Thursday, March 31, 2022

Episode 65: Achilles International, with Ellie Cox-Nihill

 Episode 65: Achilles International, with Ellie Cox-Nihill can be heard on most podcast Apps, including Apple, Google, Spotify and Anchor!

Posing with a friend, organizing nearby races!

In this episode we discuss all things Achilles, including their work with athletes of all abilities, empowering and supporting relationships between individuals. Both learn and grow as a result of these partnerships, athletes and volunteer guides (also athletes themselves). The magic is in local clubs, and the practice and fun together throughout the year building up to a major event, like NYC Marathon or Disney races!

Ellie has a great deal to share, and has been with the organization since 2008, and is in charge of US Chapters development and the online virtual clubs who meet for those who do not have local chapters. I am the direct beneficiary of this new virtual space, and connect with athletes from across the country learning to run through a training program, and inspiring one another. I might add that volunteers learn as much if not more from the experience, and as anyone who has been a guide will tell you: it transforms their run/walking and their relationship with the sport.  

Ellie organizing virtual events!

Ellie also shares a bit about the history and how she became inspired by her local New York City chapter, and what she has learned along the way supporting athletes for over a decade in events they dream of completing. What many thought was unimaginable are empowered to line up toe to toe with the elite athletes of the world, and learn from each other, overcoming challenges and sharing joy and hope!  

Among the many resources, one can visit and find out how to get involved or contribute at

Reach out to us with questions or your own stories of running cutlture and inspiration, here at our blogsite, Facebook or Instagram @runninganthropologist 

Below are the essentials, at a glance about their mission and programs:

Achilles International, a global organization operating in 18 countries including the US, transforms the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connection. Since our founding in 1983, we have empowered over 150,000 athletes of all ages and ability levels to participate in endurance events around the globe.

Achilles International’s portfolio of programs includes the Achilles Freedom Team which serves wounded military personnel and veterans; Achilles Kids which provides training, race opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities; the TriAchilles Team which expands our running program into biking and swimming; Achilles Chapter workouts; and, our signature Hope & Possibility® race which takes place in several cities worldwide.

While our programs focus on running, our main objective has always been to bring hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to all.


United States: 28 Chapters in 19 States (+D.C.)

International: 42 Chapters in 17 Countries

And a bit more about Ellie from her sporty bio, as she heads into retirement and new adventures... from Achilles -

"She joined Achilles in 1996 and ran the 2000 NYC Marathon. Ellie directed Achilles NYC from Sept. 2009 through 2010 and assumed responsibility for U.S. Chapter Development in 2011. She coordinates all aspects of the AWD Family Reunion area post-NYC Marathon. With a BS in Media and Culture from SUNY/Empire State College and a Project Management Certificate from Baruch College, Ellie is also certified by the American Sailing Association in basic sailing, cruising, and navigation and coaches whenever possible."

Monday, March 7, 2022

"Unite for Ukraine" Challenge, Walk/Run Miles for Direct Relief

 "Unite for Ukraine" Challenge, A Peace Pilgrimage- Walk/Run Miles for Direct Relief

Instructions: Using the Challenge Google Doc, 

1) Pledge an amount/mile. 

2) Walk/Run & Log your Miles (you can also use the virtual pilgrimage app "Camino for Good"- will send an invite when you register using the google doc).

3) Donate using Direct Relief link provided whenever you're able! 

Note: You could also donate NOW based upon your goal mileage. 

4) As you go, PLEASE POST & SHARE inspiration/updates/photos with #UniteforUkraine - Share this challenge & JOIN the WhatsApp group, to learn more!

Shared by "Die Hard Running" Club of Kyiv, UA (@diehardrunningua)

We are trying to get local businesses/employers to match the challenge mile for mile, dollar for dollar- and will hopefully have more partners in the coming weeks - let us know if you recruit one, and we'll post their info here & on social media! 

Questions or ideas?  DM us @RunningAnthropologist on Instagram or Facebook!

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Episode 64: Eugen Godun on Ukraine now

In this episode, we interview a prominent marathoner and coach in the Ukrainian running community, Eugen Godun. He is from Kharkiv (recently taken over by the Russian army) and his current hometown of the last 2 years is Kyiv, which is currently under siege with the entire world hanging on edge. As might be expected, we talk less about running, and more about what things have been like this pat week for him, his family and friends. We get a pulse for the thoughts of Ukrainians right now, discuss the challenges of balancing one's family safety with the desire to fight back against unbelievable odds (a powerful and mostly uninformed Russia due to lack of press freedom under the de facto dictatorship of Putin). 

Did we mention Eugen is an incredibly talented runner and supports other aspiring runners throughout the region?  He has run the Kharkiv marathon and multiple long distance events across Ukraine (Sumy, Poltava, Odesa and Kyiv), along with 5 of the world majors and was slated to be in Boston a month from now, but this future is uncertain due to the current situation in his home country. 

You can find this episode just about anywhere you find podcasts, including Apple, Google, & Spotify Apps. Follow/ Message us @RunningAnthropologist on Instagram or Facebook. 

You can find Eugen Godun @jimmy_marathon on Instagram, and follow his runs on Strava. 

From his perspective, Ukraine's people until recently enjoyed freedoms under a completely democratic government and were very grateful they were moving towards the European Union under their elected president Zelensky. In fact, they overthrew a pro-Russian president (perceived by many as a puppet) less than a decade ago in 2014, to earn the right to determine their own destiny, and bring back power to the majority of the population. The overwhelming majority of young people in the Ukraine favor moving towards the West, rather than moving towards their neighboring Russians, and this war will certainly convince any doubters of that decision. This has moved to such an extent that the Ukrainian language has become a powerhouse of literacy and music. Eugen shares a bit about his own decision to shift to "only Ukrainian", despite his own Russian heritage. He is at the moment safely in the western part of the country, which has until now escaped fighting and been a safe corridor to seeking refuge in neighboring Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.

CIA Map of the Region, with Ukraine at the center.

From a personal perspective, as a former Peace Corps teacher in Eastern Europe (Romania) and international relations/economics student in Budapest, I know the people of this region to be peace loving, committed to freedom, and extremely community oriented, who also suffered much under "communist" USSR. This included limitation of free speech, economic opportunity, mobility, as well as religious freedoms. No one is willing to return to these limitations of human rights and dignity, as they have fought incredibly hard to gain the freedoms they have, and their connection to the wider world. We in the running community from all I know are praying for a peaceful solution, yet are realistic that autocracies seldom yield to the welfare of others, and the rights of those they believe they can control. History has proven otherwise, and we would encourage anyone to work towards helping the autonomous people of Ukraine to again prevail, have the right to determine their own destiny, and suffer as little as possible in that quest.  Here are some causes / things you can do RIGHT NOW to help, in an article published by NPR:

You can also stay up to date on everything happening in Eastern Europe via New York Times Live Updates.  and make comments/post questions here. Feel free to share with us also, or reach out on our social media @runninganthropolgist.  Our hearts go out to all those suffering needlessly. May peace come quickly!

--M. Lane Holbert