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💥Trail Gangsta of the Month (May '22): Lovelyn Findley of Orlando, FL💥

Name: Lovelyn Findley 

Age: 41 

Hometown:  Orlando, FL but originally from Philippines

Current Residence: Orlando, FL 

Occupation: Project Manager

 

Originally from the Philippines, Lovelyn is heavily involved in the Central Florida running community, even starting a trail running club, the O-Town Blazers, which meets every Saturday morning at 7:30 am.

She will be lacing up for her second 100 miler in a few weeks and is raising money for the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys in honor of her mom who is a breast cancer survivor. Read the full interview on our blog! 

 

  • 1. How did you get your trail name “Happy Plant?” Was this part of your introduction to trail running?
  • I like to garden, grow my own vegetables, and also during Covid I started taking care of a lot of indoor plants as a new hobby. My friends and I were driving to North Carolina to do a three day hike and we were telling stories and having fun when someone said, “You look so happy! Like one of those decorations you find on car dashboard - the happy plant” 
  • That became my trail name for the weekend and it stuck to me with trail running too. I am always happy running trails. I laugh and smile, which makes a huge difference during those very long runs. 
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  • 2. Florida doesn’t necessarily seem like a trail running oasis. How would you describe the trail scene in your home state?
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    That’s what I thought too, until I started leading the trail running group (O-town Blazers) every Saturday. I didn’t want to take them to the same trails so I started exploring other trails on my own so that I could  take the group. There are over 300 miles of the Florida Trail in Central Florida and it is a running oasis. We run early in the morning, and sometimes I get there first to just watch the sunrise peak and shine between the trees.

  • The world is just waking up, wildlife are still out, and the white-tailed deer are chasing each other. They look at me not bothered and that’s when I feel one with nature the most. 
  • There are trails where I feel like a queen because I am running through miles and miles of cathedral palm prawns.

     

     3.  As a Pilipina runner, why do you think it is important for the sport of trail/ultra running to have more diverse representation?

    After just 5 months of racing ultras, I quickly noticed that ultra races have  predominantly white participants. Similar to hiking or through hiking, both have very low BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) representation. Recognizing this I started thinking and talking to others of what could be the reasons behind it and is there anything I can do. What I found is that people like me have the physical ability, but it’s the financial ability that's stopping them. Ultra racing is expensive, and it’s not accessible to everyone, especially for those who are low income or below the poverty line.

    It just so happens that those who are low income are predominantly BIPOC. It is important to me to have diverse representation so that even though they don’t have the financial means to invest in this sport, they see someone like me, that looks like them, came from the same place as them, and as a result, may be willing to try it out.

    There are times when I go on a race, and I don’t see anyone that looks like me or BIPOC. I get so discouraged, out of place, and ask myself, why even be here, paying all this money and why not just run by myself and save the money. No one is going to notice anyway, so I am not going to do it.  I don’t want others to feel that way; that is why diverse representation in sports matters to me. 

     

    4. What part of your Pilipino heritage are you most proud of?

    I am proud of our work ethic which can be seen in everything we do. We are all in, we don’t do anything half ass. We are used to working hard for everything, we have to earn not given. We have to work 3 times harder to be seen and to be elevated. My mother passed that on to me, and it’s applied to everything I do, which I am very proud of. 

     

  • 5. You are running the Florida Keys 100 later this month for a cause very personal to you. What is the cause and how will this keep you moving forward when the going gets tough?
  • This will be my second 100 mile race. The first one was this past February the Forgotten Florida 100. I decided to do the Florida Keys 100 because I know it will be challenging. I am used to running on trails, not roads so the decision was not easy. But after reading the cause, I decided I will run with purpose and forget about my own personal goal. I will be racing to raise money for the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys. The charity has been providing support to patients and their families with financial assistance, emotional support, education materials, and cancer screenings.
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  • My mom had breast cancer and survived, so this is also to her honor and she is the reason I will be moving forward when I don’t feel like going. She sacrificed a lot for me and my sisters and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn't for her courage and bravery. I’m proud of her and that’s what’s going to propel me forward. My race entry is paid by me, so all money raised will go towards the foundation.  
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    6. Favorite post-run treat for both you and your four-legged training partner, Ms. Mabel?

    My favorite post-run treat is mint chocolate chip ice cream, that’s her favorite too - and “bacon!" 




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