The next time you are lined up at a race and the weather is less than perfect, you might not want to complain about how that blankety-blank weather forecaster on television let you and everyone else in the race down.
That’s because that blankety-blank weather forecaster just might be next to you at the starting line.
Jennifer Stanonis, who works as a meteorologist at WGRZ, is a dedicated runner who turns up at events throughout Western New York. When there’s rain or wind or snow on the course, she reports that she’s the one who takes the blame – good-naturedly, of course.
“I always joke that a meteorologist can’t make everyone happy,” she said. “Usually people are pretty good about it. Besides, the bad weather helps in getting the blood moving.”
Stanonis runs four or five times per week, and she is a frequent entrant to races – she’s done, in her words, “too many to count.”
“I ran the Beaver Island half-marathon a couple of times. I last ran it in May of 2012,” she said. “The first time I ran it, I set a PR at 1:45. I’m nowhere close to that now.”
But that’s not the longest race distance in her running career.
“I have run one marathon – Rochester in 2010,” Stanonis said. “My peak training was about 50 miles a week. After the Rochester marathon, I went right back to Buffalo after running it, and went straight to work. That was a mistake.”
The personable television reporter grew up in a climate that was quite good for learning how to appreciate outdoor activities. There’s not much snow and ice in Sacramento, Calif.
“I played a lot of sports – soccer, tennis, basketball – as a kid,” she said. “Running came in high school on the track. I did sprints, hurdles, the long jump. I guess I tried a little bit of everything.”
Stanonis went to college at San Francisco State, which has an almost perfect climate for running. That’s where she started taking long runs several times a week, and she has been putting on running shoes ever since.
“I love running, not the endorphins,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I was sore. I stretch before and after a run.”
After graduation, Stanonis landed a job as an anchor and reporter in Casper, Wyo. The weather provided much more material for news in Wyoming than it does in Sacramento. Stanonis, whose father was a scientist who was fascinated by the weather, frequently reported on extreme conditions.
“It completely solidified my interest in weather,” she said. “I got to cover EF-4 tornadoes, from the studio and from the field. Seeing what Mother Nature can actually do, it was horrifically amazing. They have wind chills out there that are 55-below zero. One time I was standing outside doing a report, and seeing the beginning of frostbite on me.”
Stanonis ran in Wyoming, including a trip down Disappointment Peak in the Grand Tetons that she says burned up 4,000 calories. There are no mountains like that here, but when she arrived in Western New York about eight years ago, she quickly adapted to conditions here. She said that the Great Outdoors is her gym year-round, as she rarely goes near a treadmill.
Stanonis has run the Turkey Trot and a relay leg of the Buffalo Marathon. It didn’t take her long to realize just how big the running community here is, and how many races there are each year.
In fact, she has a personal connection to one of those races – the Lindsay’s Legacy run in Tonawanda in November.
“One night, I met my future husband the night before the race through mutual friends,” Stanonis said. “We talked until 2 a.m., and I said I had to go because I had a race the next day. Well, that was about my worst time ever. But it was cool. The next year, we celebrated our one-year anniversary by running it. It was his first 5K.”
She’s become a regular as the master of ceremonies at the awards presentation for that huge event. So if you see Stanonis at that event or any other around town and the weather is nice, be sure to thank her. It would be a nice change of pace.
• Loughran’s Alumni Cup 5K Run, 4543 Main St., Snyder, 7 p.m. Monday, 863-4747.
• Old Home Days 5K, 5565 Main St., Williamsville, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 276-8313.
• Tuscarora Nation 10K Run, Tuscarora Indian School on the Reservation, 9 a.m. Saturday, 940-0852.
• Tom Drake Memorial 5K, Route 394, Mayville, 9 a.m. Saturday, 607-0328.
• Bonafest 5K, Murphy Building at St. Bonaventure University, 9 a.m. Saturday, 790-0056.
• Peaceprints 5K, Delaware Park, 9:30 a.m. on July 14, 856-6131.
• Tim Frank Memorial Canalfest Race, 4 miles, 325 Franklin St., Tonawanda, 10 a.m. on July 14, 510-3971.
• FG III Memorial 5K, Evans Town Park, Angola, 11 a.m. on July 14, 598-9121.