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Women's History Month Feature - Jenny Spangler

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight some of the incredible women who are leaders in our CARA and Chicagoland running communities. We will be sharing the insight and advice of some of our board members, local running club leaders, top distance competitors, and site coordinators. To round out this series, we asked American Distance Runner (and local Chicagoan!) Jenny Spangler about her experience as a female athlete and leader.

Jenny Spangler - American Distance Runner and U.S. Olympian, 1996 U.S. Olympic Trial Marathon Champion

What was your Olympic Trial experience like as a female athlete?

My Olympic Trials experience was absolutely FANTASTIC! There was a lot of support and camaraderie among the women competing. Having also participated in the first Women's Olympic Marathon Trials back in 1984, I remember smiling inside at the starting line of the '96 Trials thinking about far women's running had come - it was a great celebration of our sport!

How did your fellow runners help you achieve this goal?

I could not have achieved my goals without the support of my teammates. I am fortunate to have been able to train with the top female distance runners in the Chicagoland area (Ann Schaefers Coles, Jane Murphy, Janeth Salazar Ohst, Laurie Mizener) along with many top men. Together we helped each other not only through the long intense workouts but supported each other mentally and emotionally. We talked nutrition, how to handle certain injuries, got each other through running in tough weather conditions, AND....had a lot of fun. The power of the group!!!

How would you like to see girls’ and women’s athletics continue to evolve?

I would love to see continued opportunities for female athletes and to better understand how nutrition, pregnancy, and menopause affect the female athlete's body.

What advice would you give to girls or women who want to get more involved in running or athletics?

For any girls or women that would like to get more involved in athletics, I say...be confident and GO FOR IT! I am a firm believer in the "power of the group" to help you stay motivated and learn about the sport you love.

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