December 12 2017
Meet Rhonda-Marie and Steven Parke, two ultrarunners who discovered their love for each other through running.
WR: Describe what your running girlfriends mean to you.
SF: I find a lot of joy in the running journey and sharing that with my training partners is very rewarding. I just feel like it’s a lot more meaningful and enriching when I can share my running with others. We go through a lot on a daily basis together (a lot of ups and downs with our training and in life) so it just makes those races a little more powerful because we’ve gone through so much to get to that point. I have some really great relationships through running.
WR: How do you put competition aside to forge friendships?
SF: Since my competitiveness only comes out on race day, I’m really good at executing the training goal for the day and helping my training partners get better. That’s what we’re ultimately striving for – getting the best out of ourselves. But we wouldn’t be great athletes if we weren’t competitive, so on race day I want my friends to be competitive too. I want the best version of Kara [Kara Goucher is Flanagan’s training partner] on the starting line. I want all of my competitors to be their best so that if I do win, it’s more meaningful. I feel empowered by having my teammate next to me competing. I feel like we’ve done a lot of hard work together, so I feel like I have a secret weapon next to me.
WR: What’s your best race memory?
SF: Most recently it was leading the 2012 Olympic marathon with Kara [Goucher] for the first 12 miles. How often can you say that you led the Olympic marathon with one of your best friends? It was a pretty unique experience.
WR: If you had a chance to talk to young girls, would you encourage them to pursue running as a sport?
SF: Yes, running builds a lot of confidence to feel good about yourself. You just need a pair of shoes and no one can stop you from getting out the door and running.
WR: With the holidays around the corner, do you have a favorite family tradition?
SF: For tradition, my family recently started a new one. We all gather together in a location separate from our houses because we find that we actually spend more time together when we collaborate somewhere outside of someone’s home (so no one is stuck with the regular duties of home!). We pick a new spot each year to gather for a destination Christmas!