The Board

David Vantongeren
President

Member Since: 2015

Bio: I began running in 2015 because I wasn’t quite happy with the state of my physical & mental health and I wanted to regain the ambition that felt I lacked at the time, so I signed up for my first race—the Grand Rapids Marathon. The work was grueling but I loved the structured training and saw the results permeate into other aspects of my life. I finished the marathon in 4hr 50m and I was hooked! After dabbling with a couple of other running groups, a friend told me that if I wanted to get fast RunGR was the only option. His advice worked! I have since cut nearly 2 hours off of my marathon time and I’ve connected with an outstanding group of individual who inspire me to achieve more.


Drew Hendriksen
Treasurer

Member Since: 2021

Bio: I have loved running since joining the middle school cross country team in 7th grade. I continued to be involved in the sport through high school, after which I stopped competitive running. After taking some time away from running with a group through college and the years following, RunGR has been an awesome way to get back into running with a group. I have loved the passion that all the members share for the sport and have been continually impressed by the supportive community at RunGR. Since joining the group, I have had the chance to run a PR in the 5k, and continue to focus my training on running my first marathon.

Fun Fact: One of my majors in college was Spanish – I had the opportunity to study and live for a semester in Spain, and my wife and I continue to travel to as many Spanish speaking countries as we can!


Sonja Perakis
Secretary

Member Since: 2018

Bio: I started running in middle school as a way to gain a fitness edge on my school and club soccer teams. After taking a break from running during my 20s and early 30s, I completed a couch to 5k program as soon as my son was old enough to bike alongside me and really haven’t looked back. I was originally drawn to RunGR because it offered a weekly strength and mobility session on Wednesday mornings and I figured that any running group that cared that much about this issue, is a group I wanted to participate in :)

Fun Fact: I'm originally from northern California and moved to Michigan the first time to attend graduate school at MSU. My family moved back to Michigan in 2018 after living and working in Washington D.C. for 7 years.


Christy Going
Membership Director

Member Since: 2019

Bio: I grew up playing as many sports as I could and was one of those weirdos who loved the "conditioning" preseason work, which was mostly running. Even as a kid I would go on solo runs to explore my neighborhood. Somehow I completely missed out on organized running opportunities until later in life, though I never stopped running. Eventually, I had coworkers who invited me on long runs and I started to run more consistently and completed several half and full marathons. I joined RunGR to meet more running friends and for the structured workouts that are making me stronger. This running community is so important to me now and I can't wait to see what we all accomplish together every season!

Fun Fact: I've run every Gazelle Girl/SheRuns half! Hoping to keep that streak alive for many years to come!


David Billingsley
Social Chair

Member Since: 2010

Bio: I have been running for over thirty years now and a member of RunGR for eight. I started with the group hoping to improve my running. Little did I know that it would also improve my life. I came for the running and I have stayed for all of the amazing people in the group. My training has evolved from running marathons to racing 5k's. The most fun that I have though is in Mike's training. I run those faster than my races.

Fun Fact: I've had to ask Dave Jorgensen to be quiet on long runs because he was talking too much.


Kyle Cutler
Race Director

Member Since: 2009

Bio: I have been a distance runner ever since I switched from soccer to track in high school. My coach didn't know what to do with me, so he tossed me in a 2 mile event for the first meet and I ended up winning it. I remember thinking how long 8 laps was going to seem, but many decades later here I am! I have run a variety of races, including marathons.

Fun Fact: Half marathons are my favorite distance. When not running, I'm a small farm enthusiast.