Amy Eutsey unleashed something pretty cool in Easton. The mom of three teenagers —16-year-old twins and a 19-year-old — started a running program called Unleashed that trains all types of runners and raises money for Talbot Humane at the same time.
Eutsey and her husband, Dwayne, moved to Easton from Frederick 15 years ago to live a simpler life, she explains. She worked as a freelance editor so she could stay home with her kids and has been a medical journal copy editor for Dartmouth Journal Services for 10 years. She now also works part-time with Talbot Humane as the volunteer coordinator.
Her passion, however, is coaching runners through Unleashed, which she introduced to Talbot Humane in 2012 after running a similar marathon training program in the community. Runners of all abilities come together to train under the guidance of coaches. The goal is to sign up for a marathon or half marathon and seek sponsors to raise funds for Talbot Humane. The motto is “run like the gate was left open,” reflecting that the program is fun and that each runner has limitless potential, Eutsy explains.
In the first season, the program raised over $20,000 for the shelter and has raised more than $200,000 since. This year Unleashed is a charity partner in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which is a large race that sells out quickly.
We recently caught up with Eutsey to find out what inspired her to start Unleashed, why she loves running, and how she balances work, volunteering and life with teens.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Unleased?
I missed coaching at the marathon/half marathon level [which I had done previously] and offered to do a marathon training program for the shelter. I thought it would be successful because who doesn’t love animals?
The Unleashed team is made up of people from the community who come in all shapes, sizes and athletic abilities (many who have never run a step) and who are from all walks of life. What we have in common is our love for animals and belief that every pet deserves a humane and loving home.
I’m really proud of Unleashed and all the runners who have come through the program. I feel really privileged to go on the marathon journey with them every year. Their courage, strength and resolve never cease to amaze me!
Q. Why did you choose to get involved with Talbot Humane as opposed to other charities?
Every pet we’ve had has been a rescue, from a mean ol’ tomcat who faced euthanasia to guinea pigs left outside a foreclosed home. Our current pets [a cat named Camden and a bunny named Sgt. Pepper] come from Talbot Humane. I have a lot of friends from other parts of my life who also love animals and either volunteer or work at the shelter, so it was quite an easy choice.
Q. You seem like a busy person. How do you balance work and teenagers?
Being able to work at home on my own schedule helps a lot and, thankfully, I don’t need a lot of sleep! I keep unusual work hours, working in the wee hours of the morning before everyone gets up. As the kids have gotten older and more independent, I have been able to work outside of the home at the shelter, which is literally 5 minutes from my house and 2 minutes from the high school. My kids have always been busy, so having the flexible work life allows me to go to all their games, meets, shows and so forth.
Q. Why did you get involved in the running community?
I have been a runner since middle school, so well over 30 years. I believe that it is the most accessible and inexpensive way to get in shape and stay fit and that anyone in reasonably good health can do it.
I’m involved because I wanted to help to expand the running community on the Mid Shore and to lead others to the same positive experience both physically and spiritually that I experience from long-distance running. Most of my closest friends are runners, and I have coached many who now have life-long friends through running. As busy as my home and work lives are, coaching on Saturday mornings feels like my break.
Q. What motivates you to run?
Aside from wanting to stay healthy and stave off an extensive family history of diabetes and heart disease, it’s probably the starting line. To me the best part of all the hard work I put into training and coaching is standing with hundreds to thousands of other runners waiting for the gun. At that moment in time, no matter who we are individually, what we do, what we believe, what our motivation, we all have a single direction and a single goal. The energy is amazing!
Q. What do you guys do that helps you bond as a family?
The best thing we did for our family was to move to Easton where we could spend time together. When we lived in Frederick, Dwayne and I had to leave our oldest at day care, travel to Bethesda 30 miles away for work and leave the twins in between with my mother in Rockville. We never had a family life.
When we moved here, we were able to substitute day care with a couple hours of preschool, have dinner together every night and get involved with the community as a family (through church, the schools, etc). Dwayne took karate with our oldest. I helped to run after-school programs when my kids were younger. I coached outdoor track when both my sons were on the team, and all three kids and I went to summer camp for two weeks for many years before they aged out.
Now the kids are older [the oldest is in college] and more independent, but we still find time to do things as a family, even if it’s just for the day once every couple of months.
By Betsy Stein
Photos: Top – Amy Eutsey and one of her rescued cats.
Bottom – The Eutsey family.