What an Athlete Looks Like


Chloe aboard Yesterday’s Children 1999

My wife Carolyn has more heart than most anyone I know. Being a Jersey Girl for starters, she has always followed her own path, while remaining close to her family and friends. In the early days of the tech boom, she headed west in a packed car with her 70-pound yellow lab Chloe to start a new chapter in San Francisco. When the boom prevented her from finding an apartment that allowed pets, she bought an old wooden boat, moored in a marina on the San Francisco Bay, to live aboard. We met at that marina, and I eventually bought and moved aboard my own boat, which became our boat, Tempus Fugit. Time Flies: a reminder and a portent.

It was during this time that Carolyn became rapidly unwell. She read voluminously, and listened to her body, and approached a doctor with a proposed diagnosis. The doctor rejected it out of hand. And so she pushed and pushed some more, found a doctor who listened and trusted her judgment, and would do more tests. For better or worse, her self-diagnosis was correct, and while the prognosis wasn’t terminal, it was progressively disabling, and incurable.


Joseph and Carolyn at the finish line 2014

That was 2001. Looking back, it is hard to believe that 15 years have passed. Two trips to Italy, including a marathon in San Marino where I proposed at the finish, happy years in a house in Japantown, San Jose, and Carolyn receiving her BFA in Photography. Then, a jump sideways to Santa Fe, followed 8 months later by the birth of our daughter, and the formation of a law firm, Sommer Karnes & Associates, LLP. In 2011, Global Running Culture and Santa Fe Thunder were launched, and all the while, we were doing our best to enjoy the ride.

Last year, Abraham and I attended the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Expo, where we met Mark Bravo, a truly amazing individual. Mark is a coach, sports commentator, author and phenomenal motivator. We spent as much time as possible getting to know Mark, and I cannot recommend his book, Momentum highly enough.

During our conversation, I told Mark about Carolyn’s every day challenges, and realized how tough it must be to make it through the day when your batteries run low after each effort, fatiguing body and mind. Mark got excited (which he often is) and spoke of what a great athlete Carolyn is! While I go out and run for two or three hours every weekend morning, Carolyn’s workouts last all day, everyday. Her effort, commitment, toughness, and heart are the same as any champion athlete. As Mark says “exercise is essential, as much for the mind as the body. It’s not to do a lot, seldom; instead do something often”. Carolyn exercises a whole lot more than I do.

The youngest member of Santa Fe Thunder's Team Karnes 2014

The youngest member of Santa Fe Thunder’s Team Karnes 2014

She is also our webmaster, designer, bookkeeper, product and supply procurer, and generally the backbone of Global Running Culture. Without her efforts, we would fall flat on our faces, likely sooner rather than later. She also runs a non-profit that she started with her mother called Women Incorporated, which works with women artists in New Mexico.

How special it is that Carolyn enables so many runners from around the country, and the world, to run a half marathon in our hometown, including Sydney and her grandmother, who have done the Lightning 5K together for the past 3 years!

Mark signed off a recent email with a request – “And please remind Carolyn she’s a consummate ATHLETE!” Thanks to you, Mark, I do remind her, and myself, and am thankful that our long distance journey together has led us to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the City Different, and the Race Different.

Smooth running,
Joseph Karnes
Race Director