Runner/Mom/Culture Producer Erica Stanley Dottin
What I love about this running publication is the people that we meet. Runners that are more than just runners, runners that have interesting career paths in which they use to bring attention to the things we’d essentially almost never hear about. A few weeks ago A friend of mine that works in production that runs recommended that I should watch Sisters on the Track. A Netflix documentary about 3 wonderful young black sisters that run track in Brooklyn, if you haven’t had a chance to check that out please do and support the film. The interesting thing about that documentary is the runner that helped to produce it, Erica Stanley Dottin. As a production guy I almost always stay for the credits or watch the credits and I noticed a name that looked familiar. As I swiped through Instagram a day later that intuition was correct. You know Team Mid Strike had to reach out and spotlight this wonderful runner and discuss, running, production, running while being a mom and most of all her journey.
MSM: Welcome to Mid Strike Magazine. As I type this there’s some excitement because as a fellow production guy I love speaking to fellow production folks when it comes to well…..production (lol). We’ll get to that later for now let’s get to know Erica. For our readers, who is Erica S. Dottin?
Erica: Production convos are so fun, aren’t they? People who make stuff happen on a daily basis talking about…making stuff happen on a daily basis! Haha. I LOVE IT!
My IG bio reads Erica Stanley-Dottin the mom, the runner and the culture producer. The 3 things that currently run my life. I have two boys, Austin – 10 and Jett – 11. I am an entrepreneur and freelance producer and somehow I also manage to train and race in two marathons a year (pre-covid) with some half marathons in between. I am also married to a pretty awesome dude (Howard) who also happens to be..a runner!
MSM: From what I’ve seen your a pretty avid runner, always solid with the mileage at a pretty high clip. Let’s go back a little bit. Where and how did your run journey begin and what was it that drew you into the sport of running?
Erica: I’ve always loved to run! I was the girl in gym class challenging everyone to races (and winning!) I would dabble in cross country here and there through middle school but nothing formal. When I got to HS I joined the track team but again I never really took it seriously. I was a bit of a rebellious tween/teen and like a lot of young girls the 13/14 ages were tough. Coach Jean mentions this in the film, “Girls are sweet then they go crazy around 13-14 but they eventually come back…with my help.” I love running because it has also been an outlet for me. At my darkest moments, it’s been there. It’s one of very few things in my life that is only for me, that I can control. I really enjoy the training journey and pushing myself to be the best at whatever stage I’m in.
MSM: You’ve been running since high school? That love has always been there but there are some that help you find that passion and love for the sport. Who were some of the folks that helped you find that passion in running early on and who inspired you?
Erica: My mom for sure. She saw that I had some talent and that I loved to run but as a parent, she also knew that I needed some direction and discipline. She took me over to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on a fall weekday after school and introduced me to Fred Thompson, founder of the Atoms Track Club and The Colgate Women’s Games. He was already a legend, having been part of the 1988 Seoul Olympic coaching staff and coaching many many black women and Olympians. Meeting him would be the moment when running became a big part of my life…from that day…until right now. Freddie became a mentor and a 3rd parent, really. He taught me a lot about discipline, working hard and staying dedicated. My mom passed away a couple years later of breast cancer. I believe she was setting me up for when she was eventually going to be gone. The morning after she passed, I ran in the semi-finals of the Colgate Women’s Games. I remember at 16 not feeling like it was weird or that I should be doing something else that day, I remember feeling like she would have wanted me to run and I’m glad that I did. I still carry that with me all these years later.
MSM: Running for you is really a lifestyle as there was one thing that I’ve noticed is that you seem to be a runner that doesn’t settle. When you finish a race you move right on to the next goal or improvement. You don’t seem to stick to past accomplishments.
Erica: I do. I think it’s just what comes with being a lifetime athlete. When it truly is a lifestyle, you’re never really happy with any one result because you know you can always do more or improve. I feel that way even now as a mom and as an older athlete.
MSM: For our readers give us a peek into some of your run stats? You’ve run a fair share of marathons, half marathons etc. What are some of your favs?
Erica: I’ve run 6 marathons – my fastest is 3:15 in Philly 2019 and I’ve run a handful of half marathons too – my fastest being 1:33. Currently, I am training for the London Marathon on October 3rd. It’s a big race for me. I’ve been putting in more work than ever before so looking forward to getting out there and seeing what I can do! It’s also the Abbott World Marathon Majors – Age Group World Championships!! So I’m repping for the grown folks! lol.
MSM: You’re from NYC (ehem the best city on the planet) what I LOVE about NYC running is one the diversity, two the run crews, three the things that keep you interested while running in NYC. There’s never a dull moment running the streets of NYC. I’m always looking for routes. I’ve yet to explore. what are some of your favorite routes in the city?
Erica: I run in prospect park a lot – it’s about a mile from where I live and I do love it because I’ve been running in the park since I was a kid. I also like routes to Williamsburg, Red Hook and Dumbo along the water. I love going to see the water. It’s one of my favorite things to do on runs.
MSM: Sticking with run crews you’re also a member of Black Roses NYC. A run crew that’s all about business when it comes to training. We’ve had a few Roses members in this magazine. For you, how has the crew helped you to get to the next level as a runner?
Erica: Since joining ROSES in 2018, the level up has been crazy! Not only do I spend much time chasing behind the fast people, the training is interesting and unconventional which I also love. My coach, Knox (Robinson) is a brilliant person both on and off the roads. He’s a wealth of knowledge and I learn from him every day. Being in a crew has also been great for me personally because when I came around, no one knew me as Erica the mom or the event producer, I was a runner. I think I’ve found a lot of personal freedom in that and it’s given me a much needed outlet.
MSM: There’s a memory I’d like you to share with our readers. I remember this because that photo made its way across the run pages as soon as it was posted and speaks to what your team and teammates are all about. Brooklyn Half Marathon 2019 you ran a great race but started to fade towards the end but one of my faves (she also blessed our cover) Danielle aka Vexy aka Leggatron was there to bring you to the finish. Amazingly you still managed to run an excellent time, what went through your mind as she was essentially there to pick you up and get you to the finish?
Erica: My 1:33 half is dedicated to Danni. I barely remember what happened as I blacked out on the course from dehydration. 2 years later, I still think about that moment bc being on a team… really that’s what it’s all about. Running is still an individual sport, it’s always going to be you against the clock. She didn’t have to stop, but she did and that shows you how big her heart is and also the bond that we share on ROSES. I love them as people first…not just as fast runners.
MSM: I’d like to get your take on diversity for a little bit as a runner. One of my struggles as a black male runner when I first started running was not seeing runners that represented me. Which essentially led to me not wanting to run. It’s already insanely difficult to be black in this country or enjoy doing anything while being a black male. There is someone where this is even more difficult for which is a black woman. What were some of the issues you noticed as a black female runner. I’ve been called names by passers-by, almost run over by bikes and swiped by cars on more than one occasion, I can only imagine things that you’ve heard and seen.
Erica: Most of the aggression that has come my way is from people on bikes. I mean I get it, there are bike lanes, but where are we supposed to run? The sidewalk has people and the streets have cars. I actually get a lot more love than hate when I am out running. I think because I am a black woman, it’s rare to see us running around so carefree. And if I’m being honest, I love that part of it. I’m taking up space and unbothered. When i am running in a group especially with my sisters – Danni, Maddox or other Roses, people in the streets go nuts. it’s always love, though.
I do. I think it’s just what comes with being a lifetime athlete. When it truly is a lifestyle, you’re never really happy with any one result because you know you can always do more or improve. I feel that way even now as a mom and as an older athlete.
MSM: Representation matters and it’s something that we as runners are still struggling with in the running community. Pace runs has worked to change the narrative as they have hosted races outside of the NYRR bubble, By bubble I mean the likes of Central Park or in areas that don’t necessarily reflect us. What are some of your thoughts on road races in NYC? What are some of the things you’d like to see from a road race standpoint?
Erica: I love what Pace Runs is doing and hope that more of us will support and organize around this. The NYRR bubble is really more about socio-economics for me…the race entry fees are pretty high. I think running races could be a bit more accessible for everyone in that regard. Representation comes when we have the opportunity to take up space, feeling comfortable running and being a representation of ourselves it’s the only way.
MSM: You’re a runner, a runner runner BUT most importantly you are a mom first a basketball mom. I love to ask these questions to runners that are parents, especially mothers. How do you find the time and balance to run so many miles, be a basketball mom, to be simply a mom and most of all when do you rest?
Erica: Am I balancing it all? Hmm…most of the time that feels like a big NOPE! Lol. But really, it’s me CONSTANTLY being on the go. I make the time to run bc it’s important to me and I also want my boys to see me being active and doing things for myself. I hope they will do the same for themselves as adults and parents. Today it was a 7:30 am run – 2 basketball games – an hour drive each way to LI for an event – back home to sleep and then I’ll get up for a long run at 6am followed by more basketball. And it’s the weekend! This is just life right now but I love it. I really am trying to do and have it all.
MSM: Changing up the pace a bit, let’s get into Sisters on the Track. I’m a production guy on the network side so anytime I come across a well done documentary I get ecstatic, even if I didn’t work on it. This documentary showed beautifully the passion of each of these sisters and how running brings them even closer. It’s hard to get a project off the ground but you helped to make that happen. For our readers, give us some insight into what went into putting this documentary together?
Erica: So I came on to the Sisters On Track team post-production to produce the Social Impact Campaign. I came into the project quite serendipitously as the director, Corinne Vanderborch and I have kids at the same school. I just happened to be chatting with her partner one morning and he told me about this amazing documentary that she had just finished about Jeuness TC and I was like, “Wait..WHAT?!” Jean and Karel had known me for years and they were also Atoms TC track athletes coached by Freddie Thompson like I was. It was a crazy worlds-colliding moment for sure. Many documentaries have Social Impact Campaigns attached to them — the purpose being to use the film’s subject matter to make an impact and highlight issues raised in the film. The idea is to spark important discussions and inevitably to inspire action and change. Our campaign focuses on the importance of Mentorship, Education and Athletics (especially for young girls.) This project brings together many of my favorite things (past and present) and I am able to use my professional experiences in education/teaching, community relations, marketing, event production AND running all at the same time! It’s kind of a dream.
MSM: There’s so many stories to document what was it that drew the team to these three sisters from Brooklyn Tai, Rainn, and Brooke Sheppard as well as Jeuness track club?
Erica: The Sheppard sisters had received some attention prior when they were named Sports Illustrated Kids of the Year (their famous cover is the movie poster) and when the director heard about them they wanted to document more of their lives and their running journey. What they got was a really amazing story about mentoring, coaching, running AND how the smallest things can touch the lives of others forever. Jeuness TC is an institution…I am so happy that Jean and Karel, JTC coaches, The Sheppard sisters and their mom Tonia are getting these flowers. It’s so important.
MSM: The documentary spoke to a lot of what we know growing up and the struggles some of us faced. To keep us on the right path most of us chose sports and in doing so there are coaches that have helped us to grow tremendously both mentally and physically. Coach Jean played a huge role in their lives not only when it came to track workouts but life lessons as well. Huge kudos to yourself and the writers for capturing that relationship as that tends to be overlooked.
Erica: I have to shout out Corinne Vanderborch, as she is one of the artists and masterminds behind the incredible documentary and storytelling. And I agree, it is an amazing job well done. The reason why the social impact campaign exists is to further the spotlight on the awesomeness that is coach jean and hopefully inspire more people to become mentors and affect the lives of others. One thing we are also doing is creating a series of virtual and in person walks/runs where people will be asked to “mentor” one other person to get active! That’s what coaching is all about and something that we can ALL be for someone else.
MSM: I don’t want to give everything away so I will tell our readers make sure to watch Sisters on Track especially if you love running and ESPECIALLY if you want to support the film. There are indeed ways to support. How can our readers donate and support and most of all keep track of these wonderful young queens?
Erica: They can support Jeuness directly by going to jeunesstrackclub.com. Also, join our Social impact campaign and stay updated on our programs – www.sistersontrack.com and @sistersontrack on IG. Finally, the title partner of the social impact campaign is the Colgate Women’s Games. We are working with them to relaunch the games and introduce new ways to sign girls up for the meets. If you or any of your readers know girls and women aged 5-adult who would like to run at the games – sign them up! No experience is required. The Sheppard sisters were brought to Colgate by a babysitter and that changed their lives forever. www.colgatewomensgames.com It’s a big relaunch year at the Colgate games and Jeuness TC and the Sheppard sisters will be there. Who knows, i MIGHT jump into a 1500m or a 200m race myself one of these weeks. 🙂
MSM: For yourself what’s on the agenda for Erica? Now that road racing is back, what’s on your radar, what are some races that you’re ready to attack head on and most of all how can we continue to follow the journey of Erica?
Erica: Right now, I’m laser focused on London 2021 – October 3rd! Training hard, getting to the line healthy and running fast. I am also running the NYC marathon in November so it will be a busy fall! Follow me on IG @estanleydott !
MSM: Any last words that you’d like to share with our readers?
Erica: Thank you so much for letting me share my stories!! Would love to connect with more of your readers.
MSM: From us here at Mid Strike keep running and keep striving Queen, we salute you and we appreciate you.
Erica: Thank you!