Our April Athlete of the Month is Tami Tonkin, also known as Gypsy and although many of you know her, read on, you might just learn something new!

Tami began her fitness journey just over 11 years ago when she embarked on a Couch To 5K program with her cousin and at the time she didn’t even own a pair of athletic shoes. You might find it hard to believe, but she didn’t quite make it through the entire training program before she found herself at the start line of her very first 5K – Run Sunset Beach. We share a very special anniversary date because that was also our very first race – 11 years ago, Run Sunset Beach 2014. Since that time Tami has been a Coastal Race staple, also serving as one of our ambassadors. We found a record of 83 registrations with us but know there were a few others before we started using Run Sign Up.

Since her first race, Tami has accomplished many distances ranging between the 5K and Full Marathon. She chose Run Oak Island as her full marathon because she wanted to be close to her friends for encouragement and so that they could also join in her post race celebration. She is a very active member of the Grand Strand Running Club and works at Asics as an amazing shoe seller – she loves her job! Tami likes to meet up with a group for scheduled runs because it helps with accountability but feels like she actually runs better when she is alone because she doesn’t want to have a negative impact on anyone else’s time and worrying about that can affect her own performance.  

Tami encourages others to keep moving, you don’t have to be good or fast to be a runner you just have to run. Her advice to others is to focus on you, your goals and accomplishments. Your only competition is you! Her running mantra is, If I can run the first mile, I can run the last mile. 

Since she started in 2014, Tami had completed well over 100 half marathons before she experienced a pretty severe work related injury in 2020. However, she kept going. How? We’re not sure… She suffered through with four fractures in her right leg and torn left meniscus at the root. Sixteen months and eight half marathons after her initial injury she had her first surgery to try and repair the damage and then a second surgery after another eleven months had passed along with eight MORE half marathons. Two words come to mind when we think about Tami, dedication and discipline. Those are two pretty impressive adjectives when used to describe any runner. Her grit and determination alone earn her a spot as our athlete of the month but Tami is much more than any of that. She is an example of someone who doesn’t quit or give up and she encourages us all to keep moving and is willing to meet up with most anyone at whatever time works. She makes herself available to others in a way few do and if she says she is going to be there – she will.

Throughout her life, she has never met another group of people like those that are a part of the local running community. She describes them as being supportive and inclusive and Tami fits right in! She also encourages us not to take our miles together for granted because you never know whats just around the corner.  

Thank you Tami for what you bring to the community and thank you for running with us!