Asheville has a big, active running community and Jane Roane is right at the heart of it. As the manager of the locally owned store Jus’ Runnin’ since 2001, Roane is not only an expert on running products, but she also serves as a running coach, leads community trail runs, volunteers at races and has been a member of the Distance Divas, a women’s racing team. Notably, Roane has long served as co-director of the area’s most challenging and prestigious trail race, the Shut-In Trail race. “It’s one of the toughest trail races in the Southeast,” says Roane. “People love it because it’s a test of endurance, agility, and strength. Just completing the Shut-In course is an accomplishment in itself. The race takes place just after the peak of the fall season and offers runners a technically challenging course, while providing great views of fall foliage in the Western North Carolina Mountains.”
A lifelong runner, Roane began competing in high school and was an assistant track coach at her old school before moving to Asheville. She still volunteers with local elementary and middle school running programs. In the fall of 2006, she earned her personal training certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, helping her to combine her practical experience with scientific-based theory to help other runners achieve their best results.
Roane has raced every distance from 400m to the marathon and ultra-long distance relays. Her accomplishments include a 3:30 finish in her debut Shut-In Race, and multiple age-group finishes including third-place age group finish at the competitive Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon.
For Roane, her proudest running moment came this year in the Blue Ridge Relay, a 208-mile relay that starts in Grayson Highlands State Park near the base of Mount Rogers in Virginia and ends in Asheville. One of the longest relay races in the country, the Blue Ridge Relay consists of 36 transition areas, completed by teams of four to twelve team members, each of whom must run at least three legs of varying lengths. In this year’s race, Roane was a member of a five-person ultra team and ran seven legs for a total of 45 miles. “It was a gut check,” she says. “I realized I can still persevere at 42 years old!” The accomplishment was made even sweeter by the fact that the same race in 2012 was one of her running career low points. “I ran too hard in the first few legs and blew up after Leg 4. It was mentally devastating. I had worked so hard and failed. Later, I realized it wasn’t a failure. It was a great learning experience.”
Roane has faced her share of challenges both on and off the race course. In 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As an active, healthy woman with few risk factors, the diagnosis came as a shock. She first underwent a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy and chemo treatments. Having a supportive family (husband Matt and son Spencer) and being healthy at the outset was an advantage, she says. Even through chemo she continued to run, about 20 miles a week during the lowest points, then back up to 50, inching toward her usual 70 miles/six days a week. “Running is a huge stress reliever,” she says. “Running in the forest really is a spiritual experience for me. I feel closer to God and it can be great “quiet” time. Time to reflect is essential.”
Just 10 months after being diagnosed, and while she was still in the midst of chemo treatments, Roane and her four teammates participated in the women-only Power of Pink Relay for breast cancer. Although her teammates convinced her to run not in order to win but for the joy of running, they ended up coming in first place. Her team, Mountain Radiation Oncology, finished the 20-mile race in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 40 seconds.
Roane has always given a lot to local runners and when she's needed it, they've given back.
In early 2010, a group of Asheville runners joined Roane to form “team 26,” a group that traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to run the National Breast Cancer Marathon, the proceeds of which go to breast cancer research. It was Roane’s first marathon after her diagnosis.
Since being cancer free, she has returned to her regular schedule of running and competition. “The plans and treatments now are so good that if you catch it early, it's definitely something you can come out the other end and just move on with your life,” she says.
She did and she continues to inspire and motivate other runners in the Asheville area.