The Making of a Mentor
Jane Serues was a very active kid. She loved to play, she loved gym classes, intramural sports, camp adventures and being outdoors. So it was an natural fit when she decided to become a Physical Educator and began teaching PE in 1970.
She began running at age 26 and found it was her first opportunity to truly compete since there were no varsity sports at her high school except cheerleading – which she did. Running fit nicely into her life as an educator and event planner. She found it easy to make friends through local running clubs and volunteering made these friendships even deeper – she highly recommends it!
While Jane is very modest about her outstanding running career her racing highlight was qualifying for and running in the first-ever US Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 1984 where she placed in the top 100. Her professional career included directing road races and triathlons and working at Runner’s World magazine in the Marketing Department. Jane has also been a host or guide with many World Marathon Tour events. When it comes to Jane and running the list truly could go on and on but I’d like to share one more very special attribute about our athlete of the month and that involves a program she created and founded 27 years ago.
A Living Legacy
When asked about creating First Strides® – a Beginner Walking and Running Workshop for Women, Jane will openly admit it has been her most worthwhile endeavor. She began First Strides® in Allentown, PA in 1997 where it is still going strong today. After retiring to the North Myrtle Beach area, Jane relaunched the program locally in 2019 and since that time well over 1000 women have already completed the 11 week workshop. Over the first few weeks of the program women are divided into smaller groups of similar abilities and these small groups are led by mentors. Mentors are women in the community who have either been through the program previously or are a part of the local running community or club. After mentoring under Jane for a couple of years in North Myrtle Beach, she graciously allowed me to launch her program in Brunswick County and locally it is the first ever of its type.
Jane has not only been a mentor to many mentors, but the number of women’s lives she has impacted with the gift of movement through her program is immeasurable. Living in a retirement area, many women have very little background in various sports. Schools weren’t required to provide interscholastic or varsity girls sports until Federal Regulation Title IX started in 1984. But through First Strides many ladies are lacing up their sneakers with the intent to complete a 5K for the first time in their lives. It’s truly been incredible to be a part of the program Jane created and to cheer other women as they cross their first Finish Line.
At 76 Jane continues to dominate her age group and is full of tremendous advice regarding the sport of running. She has been a very special Mentor to me, not only in regards to my personal running but also a trusted advisor when it comes to event planning with Coastal Race Productions. She frequently participates at our races but is also always willing to roll up her sleeves race day and volunteer! Someone once said, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. Thank you Jane Serues for the grand example of what it truly means to be a Mentor!
Keep Moving Forward ~ JoJo