Rodgers Ladies to Compete in Disney Marathon

October 14, 2019

Getting ready for the Disney Half Marathon at Disney World in Florida November 3rd are the Rodgers girls: Mom Ruth Rodgers and daughters Ashley Bonham, Jessie Rodgers and Megan Rodgers

By Pat Maurer

Four ladies, all part of a former Clare family and all graduates of Clare High School, will be competing in the Disney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon at Disney World in Florida November 3rd.

The four runners include Ruth Rodgers and her three daughters; Ashley Bonham, Jessie Rodgers and Megan Rodgers.

Ruth and husband Al both grew up in Clare. Ruth said, “We lived there basically our whole lives until two years ago. We moved to Wolverine when Al retired.”

Ruth also coached High School Cross Country from 1999 to 2008.

They are a family of athletes. Ruth held the two mile record in track in high school (she is a 1982 graduate).

She said, “Jessie (a 2004 graduate of CHS who lives in Clare) broke that record when she hit high school and then Megan (who graduated from CHS in 2009 and now lives in Grand Rapids) broke Jessie’s when she hit high school.”

Ashley, the oldest, who graduated from CHS in 2003 and now lives in Bear Creek, North Carolina, also ran cross country and track in high school. She was a part of the teams who were conference and regional champions and state qualifiers.

Ruth said, “The idea came to me that the girls and I, now living so far apart, aren’t going to stay as close as we once were because of the pure distance between us. So I offered to pay their entry fee if they would do this with me – they all jumped on board right away.”

She said, “I am so excited to spend five days with the girls. It is a different dynamic when you add our better halves and the grandkids. I love them all dearly but can’t wait for the time with just us girls.”

Daughter Ashley Bonham agreed. “I love taking part in the Run Disney Races and I’m so excited to be able to run with my mom and sisters! I’ve ran races with each of them at some point in my life but we’ve never had the chance for all of us to run together, so this is really special.”

This will be Ashley’s seventh Disney race weekend and her tenth Disney race. She has competed in the 2013 Disney Half Marathon; the 2013 Wine and Dine Half Marathon; the 2014 Tower of Terror 10 Mile; the 2017 Disney Marathon; the Dopey Challenge (5k, 10k, Half, full) in 2018; and the Disney Princess Half Marathon this year.

Ashley works at 7 Dance Centre in Pittsboro, NC. She and her husband Marshall now have two children; Ava who is ten and Emersyn who is seven.

Jessie Rodgers, who is the middle daughter, said, “I can’t wait to run the Disney Half Marathon with my mom & sisters! Running has always played a big role in our family, but this is the first time we will be able to do it all together.”

Jessie also earned four-time all-state honors and was the first female from CHS to run the 5k in under 19 minutes. She attended Ferris State University with a running scholarship and remains third in CHS women’s cross country top 10.

She works at Northwoods Nursing Center in Farwell and has three children. Ayden (a 7th grader) and Brooklinn (a 5th grader) who both run cross county; and Preschooler Kaysen who ran first with Grandpa when he turned 80 years old and second in a half-marathon.

Ruth and Al’s youngest daughter Megan Rodgers is an occupational therapist at Paper Plane Therapies in Grand Rapids.

She is a four-time all-state cross country runner and was recently honored at a top ten all-time 5K times at Clare High School (7th). She ran cross country and track at Michigan State University and helped the team to a Big Ten Championship title in 2013.

Megan said this will be her second half marathon. She ran the Disney World Marathon in 2017 as a fundraiser for Autism Speaks.

She said, “Running has always been a part of our family. The first memories I have of running are going to cross country meets to watch my older sisters compete or just tagging along with my mom as she coached. Watching them love the sport is what made me get involved, but because I was so much younger, we never to be on a team together. I’m excited to run the Disney Half Marathon because it’s the first time we will all be doing a race together!”

Ruth summed it up, “I have always loved the fact that running is something anyone can do. It doesn’t matter how competitive you are. It is simply about a healthy lifestyle for a long and happy life.”

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