Get to know our community members in our monthly member spotlight.
In just a few short years, Debbie Iwanyzki has become one of the most consistent smiling faces at Run Waterloo events. Considering that she is often coming from a continental night shift and also lives about an hour south of Waterloo, we really only see Debbie briefly on an almost monthly basis. So we took some time to sit down with Debbie this off season to get her story.
Debbie started running relatively recently, but quickly got hooked. She loves so many aspects of the community, races A LOT, and is still learning, finding motivation, and smiling.
When we say Debbie started running relatively recently, it’s only because we feel like we’ve known Debbie forever – she has run 43 Run Waterloo events in the past 4 years. It’s surprising to learn that, although she ran track and cross country in high school (and barefoot from the pitchfork growing up), it wasn’t until her full-time work as a PSW brought her and a client to the start line of The Bay and Back 5k (Around the Bay) in 2013 that she started racing as an adult. Even some harrowing moments at that first race couldn’t stop her from loving what she found, and she’s never looking back. Debbie got hooked, and quickly.
Debbie is a grounded individual, literally. When she’s not working or racing, she finds time to manage her second-generation family farm (!!) in Wilsonville, Ontario. She works long manual hours with her brothers on the farm she grew up on: 88 acres of mostly grains, including organic garlic and strawberries. She considers herself fortunate to be able to be able to race as often as she does, and she doesn’t take any privilege or fortune for granted. She cherishes both her ability and the opportunity to move freely (albeit often sore), and loves the culture of charity in running. She takes a particular interest in fundraisers for children and animals. She also loves the camaraderie, competition, and community aspects of various running series, including RW Boost and the Niagara Running Series points.
When we say Debbie races a lot, it’s not an exaggeration. One thing led to another, and from her second race in 2014, she was ultimately able to set and reach a goal of 45 races in her 45th year, and has blown that away with her current goal of 500 races by her 50th birthday in April 2020. So her 45 career Run Waterloo events, while substantial, are only a small part of her overall career statistics. Conveniently located less than an hour from Waterloo, London, and Hamilton, Debbie is able to hit the road (with work, over 1,000 km per week) to tackle a diverse set of challenges, from road and trail races, to snowshoe, night, and obstacle races, and even playing on four soccer teams (one with Dana Bee!). If you think the ENDURrace doubleheader is challenging, last year Debbie turned it into a tripleheader by running the Jordan 5k in the morning before joining us in Elmira. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to reach your goals.
What we love about Debbie is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s always welcoming, with a good sense of humour – often at her own expense, and you would never get the first impression that she has more experience than you. Despite this experience, she won’t say she knows it all, and is happy to be continuously learning. She tracks her experiences on her extensive collection of race bibs. She has learned a lot – and is still learning – about everything, including nutrition, hydration and sleep, pacing and stretching, just to name a few.
And after all these miles, she’s still smiling!
Every month, we feature a RW member on this blog.