Alumni Testimonials

“I joined the Grand Bluff Training group in the summer of 2018 with the hope of getting a training program that would guide me to an injury free half marathon. I’m excited to say that I have trained with them through two half marathons and both were injury free! This group has been so much more than a running group. The coaches completely amaze me at how much they have helped me. They truly care about each member of the group. This group encourages me and helps me to push myself harder than I would on my own. I believe the GBT group is the reason I shaved 4 minutes off my half marathon time and set a new PR. I’m so happy I found this group. I’ve met some of the kindest and happiest people, they make me smile at every run! Thank you Grand Bluff Training!!” -JoAnn Storlie, June 2019


“I joined Grand Bluff Training in 2015 because I wanted to become a more consistent runner. I also wanted to run my first half marathon but knew I would need some help. I was nervous to join because I wasn’t that strong of a runner, but I am very happy that I did! The group keeps me motivated and on track each week and the coaches are very supportive and encouraging. It’s awesome to have a group to run with through the dark winter months and hot summers when I wouldn’t normally be able to on my own. I highly recommend Grand Bluff Training to anyone looking to improve no matter where they are in their running journey. I am now working toward my sixth half marathon all thanks to the coaches and members of Grand Bluff Training! :)” -Dayna Parr, Apr 2019


“Being apart of GBT has helped me fall in love with running again! I love the fun encouraging group atmosphere! It’s a great group to train with!”  -Xochitl McClellan, Feb 2019


“I started with GBT before they were GBT!  This year will be my 5th Granddad Half.  This group is awesome and supportive regardless of your running ability and goals.  My personal goal for my 1st half was to finish by 2 hours and 30 minutes.  I achieved that goal my 1st year! (I finished under 2 hours and 25 minutes).  Last year I PR’d with a time for 2 hours and 13 minutes.  It’s a great group; will encourage you, motivate you and if you are not careful, make new friends!😉”  -Judy Blank, Feb 2019


“I’ve ran by myself since I started running about 5 years ago, by that I mean I never ran with a group… maybe a friend here and there. So when my friend told me about this “GBT” group I was super hesitant to join, I only knew my friend and I was nervous. Well I took the leap and signed up at the last minute on the first day of training for the 2017 Maple Leaf Half Marathon, mind you I have run several half marathons, 5 mile races, and 5ks before. I was welcomed with open arms and some amazing people. Ended up shaving almost 30 seconds per mile off of my half time, placing 2nd female in the Sparta Half, and placing 1st in my age for a 5k recently. The coaches are top notch, there is someone always pushing you and coaching you to be your best and there is great camaraderie from the whole group. As I have told them before, I will never run alone again. So if you are hesitant about joining, don’t be, just do it! I’ve never ran faster and had so much fun doing it, I love love love GBT!!!”  -Arrie Teale, November 2017


“Grand Bluff Training has made a major difference in not only my running, but my life.  I ran my first half marathon in just under 2 hours and 40 minutes with some self training.  I ended up hurting my hip and not running for over a month.  Once I joined Grand Bluff Training, I could barely run over a mile without a break.  I slowly started knowing a difference with the encouragement, training and speed work designed to improve your running to whatever level you want it to be.  I began running faster and further each week.  We had great seminars improve our running and safety.  During the training, I began having problems with my left ankle and knee.  I received advice from the coaches and also was able to see Dr. Jake who found my problem and began a plan to get me back on track.  I went to a few of the events with the training group, but I was missing some of the long training.  I was able to get healthy and decided to still run the Maple Leaf Half Marathon.  Not only was I able to do the half marathon, but I ran the entire race and cut 25 minutes off of my first half marathon.  All of this was accomplished because of the support and coaching I received.  If I can do that while being hurt for nearly 3 weeks, and I can’t wait to see where a full training will take me.  I would like to thank all of the coaches and also the other Grand Bluff Training members.  The happiness, healthiness and friendships I have forged due to the training group has forever changed my life.” – Luke Ryan, November 2017


“I love everything about Grand Bluff Training! I have trained with the group for 2 half marathons. The community that has been created by the coaches and trainees is so uplifting and nonjudgmental. It’s more like a family! We run, push ourselves and each other, all while having fun (so much so that some of us still run together after the seasons are over)! Not only have I become a better runner, but I feel like part of a community that makes me a better person. It doesn’t matter your speed or experience, there is a coach for you! That’s the best part… everyone finishes! See you in July 😉!” -Joelle Arentz, May 2017


“I used running apps in the past to train for 5K and 5 mile races but 13.1 miles was twice the distance I was used to running so I signed up for the Grand Bluff Training (GBT) Grandad In-Training Class. There was a mix of first timers and seasoned runners, many of whom were in previous GBT classes. The coaches are passionate about running and it shows. They are upbeat, encouraging, knowledgeable and made sure to space themselves out within the group on our training runs. As one of the slower runners in class, I appreciated having a coach whose pace was closer to mine. When Karen couldn’t make it to class, Vern would circle back and run with the last few runners, always making sure nobody ran alone. I not only accomplished my goal of finishing a half marathon, I found a few new running friends along the way. I had such a great experience with the GBT coaches that I joined their Ragnar Chicago Ultra Team. Whatever your goal, they will do their best to help you accomplish it while having fun.” – Deb Conway, May 2017


“I believe it was 2012 when I started running with the group.It was managed through the city at that time. Vern was the coach. He was dedicated and concerned about each on of us. He made sure we all received individual attention During the runs! This group has inspired me so much with all the variety in different levels of runners. I am usually at the back of the pack but we still finish! I’ve learned so much through the trainings offered and the talks as we run together. I have quit running for a year at a time and always know that know that these people will be here to encourage and spur me on once again! When you surround yourself with knowledgeable people you learn and grow. This year I had some injury and Jake Hegge the physical therapist at the store helped me through this injury. If it wasn’t for his knowledge and training I wouldn’t have been able to run this last half. We are a team!! Even though it’s a very individualized sport we all need each other. This last half was Probably my most fun I have ever run!! “– Mary Kay Lind, May 2017


“The Grand Bluff Training group is fun, positive and supportive! I appreciate that it isn’t just for the fast runners, but that there are coaches like Karen who encourage the run walk run method. I enjoy the times I get to run with the group, I learned a lot from the classes, and I push myself a bit more thanks to the group.” -Andy Stutesman, May 2017


“I started running with the training group for the 2016 Grandads half marathon. I had run it the previous year but did not train properly and knew I needed someone to help me along the way. When I first started I did not realize how much the group would affect me. Not only have a become a better runner but I have met so many wonderful friends through the group. I have now trained for two Grandads half marathons and one Maple Leaf half marathon with group. I cannot imagine training without them anymore. The coaches are welcoming, encouraging, knowledgeable, and entertaining! I love them all so much. 😊” -Leah Justin, May 2017