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Amherst women running daily until Trump is no longer in office

  • Kristin Mattocks (left) and Rebecca Spencer (right) sitting in The Black Sheep Deli & Bakery in Amherst.  —JACQUELYN VOGHEL

  • Rebecca Spencer, left, and Kristin Mattocks pose in downtown Amherst as sleet falls. JACQUELYN VOGHEL

Staff Writer
Published: 11/23/2018 12:32:40 AM

AMHERST — In November 2016, Kristin Mattocks and Rebecca Spencer set out with a goal: running every day until Donald Trump was no longer in office. Two years later, they haven’t missed a day.

Mattocks and Spencer met when their children were in preschool, and as they formed a friendship, they realized that they both enjoyed running. The two women soon began running together regularly, sometimes with other friends or in a group.

On the morning of Nov. 8, 2016, they had special plans for their run.

“I brought a bottle of port and three champagne glasses to the trail at 5:30 in the morning, because we were going to toast the day that we were going to elect our first female president,” Mattocks, sitting next to Spencer, said on a recent morning at the Black Sheep Deli & Bakery in Amherst. “So as you can imagine, the day went downhill from there.”

Mattocks and Spencer are both women scientists — Spencer is a neuroscientist and Mattocks is a health services researcher — and each also has two daughters, which they said made Trump’s election particularly upsetting.

“In the weeks following (Trump’s election) we were just reeling,” Mattocks said. “We didn’t know what to do with ourselves.”

But soon, Spencer found that running seemed to help.

“Between the time of the election and the day the running streak started,” Spencer said, “I would go for a run and say, OK, I can get through today … No matter what it is, I think that running does give you that emotional release.”

“We ran together frequently anyway, and we just decided we’ll see how far we can go,” Mattocks added.

Although both women ran frequently before committing to their “anti-Trump run streak,” running every day, no matter the circumstances, has proved to be a challenge.

Mattocks and Spencer typically run at 5:30 a.m. — they’re both morning people, they said, and often don’t have other time to spare in their day. But on occasion, they have started their runs as early as 3 a.m. to get in their one-mile daily minimum before catching a red-eye flight.

Their favorite trail, and the usual location of their morning runs, is at Buffam Falls in Pelham where they typically run for 4 to 5 miles, which can be longer on weekends.

But Mattocks and Spencer both travel often, and sometimes need to get creative about where they will run. In their two-year streak, Spencer has run in 18 states and five countries, while Mattocks has run in 17 states.

Treadmills are typically a last resort, Mattocks said, but both women have relied on parking lots to get in a run. In Europe, Spencer has run laps around tourist destinations while her family was sightseeing.

Mattocks and Spencer have also had to contend with unfavorable weather and injuries to maintain the streak.

When the trails are covered in deep snow, Mattocks said, it can take 45 minutes to clear one mile.

About a month ago, Mattocks tore her hamstring, which has required physical therapy and made recent runs particularly challenging. They’ve stepped in wasp nests while running, she said, and Spencer has broken a toe.

Although Mattocks and Spencer have reached a milestone of two years — Spencer on Monday and Mattocks on Friday — they won’t cross the finish line until Trump is out of office. And they’re not sure if that will be enough to end the streak.

Spencer said she and Mattocks haven’t decided if the streak will end after a new president has been elected, or if they should wait until the new president is inaugurated. They also haven’t decided whether the next president needs to be a Democrat in order to end the streak.

“We have a lot of rules,” Mattocks said with a laugh.

Regardless of who is in office, Spencer said she has no plans to stop running.

Upon the election of a new president, Spencer said, she “would have to, at the very least, take a celebratory day off.”

“After this is over, I’ll not feel like I have to squeeze it in on those super-inconvenient days, and that’s when it will be good,” Spencer said. “But there certainly is something I’ve grown to enjoy about getting that release every day, and how healthy it feels.”

Mattocks also said that the experience has left her with a heightened appreciation for running.

“When we started there would be days, or even a period of sometimes a week or two, that I would be crushingly tired ... but I haven’t felt that way in a long time,” Mattocks said. “I think your body just gets so used to it that I don’t feel tired anymore … and I never don’t feel enthusiastic about going.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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