Farewell, Steven McNeal!

Jeff Davis and Steven before Bear 100 

Jeff Davis and Steven before Bear 100 

So, by now, you probably know that NRC Crew Member and RunWILD Coach extraordinaire, Steven McNeal, is leaving Nashville and heading on the Oregon trail soon. Since we don’t have the mad videography skills that Steven does, we wanted to do a short write-up on just how awesome he is. A few of Steven’s friends and running partners have taken the time to share just what makes Steven so special!

Ashley Carney: Steven was one of the first new people I met when I signed up for winter RunWILD in 2015. He asked me if I had any goals for the training season. I just said I was looking for new adventures and new challenges but didn't think my injury-prone body could handle much more than a half marathon, which I hadn't done in several years. He was the first person to suggest that maybe I could get stronger AND be able to run longer, sometimes ridiculous distances. He was right and has been a great resource for training knowledge, as well as a really supportive friend and coach. Steven is great at teaching people to train smart and listen to their body. He reminds us that training is multi-faceted:  daily stress, diet, and lifestyle all play a part in your run performance, and bad runs can happen but don't have to define your running "career". He's inspiring and has proven (through himself and now me) that anyone really CAN be an ultra runner if that's what they want to do. I am so excited for him to explore Oregon and tackle his third 100-miler! He will always have a fan club and home at NRC. 

Jeff Davis: I've seen Steven barf more times than my three-year-old. With that said, I've never seen Steven quit. With the ease of modern life, grit is a rare quality in a person. Steven knows how to suffer and keep moving forward. 

Jeff Davis's collage of Steven's suffering . . . and Steven with after his first 100 mile finish at the Bear

Jeff Davis's collage of Steven's suffering . . . and Steven with after his first 100 mile finish at the Bear

Daniel Hudgins: Steven is the brother I always wished I'd had. I remember meeting him and then starting running with him - the connection was easy. He was always willing to meet up for a long run or make it a part of his longer long run. He would run mile after mile after mile, especially as he was gearing up for a 100 miler. He had a crazy run through the night that I was intrigued by, so I joined at one point for and had a blast. We've paced a race together where we both PR'd our best half marathon at the time. He's been to every Ironman I've done with a smile on his face and the camera in his hand. He wants to capture the things we crazy endurance friends do and share that. There was a time not so long ago when I was not myself, and he got my friends together to make an encouraging video for my birthday I'll never forget. It was so heartfelt and such a surprise. But that's what he does - quietly, carefully, and thoughtfully, he cares for his friends and it shows. He's come to my hometown when a relative passed away to give me a hug and share a meal.  We've traveled together across the country, ran some of the toughest conditions ever at the Bear 100, and even ran a stage race in Puerto Rico, dancing at the finish line with the locals. He will be greatly missed in Nashville, but I'm very happy he's heading to a really cool city that I helped to show him!

Steven, Jonathan Minton, Daniel Hudgins, and Jeff making new friends (and Bonus Moms) in Salt Lake City.

Steven, Jonathan Minton, Daniel Hudgins, and Jeff making new friends (and Bonus Moms) in Salt Lake City.

Donica Elliott: I wish I had a wild and crazy story on Steven McNeal, but I don’t think he gets wild and crazy, or does he??  What I do have to say about him is that he’s one of the kindest and most solid people I’ve met in the Nashville running community.  He’s reliable, full of knowledge, fun, caring and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say a negative thing about another person which is a great quality!  Wishing him only the best . . . I did see him cut in line during pint night this week, but it was only because he had to work. And I also did it.  

Stuck in the bathroom at Pinhoti 100

Stuck in the bathroom at Pinhoti 100

Beth Meadows: Steven has a ton of grit and determination . . . and can suffer more than anyone I know. I only wish I had the level of determination he does. He has brought so much joy to our RunWILD group through his amazing videos that just keep getting better and better . . . and has captured moments that probably shouldn’t live on! Being present for his first 100-miler was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. On top of being an amazing trail runner and a super-cool dude, he’s also incredibly thoughtful. He remembers every race that someone is training for, checks in with all of us, will make professional level good luck and happy birthday videos for us, and genuinely cares about every single person in our running family. I’m going to miss sharing miles and beers with Steven but couldn’t be happier about his new adventure!

Good luck in Oregon, Steven! We can’t wait see all of the races you crush out there . . . or to come visit you!