Amazing Friend – Ashley Kumlien

Posted: December 2, 2009 in Motivation

The other morning I overheard my wife talking with her cousin Nancy Sue (who is our designer for Run for Dom) talking about my level of dedication.  She was saying that “run days” are very serious business to me and that if I ever do have to miss a run because of an early flight, illness, inclement weather (what is that exactly?) – I always make a point to make up that run later in my week so that I reach my weekly mileage goal and stick to my training regimen.  A close personal friend recently remarked during a business meeting that he was impressed by my level of dedication in that I rise early sometimes as early as 4:30 am to “get my run in” before a trip or business meeting.  To me and many distance runners that is all part of the journey, part of the allure of competing, pushing yourself to have it all come together for an event or race and be the very best that you can be that day.  It is a very empowering feeling and I must say that I am looking forward to December 14th which represents the first day of my 18-week ramp up to the Boston Marathon almost as much as race day – it is that powerful a draw for me.

So the question for me is – if early morning wake-up calls, sometimes running both in the morning and evening to make-up for a missed session, or running in the rain, wind, snow or cold temperatures inspires my wife and friends, what is it that motivates me?  What makes me take a step back and say “Wow”, now that is impressive. 

Official Logo MS RUN THE US

 Today I wanted to post about a new “Amazing Friend” of mine Ashley Kumlien who this March only a few weeks prior to my first of two marathons in support of our close friend Dom will be starting a journey of her own.

Ashley is training to run across the United States, from San Francisco, CA to New York, NY to raise awareness and raise money toward the fight and cure of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  Ashley’s mother Jill has been battling this disease for more than 27 years – inspired by her mother’s everyday fight against this disease, Ashley has chosen this as her battle in honor of her mother.

Now I have had my share of individuals approach me and ask me if I have finally lost my mind running both the Boston and Pittsburgh Marathon(s) only 13 days apart.  26.2 miles is one thing they say, but 52.4 with very little recovery time is another.  Well how about 3,230 miles – Now that is something that speaks to Ashley’s level of commitment to this cause and the strong bond that she has with her mother. 

Ashley and Jill Kumlien

 In reading Ashley’s story I found a lot of parallels with my feelings about Run for Dom.  Of course you understand the commitment level that is necessary, and the time, training and personal challenges ahead – but once you have gone through the process of internalizing this possibility and are ready to announce your intentions to those around you who care about you – it becomes real and there is no turning back.

Ashley puts it best on your site when she says that “In order to inspire the donations towards this cause I wanted to do something BIG.  Something a few hundred people have done before, but something many would consider out of their realm of possibility.”

That is exactly right – if you want big rewards in life you have to be willing to put yourself out there.  To accept the challenge and know that yes the challenge is enormous – but I am more than ready for it because I have a little extra “something” in my tank, fueling me each day – that motivation that you are doing this to honor someone else that is an important part of your life.

Ashley plans on running an average of 20-30 miles daily, (four 10K’s a day +/-) making this journey across the US in less than 6 months time.  To do so Ashley has already made some amazing sacrifices and overcome some tremendous obstacles.  Ashley taught herself HTML code to construct her own website She created MS Run the US Inc. – which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (just that paperwork required is an amazing accomplishment), has left a job that she loves and began participating in ultra-marathon events to get ready for the 3,230 miles that lie ahead. 

The Runner - Ashley Kumlien


MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.  An estimated 600,000 people in the US, 2.5 million worldwide have MS and 200 new cases are being diagnosed each week. 

In fact MS is the most common progressive and disabling disease among young adults today – Ashley’s goal is to generate donations as well as increase overall awareness in support of MS non-profit organizations to aid the research and fight to find a cure for this disabling disease.

You can follow Ashley on twitter at or visit her website at to learn more about her journey, make a donation or simply provide encouragement.  You would not believe how much of a difference just a comment or tweet can make as taking on a distance challenge can be very liberating, but also at times quite lonely.

It is the support of those around you that make it such a wonderful experience.  I am very proud to call Ashley one of my new “Amazing Friends”.  Go Ashley!

  1. Ashley says:

    This blog post is awesome & very touching to me that you took the time to write it! Thank you for helping spread the word about this run for MS! Every bit helps 🙂 Take care and keep kicking butt in training!!! Go Joe!

  2. Kristin Timmons says:

    Joe- Thank you for your wonderful words about Ashley. She is an amazing person and for those of us that suffer with MS on a daily basis, she is an inspiration and keeps us moving forward with her. God has blessed the MS community with Ashley and now with you.
    God Bless

  3. joerunfordom says:

    Kristin – thanks so much for the message and the visit! Ashley truly is amazing – I am so touched by her story – hoping I can join her on the road at some point along the journey – but will be there in spirit and support from the first steop to the last.

    Thanks again for visiting! Please come back as I’ll be keeping everyone up to date on Ashley and MS Run The US.

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