When she's not practicing law or playing with her dogs, Beth Meadows is leading her local running community to faster miles and better burgers.
As founder of Trail Sisters, I'm a professional ultra trail runner who's on a six-month road tour to share inspiration, education and empowerment with running communities across the country. In an ongoing series for REI's Co-op Journal, I'll choose women leading the charge in running communities all over the U.S. and interview them on who they are and what running means to them in their cities.
My first stop was in East Nashville, Tennessee at 11th and Holly for the traditional Wednesday evening East Nasty Group Run. Athletes of all abilities meet for a run, followed by beers and burgers at local favorite 3 Crow Bar.
In Nashville, a bubbly voice greeted the 100+ member group via megaphone. Sporting neon purple sunglasses and her post-run black jumper, Beth Meadows emceed the announcements. Meadows calls herself "a reluctant attorney," who prefers running, hanging out with her dogs and watching Alabama (her home and college state) football to her day gig. Not only does she volunteer with the East Nasties, but she is also the race director for Nashville Running Company (NRC) and a coach for the RunWILD trail running training group. And, perhaps no one enjoys the East Nasties' after-run burgers more than Meadows. "After just recently surrendering nine years of vegetarianism, I’m on a mission for the best burgers in town," she said.
I caught up with Meadows to learn more about her role within the East Nashville running community.
How did you get into trail running?
My love for running started early on when I’d join my dad for short runs around the neighborhood. I didn’t realize trail running was even a thing until I joined Nashville Running Company’s RunWILD trail training group in the summer of 2013. I was absolutely hooked on the sport from my very first step on the trails. There’s just something so inexplicably amazing about a trail run that not much else can replicate.
Why did you want to start a trail running club?
NRC’s RunWILD trail running club was already in existence when I joined in 2013. For some crazy reason, Lee [co-owner of the NRC] and NRC let me help coach the group for the winter 2014 session, and I, along with a couple of other faithfuls, have been leading ever since. It sounds cliché, but it really is an honor to coach the group every semester (we have two 12-week cycles a year). I love being able share my passion for the sport with others, whether first-time trail runners or veterans. The majority of my friends have grown out of this group, which is just an added bonus.
What's your favorite part of the Nashville running community?
The Nashville running scene spans the whole spectrum of running: You have your trail and ultrarunners, your road runners and everything in between. You can find a group run somewhere in town every day of the week—road or trail.
However, there are no running cliques. Everyone is welcome at every race and every group run. The running community here is very welcoming and prolific. I’m really proud of the trail running community that NRC has helped foster through its RunWILD group. It’s brought people together who may not have normally crossed paths. Often, we all travel to races together, either to run, pace, crew or just cheer. It’s such a supportive, fun, low-key group that is truly indicative of the trail running community as a whole.
Do you have plans to increase the growth of women's trail running in Nashville?
We haven’t made a conscious effort to increase women’s trail running in Nashville because the trail running scene here is already chock-full of badass women. Also, NRC puts on four 6-mile races every year in and around Nashville, and the majority of our racers tend to be women. That number is growing. However, the more women we can encourage and empower to get on the trails, the better.
What have been some of your most rewarding moments in working with the running community?
The best moments are witnessing someone from our trail group finish a race that they’ve poured their heart and soul into training for. Also, seeing someone take to the trails with the same gusto and love that I feel is truly amazing. Basically, I love living vicariously through all the amazing RunWILD members.
[ed. note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]