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  • Meet The Team: Our Amazing Staff & Coaches


    Paul Epstein: Owner

    Originally hailing from Naples, Florida, Paul's journey took him through The University of Florida, where he later served as a helicopter pilot for the Army during Desert Storm. It was in El Paso where he crossed paths with his wife, Cherie', before settling in Pensacola in 1997. Together, they embarked on the adventure of opening Running Wild, raising three wonderful daughters along the way. With nearly four decades of experience both as a runner and coach, Paul possesses an intimate understanding of the sport and finds immense fulfillment in guiding others towards their running aspirations.


    Cherie Epstein: Owner

    Hailing from the rugged landscapes of El Paso, Texas, Cherie's adventurous spirit was kindled amidst desert mountain biking and ski instructing in New Mexico, where fate brought her to Paul's side. A high school track standout, she continued her running journey at Texas State University (formerly SWT), earning degrees in Communications and Marketing, followed by a master's in Education from UTEP. Despite the demands of motherhoodcompeting in marathons and even conquering Ironman Florida with three young daughters under the age of 5Cherie's passion for running remains undiminished as she now trains to keep pace with her growing girls.


    Mike Overton: Footwear Manager

    Born and bred in Pensacola, Mike's journey took him from the halls of Catholic High School to the bustling streets of Los Angeles before he found himself guiding cyclists through the scenic trails of Vermont. A pioneer in endurance sports, he tackled his first Half Ironman in the early 80s, laying the foundation for a career marked by athletic prowess and leadership. Armed with a degree in Exercise Science from FSU and complemented by a Masters in Business, Mike possesses the expertise to guide athletes of all levels towards their fitness goals with confidence and precision.


    Ann Rush: Store Manager Extraordinaire

    Ann embodies the essence of Running Wild in Fairhope, infusing the location with her unwavering strength and dedication. Her dynamic energy and remarkable knack for connecting with our guests consistently elevate their experience beyond expectations. Beyond her pivotal role on our team, Ann wears many hats: she's a devoted mother to three sons, a cherished 'Annie' to three delightful grandchildren, and has been a loving wife for 39 years to an incredibly supportive husbandall while radiating a youthful glow that defies time. With a passion for the running community, Ann finds solace and fulfillment in the sense of achievement that running brings. Beyond the physical benefits, she revels in the opportunity to immerse herself in the breathtaking beauty of nature, cherishing every moment outdoors as a gift from above.

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    Misty Guess: Customer Experience Director

    Having graduated from Gulf Breeze High School, Misty's journey into the running world began with a nudge from her family. Inspired by her brother Adam, co-owner of Run Pensacola, whose mission is to ignite a passion for running within our community. Yet, beneath her runner's exterior lies a deep-seated love for fishing and the enchanting lore of sea creatures, earning her the playful moniker of being one-third runner, two-thirds mermaid. Beyond her athletic pursuits, Misty's heart beats for people, fueled by a genuine desire to assist Running Wild's patrons in achieving their fitness aspirations.

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    Mary Mata: Fit Specialist

    Originally from Victoria, Texas, Mary's academic journey led her to Texas State University (formerly SWT), where she earned a business degree. Alongside her husband, she co-owns Creative Orthotic and Prosthetics, a business dedicated to crafting prosthetic limbs. Balancing roles as a part-time bookkeeper for their company and a part-time sales associate at Running Wild, Mary finds fulfillment in both ventures. At Running Wild, she thrives in the lively atmosphere and values being part of a team that positively impacts people's health. When she's not immersed in work, Mary finds joy in a variety of fitness pursuits, including weight training, spin classes, and yoga. And while running is just a sprinkle in her active lifestyle, it adds an extra dash of enjoyment to her routine.


    Leah Razzano: Assistant Store Manager

    Leah's journey into the world of running began in Warren, Arkansas, where she first laced up her shoes as a member of the track team in junior high. Her athletic pursuits expanded to include swimming, cycling, and basketball throughout her life. At the University of Mississippi, she excelled both on and off the court, earning the distinction of being a four-year letterman and team captain of the basketball squad during her senior year at Ole Miss. Amidst her achievements, Leah faced and conquered a battle with cancer, emerging as a survivor. Today, she proudly calls Spanish Fort, Alabama, home. When she's not assisting customers at Running Wild, Leah treasures precious moments spent with her daughters, cherishing the joys of motherhood and family.


    Michele Kuczynski: Merchandise Manager & Buyer

    Michele's journey is marked by a fusion of academic prowess and a deep-seated love for running and the arts. A graduate of Gulf Breeze High School in 1998, she went on to earn degrees in Political Science and Theatre from UWF in 2002. With a robust background in run retail, Michele's career took her from Road Runner Sports in New Jersey to Atlanta, where she managed three stores and spearheaded the opening of a new location in Alpharetta, Georgia. Amidst her professional achievements, Michele finds solace and balance in her role as a mother to three young children, crediting running as her saving grace. Beyond the pavement, her heart beats for balleta secret passion that fuels her spirit. Embracing the vibrant tapestry of the running community at Running Wild, Michele finds joy in the diverse array of personalities united by a shared love for running, recognizing that the journey holds a different meaning for each individual.


    Dom Zambrano: Operations Manager

    From the bustling streets of Dallas, Texas, to the serene landscapes of Mobile, Alabama, Dom's journey into the world of running began as a post-college outlet for competition, igniting a passion that has persisted ever since. Now calling Pensacola home, you'll often find him traversing his beloved route, The Bayou Loopa timeless favorite that never fails to inspire. With a zest for all things outdoors, Dom finds fulfillment in the vibrant community fostered at Running Wild, where runners of all backgrounds unite in pursuit of their shared passion. A fun fact: In 2015, Dom achieved an extraordinary feat, transitioning from couch potato to Ironmanan inspiring testament to his dedication and determination.

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    Sydney: Marketing Director

    Sydney's educational journey, marked by homeschooling and dual enrollment, culminated in her graduation from UWF with a degree in Marketing. Armed with her exceptional customer service acumen, she spearheads our Marketing efforts and plays a vital role in promoting Run Pensacola. Introduced to the world of running by her father, a passionate triathlete, it quickly became a shared passion between them, igniting a deep love within Sydney. Now, driven by her own enthusiasm, she is eager to extend this passion to others, spreading the joy of running far and wide.

    Shop some of Sydney's Favorites!

    Coleman White: Fit Specialist

    Coleman's roots run deep in Fairhope, Alabama, where he's spent his entire life. Currently a student at Fairhope High School and dually enrolled at Coastal Alabama Community College, Coleman's pursuits extend beyond the classroom. In his leisure hours, he finds solace in strumming his guitar, hitting the pavement for runs, and cherishing moments with his family. His journey into the world of running began with an elementary school running club, sparking a love affair with the sport that has seen him through multiple races, including two half marathonsa testament to his dedication and resilience. Deeply passionate about his community, Coleman finds fulfillment in helping others achieve their running aspirations, standing alongside the Running Wild team as they inspire and empower individuals to reach their goals.



    Lynne Virant boasts an impressive tenure of over 18 years in the health and fitness realm, evolving from a personal trainer and coach to now a Doctor of Physical Therapy. As a Master Instructor for TRX, she imparts her expertise to instructors nationwide, embodying a mission to educate, empower, and transform individuals to move and feel their best, enabling them to lead fuller lives. Lynne's passion for running stems from its ability to push her limits, yet she's acutely aware of the challenges many face when using running as a fitness tool. Understanding that proper conditioning is crucial for injury prevention and long-term running success, she emphasizes the importance of getting in shape to run effectively. Lynne is the driving force behind The Movement Clinica holistic hub for Physical Therapy, Fitness, and Wellness in Pensacolawhere she continues to make a profound impact on her community.


    Lari Franklin: Training Program Director

    Lari Franklin grew up running starting with being a sprinter and hurdler in high school. She joined Wild Cheetah Girlz (Formerly known as Phat Girlz) around 5 years ago and began coaching the My First 5K program around 2 years ago. She says she really enjoys the group run culture at Running Wild because it keeps her motivated. She and her husband were high school sweethearts, teen parents and now empty nesters just having celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary with their 3 amazing grown children. What keeps this couple together besides names that rhyme? Well, running of course!!!


    Jenae Bentley: App & Online Store Manager

    Hailing from sunny San Diego, Jenae boasts a decade-long tenure in the running industry, complemented by her studies at Boise State University. Her impressive resume features roles at esteemed establishments such as Road Runner Sports and the Rock 'n' Roll Running Series. Outside of her professional endeavors, Jenae finds solace in pounding the pavement with her faithful canine companion and delighting in the thrill of pushing her one-year-old in a jogging stroller. With another little runner on the way, expected to join her squad in September, Jenae's passion for running is truly a family affair. Look out for her spirited runs with the Wild Cheetah Girlz every Wednesday morning in Pensacola.

    Shop some of Jenae's Favorites!

    Elyse Carmichael: Fit Assist

    Elyse's passion for running ignited at a tender age, growing up amidst the scenic vistas of Pensacola. At just four-years-old, she embarked on her first run alongside her dada tradition that sparked a lifelong love affair with the sport. From playing soccer to excelling in track and cross country, Elyse's athletic prowess is matched only by her diverse interests in writing, art, and literature. While she relishes the tranquility of trail runs, it's the camaraderie of fellow runners that truly fuels her spirit. Elyse thrives in the company of like-minded individuals, finding joy in participating in weekly group runs and basking in the sense of community fostered at Running Wild. What sets this workplace apart for her is the undeniable family bond, constant encouragement, and genuine care that permeates the team dynamic. A testament to her athletic prowess, Elyse proudly holds three track records and one cross country record at Booker T. Washington High Schoolan achievement that speaks volumes about her dedication and tenacity.

    Shop some of Elyse's Favorites!

    Todd Gajewski: Sales Trainer

    Originating from Indianapolis, IN, Todd's journey with running began alongside his junior high and high school track teams, and has progressed into a passion for minimalist running. Now residing in Alabama, he finds solace and joy in traversing county roads, back roads, and the picturesque trail systems of Gulf Shores. For Todd, running isn't just about physical exercise, it's about taking a holistic approach to his health. Armed with a BFA in Visual Communication from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Todd finds endless inspiration in the vibrant atmosphere at Running Wild. When he's not pounding the pavement, you'll likely find him indulging in his other passions, including art, horology, gardening, and cooking. With two Addy awards from the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington under his belt, Todd's creative prowess extends far beyond the realm of running.

    Shop some of Todd's Favorites!

    Lauren McNally: Fit Specialist

    Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi, Lauren's fitness journey has taken a new direction from her high school and college days of casual running. Now, her focus lies on weightlifting, where she finds fulfillment and strength. Despite not being a die-hard runner, Lauren cherishes the camaraderie of her colleagues at Running Wild, where she enjoys connecting with like-minded individuals. Outside of work, she delights in the serene joys of paddle boarding, beach outings, and the thrill of treasure hunting at thrift stores. With a degree in Marine Biology and a role at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Lauren's passion for protecting our natural world is as deep as the ocean itself, a testament to her dedication to making a difference.

    Shop some of Lauren's Favorites!

    Ambrea Hobbs: Fit Assist

    Hailing originally from Punta Gorda, Florida, Ambrea's journey with running began when she joined the Cross-Country team during her sophomore year of high school, a decision that ignited her passion for the sport. Now representing UWF on the track, she finds solace in pounding the pavement through neighborhoods, although she relishes the occasional escape to the trails for a change of scenery. Amidst her academic pursuits, as she diligently works towards her bachelor's degree in history, Ambrea cherishes her time spent at Running Wild, where she not only connects with fellow runners but also contributes to the local community. Reflecting on her experience, she remarks, 'I've met so many great people and learned so many things since I joined the Running Wild team.' A fun tidbit: Ambrea proudly displays her love for running with a Road Runner tattoo adorning her ankle.

    Shop some of Ambrea's Favorites!

    Molly Oliver: Assistant Merchandiser

    Molly's roots run deep in Panama City, Florida, where her passion for running first took flight during her high school years. A versatile athlete, she excelled as a sprinter, long jumper, and pole vaulter, all while honing her skills as a competitive gymnast for eight years. Drawn to the serene trails of UWF and the invigorating shores of any beach, Molly finds solace and joy in her runs amidst nature's splendor. At Running Wild, she's found more than just a job, it's become her second family, a supportive community she can always rely on. With a keen eye for apparel and a genuine desire to empower guests, Molly takes pride in assisting them in finding the perfect gear to boost their confidence. Beyond her love for running, she finds delight in painting, embarking on hikes, and casting lines while fishing. As a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority at the University of West Florida, she's deeply rooted in her collegiate community. And when it comes to her favorite indulgence, nothing beats a comforting plate of chicken alfredo.

    Shop some of Molly's Favorites!

    Jon Rundels: Warehouse Manager

    Jon, a Pensacola native, lives and breathes running. His passion knows no bounds, he'll lace up his shoes and hit the pavement anywhere and everywhere. Finding his niche at Running Wild, Jon revels in the opportunity to indulge his love for running while on the clock. A devoted dog owner, he shares his enthusiasm for canine companionship, paired with a particular fondness for Injinji socks. With Jon, it's clear: running, dogs, and quality gear are the ingredients for a fulfilling life.

    Shop Injinji Socks!!

    Todd Matson: Fit Specialist

    Todd's journey spans many places, having spent 26 years serving in the Navy. His affinity for running traces back to his childhood in Montana, where, at the age of 12, he embarked on his first runs alongside his father, who sought to kick his smoking habit and cleanse his lungs. With a penchant for running amidst the tranquility of water and nature, Tods finds solace and joy in every stride. At Running Wild, he thrives on forging connections with each customer, guiding them towards a more active lifestyle with a mantra of 'more smiles per mile.' When he's not pounding the pavement, Todd indulges in a variety of hobbies, including most sports, board and card games and did we mention running? Fun Fact: This year, he gets to celebrate two birthdays. Just ask him for the story!

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    Rory Carmody: Fit Specialist

    Born into a Navy family in Lemoore, California, Rory has called Pensacola home since the age of 4. Recently graduating from Florida Atlantic University after four years in Boca Raton (2019-2023), Rory's athletic journey began on the soccer field at the tender age of 4. However, a pivotal decision in high school led him to trade in his soccer cleats for running shoes, discovering a newfound passion for track and Cross Country. His talent propelled him to compete at the Division 1 collegiate level for Florida Atlantic University. You'll often spot him along Gulf Beach Highway near Perdido Key, his favorite running haunt. At Running Wild, Rory thrives on engaging with fellow runners and walkers, discussing the latest shoe technology and aiding them in achieving their fitness objectives. Beyond the store, Rory's adventurous spirit finds expression in a myriad of outdoor activities from surfing and soccer to fishing, hunting, and, of course, running. And when it's time to unwind, you'll likely find him enjoying the animated classic 'Surf's Up,' featuring the beloved characters of penguins and Chicken Joe.

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    Preston Mitchell: Fit Specialist

    Preston hails from Dothan, Alabama, where he discovered running as more than just a hobbyit became a passion. In addition to his love for hitting the pavement, he finds joy in playing basketball and indulging in the coastal scenery during his runs along the beach. At Running Wild, Preston finds fulfillment in assisting others, whether it's related to running, health, or personal matters. Beyond the store, he cherishes quality time with his girlfriend and finds excitement in both watching and playing basketball. Fun fact: Preston has a strong aversion to condiments and proudly identifies as left-handed.

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    Kat Taylor: OPTs Team/ Fit Specialist

    Originally hailing from Gadson, Alabama, Kat's journey has taken her through various locales from Fort Myers, Florida, to Pensacola for her education at UWF, and then settling in Foley, Alabama, followed by stints in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and now Loxley, Alabama. A multi-sport athlete in high school, including cross-country, Kat continued her running pursuits for enjoyment throughout college. It was during her college years that she found her way to Running Wild, sparking a passion for triathlons and cycling that has since become an integral part of her life. Kat finds solace and exhilaration in trail runs and bay-side jaunts in Fairhope, reveling in the camaraderie of her colleagues and the opportunity to assist fellow enthusiasts at Running Wild. Beyond her athletic pursuits, Kat treasures time spent with her children, indulges in DIY projects, and shares her home with four beloved pets; three dogs and a cat. With a decade of experience in the cycling industry, Kat brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role.

    Shop some of Kat's Favorites!

    Emmalei: Fit Assist

    Emmalei's roots run deep in Pensacola, where she's spent the entirety of her life, aside from summers in California or Texas during her upbringing. Initially drawn to field events in high school track, she took a leap of faith into cross country at her coach's urgingdespite a setback with a broken foot in her debut season. It was during this setback that she realized her deep-seated love for the sport, igniting a passion that has fueled her runs ever since. With a penchant for scenic routes near the beach and chasing sunrise or sunset vistas, Emmalei finds solace and inspiration in the beauty of her surroundings. At Running Wild, she thrives in a culture of positivity and teamwork, where support and camaraderie are ever-present. Emmalei embraces the opportunity for continuous learning, whether it's about nutrition or other topics, both for personal growth and to better serve as an employee. Beyond running, she finds joy in the gym, quality time with loved ones, and exploring her newfound interest in carpentrya testament to her adventurous spirit and eagerness to embrace new challenges.

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    Katrina Stolka: Fit Assist

    Katrina's roots trace back to the sun-kissed shores of Key West, Florida, where her love for movement first blossomed through competitive dancean art she dedicated herself to for an impressive 17 years. Upon her arrival in Pensacola, she discovered a new passion for running, particularly relishing the scenic routes of Navarre Beach and the serene trails of UWF, where nature serves as her backdrop. At Running Wild, Katrina finds fulfillment in cultivating a welcoming atmosphere and spreading joy to every visitor who steps through the doors. Beyond her professional endeavors, she indulges in a diverse array of hobbies, from beach outings and dancing to leisurely walks, baking, and dedicated workouts. Currently embarking on her freshman year at PSC, Katrina harbors aspirations of becoming a physical therapy assistant post-graduation, eager to channel her passion for movement and wellness into helping others. And let's not forgetshe's also a die-hard Top Gun FANATIC, adding an extra dimension of excitement and enthusiasm to her vibrant personality!

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    Shari Essex: Fit Specialist

    Originally hailing from Omaha, NE, Shari's fitness journey has taken various forms, from participating in fun 5Ks with family on holidays to indulging in her main passion, tennis, a sport she's cherished since her high school days. Residing in a canal neighborhood, she finds joy in weaving through the streets past her neighbors, soaking in the scenic surroundings as she runs. At Running Wild, Shari revels in the positive atmosphere and camaraderie among like-minded individuals striving for healthy lifestyles. While tennis remains her favorite pastime, she's recently delved into the world of crochet, eagerly working on her first temperature blanket. Outside of her active pursuits, Shari finds fulfillment in renovating housesa passion she's pursued through the transformation of three different homes she's bought and lived in.

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