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  • Meet The Team: Our Amazing Staff & Coaches

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    Paul Epstein: Owner

    From Naples, Florida, Paul graduated from The University of Florida where he went on to fly helicopters for the Army during Desert Storm. He met his wife, Cherie', in El Paso before moving to Pensacola in 1997. A few years later they opened Running Wild and had 3 beautiful daughters. A runner and coach for nearly 40 years, he knows running and enjoys helping others reach their goals.

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    Cherie Epstein: Owner

    From El Paso,Texas, Cherie grew up riding mountain bikes through the desert and working as a ski instructor in New Mexico where she met Paul. She ran competitively in high school and went on to run for Texas State University (formerly SWT) where she graduated with a degree in Communications and Marketing and then a masters in Education from UTEP. She has competed in countless running events including marathons and Ironman Florida when her three daughters were under the age of 5. She is now training to keep up with them.

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    Mike Overton: Footwear Manager

    Mike is from Pensacola and after graduating from Catholic High School he lived in Los Angeles and then worked as a cycling guide through Vermont. He completed his first Half Ironman in the early 80s and has the experience to lead any level of athlete. Graduated from FSU, Mike has an Excercise Science degree as well as a Masters in Business.

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    Bill Buckland: Fit Specialist

    Originally from Clearwater, Bill lived many years in Tallahassee and recently moved to the area from Kansas City, KS. He has competed for many years in distance running from 5k to marathons. His main aim now is to stay healthy! Bills constant positive attitude and extended knowledge of all things running has made him a key addition to our team.

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    Ann Rush: Store Manager Extraordinaire

    Ann is the rock to Running Wild in Fairhope. She came to that location and has raised it to a new level. Her energy and ability to connect with our guests to provide them a fantastic experience is above expectations. Besides being a key team member, she is a mom to three sons, Annie to three beautiful grandchildren and wife of 39 years to a very supportive husband while looking like she has just left her twenties. She loves the running community and loves running for the feeling of accomplishment she gets. Besides the health benefits, she loves being outside to enjoy the beautiful scenery that God has given us!

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    Misty Guess: Chief of Internal Operations

    Graduate of Gulf Breeze High School, Misty entered the run scene by way of family intervention. Her brother, Adam is the co-owner of Run Pensacola which has a mission of turning our local community on to the love of running. Her first passion, however, is fishing and all mythical creatures of the sea. She is one part runner and 3 parts mermaid. She has a true love of people and is driven to help the guests at Running Wild reach their fitness goals.

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    Mary Mata: Fit Specialist

    Mary is from Victoria, Texas and graduated with a business degree from Texas State University (formerly SWT). She and her husband own Creative Orthotic and Prosthetics which makes prosthetic limbs. She is a part time book keeper in her business and part time sales associate at Running Wild. She enjoys the fun environment at Running Wild and working with a team that helps people with their health. Mary enjoys weight training, spin classes and yoga. She also sprinkles in a dash of running for fun!

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    Leah Razzano: Assistant Store Manager

    Leah grew up in Warren AR. where she got her first glimpse into the world of running when she joined the track team at her Junior high school. Throughout her life, she has been involved in swimming, cycling, and basketball. She was a 4-year letterman and team captain of the basketball team her senior year at the University of Mississippi Ole Miss and she is also a cancer survivor! Leah now calls Spanish Fort, Al home and when she isn't helping customers at running wild she is spending time with her girls.

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    Michele Kuczynski: Merchandise Manager & Buyer

    Michele is a 1998 graduate of Gulf Breeze High School and 2002 graduate of UWF in political science and theatre. She came to Running Wild with a rich experience in run retail. Her work experience includes working at Road Runner Sports in New Jersey and then Atlanta where she managed 3 stores and then opened a new one in Alpharetta, GA. She is also the mother of 3 young children and is grateful for running to keep her sane. While she loves running, her secret passion is ballet. Michele loves the diversity of our running community that originates at Running Wild; so many different personalities that come together for a mutual passion. And that is different for everybody.

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    Dom Zambrano: Operations Manager

    From Dallas, TX to Mobile, AL, Dom developed a passion for running as a competitive outlet after college and just never stopped. Now in Pensacola, you can catch him running his favorite route, The Bayou Loop; It's such a classic that never gets old! Dom enjoys doing anything outside and his favorite thing about working at Running Wild is the running community!
    Fun Fact: He went from couch to Ironman in 2015

    Shop some of Dom's Favorites!
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    Eric Nelson: Executive Director of Run Pensacola and High School Liaison

    Former teacher of History and coach of Cross Country, Track and Field at Catholic High School, Eric has a wealth of expertise to share with the Wild Cheetah community. If he is not swimming, biking, or running, you may find him helping others to improve upon their own running goals or timing running races. He also serves as a liaison to our youth population to help us better serve young cheetahs and their coaches.

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    Sydney: Fit Specialist & Assistant Marketing Director

    Having had the opportunity to homeschool and dual enrollment, Sydney is now a junior at UWF. She is pursuing a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship so along with her superb customer happiness skills, she coordinates our Frozen Feet Challenge at the beginning of each year. Her dad, An avid triathlete, got her into running as a hobby they could share together and she fell in love with it. Now she wants to share it with everyone else!!

    (One other side note: she makes the best macaroons on the planet for our staff.)

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    Coleman White: Fit Specialist

    Coleman was born in Fairhope, AL. and has lived there for his entire life. He is currently a student at Fairhope High School and dually-enrolled at Coastal Alabama Community College. In his free time, Coleman loves to play guitar, run, and spend time with his family. He first discovered his love for running on his elementary school running club. Since then, he has competed in multiple races including two half marathons!! Coleman has a passion for his community and helping other people reach their running goals alongside the Running Wild team!

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    Lynne Virant: PHYSICAL THERAPIST AND PERSONAL TRAINER

    Lynne Virant has worked in the health and fitness field for over 18 years as a personal trainer, coach and now a Doctor of Physical Therapy. She is also a Master Instructor for TRX, training instructors all over the country. Her mission is to educate, empower and transform people to move and feel better so they can live and play better! Lynne loves the way running pushes her, and she empathizes with people who use running as a way to get in shape. However, she believes that runners may also need to get in shape to run thus minimizing injury risk and running longevity! In addition to directing the Training Program at Running Wild, Lynne is also the owner of The Movement Clinic, a Physical Therapy, Fitness, and Wellness Company in Pensacola.

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    Abigail Belcher: Fit Specialist

    Abigail is from Spanish Fort, AL and works as a sales associate at our Fairhope location. She was first inspired to run by her father who has been an avid runner for as long as she can remember. She enjoys painting shoes (yes, painting on shoes) in her spare time and she is currently in Real Estate school!

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    Lari Franklin: Training Program Director

    Lari Franklin grew up running starting with being a sprinter and hurdler in high school. She joined Phat Girlz around 5 years ago and began coaching the My First 5K program around 2 years ago. She says she really enjoys the group run culture at Running Wild because it keeps her motivated. She and her husband were high school sweethearts, teen parents and now empty nesters just having celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary with their 3 amazing grown children. What keeps this couple together besides names that rhyme? Well, running of course!!!

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    Jenae Bentley: App & Online Store Manager

    Originally from San Diego, Jenae has worked in the running industry for 9 years and attended Boise State University. Her work experience includes working for Road Runner Sports and the Rock 'n' Roll Running Series. She loves running with her dog and pushing her newborn in the jogging stroller. You can catch her running with the Wild Cheetah Girlz on Wednesday Mornings in Pensacola.

    Shop some of Jenae's Favorites!
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    Candi Eichstaedt: Fit Specialist

    As a former high school and college soccer player, Candi appreciates the importance of taking care of your body and using the proper equipment, such as professionally fit running shoes. Candi is a certified yoga teacher, she has been teaching yoga since 2002. As a Fairhope resident, she loves helping her community and seeing clients out running in her neighborhood.

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    Mackenzie Hellsten: Fit Specialist

    Originally from Orlando, FL Mackenzie is now a student at UWF and is pursuing a degree in Sport Management while minoring in Marketing and Sport & Exercise Psychology. Her favorite place to run is around UWF campus and downtown Pensacola. She's a huge sports and loves watching college football (Go Dawgs!), MLB, NHL.
    When she was younger, running wasnt her favorite thing to do; but after graduating high school and moving to Pensacola, she needed a new outlet to release stress from college. She found that running was the most helpful to release that stress. She likes working at running wild because of the people she has met and the culture of the workplace. She appreciates her coworkers that are super motivating and want to see her succeed.
    Fun Fact: She races outboard hydroplane boats during the summers and has been doing that since I was 14.

    Shop some of Mackenzie's Favorites!
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    Elyse Carmichael: Fit Assist

    Born and raised in Pensacola, Elyse started running at about four-years-old. She ran her first ever one mile fun run with her dad at five-years-old and has been running ever since. She plays soccer, runs track, and cross country. She also enjoys writing, art, reading, and watching her favorite shows. While she enjoys trail runs, its not about the location but the people shes with. She loves running with groups of runners. Naturally, she enjoys being where everyone else is and participating in weekly group runs when she can. Her favorite part of working at Running Wild is the family bond, the constant encouragement, and the genuine interest the team gives and shows to one another. She likes that Running Wild is a family, and that they all care for each other.
    Fun Fact: She holds three Track records and one cross country record at Booker T. Washington High School.

    Shop some of Elyse's Favorites!
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    Hayley Lavoie: Fit Specialist

    With both parents in the Navy, Hayley moved around a lot! She was born in VA and it was when her family lived in Nevada that she really got into trail running. She ran cross country & track in middle & high school. When her family moved to Pensacola in 2014 she attended Pace High School and went on to get a Bachelors in Education from University of Florida. Running is a hobby she keeps up with regularly and she loves running around East Hill. If she's not out running, she's building strength doing Pilates at Disko Lemonade and recovering at the beach!
    Fun Fact: She has lived in 6 states, has incredibly curly hair & is Greek :)

    Shop some of Hayley's Favorites!
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    Todd Gajewski: Fit Specialist

    Growing up in Indianapolis, IN Todd started running with his junior high and high school track team and now in Pensacola likes running County roads, back roads, and Gulf Shores trail systems. It keeps me centered, is a competitive outlet, and allows me to eat Oreo cookies frequently! He loves that the Running Wild environment is a source of constant inspiration. When hes not out running you can catch him cycling and swimming. He also enjoys art, watches, gardening, and cooking.
    Fun Fact: He has two Addy awards presented by the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington (DC Ad Club)

    Shop some of Todd's Favorites!
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