Have you ever heard someone’s nickname and wondered, “Hmm… I wonder where that came from?” but have been too shy to ask?
Well, you’re in luck because today’s post is about just that… Where did the name “Run Strong Run” come from?
As you know, I run. Perhaps not quite like Forest Gump, but I still run. The “strong” part, on the other hand, stems from my love of arm wrestling. Yes, arm wrestling. I was first introduced to arm wrestling by my 5th grade PE teacher. After beating every girl and every boy in my class, I knew I had something special.
Throughout both my middle school and high school years, I continued challenging others to arm wrestle. I was undefeated throughout middle school! Once I reached high school, there were a few guys who could defeat me, but I could still take on most peers that I challenged.
My arm wrestling reached an all time high while living and teaching in Mexico. It was around this time that I began getting healthier, so in turn I started gaining confidence. (Read more about my journey to health HERE.) No matter where my friends and I were, I would find an opportunity to arm wrestle.
I’m not sure of the exact moment my friends starting calling me “Strong Wells” (My last name was “Wells” before I became a “Dunlap”). It may have been right before my first official arm wrestling tournament. Yes, can you believe that while teaching in Mexico I found an arm wrestling tournament?! (How I actually learned about the tournament was from a co-worker who saw the poster in the city, thought of me, and brought it in to work to let me know about it.) My friends, co-workers, and gym trainer were so awesome that they came out to cheer for “Strong Wells” or “Estefania Fuerte” at the tournament.
Then check out the VIDEO!
The next big event that solidified my nickname, was my 28th birthday. When my friends asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I told them that I wanted to go to a Lucha Libre event. Again, my friends were so fantastic that they made my birthday wish come true.
While at the Luche Libre event, I purchased my first Luche Libre mask and put it on. During breaks in the matches, people from the audience were allowed to enter the ring to “play”. I, of course, jumped on that opportunity right away! My local friend took things a step further, went to the announcer, and told him to introduce me before entering the ring. The announcer, in Spanish, told the crowd that I was a famous wrestler from California and the crowd bought it!
Out of that Luche Libre event, I got an awesome professional picture of myself and an invitation to come to a Lucha practice. I took the wrestlers up on their invitation and went to not one practice, but two. From those practices I learned that Lucha is more about acrobatics than about strength. My neck and whole body were so sore from those two practices! I came to the conclusion that professional wrestling was not in my future.
Towards the end of my two year contract in Mexico, I began looking into running races I wanted to do once I returned back home to California. That was when I found the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fransico. Sadly, I had missed the lottery window. I, however, still had a chance to run the 26.2 mile event if I signed up with Team in Training. The only catch was that I needed to raise a minimum of $2,500. I accepted the challenge and began my journey towards fundraising as much as I could for a great cause.
As I was brainstorming fundraising ideas with my team, I thought, “How about hosting my own arm wrestling tournament?” Since my team loved the idea, I went with it! I found a location: El Zarape Mexican restaurant. I had shirts designed and ordered. I purchased trophies. And best part of all, I located an official arm wrestling table owned by a local world champion arm wrestler, Rick Vardell, who not only agreed to let me use the table, but came to support the event as a referee! (Have you seen the movie “Over the Top” with Sylvester Stallone? Rick Vardell was in the movie alongside Stallone!)
Now that I’m settling into life in California as a wife, Stepmom, runner, and teacher, I am not arm wrestling as often as I once was. When the opportunity presents itself, however, I can’t help but flex… Especially when it is #flexitfriday!
I’d love to hear YOUR nickname and where it came from!