Dr. Mark J Mendeszoon

Dr. Mark J Mendeszoon

Friday, June 24, 2016

Road to Rio

It has been quite some time since I've entered a blog, so please excuse the length as recently I've had some time for reflection.

Last week I had the opportunity to go back "home" and see family in the Netherlands. My daughter Marijke and I were able to visit family and friends and enjoy our bonding time together.

One of the highlights we were able to share was going to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Stadium to watch the Dutch national track and field championships.  It was at this point that I realized how much of a track junkie I truly am and that my life's common denominator is track and field and athletics. Furthermore, it struck me how my passion for the sport that has provided me everything has trickled down to my children, Marijke and her brother Myles, as well as my wife Kristen.

It's been twenty years since I introduced Kris to my beloved sport, and gradually converting her from a die hard gymnastics coach to a track convert and "widow".  Over the last two decades, she has allowed me to stay deeply involved in the running culture. We were able to create the Maple Leaf Track Club back in 2001 alongside good friend Mark Shafer and have had the pleasure of seeing many children and even adults develop a passion for running, so much so that the club is now a cornerstone in Northeast Ohio for people to participate in this great sport.  We have also been fortunate enough to provide hundreds of student athletes the opportunity to receive a college degree via the pathway of track and field, and have secured several million dollars in scholarships and financial aid to open the doors for these young individuals and for them to continue participating in the sport we love..

In addition, Kris and I compounded my passion for running and athletics by establishing the Achilles Running Shop.  As proud owners of Achilles for over a decade, we have been through the ups and downs of learning a new business and have managed to become a mainstay in the area running community. I am extremely blessed and indebted to my wife for being the backbone behind Achilles Running Shop. Overcoming one hurdle after another, we've put a tremendous team in place to help us improve our performance and strive to be the best we can possibly be as a independent running store.  David, Kyle, Brian, Devin, Steve, Andrea, Carl, and Gene have been our ambassadors to the public, not to mention the multiple part-time fine young adults that have been with us over the years to whom our gratitude is immeasurable.  Like our 13-year-old twins, we are watching the growth of our running stores in amazement.

Now it is the summer of 2016 and an Olympic year, always an exciting time for me and all track and field fans. We have been to the last two Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon and in 2012 I was fortunate to be involved directly with four athletes that qualified for the games.  London followed and it was an incredible experience, not only attending the games but being in the Olympic atmosphere throughout the city. That was capped off by watching one of my athletes and patients win the Olympic gold-medal in the women's pole vault. Jenn Suhr and her husband Rick have allowed me to be part of their medical team and this last year we are working incredibly hard to keep her healthy to defend her title in Rio de Janiero.  In addition to helping Jenn,  I have been blessed to work with other Olympic hopefuls and Olympians: Nathan Brannen, Shana Cox, Bridget Franek, Chelsea Eades, Clayton Murphy, Stephanie Aldea, Mac Wilkins, Erika Kinsey, Bekka Simko and Jessica Beard to name a few.  This year I have been fortunate to go to the Olympics again. Needless to say, I am extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity.

So coming back full circle to our track meet in Amsterdam last week, I have seen the passion develop for athletics in our children.  To be able to shoot hoops with Myles or go for a run with Marijke is one of the most rewarding experiences I have in my life.  Kris and I have never forced athletics on our children but I guess being surrounded with track and field their whole lives is rubbing off on them.  They start high school in the fall, a time when young people start finding their way and I am curious to see how my children develop as student athletes.  I am excited to see them grow and find their paths as I once did as a skinny teenager out of Bay Shore, New York.

Enjoy the summer and enjoy the Olympic experience and fever!