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Faith, friendship and fun keep the trio going

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Roswell runners, from left, Agnes Frazier, Jan Melton and Shelby Griffin recently ran The Great American Relay, a 15-state relay from Boston to Santa Monica, California that took place over 36 days and ran through New Mexico on U.S. Highway 60 in early October. (Submitted Photo)

For Agnes Frazier, Shelby Griffin and Jan Melton, it is one thing to walk by faith, and quite another to run by faith. These three ladies are born-again Christians and have shared their faith and life through running and exercise.

The three of them have bloomed where they are planted, making a difference in the Roswell community and now throughout the world. They spend their time helping anyone that wants to get in better shape and exercise. Especially if people want to run marathons, they do this by displaying a positive, upbeat attitude and encouraging others.

“We get amazing support through so many people throughout the town,” Melton said.

This article is not about three ladies running in a race, but about the impact they have made on this community through their selflessness, which is why all three of them were up at 3 a.m. on different days and ran in the first Great American Relay. The relay was to raise money for cancer research — it started in Boston and ended at the Santa Monica Pier.

Melton, 68, was the first to run, driving to Melrose, and running 11 miles before handing off to a runner from Albuquerque. Griffin, 71, ran 12 miles in Fort Sumner until she handed the baton off. Finally, Frazier, 60, drove to Encino and ran 8.5 miles. For these ladies, this was the first time they have been able to run a real marathon since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

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This story is about how life takes you in different directions than you might think when you are young. It’s about never being too old to be active, vital and being fulfilled in life. These ladies have not let circumstances dictate how they live.

For these three, their life is built around exercise. They continually show that age is just a number and they value themselves by the way they take care of themselves and give back to the community.

Melton and Griffin spend so much time together, Griffin will tell a story and then Melton will correct her and say “this is what happened, remember when this happened” and it will jog Griffin’s memory and she will laugh and agree.

This is about people connecting and liking each other. Melton and Griffin might not be best friends, and if they’re not, then they are sisters. Especially after running 34 marathons over 20 years together. It’s also about them making room for a new burgeoning friendship with Frazier, who’s personality is as bubbly as a tonic.

Today’s generation thinks they will be young forever. They can’t imagine being in the latter stages of life, they only see today. Kids can’t think of being in their 60s and 70s while still being productive. For these three friends, it shows their life has been better the longer they have lived.

The Bible says in Job 8:7, “Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase. Your latter years will be greater than your former.”

Shelby Griffin, left, and Jan Melton from the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. (Submitted Photo)

Melton and Griffin went to school at Goddard in 1966 and were part of the Rockettes dance team. They were friendly toward each other in high school but didn’t hang out together. Years later they saw each other at a local 5K race and remembered each other from high school.

Griffin had already run a marathon in 2001. Melton had trouble getting past 10 miles and wanted to run a marathon, so she asked Griffin to train with her. In 2006 at the age of 54, Melton ran her first Turtle Marathon in Roswell.

Melton is dedicated to her fitness goals and will get up at 4:30 a.m. to get her workout in. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, she will run and go to the gym where she leads an exercise group. Her light day is on Wednesdays when she will go for an 8-mile run with Griffin.

On Saturday, Melton and Griffin are on a long jaunt for 13 miles to 20 miles depending on what they are training for. The only days the two will take off from exercising are Fridays, when they will have lunch together, and Sundays to attend church. The only two things that will keep the pair from working out are lightning and ice. Both believe consistency and accountability is the key to seeing results in an exercise program.

Melton has broken her arm and wrist which required plates and screws. She has been bitten by a dog once and has a supportive husband that doesn’t run. Melton feels the keys to being able to run marathons are to build running endurance, proper nutrition and to do a lot of resistance training, she does that with the help of a personal trainer. During races or workouts, she only competes with herself — in other words, she will not try to catch the runner in front of her.

“It only starts with the first step,” Melton said. “I take every time I can run as a blessing. Each time I come back and I don’t have pain, I praise God.”

Griffin

Shelby Griffin at the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. (Submitted Photo)

Griffin started running 40 years ago with her husband, Larry, who was in the National Guard at the time. She continued to run with her dog, Ginger to relieve stress and for exercise.

Griffin was mentored by Nancy LaTurner in running. She ran her first Turtle Marathon in 2001 when she was 52 years old. There was a guy named Paul, from Arizona who ran with her for most of the race. She kept asking him if she was doing well. At the time the guy looked at his watch and saw that she was running at a 9-minute pace. The guy went ahead of her to finish the race and was one of the first to congratulate her on the finish line. Also at the race was LaTurner, who gave Griffin a cup of ice water at the finish line. All Griffin could think was, “this is so good.”

Griffin has the same exercise schedule as Melton, except she does not go to the gym. She will go to the Recreation Center to swim for 30 minutes. She used to own her own business but retired two years ago.

Griffin claims that she has run right through menopause. The most marathons that she and Melton have run in one year has been six. The two are so close they don’t do vacations together, they do “run-cations.” They have run marathons in Colorado, California, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Nashville, San Francisco, Air Force Marathon, Marine Corps, and the Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, N.M., to mention a few.

The hardest marathon they have run was the Las Vegas marathon. It started at 4 p.m., and they had to be at the halfway point by a certain time, what they learned is they didn’t want to run another marathon at night. Melton and Griffin can run 20 miles of the marathon with no problems most of the time. It is when they hit a wall that they need to help each other reach the last 6.219 miles to get to the finish line. What they say to each other is, “it’s just another 10K” to keep them going. Griffin is competitive and will try to catch the person in front of her.

“We just tell each other we have six more miles to go,” Griffin says. “We just watch each flag for each mile marker. We don’t look for the finish line, we just look for the next mile.”

Both ladies have fun while they are running. They will laugh, talk, and solve all of the world’s problems during their runs.

“Even with COVID,” Griffin said, “you can still go outside and exercise.”

Frazier

Submitted Photo
Agnes Frazier, left, hands the baton off to Julie Deery.

Frazier used to run in high school for herself and to stay active. The 1978 Roswell graduate has so much energy and is so fierce during workouts at Alton’s Power Block Gym that they call her a “Beast.” Frazier retired from the state in 2007 after 25 years, Frazier’s energy level would not let her be content to just babysit her grandkids. She felt she had more to do and give in life.

Frazier started working out in 2013 at Alton’s Power Block Gym three days a week and does a Fit 360 workout. She is a big fan of yoga, doing seven classes a week along with spin classes. She runs with the Roswell Runners. When she cannot find a running partner, Frazier will run by herself in the mountains and then grab her husband, Steve, and a fishing pole and go fishing. Often during her runs, Frazier would see Melton and Griffin running together, and they would tell her good job and keep going.

Frazier says that COVID has thrown off her running and fitness routine. She has run four half-marathons starting at the age of 58. She was looking forward to running the Bataan Death March Marathon last year, but it was canceled on March 11.

Frazier has come along way since running in her first 5K in 2005 at Gateway Christian. In 2012, she started running half-marathons and has competed in two triathlons — Bottomless Lakes and the Milkman Triathlon, having finished second as a team member. In order to get her workout in, she trains early.

Competitive, yes. Frazier lost 24 pounds in Alton’s Power Block Gym weight loss challenge in July 2018. She also topped her run time by shaving 5 minutes off her 10K run in 2018, to 8:33 in 2019. She won her age group and was third overall.

Frazier has also been bitten by a dog while running. She doesn’t know when the end will come for her running days. She has been running with bone on bone in her right knee and her left knee has little spacing, but she doesn’t want to stop running. Her goal is to run a marathon and when she does, Melton and Griffin have volunteered to run with her.

“I think exercise is so important,” Frazier said. “My heart breaks for people that can’t go to the gym.”

If you see these ladies out there logging miles, you will notice them, because they will always wave and give you an encouraging word while you are running. Don’t be afraid to say hi.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.