Owensboro’s multiple walking and biking trails, city parks, and fitness centers combine to create a community that is conducive for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and promoting wellness. From the 16.5-mile Adkisson Greenbelt Park to the Rudy Mine trails to the state-of-the-art fitness facilities at the Health Park, the city of Owensboro has invested in the health of its citizens by providing countless ways to stay active.
Mark Myles, a native Owensboran and cyclocross racer, takes full advantage of the many opportunities his hometown has to offer for training.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to race all over the world,” remarked Myles. “I’ve competed in the U.S. and Canada, but cyclocross is big in Europe (especially in Belgium and the Netherlands). In Europe, their season goes until the end of February. We race in all weather conditions, rain, snow, everything. I train here in Owensboro and compete in the U.S., as well, so it’s nice to have places to train locally.”
Myles began racing at the age of 8 and in 2021 competed in his 7th Cyclocross Nationals race. Myles credits the cycling community in Owensboro for being a supportive piece of his success.
“There is a core group of about 15 to 20 who ride together a few times a week,” said Myles. “It’s nice to come home after a stressful week and just get out and ride on those country roads, enjoy the scenery and see the leaves changing color.”
The cycling business is a way of life for Mark Myles and his family, and he enjoys helping others get started on the road to racing, too.
“Our business began as a coaching company and a bicycle racing team in 2012,” Myles said. “My father is a performance and endurance coach, a runner, cyclist, and multi-discipline mentor. We had been running our business out of area shops, and when the Big O Bike Shop closed, we put our heads together and decided to open our own shop.”
Be Real Sports, Cycling & Fitness opened its doors in April 2018. Operated by Mark and his parents, as well as two part-time employees, the business is going strong, offering services, repairs, fittings, bicycles and accessories, as well as performance coaching and fitness classes.
“We consider ourselves the only bike shop in town because we are the only venue that sells just bikes,” Mark noted. “This business is our passion, and we look forward to many more years of helping others live active lifestyles.”
Another Owensboro native has channeled his passion for marathon running into a successful venture, making it all the way to the Boston marathon.
“I’ve been a lifelong runner,” said Dean Roberts. “I first began running in elementary school and continued through high school, then picked it back up as an adult. In my 40s, I decided that if I was ever going to get into marathon running, it was time to go ahead and do it.”
Roberts ran his first marathon in 2008 in Memphis– the St. Jude Marathon; after that, he was hooked. Next came the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. Roberts finished in the 600s out of 26,000 runners in the prestigious Boston Marathon.
“I train year-round,” Roberts said. “When I first started, I set a time goal of two hours fifty minutes. I met that goal in 2011 at the Indy Monumental Marathon. After that, I shifted my focus from marathon running to triathlons.”
Roberts then set a goal of completing an Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle race, and a 26.22- mile run. He completed the Louisville Ironman in 2013 and called the experience a “huge shift” from just running.
“Adding cycling and swimming was eye-opening,” said Roberts. “I was used to being at the top of my field in running and was in the middle of the pack in the Ironman event. It was a good, humbling experience and a new challenge. I had a baseline and then set some improvement goals.”
Roberts made it all the way to the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2016. After that, he turned his focus back to running. An injury that he sustained while cycling one day, however, left him with a broken pelvis and he underwent a six-month recovery.
That injury and recovery period opened Roberts’ eyes to another important facet of staying physically active. “Another benefit for athletes living in Owensboro is the many choices we have of fantastic doctors and physical therapists,” said Roberts. “They really helped to get me back in shape and healed completely.”
Dean Roberts and his wife Paula run a coaching and endurance business called RyR Endurance. They enjoy helping others live an active lifestyle and meet their performance goals. Living in Owensboro helps them meet these goals, as the couple intentionally chose a home close to the Greenbelt, for easy access to running trails.
“My focus has been more on getting back into running over the past few years,” noted Roberts. “My wife is an avid marathoner as well, and we run together. We finished the Chicago Marathon in October and the New York City Marathon in November. Next, we are doing three marathons in three states in three days: the Bear Lake Trifecta.”
Owensboro has much to offer for the fitness-minded, and also for those who are active in competitive athletic events all over the world.
“Much of my success has been enabled by living here in Owensboro,” said Dean Roberts. “We have wonderful doctors and physical therapists, top-notch training facilities, beautiful riding and running trails, and a supportive, active community. This is a great place to live and train if you want to live a healthy lifestyle.”