The Coaches

Bob Samala – Organizer & Head Coach

I am the new organizer for USA FIT Albuquerque (aka Albuquerque Fit).  My journey here has been rewarding and challenging, but most of all truly enjoyable. Running a marathon will “Change Your Life”.  It certainly has for me.  In 2014, I made the resolution to finally knock it off my bucket list.  I did not have a running background.  I tried training on my own by reading books, following various online programs, but I was running without any real direction.  Running alone was not very fun.  Then I joined the Albuquerque Fit Summer Program that June.  I never knew there was such a large group of runners – all ages, all levels of ability, all shapes and sizes and most importantly all friendly and supportive.  My once dreaded runs turned to miles of joy!  I had running buddies!  The training programs that Albuquerque Fit provides really works.  They get you to the finish line with a smile on your face. I ran my 1st marathon (Long Beach) in October 2014.  I thought I was one and done, but I ran my 2nd in February 2015 (Phoenix Rock & Roll).  Same year I ran another marathon, a 45K & 50K ultramarathon and my running journey continues.  With diligent training through our programs, my running continues to improve as I have accomplished recent PR’s in the half and full marathons. Running is not just about races.  It’s about relationships.  Running with other people will make your running fun!  We have pace groups, run-walk philosophy and knowledgeable and very friendly coaches that will be there for you every step of the way!  I look forward to seeing you this season! Email me at bob.usafitabq@gmail.com  

Vicky Samala – Co-Organizer/Administrator

I am a wife, mother of twins (and fur babies), Art Director, singer, crafter, shopper, and so on. One thing I am not, is athletic. After the urging of my husband (yes, the USA FIT Albuquerque Organizer), I joined Rio Fit several years ago for the fitness aspect of it. I did not want to run races, but found myself running some 5K's, 10K's and even some fun runs; Warrior Dash and Dirty Dash with my whole family (we named ourselves the Asian Leprechauns, after our marriage of our Filipino and Irish backgrounds). I gave it a year in the group and still did not love running, so I gave it up. This past year I decided to give it another try. I joined USA FIT Albuquerque to get my 50+ self back into shape. While I don't really have the desire to run races, I do want to keep fit and love spending time with my husband, who is an avid runner. I have made friends in the group and somehow became co-organizer this year and am learning so much about what it takes to make an amazing group such as this run (pun intended). My role as co-organizer is to handle mainly the behind the scenes tasks; bookkeeping, graphic design, scheduling, organizing, newsletters and more. Bob and I each have different strengths that work well together to continue to make USA FIT Albuquerque a success! I also look forward to helping other beginning runners participate in their first races. I may even race again one day. I'm thinking Disney!! Email me at vicky.usafitabq@gmail.com

Gary Schancer – Half Marathon and Performance Coach

I am an exercise physiologist, a certified running coach and have been working in the fitness industry for 22 years since retiring from the Air Force. I began running in high school 100 years ago and then ran on and off for many years. In 1994, I got very serious about my health due to bad family history of heart disease, and I started running regularly. Since then, I have run 69 marathons and 31 ultra marathons, including numerous 50 and 100-milers and at least one marathon in all 50 states. Although I don’t necessarily recommend this much running to most people, it is all about challenging ourselves to see what our bodies are capable of. Whether your goal is to run around the block, 100 miles, or anywhere in between, I would like to help you reach that goal. I totally agree with the race director for the Leadville Trail 100-mile race who says, “You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.” I think that Albuquerque FIT will help you to determine your capabilities and reach your goals. I would love to be there to watch you cross that finish line for the first time. Your life will never be the same. Email me at gksmarathon@gmail.com

Dianne Sanchez – Half Marathon Coach

I am an Albuquerque Native and have been a member of USA FIT Albuquerque (aka Albuquerque Fit) since 2010.  Prior to joining, I made many attempts to "get back to running" from my high school and college days, but life just happens to keep us busy doing other things. I often reminisced about my running days and while my two children were preparing for college and leaving home, I was faced with the reality that I would be an empty nester. I needed to find something that I could be passionate about.  One day, a friend asked me if I wanted to join this running group. After putting it off for a few weeks, I decided to give it a try.  I joined the 5K group and found that the run/walk program was the key to "getting back to running" as it no longer placed an emphasis on how fast I could run, but rather experiencing incremental improvements and gains.  Soon, I joined the Marathon group and ran my first full marathon in 2012 here in the Duke City and accomplished something I never envisioned.  This accomplishment also inspired my husband to join ABQFIT in 2013. I found running on my own was a bit of a struggle and boring.  As a Pace Group Leader, I found that running with others make the miles go by faster, provides mutual motivation and makes running fun!  I became a part of something extraordinary - a group of people working towards better health and fitness.  It became the norm as my fellow running buddies checked up on me to see how I was doing, asked where I was last week, and if I planned to join in on the next run.  I too, found myself asking others the same questions. ABQFIT has changed my life.  I now enjoy running for fitness and participate in various running events and races. I have run several 5K's and 10K's, 18 half marathons, a 30K, and 2 full marathons.  I enjoy the program along-side my husband, Juaquin.  I am dedicated in helping emerging runners achieve their goals through the knowledgeable coaching staff and the ABQFIT training program.  I look forward to meeting and running with you! Email me at dianne.usafitabq@gmail.com

Theresa Torres – 10K Coach & Social Media Coordinator

I've been running off and on since high school. Over the last 10 years, I've done lots of fun runs and 5k's. It was only in the past 3-4 years that I even considered myself a "real runner." When I started running in high school, it was so I could stay in shape for the other sports I played. Running wasn't very much fun way back then. Thankfully, it became something that I've really come to love. I continue to run because I also love to eat (who doesn't?). Running is also a form of meditation for me. I can hit the trails, clear my mind, or have great conversations with my running buddies. I joined the USA FIT Albuquerque (or Albuquerque Fit as it was called) about three years ago. I had trained for my very first half marathon alone, and I did okay, but the training was pretty lonely. I was the only person that kept myself accountable. It worked for that race, but I knew it would be difficult to recreate for the next one. My coworker was a coach with the Albuquerque Fit and talked about how wonderful it was to have a group of people to train with. She was completely right!  I've made so many friends since I started running with our group, and it's great to have a group of people who are like-minded (love to run, eat and occasionally have a drink!). My favorite distance would be a 10K, only because there aren't many races that are 8 milers. I always say that 8 miles is my sweet spot, but 10K's are the next best thing. You can push yourself, but you know that it's only for 6.2 miles and will be over before you know it. When I'm not running, I love hiking, road biking, and yoga. These are all great ways to stay healthy and keep my mind clear.  When it comes to running or fitness everyone should find something that you love to do and do it with great people. Email me at theresatowers6@gmail.com

Leann Wright – 10K Coach

In January of 2013, my husband started running as a result of a health scare. I saw a major change in him so I picked up running in May of 2014 as a way to improve my health and lose weight too. I work in an office and my days are mostly sedentary. So running became my path to improving my health so I can live longer. I have a 17 year old daughter and it is important to me to be around for a very long time. At first it was extremely difficult because my knees hurt, my feet hurt, my hips hurt...you get the idea. It got easier as I lost weight, and my ligaments and tendons got stronger. I also discovered running on dirt is less straining for the joints, which led me to trail running. Since then, I have done a few races and hope to do many more. My first major endeavor was Imogene Pass which was 10 miles up to an altitude of over 13,000 feet and 7 miles down. I also ran La Luz, and most recently I completed “Dead Horse”, a 50K ultra (31 miles) in Moab—which was my longest run ever. There were moments when I thought they’d have to change the name of the race to “Dead Runner”, but I finished and made all of the cut off times. I’m never going to be fast, and trail running is more about enjoying the surroundings than pace. I’ve seen waterfalls, rivers, coyote, and deer. I try to keep my phone handy, so I can snap a quick photo during my run. Trail running has allowed me to experience things and places I never would have seen otherwise. I often struggle while I’m doing it, but I never regret it and I truly believe that if I can run, anyone can. Email me at leann.usafitabq@gmail.com

Kathy Schancer – Walk to Run Coach

Throughout my school and motherhood years, I loved to be active in all kinds of sports EXCEPT running/track. Then the USAF moved my husband Gary, our 2 teenage kids & me to Albuquerque in 1991. Gary became Forrest Gump before the movie idea was even conceived! Needless to say, his running enthusiasm began to grow on me. After I finished one 5K, I went right to the 10K, and in the blink of 22 years, I have done 6 La Luz races, 13 half marathons, 16 marathons, 8 50K’s, and 2 50-milers. Thanks to all the wonderful friends I’ve made through Albuquerque Fit the past 10 years, I stay inspired to run, saying “just one more race”. On the career side, I knew from the age of 9 that I wanted to work in the field of food and nutrition, thanks to all I learned from my mom and numerous 4-H activities. After a few years of higher education, I became a registered dietitian and worked 40 years as a clinical dietitian, which included 30 wonderful years in the VA Hospital system. Sports nutrition became a special interest after I began running regularly. Now that I’m retired, I think it’s time to create a superior energy gel to help us run like the wind! As your coach, I will do my very best to make your time on Saturday mornings rewarding and fun to help you make strides toward reaching your activity goal each week. We are in this together! Email me at kschancer52@gmail.com

Ted Borek – Sprint Triathlon & 5K Coach

I hope to help you reach your time and distance goals while you train with us this season. I run, swim, bike and lift weights which I have done my entire life. I swam and ran cross country in high school, which is longer ago than I care to think about. My current challenge is triathlon. Up until 2 years ago, I dreaded running events, because I was slow. I was convinces I couldn’t get faster, didn’t know how to train and thought I could never go farther than 3 miles without keeling over. Our training programs at USA FIT Albuquerque have shown me that I can run as far as I want improve my time and improve my health. It has helped to change my life. So, I want to bring these benefits to you. Together we will unlock your physical and mental potential so you will look forward to training whenever you get the chance! Email me at ted.usafitabq@gmail.com

Mercedes Clemens – Trail Running Coach

Following high school and college cross country and track, I spent years riding trails on horseback. When I retired my last horse, I rediscovered the joys of hitting the dirt on my own two feet, becoming an avid trail runner. I also enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, solo backpacking and particularly love difficult, high altitude terrain. Over the past few years, I’ve worked on acquiring skills in wilderness medicine, mountaineering, high elevation running and have competed in trail races up to the 50k distance. A self professed geek, I have a passion for applying my education as an RN and massage therapist to exercise science and am a UESCA Certified Running Coach. Email me at mercedes.usafitabq@gmail.com

Stephen Wright – Trail Running Coach

I am a native New Mexican and grew up in Albuquerque, attending UNM where I did my undergraduate and graduate work in engineering. I worked as a consultant for over 10 years, and in 2001, went to work for the Federal Government in areas of project management, applications development and operations management. The USA FIT Albuquerque motto is “Change Your Life: and nothing could be truer for me. After a few years of diminishing fitness activity, increased stress, poor diet and weight gain, I had a major wakeup call beginning in 2013. That began a journey for me that led to running (something I had never done before) and ultimately losing nearly 100 pounds. I started distance running in late 2013, and joined “Albuquerque Fit” (as the group was known as) at the beginning of 2014. By the end of that year, I had completed several 5K’s, a 10K, a half marathon and ultimately my first full marathon. I have a passion for running in the wilderness and love running on trails. This led me to my first 50K ultra in 2016. I have continued that pursuit and in November 2018 I achieved one of my most ambitious goals, completing a 50 mile ultra! My journey was such a powerful and positive experience that I wanted to help achieve and celebrate their goals. Since 2015, I have been assisting and coaching with USA FIT Albuquerque to help others transform their lives and find the joy not only in reaching their goals but in running itself! Email me at stephen.usafitabq@gmail.com