While Jen is working her way across the state, she’ll be interviewing the people she encounters along the way. Today: Todd Gothberg of Asheville. 

Todd has a hint of a Yankee accent that lets you know he’s not a native, but he has lived in North Carolina longer than anywhere else and he raised his three daughters in Asheville. Todd has worked in the corporate sector for most of his career, but when his work required him to leave NC he decided to switch jobs so he could stay put. Now, he is the Director of Organizational Development at Park Ridge Health. He is also a speaker, author, and dedicated athlete.

Todd has run over 40 marathons and completed 4 Ironman Triathlons. He even competed with the USA Triathlon Team in Australia! But his current activity of choice is to tackle challenging obstacle courses at Spartan Races throughout the Southeast.

When I first met Todd, he asked me to go for a run with some of his colleagues during their lunch break. I made it two miles before I asked if I could start “hiking.” When he asked if he could join me on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, I was worried I might not be able to keep up. He met me on a stretch of trail that runs right behind his house in South Asheville. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and he let me set the pace – almost – the entire way.

I don’t know if Todd would consider himself a motivational speaker, but his talks and tasks at work center around maximizing output. I love sharing the trail with folks of all sorts, but it is especially encouraging to put in 10.4 miles with someone who spends the miles affirming my capabilities, challenging my capacity, and reminding while personal success comes from finishing the trail, the greatest significance of any journey is the impact it has on those around you.

Todd’s Brooks Cascadias

Here are some more thoughts and positive reminders from Todd.

What is your favorite part of living in North Carolina?

This is simply one of the most beautiful parts of the country to experience. Training here is pretty special,  particularly running the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and biking on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’m an outdoor enthusiast, and it’s tough to beat this area in terms of activities, climate, and scenery.

What has been one of the biggest obstacles that you have faced? How has movement help you overcome the challenges in your life?

No doubt my marriage ending after 23 years was a low-point in my life; I struggled with self-worth and my identify early on during that period (2010) and training was one of the ways I coped with the loss, it was my therapy in a sense. That spring I was preparing for the Boston Marathon and that summer Ironman Lake Placid awaited, so having some semblance of purpose helped keep me move on and focus on the future and not what was behind me.

One of your primary objectives at Park Ridge Health and as a speaker is to motivate other people to reach their potential. What is the biggest obstacle that prevents men and women from striving for their best?

I prefer the word inspire as opposed to motivate; I think we can inspire one another, but motivation must come from within. My job at Park Ridge Health is to help inspire, encourage, and lead others to become the very best versions of themselves, regardless of their position. The biggest obstacle people face in pursuit of their own personal excellence seems to be their past; whether it’s past failure, a past relationship with someone who was less than affirming or encouraging, or a past experience that they allowed to be defining instead of refining.

I know you run on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in South Asheville ALL THE TIME! If tomorrow you could run on any other section of the trail – anywhere across North Carolina – where would it be?

I’d have to say Linville Gorge because I’ve not yet run that section and from what I hear, it’s beautiful!