Santa Clarita Marathon Ambassador Program

Ambassadors for the Santa Clarita Marathon share a passion for fitness
and a love of the Santa Clarita running community.

Heather Stewart works, lives and, most importantly, runs in Santa Clarita, Ca.  Like many others, Heather was overweight and unhappy when she made the goal to run a 5K in late 2010. She trained, ran and was hooked! Since that day in March of 2011, she has completed over 40 organized races including 3 sprint triathlons and 3 marathons.  She was chosen to be a Spotlight Runner for her first marathon, the 2013 LA Marathon and has a passion for encouraging others to meet their running dreams regardless of their size. When not running she works in Learning and Development at Princess Cruises, goes to Grad School, sits on the board of the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund ( and is an Ambassador for Girls on the Run LA.  Her goal is to be an “old lady runner” and her favorite place on earth is a finish line….whether cheering at it or running through it.

The 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon was Sarah Cabrera‘s first race of any kind. Being a huge Disney fan, she’ll admit that the main reason she signed up was for the medal and the opportunity to run back-stage. After crossing that finish line she was hooked. She has now completed 30 half marathons, numerous 5k and 10k races and she ran her first marathon last year!

Rebecca Neumeier found running in 2005 when she was working to lose weight after kids. Her first race was the Santa Clarita Half Marathon in 2006. She was hooked! She has been running ever since! 5Ks up to 50Ks and Ironman Triathlons. She can’t imagine life without running!

Lori Sharp wasn’t always destined to become a runner. Her first time on the treadmill she couldn’t even last through an entire song. Determined to become the athlete she never thought she could, she’s persevered through knee setbacks and has made qualifying for Boston her number one goal. She is very active with her run club and gym, Run MDR and CrossFit Anacapa. Both have helped train her for multiple half marathons, marathons, trail races, and even Half Ironman triathlons.

Jeff Solomon is a long time resident of Santa Clarita. Over the past few years he has come to appreciate all the recreation opportunities that are available in the City of Santa Clarita. Jeff lived in pain for many years from an ankle injury incurred in a motocross racing accident. After a successful ankle fusion surgery, he was able to be more active; running (slowly), hiking and cycling.

Christine Colvin always resented the idea of running. Hated it. Thought it was terrible. She even inadvertently found a way to slither past the required one mile test in high school. Fast forward to when she realized that she needed to put some focus on her health and she went back to that high school track that she avoided and started putting one foot in front of the other. Next thing she knew she was crossing the finish line of her first 5K and when she checked out the race images she discovered she was smiling – no, beaming – in every picture. She had become a runner and she LOVED it!  So far she has completed about a dozen 5Ks, one 10K, and 6 half marathons (well, soon to be 7 with the 2016 Santa Clarita Half Marathon!). Looking forward to running with you!


Robyn Ortiz was not always a “runner.” As a child and adolescent gymnast, she used to joke that the farthest she preferred to run was the distance across a gymnasium floor, or possibly the distance between the starting line and the springboard in front of a vault. As a fifth-grade teacher, however, Robyn decided that to motivate (and empathize with) her students as they trained for the California Physical Fitness Test, she would run the track with them. She had almost PR’d at an under-10:00 mile when her first snowboarding adventure ended with a cracked tailbone — and months off of running with her students. She kept her promise to them, however, and ran both “heats” (in the blazing heat of May) with her students during the official testing run, finishing the first mile in 10:00 and the second in 10:31. Robyn continued to run with her students, improving her time to a regular 9:30 pace. This “speed” would exhaust her, though, and the likelihood of ever running more than one mile at a time seemed to loom forever outside her physical ability. Then she met her “running angel” — a random woman at L.A. Fitness who was always on the treadmill long before and long after Robyn’s one-mile jaunt. When Robyn asked the woman how to run more than a mile at a time, the woman simply answered, “Slow down.” So, Robyn returned to her 10:00 pace, and found that she could sustain energy for two miles without stopping! Encouraged, Robyn followed this woman’s advice each time she sought a longer-distance PR. Four and a half years later, Robyn has completed one *official* half-marathon (although she now runs that distance and farther as training runs) and six full marathons, with a current time PR of 4:13:57! She had dreams of training for an under-4:00:00 PR during this year’s Santa Clarita Marathon, but after an unfortunate accident left her with a broken left tibia and fibula, she’s now preparing for cheering on her fellow runners from the sidelines, with high hopes to run that PR marathon in 2018.

Christianna Loza went to battle with her self-doubt, anxiety and depression every time she hit the park track in North Hollywood, California. The day she began to beat this negative side of self and run her first full mile was the day she found an unstoppable passion and fire inside her to keep running. A year later, she has completed several 5k’s, two Half Marathons and the LA Marathon. Christianna has found a family of accepting and encouraging runners at Pitfire Running Club and continues to grow with the help of mentors with Fleet Feet Sports Burbank’s training programs. She started running for the healing and ended up staying for the community at large of empowering athletes.


Michelle Young works, lives, and runs in Simi Valley, CA. She most recently has completed her first marathon in LA of this year. Though Michelle has always been a runner, running was not a consistent part of her daily life until the beginning of 2016. Today, Michelle is happier and healthier than she’s been in years. It’s changed her life style and given  her energy and joy. When not running she works in Plant Operations Department at Simi Hospital. She’s been married for 15 years and has a one daughter. Her goal is to be the best runner she can be and have some fun along the way while meeting new people.


Running has always been something that Joshua Sharp enjoyed, but it was not until he ran his first Marathon in 2011 that he truly discovered his passion for running. He has since completed 16 marathons and is a 3 time Boston Marathoner. Other accomplishments include completing multiple half marathons, two Half Ironman Distances and two 50K Trail races. He and his wife Lori are both training for their first attempt at the Full Ironman Distance in July.

Ami Ahn lives in Mission Hills where she is a college student at Mission College in Sylmar that runs around her block and in nearby parks.  She runs with Shepherd Sports Run/Walk Club every Saturday morning and loves to run the Santa Clarita Marathon 5K every year! Ami loves to run 5Ks, meet new people and she runs because it feels good!  Ami also loves cheering people on at the finish line and getting free stuff after races!


My name is Noelle Neal! I am from the AV originally and aside from 5 years at the UO, have lived here my whole life. I have never been a “runner”. I started training in August of 2012, having never attempted to run a mile in my life, for the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. Completing that event was such an accomplishment that I had to do it again. I went from 2 runs that first year to earning 27 medals in 2015. Though my times have hardly improved, I have learned to enjoy the experience and adventure of dragging myself through 13 miles. I have seen beautiful places because of running, and connected with a community that not only welcomes all ability levels, but uses their ability to keep moving forward to help others. My goal is to run a race in every state (this year: Montana, Wyoming, and Utah) and hopefully a run in at least one other country.

Joanne Gervais Ainsworth first put on her first pair of running shoes in college, while attending UMass Amherst as a Dance/History/Education major. An avid runner since 1991, Joanne loves to race and share her love of the sport with her friends and family, training and helping others enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  She is also the owner of the Gervais School of Performing Arts in Valencia, (formerly of Massachusetts), where she teaches dancers of all ages and abilities. Joanne is a master teacher of Jazz and Tap Dance and also teaches Modern, Ballet and Ballroom. Her youngest student is 2 and her oldest is 80!  She is also a mom of 3 and lover of dogs. You might see her running the trails with her white Australian Shepherd, Moxie!  Joanne loves to run the SCV Marathon and this year will be her 4th time in the half!

In January 2015 after over 30 years of bad eating and no exercise and depression that had mounted up on him, Felix Olmedo decided it was time for a change. He completely turned his life around changed his diet and starting living life on his terms with a new vision of what he wanted his life to be about. In doing that he developed a passion for fitness and also a huge interest in running that he had never felt before and he would venture out into the world showing the world every step of his journey. Losing over 170lbs is no easy task but he did it and then he wanted to start doing races challenging himself he went out and did 5k’s, 10k’s, and just this past November 2016 he did his first ever half marathon. His vision has started coming to life and he couldn’t be happier. As he approaches 40 he is ready to jump into the 2nd phase of his life 250 lbs lighter and ready to share his passion with the world in hopes that his story would inspire others to want to find that courage to change their life for the better.

Flor Hernandez never considered herself a runner or imagined participating in a race. She  loved the outdoors and going out for walks and one day was invited to do a 5k with some of her coworkers. Trying to jog a 5k for the first time wasn’t easy and made her lungs and legs burn but that was temporary, it was the atmosphere of the running community that really made her love races. The fact that so many people of all shapes, sizes and ages were all out there supporting and cheering for each other. Shortly after that she decided to run the LA Marathon without even knowing what she had gotten herself into. It was so painful and difficult to do it without the proper training, however she also realized that she was stronger than she thought, and that anything was possible if she put her mind to it.  Fast forward to 16 years later, she has now ran 108 half marathons and 20 full marathons. She’s a board member and running coach South Bay Runners Club in Manhattan Beach. Running has given her a more positive outlook in life and she hopes to inspire others to believe in themselves and to never give up.

James Mitchell is a husband, father of four, and knew his life needed to change when the numbers on his scale kept going up. In 2010, he set the goal of dropping weight and running a marathon. Through ups and downs in the gym and out on the road he achieved his goal in 2011 by running the LA Marathon and dropping more than 100 pounds. Today he remains active by running with Runners Lane both in Santa Clarita and Palmdale, and as of 2017 he has run 9 half-marathons, including Santa Clarita twice, 10 marathons, also twice running Santa Clarita, and 2 ultra-marathons. Running also has become a family affair, as his wife and kids have all become active members of the running community in Santa Clarita, as his wife has run the Santa Clarita Marathon and Half-Marathon, and his oldest son ran his first half marathon at last year’s Santa Clarita Half Marathon. While running may seem to consume much of his life, he also is a Electro-Mechanical Design Engineer at a local Linear Motor Manufacturer, and a part-time pastor in the Antelope Valley. His passion for running though bleeds into these other aspects of life, and has led him to continue to strive for excellence in all aspects of life.

Norma Gonzalez has been running for over 15 years (on and off, let’s face it life happens! :)) and has completed many races in various distances. Her most memorable and favorite race thus far is the New York City Marathon, which she completed in one of her best times. She was also her country’s (Guatemala) delegate in the New York City Marathon Parade. Her goal is to be a stronger runner and impacting her community by promoting better health and fitness while also raising funds for the most disadvantaged. Norma was born and raised in Los Angeles and enjoys training on the beautiful trails of Griffith Park, which she considers her “back-yard.” She enjoys exploring trails all over Greater Los Angeles and meeting new people. When not running she enjoys sevicing investment clients in an investment management company in Los Angeles. She is a member of Women in Institutional in Investments Network (WIIIN) and enjoys volunteering and mentoring as an alumni at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Hi my name is Dennis Lebman and I am thrilled to once again be an ambassador for my home town race! I started running in Sept 2010 as a way to lose weight and ran my first race 6 weeks later in the 2010 Santa Clarita Half Marathon with a goal to run it under 2 hrs. I made my goal at 1:58:58. I ran my first marathon a few months later at the 2011 LA Marathon in the pouring rain. I ended up losing 60 lbs. in 6 months.

I have run 19 marathons, 17 Half Marathons a few 10K and 5K’s. I have run the LA Marathon 7 years in a row, each one for charity with the last 5 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I have also been fortunate to have run Boston twice in 2013 and 2014. I’ve had a few setbacks with injuries and am struggling to get any speed back.  Next years LA Marathon will be my 20th full and most likely my last full marathon as I plan to stick with the half marathon distance for a while.

Bear Caudillo hails from Burbank, Ca. Bear didn’t get his name from being a fierce competitor, he got it from being big. Something had to change so he made a concerted effort after his 30 birthday to get fit. Bear started running to not only slim down but to live better. Since 2011, he has completed over 20 half marathons and 4 full marathons in his 5 years of running. Santa Clarita Marathon in 2013 is the first marathon he had ever done. Bear’s passion for running has extended beyond the activity too. Bear has trained others as a Mentor in the Fleet Feet Burbank training programs where he watched others succeed through running. He is a recipient of The Power of Running to Inspire Award.

After being overweight his entire life, at age 18 Craig Moss started running to lose weight.  At first he couldn’t make down the block and he would run at night because he was so embarrassed by my body/pace.  He kept at it and after a month he could run around the block without stopping.  Three years later decided to see how far he could run and signed up for his first race; the LA Marathon.  After running the entire 26.2 miles without stopping he told (cried) to his mom that “I would never do that again”.  Four days later after the extreme pain he was in he started thinking about running another marathon, he guesses he was hooked since he has completed over 45 since then. Being an obese youth didn’t just fuel the fire to complete a marathon it was the driving force behind his choice to become a health teacher and running coach; he wanted to educate as many kids as possible about the importance of proper nutrition and the benefits of an active lifestyle. In his wildest dreams he couldn’t have imagined how much of an impact he would have on not just his school’s health but the local community’s as well. Now he wants to take his passion and extend it beyond his local community to have an even broader, far- reaching impact.

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