Every Journey Starts With the First Step

Posted on Sep 12, 2022, by

by Bob and Lesley Strauss


My name is Bob, my wife is Lesley, and we never expected to compete in marathons when we married. But decades later, they have become a big part of who we are. In fact, we compete in so many that we don’t even train in between them. We just keep running and go from one marathon to the next. You could say we are Marathon Maniacs

While every marathon is special, this year’s Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction is a big deal as it will mark Lesley’s 100th marathon!

I remember when she got started. Though Lesley exercised regularly, taking aerobics and spin classes, she had no interest in running. But at 58-years-old, she found a group of runners that gave her the support she needed to hit the ground running. Over the last 11 years, Lesley and her running group have spent many mornings training at 5:30 a.m. 

In 2009, she completed her first half marathon. She crossed the finish line with a smile, but she knew she had more in her. When one of our good friends from Chicago also named Leslie, did a full marathon the next year, Lesley was inspired to train for a full marathon too. With the help of her Chicago Marathon pacer Lora, in 2013, Lesley met her goal. Lesley continues to remind Lora, that “if it wasn’t for her, Lesley might have been a one and done marathoner.” A good pacer makes a world of difference, especially for a new runner.

On the other hand, I wasn’t super interested in running races, but I have enjoyed running for fun since my high school days. When I turned 51, I finally did my first full marathon, mainly because I was curious how I would do. That same year, I completed another full marathon and qualified to run in the Boston Marathon; the next year, I completed four; the year after that, I completed eight full marathons. The number of races just kept increasing!


We’ve run flat courses, hilly routes, whether it was hot, freezing, pouring or dry and also raced in all 50 states and are a part of the 50 States Marathon Club.

Years before my first marathon, an orthopedic surgeon told me that I needed my improperly formed hips replaced. I finally got them replaced after completing 15 marathons and had one replaced a second time, earlier this year. This year’s hip replacement has me back to running pain free as I’ve now passed the 150-marathon mark.

Meanwhile, Lesley continued to run by herself and with her running group. The idea of supporting others to reach their goals really appealed to me, so I began accepting opportunities to serve as a marathon pacer. While holding a time goal sign, pacers run and help coach, inspire or challenge other runners to complete races at a specific time goal. Before I knew it, I was invited to become a pacer with OnPace Race (who provides several of the Fox Cities Marathon pacers) and have been helping people reach their goals ever since. If you’re looking for a little extra encouragement throughout the race, I encourage you to find myself or another pacer and run with them. We’ll be at the start line on race day, and we’re there to help you reach your goals and give you the encouragement you need to make that happen, even when it gets tough.

Throughout our travels, both Lesley and I have learned that every journey starts with the first step. You are never too old to reach your goals. Your mind, not your watch, determines if you had a good time.

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