Ann Gaffigan, Elite Runner
Location: Kansas City, Kansas (USA)
A former American record holder and U.S. champion in the steeplechase, Ann Gaffigan strongly believes in the importance of positive role models for the next generation. In fact, she dedicated the past five years to this mission. Currently CEO of her own web development firm, Ann volunteers endless hours to organisations that promote and empower female athleticism.
Invited to be a keynote and motivational speaker at various student-athlete events, Ann focuses on the positive influence running and sport have had on her life. ECCO is proud to welcome Ann to #TeamBIOM as she continues her very worthwhile mission to empower young girls.
When did you begin competing?
I come from a running family – my sister competed and my parents would train for marathons – but I think I ran my first mile in grade school gym class and my first road race when I was eight years old. I fell in love with running after that. I joined the track team in seventh grade and continued to run seriously through my career at the University of Nebraska and afterwards as a professional athlete.
You’ve traveled the world racing and training – where is your favorite place to run?
I travelled to Europe to race during the summer after college. I think the most gorgeous place I’ve ever run is Roveretto, Italy. I was there for two nights and found a trail that followed along a stream for a long time – it was just beautiful. Close to home, though, my favorite would have to be the State Park trail in Virginia Beach. My brother is stationed there for military duty and I’ve visited a lot.
Of all the years you’ve competed and trained, what is your best running memory?
Oh, that’s a hard one! I think my first choice would have to be winning the 2004 Olympic Trials in the steeplechase. My runner-up memory is the Big 12 championships my senior year at the University of Nebraska. I crossed the finish line in first and turned around to see my best friend, Anne Shadle, finishing second.
You are Owner & CEO of your own company – how did you start that?
I own Gazelle Incorporated, which I started while I was supporting my career as an athlete. I’m a computer programmer and software developer for 15 clients all over the U.S. That’s my day job. But I’m also passionate about women and girls in sports and am involved in a variety of programs and organisations that support female athletes.
What are the different programs you are involved with now?
Well, I am passionate about women and girls in sports – and I’m just as passionate about the sport of track and field. I’ve been on the USA Track and Field Athlete Advisory Committee for five or six years with my best friend, Anne. It’s an exciting way to give back to the sport and make it better while staying connected to friends from the track and field world. It’s also something fun Anne and I can do together. In 2010, I helped get the Track and Field Athletes Association off the ground and now serve as Treasurer. We work to protect the interests and rights of the professional track and field athlete.
I’ve been involved with Girls, Inc. – a nationwide organisation inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold. I’ve also worked with WIN for KC (Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City) – their mission is to promote the importance of sports and the benefits for girls and women. Several years ago I co-founded the site womentalksports.com to ensure female athletes are getting the media coverage they deserve. After I retired from professional running, I realised the full scope of sport’s positive influence had on me. I want to help other women feel the same way.
What is your favorite post-run meal?
I like to make a great smoothie. Greek yogurt with “Green Machine” Naked juice, some protein powder and frozen fruit. Yum.
What animal do you most resemble when running and why?
I would love to say a cheetah – but I don’t think that’s true. I guess I would have to say a Gazelle. I named my company Gazelle, Inc. because I have a friend who called me that.