Coach’s Corner: The Dreamer-Turned-Hero

By: Amy Begley, Coach- Atlanta Track Club

As runners we tend to dream big, but we don’t necessarily think about how our goals and accomplishments can inspire others. However, you never know who is watching!


When Crystal Gail Welcome was a child, she ran cross country and played basketball. She also battled pain, blurred vision and dizziness but never knew the cause. As time went on, Crystal Gail gained a lot of weight, topping out at nearly 350 pounds. Her doctors told her losing weight would get rid of her symptoms, so she started running – but her condition remained the same despite the pounds she shed.

It wasn’t until 2009 that Crystal Gail was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition that places too much fluid on her brain. After multiple surgeries that weren’t successful, doctors decided to try a new way to regulate the fluid by placing two devices in her brain and a battery pack in her chest in 2014.


The surgery worked. Crystal Gail was able to run with regularity again. She recalls people saying she’d never be able to run, but she finished a 5K, 15K and half marathon within six months of her surgery. She was then selected to run the TC 10 Mile in Minneapolis as one of the Medtronic Global Heroes, a unique team of runners who benefit from medical technology.



Crystal Gail wanted some help to reach her goals for the TC 10 Mile, so she joined Atlanta Track Club’s Fall Half Marathon In-Training program. With the support of her fellow training participants and volunteer run leaders, I was impressed by how hard she worked as she prepared for her goal race. Despite a few health setbacks before race day, Crystal Gail gave training her all and ran well! She said the Medtronic Global Heroes team was treated like rock stars, and she enjoyed being surrounded by people who understood her struggles yet still strive for excellence.


Crystal Gail’s determination is something to be admired. Don’t be afraid to dream big – with hard work and dedication, you can go far!



Begley_AmyAmy Begley is the head coach of Atlanta Track Club, the second largest running organization in the United States. She competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in the 10,000M and placed sixth in the 2009 IAAF World Championships in the same distance with a personal best 31:13, making her the eighth-fastest American woman in history. Her 5,000M personal best is 14:56. Begley finished her professional career with six national titles.