Introducing Our Race Emcee

I’m so excited to share this announcement — and how fitting that it’s on International Women’s Day.

In thinking about how stories are celebrated leading up to and during our race weekend, we believe it starts with the team of women who will host you, take care of you and cheer you on.
This is everything from the team leaders who are sharing stories and inspiring you to the women taking over our Instagram and hyping you up weeks before the race, from the women who will speak and host sessions during race weekend to the woman whose voice you will hear as you toe the line on race day and work to cross your finish line.
The emcee of the race is the last voice you’ll hear before you set out on your race day journey. It’s the last voice to inspire you, empower you and, ultimately, remind you of your strength and resilience for when you hit the mental walls and physical challenges out on the course. It’s the last message — the last send off — before you hit the pavement, find your groove and finish what you started.
It’s the voice that reminds you that we get to do this. We get to run and move our bodies. We get to enjoy the sun on our faces and beads of sweat on our brow. We get to witness our body’s ability to keep going, even when it’s hard. It’s the voice that reminds you that all of race day is a gift, and to not fully embrace it is to miss the magic of it.
The emcee is the soul of race day.
The maestro.
The glue.
The heartbeat.
And when each woman crosses our finish line, our emcee will make her feel like a queen, a rock star and the hero she is.
Our emcee is a woman who loves race day. In all the years I’ve known her, she has told me over and over again that race days are what light her up. Cheer stations, crazy costumes, epic finish lines — she’s all in. She loves cheering on runners, and she loves celebrating the humanity and spirit of race day.
Our emcee is a woman who has defined much of her identity this past decade as an athlete and runner. Running is what made her feel strong, in control and powerful. Running gave her an outlet — both physical and mental — to push her limits and dig into her potential.
It’s my extraordinary pleasure and privilege and JOY to introduce our 2022 Made to Move race weekend emcee:
JulieAnn Villa
And here’s what I’ll tell you next: This past year, JulieAnn’s ability to run was taken from her. A third cancer diagnosis meant surgery that would remove half of her pelvis, all but eliminating her body’s ability to withstand the physical toll of running. These days, after countless physical therapy sessions, walking is a gift.
Our emcee can no longer run, and I can tell you she would give anything for the gift to do so.

Over these past months as JulieAnn and I have talked and texted about her journey and recovery, I could tell she was struggling with this different identity. For many of us, we shift and grow into new parts of ourselves, but for JulieAnn, her identity was abruptly taken. And more so, she really had no choice in the matter but to accept and surrender into this new chapter.
She shared things with me like: How do I participate in race day if I can no longer run? How can I show up in a community where I can’t do the very thing this community is built on? Does my story still matter here ... do I still matter here?
I know many of us have found ourselves in a season of shifting identity. The athletes we once were. The runners we once were. The paces we once hit. The body we once occupied. The age where aches and pains didn’t exist. The goals we were once motivated by. The dreams we once wanted to chase. Add to this the past two years of simply surviving and, well, our stamina and ability to stay disciplined have been more difficult than ever.
JulieAnn gets it.
She may not be able to run with us on race day, but she gets it. In my life, there’s no one who has gotten me out the door more than JulieAnn has ... there’s no one who’s inspired me to keep going more than JulieAnn ... and there’s no one who’s reminded me of the simple power of just showing up more than JulieAnn.
Who better to send us off.
Who better to remind us that we get to.
Who better to keep us motivated.
Who better to show us that we are brave enough.
And who better to tell us that those damn hills don’t stand a chance against our strength and resilience.
Cancer may have robbed JulieAnn of the gift of running, but it will not take away her joy. It will not take away her love for race day and cheering people in to their finish lines.
And JulieAnn — I’m so f’ing proud of you. I know you’d give anything to be on the course as a runner. I know you f’ing hate cancer so damn much. I know this will be bittersweet and brutiful for you to take on this role. And I know you will show up anyway. I love you so much, and I learn from you every day.
And to all the women showing up on race day: I guarantee you will be more inspired than ever with JulieAnn’s voice as the one to send you off and bring you home to your finish line.
I’m so pumped to say that JulieAnn will also be leading a session at Friday’s market that dives deep into this idea of identity and how it shifts and evolves ... sometimes by choice, sometimes not ... and how we work through it all. I can’t wait for this conversation, and watch for details coming soon!


Photo of JulieAnn at a recent Dare2tri event.