Amanda and I agree that the fascinating people we meet on our journey fuel our love for running. Did you ever meet someone who spreads sunshine everywhere he or she goes? Every once in a while we meet someone who is simply magnetic, who we are drawn to instantly. One of those people for me is my running mate and great friend Moira Herbert Sweas. This weekend we say “until next time” to her and her husband Dave as they start the next chapter of their lives in Moira’s home country of New Zealand. I’m sharing this because I think you should all get to know her and about the impact she’s had on all of us.
In 2013 work brought Moira to Chicago, over 8,000 miles from her home country. It was complete culture shock as she had never visited the United States. When trying to figure out ways to meet people in this foreign country she decided to Google running groups. She came across a running group called Fast Track Racing Team. Their website promoted weekly meet ups at a local running apparel store near her office. She thought, why not?
Moira pulled in to the parking lot for a run meet up with this group on a Wednesday night. As she nervously sat in her car, runners gathered out front. After convincing herself that she can do this, she hopped out and was warmly greeted by several in the group. It was that night she met Michelle Gallagher, one of the group’s leaders. It was Michelle who took Moira under her wing, sticking with her on runs, motivating her, and introducing her to others. Moira was bit by the running bug.
In 2014 Moira ran a half marathon and upon the suggestion of Michelle signed up for the Chicago Marathon to be run that fall. She trained that summer with our Schaumburg CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) group. Michelle was one of the leaders of this large marathon training program located throughout Chicagoland. That training was a success as it allowed Moira to finish her first full marathon. By 2015, Moira was running that CARA training site with our running mate Emily while Michelle took a break to have a child.
Amanda and I ran with the CARA group since 2013. Moira and Emily brought a certain amount of life to the site that we had never seen before. We always looked forward to Saturday morning runs because Moira would greet us with a huge smile and spread her positive energy to our large group, at 6:30am I might add. The group began to grow and bond as these special ladies made the program fun while we all trained hard.
At a farewell dinner last week Moira & David talked about how running has impacted their lives. She mentioned that if it weren’t for all the special people she met through Fast Track and CARA, she would certainly not have stayed in the States for as long as she did. David quickly jumped in thanking us because had she not stuck around, he would have never met her. Moira is truly grateful for what has evolved from a simple Google search four years ago. Many unforgettable memories and treasured lifelong friendships have been created.
I define her as magnetic! In an elegant speech back in 2015 I recall her saying, “the greatest gift we can give each other is kindness”. Moira exemplifies that very statement each and every day. She has an uncanny way of making those around her feel special. She always shows an interest in others by asking questions and listening. She is a caring, fun loving, encouraging leader who has inspired us deeply. When they say surround yourself with great people, they mean people like Moira.
Here’s what some of her running mates have to say:
Michelle – Moira really helped me through one of my toughest times in my running career- my comeback to running after suffering through postpartum depression and mono. I will always remember her leadership speech at the Fast Track banquet, the crazy track workouts, and the endless training runs at Busse! Love you and David lots, you are always welcomed back anytime!!
Ann – “Moira’s warm, generous, caring spirit radiates from her. Her beautiful smile and wonderful laugh will be missed. Godspeed on your adventures.”
Christine – “She’s a positive, go getter that encourages everyone around her to not only make goals but stay positive throughout the journey of accomplishing that goal whether it’s running or life.”
Griselda – “She brought a whimsical energy to the group, it was a light, it was shelter in the rain, fierceness in the heat, and it made me believe that my first marathon was possible.”
Dave S – “Moira is a kind, genuine and elegant woman that I’m lucky enough to call my friend”.
Amanda – “Moira is an amazing, thoughtful, loving person, like no one I have met before.”
Lily – “She always had a positive attitude about running and life”
Missy – “Moira makes you believe that anything is possible and there is nothing you can’t do. She manages to even make a 20 mile run sound delightful”.
Emily – “Moira is such an incredibly kind person and will be missed”!
Joe – “Moira has been an excellent leader, great motivator, and caring friend to make every Saturday run much more fun to attend.”