SparkPeople members are in the news once again! Seven members (who met on our site) recently completed various distances of the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, California. When their story was featured on CNN.com, we asked if they wanted to share more details about the experience. They were more than happy to talk about what it meant to meet their online buddies in-person for the first time!
Jen (JENNIFER124) is a 43-year old mother of four and has lost 50 pounds on SparkPeople over the past two years. Jen ran the half-marathon and set a personal record of 2:38:41.
Pamela (PAMTHEDREAMER) is 47 years old and has lost 17 pounds on SparkPeople over the past two years. Pamela walked the 5K and said her goal was to enjoy the beautiful day and meet her "Spark buds".
Becky (BSTAKINGACTION) is 48 years old and has lost 25 pounds on SparkPeople (in addition to losing over 25 pounds before joining the site.) She ran the half-marathon and set a personal record by over one minute.
Beverly (SORGIN) is 44 years old and has lost 30 pounds on SparkPeople over the past two years. Beverly was happy to leave snowy Wisconsin to join her friends to run the half-marathon in sunny California!
Tammy (MARATHONMOM26.2) is a 49-year old mother of two. Tammy has lost 30 pounds on SparkPeople over the past year and ran the half-marathon in Huntington Beach.
Becki (BECCACOATS) is 49 years old and has lost 40 pounds on SparkPeople over the past two years. Becki walked the 5K and said she couldn’t wait to see the others and cheer them through the finish line.
Eve (EVETROY) is 41 years old and has lost 40 pounds on SparkPeople. Eve ran the 5K and said her goal was to spend time with friends doing something healthy.
Jen: Did the CNN story leave out any details about the experience that you wanted to share?
Tammy: Running a race together was just a means to bring us together. It started with a few of us wanting to do a marathon together, but the excitement spread like quick-fire and even the non-runners among us wanted to be part of the trip! So the race, to some extent, was ancillary. When we met it was like seeing any close friend who I hadn't seen in awhile - we just fell right into step together and picked up where we had left off (in this case, the previous day on SP!). There was no awkwardness, no temerity, no "testing the waters" -- in my heart I already called these women friends so there was no need to act like acquaintances.
Becky: This trip to CA was a testament to the bond we have developed on SP. Many of us were willing to travel from ACROSS the country. Not easy for working women, some with young kids, and in the midst of these tough economic times.
Eve: These women are real and have been so inspiring every step of this journey. I am blessed to have met them and am grateful for what I learn from them every day. I've learned some lessons about being healthy and some lessons about just being a good mom, good person and a good friend.
Jen: What was it like to meet your online friends in person?
Jen: AMAZING!!! We had planned this for almost one year. We have been together online for about 2 years. We all agreed that we "knew" each other without ever having met. No real surprises!
Becky: Admittedly, a little intimidating, but so exciting. I was worried that within 24 hours I would drive them crazy and they'd be like, "She is SO not what she was like on the Message Board!" But, as Jen said to me during one of our conversations, we all represented ourselves very honestly online, so it really didn't feel like we were meeting for the first time. Oh! And seeing each other in 3D was a little weird.
Beverly: Meeting online friends is something I would have never done two years ago. I joined the site to be anonymous in my journey and now I find myself telling people about the site. Meeting these women face-to-face was a supreme joy.
Pamela: It was a wonderful experience for all of us Spark friends who had been chatting with each other online; sharing our lives with one another to finally meet in person. This was like modern day pen pals meeting.
Jen: Anything else you'd like to add?
Becki: With the help of my Heavenly father, husband, family and Sparkfriends I was able to continue my journey to become the healthy mom, wife, grandma and friend. This Grandma is getting on the floor and playing with her grandchildren. I am now in control of my life. Even through all of what life is dealing me now, I am still holding onto the Spark with my SparkPeople friends.
Tammy: I have been lucky enough to meet many Spark Friends face-to-face, including at the Convention in SD last May. I have run races in San Francisco, Disneyland, Disneyworld (FL), Long Beach and Phoenix, AZ with other Sparkers and I have never been disappointed by our meetings. The only difference with this group is that we have invested ourselves into our friendships - we have gone beyond casual and made the effort to really know each other, and it has enriched my life beyond measure!
Becky: Only that we all may become an urban legend.....that group of weird 90-something women who continue to stalk Sparkpeople.com....and run races!
Congratulations, ladies! Your story is inspiring!
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