Meet our 2017 All American Marathon Ambassadors!

Sean Cook

My Name is Sean Cook I am a Veteran of the US Army and planning to retire soon after 21 years of service. I have served in both the Infantry and the Special Operations fields. I have really come into the running world the last two years after having ankle reconstructive surgery. Part of my recovery included running and before 2015 I had never run a marathon or a half marathon. But that year my friends challenged me to sign up for the Leadville 100 race which I did and figured I would not get picked to run, because it was a raffle. However they picked me and that changed my life. From that day on I changed how I looked at running and how I approacehed life. I started running half marathons and since 2015 I have run over 25 half marathons from Colorado to Illinois to Virginia. I also started running marathons and have run most of the big races from Los Angeles to Chicago to Houston. I have also run a lot of smaller races and ultra trail races. I trained and worked my way to finish the Leadville 100 last year, where half the participants didn’t finish. I have run every race with a make it happen and never quit attitude. those two things have really shaped how I look at running and I have begun my transition of the Army and stayed close to the running community. I started up my own business aimed at bringing runners together to rate races and be socially active in the running community. This has begun to expand and I am really looking forward to the next stage of my life. I continue to run many races and continue to push myself to get out there and be an ambassador for healthy living and running. I have served 21 years in the Army and have always enjoyed some form of competition and as I get older I reach back to my youth where I competed in the Best Ranger Competition and try to emulate some of those things I did earlier in my life now. I am married to my best friend Michelle. I am also a graduate of the Citadel. But most importantly I am a runner. I am a finisher.

Janice Leister

Janice Leister is a Navy Lieutenant, currently living in Greenville, South Carolina. She has been running competitively for over 15 years, and more recently began running half and full marathons. This year she was inducted into the Marathon Maniacs organization, after completing the Marine Corps Marathon, St. Jude Memphis Marathon, and Walt Disney World Marathon. She is a Dopey Challenge finisher, five-time Marathon finisher, and plans to be inducted into the Half Fanatics organization by the beginning of next year. She runs in support of Team Wear Blue: Run to Remember, in memory of a good friend who was KIA in Iraq, as well as St. Jude Heroes, where she runs to honor the various children she works with as a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish. 

Jake Ruiz

Hi! My name is Jake Ruiz. I was born and lived in Southern California until I joined the Army at age 17. I spent 21 years in the Army serving in numerous locations in the USA and overseas including Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I am married to my wonderful wife and together we share five children.

During my time in service I discovered that I was pretty good at running and that I enjoyed the sport. I began running races from 5K and up and meeting new people who enjoyed running as well. My wife and I frequently run races together and sometimes the kids run too. We encourage their participation in running for the health benefits and family team building. We currently live in Savannah Georgia where we run races several times a year.

This year I had the opportunity to run the All American Marathon with my wife in memory of her father. My wife is a Gold Star family member and her father was represented on the Memorial Mile. The run was challenging, nostalgic, and emotional as I ran past memorials and places I used to call home during my time in the 82nd Airborne. Running in memory of others and supporting positive causes are a big reason why I enjoy running.

Courtney Dennis

I’m a Colorado native that recently moved to to Wilmington, North Carolina with my family.  I began running in 2012 after discovering my daughter had a love for the jogging stroller.  Many, many walks eventually led to the idea that the Couch 2 5k program would be a fun challenge and it was then that my love for running was born.  I have completed 20+ half marathons and tackled my first full marathon in 2015.  My daughter remains my “running coach” and she still joins me on training runs and at races.  While running comes with lots of training and goal setting, it is also extremely fun and social for me.  I enjoy the camaraderie that comes with running and making new friends.  I love participating in races as a pacer and helping pace other runners to reach their goals.  I truly believe that the last runner should never have to cross the finish line alone.

I am so honored and excited to be an ambassador for the 2017 All American Marathon.  I hope to see you all at the start line! 

Brittney Johnson

My name is Brittany Johnson, I’m 27 years old and originally from a small town called Tazewell, Virginia.  I got married at the age of 19 to a soldier and that lead me to moving to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where my husband was stationed and I spent 5 years.  We were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas in 2012 and that was when I got introduced to running. I was introduced to a local running group called The Coffee Posse in El Paso and was registering for my first race in August 2013. I’m an online health and wellness coach who loves to run, motivate and inspire others, and let others know that they can overcome the bad times.

From that point on I was hooked to running and was introduced to a world that I never knew existed. Running for me initially was used for not only losing weight, but as a way to cope and move on from life changing events that had occurred. It started as a way of proving to myself that your past doesn’t define you, that I can overcome and be a much stronger person mentally and physically.  Running quickly turned into a passion for me and I started running for something that was much larger than myself as I became a part of Team Tillman with the Pat Tillman Foundation. I ran my first marathon in Chicago 2014 for the Pat Tillman Foundation, running to raise money for the Tillman Scholars.

The All American Marathon was quickly added to my list of races to run after completing my first marathon. I wanted to come back to the All American City and do things that I never accomplished while living here the first time.  I am beyond excited to finally be back and to be an ambassador for a marathon that to me is more than just another race.