Achilles International-Nashville

Upcoming Events

Guide and Athlete running the 1 miler

Hot Chocolate 5k/ 15k: Feb 12, 2022

Moosic City Dairy Dash 5k, 10k, 15k: April 9, 2022

Rock & Roll Nashville 5k, 6.15 miles, half marathon, full marathon: April 23, 2022

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

No Practice This Week Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving

The Big Payback 2020

Thank You for Your Support in The BIG Payback

Achilles Nashville would like to express our sincere appreciation to everyone who contributed during the Big Payback. During this year of tornados and pandemics, we honestly did not know what to expect. But the spirit of giving was strong for all the local non-profits, including Achilles. Our organization raised $7,010 during the actual 24-hour period, a bit more with some early and late donations. We are humbled by the generosity of so many of our Board Members, our athletes and guides, and our friends and family. Equal gratitude goes out to those who could not donate financially, but who contributed in other ways such as sharing posts or videos. Every contribution, BIG or small, is a gift we celebrate!
Our chapter will remain active virutally until such time as we can come together again. We hope at that time you will come run, walk, or roll with us then!

 With Sincere Gratitude Amy Harris & all of the Achilles Nashville Family 

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.  


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!

Remembering Mike Moberg

Achilles Nashville recently shared the sad news of Mike Moberg’s passing on November 4, 2018. Mike was one of the original Achilles Nashville athletes, starting soon after the Nashville Chapter was founded in 2012. He rode an orange handcycle from Achilles with a bright neon flag waving behind him. For years, Mike came to practice each week on Wednesday nights, always in his neon yellow Achilles logo shirt. He put in many a mile with Achilles guides and friends on the Richland Creek Greenway, in the neighborhoods around McCabe Park, and in Belle Meade. Any runner who frequents the Belle Meade Boulevard and Percy Warner would know who Mike was if you mentioned the guy on the orange handcycle and the neon yellow shirt.

Mike was in a 1-car accident on his way home from work on the evening of January 19, 2009.  He suffered a spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed with no feeling or movement from the waist down.  During recovery he looked for ways to stay active and exercise. While he had been approximately 300 pounds (he was a great chef it seems!) prior to his accident; after his injury, he became a chair user. He quickly realized that he had to lose weight and become stronger to be independent and do the things he wanted to do in life. Thus began an exercise routine that included Achilles and workouts in the gym. He would often push his wheelchair up hills in different parking garages for up to 2-3 hours. Additionally, he changed his diet to eat healthier and lost over half his body weight as a result. Mike was totally dedicated to his fitness and healthy lifestyle. But probably of all the adapted sports, Mike loved handcycling.

Included here is an article on Mike from the Shepherd Center where he did much of his rehab after his accident years ago and a YouTube video where Mike talks about the importance of changing his lifestyle once he became a wheelchair user.

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Mike’s father, David and his mother, Catherine have asked that donations in honor of Mike be made to Achilles Nashville to support equipment needs of the non-profit program.

Donate Here

Interview with David Moberg (Mike Moberg’s Father)

Do you have a favorite memory of Mike from a race?

We have two favorite memories of Mike from his races:

His first marathon was the 2013 Nashville Country Music Marathon. It was cold and rainy.  Really miserable weather.  And Mike had the great opportunity to ride that race with Achilles founder, Dick Traum.  I think they were the only two hand-cyclists that year.  His very first comment on finishing the race was “I NEVER want to do that again!”  It took Mike several hours to warm up after the race.  But by the next day he was hooked.  Dick Traum was a great inspiration to him, and Mike went on to do a number of marathons all over the country over the next few years.

In November of 2013 Mike did his first of two New York City Marathons.  And the highlight for Mike that first year was experiencing the tremendous cheers from the crowd when he crossed the bridge onto Manhattan and turned the corner onto First Avenue.  There were crowds cheering all along the route up to that point.  But every time Mike talked about the huge cheers that he heard when he crossed into Manhattan for the first time, it brought tears to his eyes.  It was a special, once-in-a-lifetime moment of joy that I know stuck with him all his life.

What was Mike up to the past few years?

Mike did 15 or 16 different races, some marathons and some shorter races, from 2012 to 2016.  We love looking at all the medals that he earned over those 5 years.  The last two years were tough though, and Michael experienced a number of serious physical ailments and setbacks.  During those two years he wasn’t able to ride his handcycle or even work out like he wanted to.  We know that he missed that.

 How did you see a change in Mike with Achilles?

Achilles opened a new world to Mike.  Achilles gave him both the courage and the ability to compete in races around the country on his handcycle.  He traveled with the Nashville Achilles team and learned how to do a major race.  The team helped with transportation and equipment and guides and meals and accommodations.  Most of all they provided the camaraderie and team spirit which really motivated all of the athletes.   At the races Mike met some of the wounded warriors and athletes from other Achilles chapters who were also competing on handcycles.  He loved hanging out with them, learning from, and sharing experiences.  And he kept in touch with several of them via email between their races.  Achilles International became Mike’s community for several years.

Can you explain why donating to Achilles is important to you?

After Mike’s accident in 2009 and his three-month rehabilitation he was really looking for a way to continue to improve the quality of his life.  He was working out a lot at Beyond Therapy in Nashville and fitness was becoming part of his daily routine.  Often, as part of his workout, he would go and push in his regular wheelchair on the uphill ramps in a couple of different parking garages in Nashville.  He would do that for 2 or 3 hours at a time and loved the endorphin rush and sense of well-being that it gave him.  Achilles started the Nashville chapter in 2012 and Mike was one of their first athletes.  When Achilles gave Mike his first hand cycle to use, a whole new world opened up to him.  It would be such a great way to honor Mike’s memory by helping to fund the purchase of additional equipment by the Nashville chapter so that others can have their life changed like Mike did.


Our Achilles Nashville Chapter will miss Mike and all our thoughts are with the family during this time.