Colleen Stone started running over a decade ago, tired of only being a spectator. Like most runners, she started slowly and eventually worked her way from 5ks to marathons.

Despite having run several marathons, ranging from local races to ones abroad, her favorite marathons are big city races.

“I’ve done Boston a couple times, but I think my favorite one is the one in New York City. It’s the best marathon in the world,” Stone said. “It’s such a great course. There are plenty of things to look at and people cheering to keep me occupied.”

After moving from New Jersey to Michigan, Stone and her husband, Paul Livingstone, have been involved with a local running group, PR Run Club, and in 2016 the couple took over its management when the original founders moved to California.

Colleen Stone approaches the finish line of the virtual Boston Marathon in Ann Arbor as her husband, Paul Livingstone, tries to capture a photo while also corralling their dog, Stevie.
Colleen Stone approaches the finish line of the virtual Boston Marathon in Ann Arbor as her husband, Paul Livingstone, tries to capture a photo while also corralling their dog, Stevie. (Photo courtesy of Colleen Stone)

The running club hosts four or five group runs a week, with Saturday runs the most popular. The club sets up routes for each run, and provides signs to direct runners and fluid stations to keep participants hydrated along the course.

The club has around 70 or so active members, but in the past few months, numbers have fluctuated and the group has adapted to accommodate safety guidelines for COVID-19.

There are staggered starts, the group runs in less crowded areas and runners keep their distance from one another as much as possible. The fluid stations are also now equipped with hand sanitizer.

“The run club has been really great to continue through the pandemic because people have so little regular social contact,” she said. “To some people, it’s really important to have that regular social contact even if you’re far apart.”

Stone attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2000.

Since 2019, Stone has been a content and digital strategist for the Department of Surgery at Michigan Medicine. She and her team produce content and manage campaigns that showcase the academic and research accomplishments of the department.

“I was always interested in the medical side of things, just as sort of a curiosity, so this is a real sweet spot where I get to learn every day on the job about something and apply my storytelling skills.”

Since March, many races have been canceled or become virtual, including the Boston Marathon, for which Stone had been training when she received the news that it was off.

“It was a bit of a bummer to think, ‘What do I do with all this training?’ but I just kept running, and honestly I’m running more now because it’s a social outlet and also because now that I’m not at the hospital, I walk so much less,” she said. “Really being intentional about exercising is so important right now, for my mental health and my physical well-being.”

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Though she didn’t participate in many virtual races this summer, she took part in an event called “The Head Goat 50k in May” presented by Running Fit Events. The event challenged people to be active each day, whether running, walking, hiking or biking.

One of the coolest features of the event, Stone said, was the Facebook group that connected participants and showcased the ways people were getting involved.

“Of course, there were really serious runners for whom this was no big deal and then you had people who were never really active before this,” she said. “They’d share how proud they were that they had done their 1-mile walk or that they’d started running, and it was really awesome to see their progress.”

With the variety of trails and a large network of Ann Arbor runners, Stone has found new ways to challenge herself and has uncovered new insight into her passion for running.

“It’s been interesting to see how running has evolved when I have nothing to train for, you start to really realize what you like about it. It’s not necessarily about the events, although those are fun, it’s everything that leads up to that.”

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