The Coaches

Mercedes Cimino – Organizer, Full Marathon Coach

I am honored to be part of the USA Fit organization and to have shared in the training journeys of our members since 2004. The time has flown by and it seems like just yesterday that I showed up for my first meeting a little nervous that I was going to be intimidated by hard-core runners. That preconception could not have been farther from the truth. Everyone I have met in association with Phoenix Fit has been friendly and supportive. The coaches are approachable and the members are eager to share their running experience and learn from one another. Until I joined Phoenix Fit I had spent most of my running time solo. I have since come to appreciate the benefits of running with a group. Not only have I learned many tips from coaches and fellow runners, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime.

Gerald Leenerts – ATP Coach

Life is what you make of it, and for me that means pushing my body to limits I didn't think possible before. When I joined Phoenix Fit, it was to prove to a friend that I could run a sub-3 hour marathon, after 2 years, I successfully accomplished that goal.
But beyond that goal and more importantly, I keep coming back to Phoenix Fit because of friends and the community it has built. Having a community of positive, fun going people is inspiring, and not just towards running but living a healthy fun life.
Cheers, -Gerald

Daniel Garza – Half Marathon Coach

In August of 2004 I joined Phoenix Fit. At that time the longest distances under my belt were 10k runs. I have always been a runner, a casual runner. To this day I am not in love with the sport. Since joining Phoenix Fit , I have learned to enjoy (not love) running. I have completed 10 Marathons, over 25 Half Marathons, a few Triathlons  and numerous 10k, 5k runs. I started as a Full Marathon coach with Phoenix Fit 13 years ago. I am over 60 years old now and coach Half Marathon distances. I found out a long time ago that covering distances is easier when you run and converse with others. Before you know it the distance is accomplished.

Dauna Williams – Walking Coach

I joined Phoenix Fit in 2010 as a WALKER! I have never been much of a runner, walking is my preferred choice of exercise. After joining Phoenix Fit, I completed my very first half marathon in 2011! Since then, I have walked numerous half marathons, 5ks and 10ks. One thing you should know about me, is, I am a medal junkie! I will run (I mean walk) for the bling! My personal collection of medals and staying HEALTY is what motivates me.  I am here for you to begin your journey, rather you are someone who is just getting started with your first 5k or 10k; or you’re ready for the half marathon distance.  I look forward to meeting and walking with you, this season.

Rick Jessop – Half Marathon Coach

I started running in 2008, and joined Phoenix Fit in 2013. In the past decade, I have completed 10 marathons, 15 half marathons, two 50K’s, a 60K, and one 50 mile trail race. Phoenix Fit has been instrumental in helping me to achieve my running goals, and I look forward to coming back after a year break to serve the group in any way needed! I love to race all distances, road and trail, but the half marathon has a special place in my heart. I have made many great memories and friends in Phoenix Fit over the years, and I look forward to seeing (and running) with returning and new members alike this coming season!