Friendships & Finish Lines


By Lindsey Rodrian

It was none other than the Asparagus Festival that first brought Leslie Snyder of Delta Sierra Beverage and then UC Davis Student Mimi Nguyen together in 2004. Years later, they reunited for another cause—inspired by Leslie’s 50th birthday—a marathon.

“It’s 26.2 miles,” Mimi, now Miracle Mile Improvement District’s Executive Director, chimes in. Both women tilt their head as they count races on their fingers. “I just wanted to do something I never though I would,” Leslie continues. “So far, I’ve done 15 marathons and five ultras (any race over 26.2 miles).” For Mimi, it’s five marathons and two ultras.

“I found myself being very selfless. I was doing a lot of things for other people and my follow through was great—but I never made the time to make myself a priority,” Mimi says of her urge to conquer a marathon. “I wanted to do something for me and see it all the way through.”

With this common goal Leslie and Mimi began training together. They utilized the run/walk/run style from the Galloway Method, and put together a plan that increased their distance by 10 percent each week. And over time, a hobby that nurtured a shared goal also blossomed a friendship.

Today, Leslie and Mimi cross finish lines in matching outfits, run almost 50 miles a week, and truly value the team camaraderie they’ve built within their marathon training group. “There’s nothing like coming together with women that share the same love and recognize ways to support each other,” Mimi says.

As the group’s matriarch, Leslie encouraged their latest goal—the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run—that starts in Folsom and ends at the Auburn dam. Leslie’s first 50 mile race is her most memorable, today. “The cutoff was 13 hours and I came in at 12 hours and 51 minutes,” she says, “My daughter was at the finish line waiting to give me my medal and [congratulatory] hugs. Her flood of tears let me know how proud she was of my accomplishment.”

Sweat, tears, and weird talks at the 20th mile marker have these ladies hooked. They both admit that their love for running grew as they strengthened their club and honed in on what inspires them to continue on. “That’s the unspoken rule,” Mimi says, “you run your own race, if you’re having a good day, take off. If you’re having a crappy day, we’ll be right there with you.”