It is my pleasure to introduce you to our newest East Nasty of the Week (ENOW), Kevin Gammon! I believe most of you already know Kevin, but if you don't, you should make a point to get to know him. He's a great athlete and an even better guy. And he's done an Ironman! Let's get to know Kevin.
Kevin was born in Chattanooga and grew up in Chickamauga, GA, a small one red light town just across the TN/GA border. He went to Berry College for his undergraduate degree and Auburn University for his master and doctorate degrees, all in mathematics (bleh!). He earned his Ph.D. from Auburn in 2008.
Kevin has lived in Nashville for three years and works as an assistant professor of mathematics at Cumberland University. Describing his move to Nashville, he says, "One day I decided it was time for a change. I quit my job at Troy University, put my stuff in a car, and took the first job I found. Luckily, I found a job quickly (it was a small car) and it turned out to be close to Nashville."
Kevin ran his first 5k in the summer of 2009 because he noticed that graduate school had not been nice to his health. He says that he was overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy about it. Running gave him a way to start changing things. Even though he started running in 2009, he didn’t attempt anything more than a 5k until he moved to Nashville. He ran his first half marathon in the fall of 2010 and says, "I was quickly hooked on longer distance running. It led to my first full marathon, the Country Music, that summer. I decided to keep going and did my first 50k, Stump Jump, and first half Ironman, Nashvegas, the next fall."
Kevin's biggest accomplishment thus far is finishing Ironman Louisville (his first) in August of 2012. In his own words, "I barely managed to pull myself across the finish line before the 17 hour cutoff, finishing around 16 ½ hours. But I kept going long past the point when my body wanted to quit. In fact, several caring EMS workers tried to get me to stop while on the bike course. The challenge is the reason I consider it my biggest accomplishment. I think pushing yourself to your limit is one of the best ways to learn about yourself. (Not to mention that sometimes the hardest races make the best stories.)"
Kevin heard about East Nasty during his second half marathon. He was still new to Nashville and looking for a good running group. Through random luck, he met the infamous Chuck Hargrove, who directed him to the east side of town. That was about 2 ½ years ago.
When asked what he enjoys most about East Nasty, Kevin says that he enjoys the feeling of community and encouragement from friends. When he first moved to Nashville, he didn’t know anyone and was not exactly a social butterfly. The East Nasty group took him in and quickly grew on him. Even better, the people he has met through East Nasty have encouraged him to do things he never would have thought to attempt on his own. Kevin says, "Had I not joined East Nasty, I doubt I would have done much more than the 5k races that I started with. In fact, four of my friends (making up the rest of The Fab Five) somehow convinced me to sign up for my second attempt at the Ironman, this time in Madison, WI in September. I say "friends", but the truth is a lot of these people have become like family. It is great to have a community with the same interest."
Speaking of The Fab Five, I reached out to Daniel Hudgins prior to writing this post. Here is what Kevin's fellow Fab Five member had to say, "Kevin and I have a very similar background with endurance sports and running. We both began running half and full marathons around the same time, so we share a lot of stories and relate well. He has some real grit and determination that is truly inspiring. I am thankful to have a teammate like him while training for my first Ironman. He helps put what is a very intimidating event into something that is a realistic goal. We also have a lot to laugh about, which I highly value."
When asked about his most memorable East Nasty experience, Kevin says that this actually goes back to the Ironman Louisville, as well. He says, "Five friends (Jim Schwan, Mike Tarrolly, Daniel Hudgins, Hunter Lane, and Season Kaminski) made the long trip up to Louisville just to sit around for 16 hours and their show support. That’s a long day. Several people couldn’t make it but followed me online, sending their encouragement. The support I received from the group was absolutely mind blowing and took me completely by surprise. It left me speechless. Or it could have been dehydration. In either case, I think that this is an example of one of the biggest things East Nasty offers: friendship and support."
Speaking of friendship and support, in writing this, I reached out to Kevin's friend Eddy Rosell. Here is what Eddy had to say, "Kevin is not only an amazing athlete in the way he pushes himself and leads by example, but he is even a better person and has been one of my best friends since I started running with the Nashville running community. It is because of him that I have pushed myself to be faster and expand my training into other areas and events. We were on a Ragnar team together last year and will be doing the same again this year. Anytime I have a question about training, I go to Kevin. He's a great athlete and an even better person. I'm so happy to hear that he will be the East Nasty of the Week! He definitely deserves it!"
I couldn't have said it better myself. Kevin, welcome to the ENOW club! We're excited and honored to have you and can't wait to watch you and The Fab Five KILL IT at Ironman Wisconsin in September! ENFL!