanks to the strong foundation and efforts put forth by Sarah, members of our Board of Directors, volunteer guides and other athletes. It is now one of the largest Achilles chapters in the world. Sarah also coordinated our first ever Hope and Possibility (Achilles signature race)1 Miler and 5 Miler in the spring of 2013. We are about to have our 5th annual run in October. This race brings together approximately 650 runners of all abilities and volunteers.

Sarah has such a passion for helping those with disabilities reach their potential, and she inspires all of us daily.  She is truly a hero to all of us here in Middle Tennessee.

Half Marathon Training 2019

Spring Training Plans:

Under Construction...Coming Soon!
Past Training Plans:

Achilles St Jude’s Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2019

Achilles Fall 2018 Half Marathon Training Plan

Spring Half Marathon Training Plan 2018

Spring Half Marathon Training Plan 2017

Fall Half Marathon Training Plan 2017

The Peter Pressman Award

The Peter Pressman award ornament

Most everyone in our Achille Nashville Chapter knew Peter Pressman or at least has heard about Peter from those of us here at Achilles or from the running community. Peter was one of the original founders of Achilles, helping to shape the club into the organization it is today. He was with Achilles since the beginning and his fingerprint is on everything we do today! He was an active guide, board member, cheerleader and supporter of all. He exemplified the mission of Achilles, a place for everybody, regardless of pace, age, distance, or ability. He believed in everyone and made everyone believe they were the most special person in the world…in fact, when you were in his presence you were. 

We would like to recognize as the recipient of the first Peter Pressman Guide of the Year Award to Ginger Roelle. Ginger has guided most every athlete here at Achilles. She does so week after week, time after time, walk or run, short or long distance, she gives her all to each and every athlete. Ginger always has a positive and encouraging word for the athletes and the other guides as well. She is a role model of a guide, with her consistency in attendance, her flexibility, her willingness to go over and above…Ginger, we are so fortunate to have you. You exemplify the spirit of the Finish Upright and With a Smile slogan of Peter’s….

Ginger and Theresa

Fleet Feet Nashville Charity Partner

Mackenzie, Dana, Scott, Lizzy, Lauren and Minna

This week’s spotlight is Achilles Nashville. Their mission is to empower people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement.

Every Wednesday evening around 6:30 pm, athletes decked out in bright highlighter yellow shirts, headlamps, and reflective gear gather at McCabe community center in Sylvan Park. These athletes are part of Achilles Nashville, which works to promote fitness without boundaries or limitations. Achilles Nashville pairs athletes with disabilities such as visual or physical impairments, with athletes/guides without disabilities. Together they train and complete races throughout the year.

Achilles Nashville began meeting in 2012, and has since become the largest and fastest growing Achilles chapter in the United States. They’ve sent athletes all over the country to participate in races. Runners have qualified for Boston and completed the NYC marathon. Most recently, 27 of their athletes and guides made the trip to Memphis to run St. Jude Memphis Marathon and half marathon.

One of those athletes was Annie. Annie, currently a student at Belmont University, is visually impaired and ran track all four years in high school. “When I got to college, I just figured I was done running forever. I really missed being able to be active with a group of friends. Then, I heard about Achilles Nashville and am so happy to be running again!” she says.

Annie and her guide, Taylor, just completed the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon together and are excited to start planning their races for 2019.

Annie and Taylor are a great pair because they’re similar in height, stride length, and pace, which is important according to Annie. Taylor does a great job as Annie’s guide, cluing her in to when the next turn will be and even what kind of Christmas decorations surround them.

Fleet Feet Nashville employee and avid Achilles Nashville volunteer, Minna, has been volunteering with Achilles since spring of 2013. Minna and her sister, Lizzy, who has been an Achilles athlete since spring of 2012, just completed another full marathon as part of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon.

“Achilles brought a different perspective and appreciation for running into my life. Running is more than just exercising and being fast, it’s about appreciating the ability to move, roll, or run. Running used to be a “me focused hobby” but now it’s about giving back to others and sharing my passion through the role of being an Achilles guide!” says Minna.

Through involvement with Achilles, athletes gain measurable physical strength and the sense of accomplishment builds confidence. That confidence transfers over into other parts of their lives.

When you sign up for training and choose Achilles Nashville as your charity, your training fee will go towards program costs, which may include race registration for one of their athletes or even a hand-cycle or race wheelchair for an Achilles athlete.  We’re proud to partner with Achilles Nashville so they can so they can continue providing opportunities for athletes of all abilities to experience the life-changing benefits of running and being active.  

GET INVOLVED

Sign up for Spring 2019 Half and Full Marathon Training and choose Achilles Nashville as your charity!

Achilles Nashville meets on Wednesdays, 6:30 pm, at McCabe Community Center. They will resume practices after the New Year. To learn more about Achilles Nashville, click here

The Mike Moberg Award

The Mike Moberg crystal ornament

This year our Chapter lost 2 of its long time members, Mike Moberg and Peter Pressman. At our annual Holiday Party on December 12, 2018 a special award in honor and in memory of these two people went to one athlete and one guide.

Mike Moberg was one of the original Achilles athletes. He was an avid hand-cycler who dedicated his life to health and fitness following an accident in 2009 that left him paralyzed from waist down. 

The transformation that fitness and Achilles made to Mike’s life is an incredible story. (see Remembering Mike Moberg)

We have an athlete who exemplifies the qualities we all think of when we talk about Mike. This athlete also began with Achilles early on as one of the original athletes. This athlete, like Mike, was a bit over his ideal weight and not overly athletic. However, things changed for him over the past couple of years as he trained hard, dedicated his time and energy towards fitness and reaching new goals. Despite some medical complications during training, he persevered, focused and determined to complete the NYC Marathon. This award, the 1styear of the Mike Moberg Athlete of the Year Award goes to Dwaine Jones, an athlete and a champion in our eyes!