Demi Clark is a mother, wife, runner, triathlete, yogi and Boston Marathon survivor. I met Demi for the first time in her yoga for athlete’s class and she exuded confidence and a kind spirit. Demi helped guide me through my first marathon at Walt Disney World, and her class was a key component recovery from my long runs. Demi gave great advice to runners at all levels in her class. As she shared her stories of her weekend long runs while balancing her demanding career in public relations for NASCAR and parenting two young girls, I was inspired and motivated to keep running. Our daughters are similar in age, and they would play together in child watch while we flowed through our yoga sequence.
So when I heard that Demi was not only running the Boston Marathon in 2013, the year of the terrorist bombings, but crossed the finish line the moment the bomb detonated, I was devastated.
Demi ran her first marathon in London and was soon hooked. She had the opportunity to run in Boston by raising money for a charity group called “Dream Big”, which helped underprivileged girls get involved in sports. Demi, who has two young girls, ages 10 and 8, volunteers with Girls on the Run, so this charity meant a lot to her.
Because she was running with the charity group, her husband and girls were able to sit in a VIP section outside of the Boston Public Library, which was on the opposite side of the street from the bombings. Demi herself narrowly missed being directly next to the bomb as it detonated, as she had just crossed the street to wave to her family.
While the physical scars from the bombings for Demi were limited to temporary hearing loss, the psychological scars remain, as she suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, with the help of a group of veterans, she was able to recognize the signs of PTSD and begin treating the symptoms. Demi was so touched by the way the veterans helped her recover, that she decided to raise money for The Mission Continues, an organization that helps veterans readjust to home life after being deployed. Demi’s brother, Spencer Kympton, is the president of this charity, so it’s close to Demi’s heart. She first raised money while pacing her 68-year old father, Howard Kympton, in his first-ever marathon, the Marine Corps. She raised money for this same charity for Boston 2014.
But, Demi’s partnership with veterans didn’t start with her diagnosis of PTSD. A close family friend, Jason George, was killed while serving Iraq in 2009. On her “117th Boston Marathon Motivations List”, Demi listed one of her motivations as, “JG. Rest in Peace. Miss you.” Demi’s path to the 2014 Boston Marathon began as far back as her losing a friend that was like a brother to her.
Demi didn’t ask for this destiny though. She is simply a mother runner whose life led her on a path to run in Boston. Running the Boston Marathon is the pinnacle for many runners. And while Demi was fulfilling her dream of running Boston, a terrorist decided to ruin that day for thousands.
Demi ultimately decided to go back to Boston and run the marathon in 2014 because of her daughter’s encouragement. Her daughter, Maizie told her that she didn’t think she would be happy if she didn’t go back. Demi took the conversation to heart and ran again in 2014. Demi has since moved from Fort Mill to Charleston, so I no longer had the opportunity to take her class. However, her story remains in my heart.
Demi represents what it means to be a mother runner. She puts her children and husband on the top of her priority list, but she still makes time for herself. In fact, she quotes her aunt, “If you focus on needs, deeds or greeds…all you grow is weeds. Plant your garden well.” She balances a full-time demanding career with family and training for an Ironman.
When I asked Demi shy she runs, she said, “I run I can – and others can’t,” She explains, “Every time I want to stay in bed, or say it’s too hot, or just say, ‘I feel lazy today,’ I remind myself of this fact. Then, when I’m running, after about the first five minutes – I remember why I love it. It’s freedom in cadence; being able to tour cities by just lacing your shoes before anyone else is awake; and time to work out details of life that require concentration. It’s not an option for me – it’s a requirement for my healthiest, best self for me & others.”
To Demi, running means change. She says, “I started running in 2010 when I was “dared” by a client to run my first marathon – the Virgin London Marathon, a world final half a globe away. It’s a good thing I didn’t know what it took to train for a marathon, because if I had known, I might have avoided it! Battered, bruised, bloody feet – hitting that finish line, I was hooked. Two days later, I signed up for another one. Running helps me push the envelope of my limits. I won’t let myself off that hook anytime soon.”
Demi has run multiple marathons and she has great advice for new runners.
Demi advises not to get too sucked into the technical aspects. She says that the best running mentors and friends she’s ever had are the ones who didn’t give advice on shoes, gels, gear, pace, training schedules, and the myriad of things you can get hung up on in running (that after a while, takes the life out of it to a certain extent).
Demi hang with the “nomads” of the sport – the Scott Jureks of the world who inspire others by keeping it about the running.
She advises other runners to “Just get out there.” She says, “There’s no “right” way to start, or continue, running. It is so inspiring to watch new runners – they are so excited and happy. So that’s my advice – be free, keep it about what you love (getting out there and doing something new), and GO BIG! If it’s in your heart, do it. Sign up for a marathon. Or a half. Or a 5k. Or just running to the lamppost down the street. If it’s a goal and you’re in it to win it, you’ll get there. And know that you have millions of running mamas beside you, supporting your every step. Be well!”
It was an honor to speak with Demi,
Demi is real, she’s raw, she’s one bad ass mother runner.
To learn more about Demi Clark, visit her on Twitter @DemiGirlFriday.