2016 Nashua Winners

Laura Rallis
Laura is an unassuming hero. No incredulous tragic story here but one of perseverance. A single mom working 3 jobs putting her daughter through college and works diligently with her autistic son and who is now doing better in school than anyone ever thought possible, even taking higher level classes his senior year in high school. She is my hero because she always has a smile on her face, welcomes everyone new she meets to running. Never makes anyone feel left out or slow always runs back to make sure everyone is ok and chat with people and to try and keep everyone together, we joke she is a herder of us stray cats. She's lead new runners in couch to 5k groups and encourages everyone she meets that they are doing great don't give up and that we're all part of this crazy road called life. If you're in any mood she'll make it better and make you feel wanted, welcome and included. I want to nominate her for so many reasons, she is a caring and good person and I'd love to see good things happen to good people who deserve some recognition.

Keith O’Brien

Run high school cross- country they said, it will be fun, they said. Well, while every day is not fun or easy but Keith O’Brien, head coach of Tyngsborough Cross Country takes a difficult sport that requires strength, resilience and focus and inspires his student athletes to run for the school year after year.

The beginning of the cross-country season starts not long after the school bell rings for the final days of the year. Kids receive mileage charts from Coach O’Brien. The captains of the team begin practices a few days later. Even though the practices are run by team captains, Coach O’Brien is known to swing by on the hottest run days of the summer to provide frozen freeze pops to cool down the sweaty kids. Not only is there liquid nourishment, but sometimes there are loaded water guns and water balloons to cool things off. All of this, provided, at his expense, to keep the kids cool, happy and motivated. And the kids come to practice, no matter the weather. A small school and a combined girls and boys team that is only about 30 runners has summer practice attendance that can top 20 kids on some days, and they run formally 4 days per week. A favorite is the annual Freeman Trail night run, where the kids don headlamps and run their mileage. At the end of the run is an ice cream parlor social. Once again, at the coach’s personal expense. All to inspire his runners, to train and run their very best. The season begins in September with formal practice. A whole schedule is presented, so everyone knows what happens each day. Fun and colorful names fill the schedule- Indian runs, poopoo platter, and purple house-pink shutters. The kids are never bored and every day is different. The runs are tough and the meets and invitational are usually twice weekly. Many of these meets end late and whether the kids have won or lost, the bus stops for pizza somewhere. And once again, Coach O’Brien picks up the tab.

Amanda McCann

Amanda inspires me because of her pure determination and huge heart! I know that she's been running only a few years but has worked hard to improve her abilities and qualify to run the Boston marathon in 2017! She is a medical volunteer at Boston and was at the finish area in 2013 when the bombs went off and part of the medical community that jumped into action that day! She was so affected that day she endeavored to run it in 2014, securing a number through a local charity. She worked hard on her fundraising while training for the run. Her plan on marathon Monday was to enjoy the experience and she did just that but also ended with a respectable 4.5 hour time. But that wasn't enough...she decided she wanted to qualify and run it again. She trained VERY hard and did just that and will run in 2017! But what strikes me most about Amanda is how much she gives to all her running friends! Amanda is currently dealing with injuries that have her not running much at all. But she's not side-lined as some would be. She's out on her bike at races her friends are participating in cheering us on! Always supporting others, not hiding out! This past weekend many of us were running a race that was difficult and hot and there was Amanda with cold sponges and towels to save the day! She inspires me to be a better runner and spectator and all around person! She really is what we should all try to be for others!

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