UMSL fitness guru named top volunteer

UMSL's Rae Mohrmann

Rae Mohrmann, longtime fitness instructor at UMSL, gives her Abs, Buns & Cardio class a workout at the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center. Mohrmann recently was named Volunteer of the Year for the St. Louis Track Club for her dedication to running and the more-than 200 hours a year she spends helping other runners. (Photo by August Jennewein)

In a cold and sometimes violent rainstorm in Little Rock, Ark., on March 1, Rae Mohrmann ran her 93rd marathon. She took second place in her age division – not because of the weather, but because she stopped to give the extra shirt she was carrying to a shivering young woman on the side of the road.

“When you’ve run as long as I have, you prepare for just about everything,” Mohrmann said. “I had two jackets and an extra shirt tied around my middle, and that young woman had a tank top on.”

She shrugged off the idea that second place was the result of stopping to help a fellow runner.

For those who know Mohrmann, MEd 1976, a longtime teacher in the Normandy (Mo.) School District and an aerobics and fitness instructor in Recreational Sports at UMSL, the kind gesture toward the woman is a big part of who she is.

It’s also one of the reasons she recently received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the St. Louis Track Club at their annual volunteer banquet.

“I’m delighted that the track club recognized the many contributions Rae has made over the years,” said Michael Bahr, associate professor of education at UMSL, a fellow marathon runner and member of the track club. “Some of those contributions are quite tangible, such as her presence as a volunteer at many of the track club events. Her other contributions come through the support she gives to colleagues and the hundreds – probably thousands – of runners she doesn’t know but who she supports through her encouragement and positive presence.”

Mohrmann, 66, has been a member of the St. Louis Track Club for nearly 20 years. She didn’t start volunteering until she had the time and energy to devote. Since then she’s ramped up her activities donating more than 200 hours each year handing out runner’s packets days before a race, handing out cups of water during a race and organizing the annual picnic. She even works on the committee to plan the volunteer banquet where she received her award.

She says running has given her so much, she wants to give back to the sport. She was 30 years old when she was divorced and found herself a single parent. She needed a pick-me-up and turned to running, something she always excelled at.

“I ran around my apartment building at first, then the circle kept getting larger,” Mohrmann said. “After two months I ran my first 5K. I added more mileage over the years, but never ran more than a 10-mile race for the next 19 years.”

Mohrmann was 49 when she decided to take up marathon running, a 26-mile, 385-yard race. Do the math: 93 marathons in 17 years is 5.47 per year. She’s run at least one marathon in all 50 states, some of them, like the Boston Marathon, she’s run multiple times.

And if you think those statistics are awesome, Mohrmann will always redirect your praise to someone else who she considers more awesome.

She talked about the recent race in Little Rock where the temperature dropped from 54 degrees at the beginning of the race to 37 at the end. The rain and wind were whipping all around the runners, and then it started lightning.

“I came across a man running with a blade, the running prosthesis used by some runners these days,” she explained. “He told me, ‘nothing is going to stop me but me,’ and I knew what he meant. We gave each other courage. Runners are survivors. They know they will survive this race in order to run the next one.”

It’s a quality she uses to help others achieve their goals, whether it’s the students in the 19 fitness classes she teaches every week or her grandchildren.

“I tell people to find a challenge, then do it,” she said. “Make it something that makes you feel awesome.”

The UMSL Experience


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