RUNNER PROFILE: Gustavo Levy and Sonia Gomes

We asked our favorite bastion of knowledge – Siri. According to her, it is 4,893 miles from São Paulo, Brazil to Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. A long way to travel for a road race.

So shine up the welcome wagon! Gustavo Levy and Sonia Gomes are headed this way from South America, ready to run and in search of a little Southern hospitality at the 2017 Hillbilly Half Marathon on June 3.

Married in 2013, the two have logged a lot of miles exploring the United States together, said Gustavo. “We had traveled the United States before, but not to run; in 2007, we decided to combine our passion for travel and our love for running.”

And boy, have they! They’ve taken on the Battan Memorial Death March in New Mexico; the Soldier Marathon in Columbus, Georgia; the Marine Corps Half Marathon in Washington, DC; the Camp Lejeune Marathon in North Carolina; and the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon…just to name a few.

Clearly the couple shares an appreciation for the history of this country… and what do they consider their most important race? “The Patriots Run in Olathe, Kansas,” says Gustavo, which they ran in 2015. The race is held to commemorate the victims of 9/11. “It starts every year at noon on September 11, [and we run] until 9:11PM that evening.”

After checking out the race course for the Hillbilly Half online, they ain’t scared. They found the hills to be attractively challenging, but don’t assume these two will be racing together. “We each run our own race,” says Gustavo, “and Sonia is always faster!”

The run is great…but the exploring the new is the true adventure for this pair. “Arriving in a town…where the locals know you are from the outside…they help you,” explains Gustavo. Still far from home, “you don’t feel far from home…and that is priceless. We love to talk and learn, and just having conversations on a porch with coffee or tea, or sitting together in a restaurant…for us, it’s paradise.”

We’re thrilled that Gustavo and Sonia are making the Hillbilly Half part of this summer’s excursion…which they plan to extend for up to four months. “Sonia had surgery on her foot last year,” explains Gustavo,” so we have a lost year to recover!”

Thanks for makin’ our little corner of the world part of your adventure. We’ll see you at the starting line!