Runner’s World

Guillame chronicles journey of ‘The Accidental Athlete’

Emily Guillaume

Emily Guillaume

It began as a collection of random thoughts, many about her parent’s life-long love of running.

Running for running’s sake didn’t make sense, Emily Guillaume felt. The William Blount High School sophomore said so in one of the earliest entries when she began assembling those thoughts in a journal:

“And for most of my life, I, like most people, thought they were nuts,” she wrote. “Insane. Delusional. I swore I’d never run unless I was chasing a ball. (Boy, talk about a big ‘open mouth insert foot’ statement).”

Bruce Guillaume, Emily’s father, took a look at the journal over Christmas. Emily had become quite the runner herself by then. She was also a budding talent as a writer.

Director of the Mountain Challenge program at Maryville College, Bruce convinced Emily to submit her journal on the evolution of an active lifestyle to Blount Today.

The Blount Today sports desk loved her stuff, and, for the next eight weeks, Guillaume’s take on “The Accidental Athlete” will run in Blount Today Monday. All the while, Guillaume will attempt not one but two varsity letters at William Blount this spring, trying her hand at both the Lady Governor track and field and tennis teams.

“Luckily, I have great coaches,” Guillaume said. “I have to give them credit. They’ve been very flexible.”

It’s a daunting challenge, but Guillaume’s love of being active goes way back.

Bruce and wife Wendy are not only avid runners but cycling and hiking enthusiasts as well. Bruce has scaled some of the world’s highest peaks in his travels. Each spring, Wendy and he lead the Maryville College Spring Break Bike Ride, a weeklong trek to various destinations throughout the Southeast.

The active life for Emily began at 6. That’s when Bruce and Wendy attached a trailer cycle to the back of their tandem bicycle, the family spending a week on a bike ride for Memphis to Maryville. By eighth grade, Emily had graduated to stoker, or back-seat rider, on that tandem, accompanying Bruce on a memorable trip up and down the scenic Cherohala Skyway.

“I guess that was the turning point,” Emily said.

There was still the running thing, though.

“The truth was, as I’ve now come to discover, that I was scared … I was scared because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough at it, or maybe it was because I could be good that really scared me,” continues the earlier excerpt from the journal.

Her parents never said a word when she teased them about their passion for running, Emily said, even after she took to the sport herself to get fit for middle school volleyball.

“They never said, ‘I told you so,’” Emily said. “They just kind of laughed.

“I guess what goes around comes around.”

Compiling her thoughts on running and an active lifestyle in a journal came about, in large part, when her father saw an introduction in an outdoor outfitter’s catalog written by a teenager, Emily said.

“He said, ‘You could do this,’” she said.

The staff at Blount Today agrees, and we hope you enjoy the journey of a remarkable, albeit accidental, athlete.

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