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21 Women Who Are Transforming The World Through Running

Jessie Zapo

Founder of Girls Run NYC  |  New York City

An influencer in the New York City running scene since 2005, Jessie Zapo is dedicated to championing the community building aspects of running. Through various organizations and collaborations, Zapo has been creating space for women and new runners in the urban running community for years. Her current project, Girls Run NYC, is a unique run experience in the city. The women-only weekly meet-up is open to runners from all backgrounds and of all abilities, and focuses on track workouts. Zapo is the coach and organizer for these sessions, which are connecting women from all walks of life together into a supportive community of fellow runners.

Gwen Robertson

Brooks Inspiring Coach of the Year  |  Issaquah, WA

Those who participated in high school or college athletics will remember how one coach can make or break your experience. If you have a son or daughter who runs on their high school’s track or cross-country teams—or if you are that son or daughter—you’ve probably heard about Gwen Robertson, a coach at Issaquah High School in Issaquah, Wash. This spring, Robertson was named a Brooks Inspiring Coach of the Year after 33 years of coaching the Issaquah Eagles. Robertson was also named the Washington State Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the 2016 season. But Robertson isn’t new to this level of recognition–she’s also a member of the Cross Country and Track and Field Coaches halls of fame.

Brooks recognized Robertson because of her decades of dedication to coaching and the simple fact that her dedication has inspired so many of her student-athletes to become coaches themselves (more than 20 at last count!). With high school track and field teams ballooning like never before, coaches like Robertson have the opportunity to impact a lot of kids—and we all could use more of the inspiration and positivity she brings to the track.

Sarah Clancy

Founder of Sarah Marie Design Studio  |  Oceanside, NY

Sarah Clancy didn’t intend to create a brand when she began throwing a runner twist on catchy phrases and printing them on T-shirts. “Everything is ‘Good Vibes’ this or that…I switched it up and made [‘Positive Vibes, Negative Splits’] applicable to runners,” she says. The four-time marathoner also never expected that her elite marathoner names sweatshirt, one of her original designs which features the first names of some of the biggest names in women’s distance running, would launch the brand in March 2016. But when Kara Goucher posted a photo wearing the names, one of them being her own, just two months later, everything changed.

Now Sarah Marie Design Studio, which has more than 32,000 followers on Instagram and offers everything from clothing to accessories like phone cases, jewelry and pins perfect for gear bags, is gearing up for its first busy holiday season. Clancy says, “I love Instagram. Seeing people wearing my designs always makes me smile; it’s also a great indicator for success when you see people wearing the items you sell.”

One notable draw to why her brand stands out is the fact that it incorporates the competitive side of running; it brings hard training goals, like “negative splits,” to the average runner and makes it attainable. Same with crafting swag inspired by elite runners, like the late Steve Prefontaine or top marathoners in the country. “Like Shalane and Amy at the end of the Olympic Marathon Trials, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to understand that feeling,” says Clancy, who sells a fashion pin of the duo’s iconic finish line embrace. “It’s easy to respect and understand the ‘authentic’ running moments.”

In 2018, Clancy hopes to expand her presence in retail stores, as well as launch some new designs. Because believe it or not, she’s still working out of her house!

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