Betty Little, Mary Easley and Margie  Payton-Oskin


I met Mary 20 years ago. I had recently moved to Florida and got a job teaching and coaching Cross Country at Navarre High School. When I coached in Texas, that was all that we had to do. Coach.

All of our invitational meets and transportation needs were provided by the district. We just showed up at the bus stop with our team in their uniforms that were purchased by the district and the bus driver took us to the meet and then he took us back to school.

That was not the case in Florida. I was a lost puppy. I was now expected to BE the bus driver. And the campaign manager to raise funds for the bus, the uniforms, travel and hotel expenses when we qualified for regionals and state, and organize all our meet schedules with the other coaches. How we were able to make it to state is still a mystery to me as I remember more administration than actual coaching. It was all very overwhelming and I made it through that first year only because a very kind, encouraging and inspiring coach down the road at Gulf Breeze High School, took me under her wing. Coach Mary Easley.

Mary did not have to do that. If you have lived in Santa Rosa for more than a year and have high school students or are a student, you will know that The Raiders and The Dolphins have a fierce rivalry that can not even be out done by The Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. But we immediately connected and she told me all the the things to do that even my Athletic Director could not. She is a leader. How can you be a leader if you suppress the competition? She helped me to G R O W . But really, even more importantly, she helped her athletes to grow and be their best versions of themselves. Many are still running today because of the healthy foundation that she laid.

Fast forward more than 15 years later and she is retired and a very active member of the Running Wild Phat Girlz community. This year, she and another amazing woman, Betty Little (whom I will report on later this year), got together and decided that there was a need for a sub tribe of the Phat Nation. The Senior Phat Girlz was born this year as Mary did the research to back it up….keeping the brain and body actively engaged is even more critical in our culture than for any other age group.

Mary is a busy woman even though she has since retired so tracking her down for a few questions was a challenge:

Why did you start running?

“I started running when I was 39. I was trying to learn tennis as an exercise to help me lose weight. I was really having trouble learning the tennis technique and my son said, ‘Why don’t you just start running around the field to lose weight?’
So I took his advice. A younger neighbor decided to run on the field with me. Eventually, we took our running to the streets to get ready for Pittsburgh’s 10k, The Great Race. I ran that just before I turned 40. It seemed like a great way to exercise so I just kept it up. I taught in Oakland near Pitt and I used to take a city bus to school and run home… was 7 miles!”

How has Running Wild helped you reach your goals?

“When I was older (70), I didn’t have anyone to run with so I went to the Phat Girlz group run and found Margie and Betty. That was a really great find for me. Running Wild has created a great culture. I love the fact that all the girls meet at Running Wild and support one another;


That is so important. I also love the fact that I have people my age and pace to run and train with.”

What is your greatest (most favorite) athletic/running accomplishment to date and why?

“My greatest accomplishment was qualifying for the Boston Marathon when I was in my 50s. I was actually shocked that I qualified; I made it with seconds to spare but I made the qualifying time. I did two more marathons that year to prove to myself that I could do it and took my time down by 7 minutes. I ran Boston twice. Also, I coached cross country and track at Gulf Breeze High School for many years; I loved it and loved the kids who ran.”

What are your favorite products from Running Wild?

“Oh my gosh….TriggerPoint has an orange vibration roller. Love. Many other accessories also like ear warmers, water bottles and a classy phone holder. I am getting fit for my next purchase….Xero Gravity Running Shoes.”

What is your next athletic goal and how do you plan to reach it?

“I would like to do well in the Senior Games running the 1500 meter on the track and, maybe, the 5k. Right now I am working on my times….I was off for a year and it is hard to get back. They say that times slow majorly after one is 75, but I REFUSE to accept that.

I do artwork now. I started painting platters and tiles and they started to sell (another major shock)! Now my husband and I go to art shows and do a lot of work with tiles and backsplashes. I also paint canvases of marine life. I love to show people the beautiful structure in marine creatures.”

Mary you are such a huge inspiration for us!

#connect #inspire #equip #enCourage