Athlete Spotlight

Jordan Vardon
Boston Qualifier, Family Man, and Lover of Star Wars

Achieving our goals is rarely easy or straight forward. There are often bumps along the way, 1 step forwards, 2 steps back with goals getting further and further away. Jordan is no stranger to this, yet he never gave up (and continues to this day) to get better and reach his goals. The road to Boston is one of the most treacherous ones. One of the World’s most famous races (if not “the” most), yet one of the most difficult to enter. Like many, Jordan dreamt of hitting that Boston Qualifying time and making the cut for Boston and it’s fair to say, it’s been a rollercoaster of a journey. This year he achieved part of that goal by finally achieving the Boston Qualifying time, but unfortunately didn’t make the extra 5:29min cut off time. The outcome is cruel, but Jordan has shown time and again that he is strong and determined. there’s still time for more chapters to be written.

There’s a lot we can all take from Jordan’s story, whether you are looking to qualify for Boston or chasing other goals, there’s something for everyone here. Take a read and get to know Jordan’s story.

Where are you from? 

Normally I say Detroit, but really I’m from a very small town about an hour north, called Fargo, Michigan. 

How long have you lived in CLT? 

I moved here in August 2011, so 12 years. 

How long have you been a member of Flow Motion?

I started in December 2021, a running coach was my Xmas present (gifts don’t get much better than that – right?), so a little less than 2 years. 

Favorite Sports Team? 

Detroit Lions, Michigan and Harvard Football, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, and Charlotte FC. 

Hobbies outside of running?

Like most of us, I don’t have a lot of time outside of running and family stuff, but I love Vintage Star Wars stuff. If anyone has any Star Wars stuff from the 70s/80s, I’m your guy!

Tell us in detail about your running story.

After I graduated college I was pretty broke, but wanted to do something active. I had a pair of “tennis shoes” that I used to run in, and they were terrible…but they got me out of the house enough to consider myself a “runner”. I was lucky enough to secure a sponsor’s bib for the Boston Marathon from the company I worked for in 2008, and “trained” for it. I think I was averaging around 12-15 miles per week and the longest run I did was a half marathon race leading up. The race, predictably, did not go well. I think I walked more than I ran, but it was Boston and it hooked me! I think I placed in the bottom 5-10%.

After Boston, I started law school and life got very busy (I was still working full time). I pretty much stopped running regularly until around 2018, when my wife and I made a commitment to losing weight. After about a decade of completely neglecting my body, we spent about 9 months changing our lifestyle, which included big changes to our diet and a commitment to getting outdoors and active with our kids. Family walks eventually turned into walk/jogs with the jogging stroller, and before I knew it I was back running 12-18 miles a week. Because I had lost a bunch of weight, I was a lot faster than when I was running in 2008, which honestly made it a little easier and fun.

One moment that stands out is that my wife and I entered a nighttime 5K trail race in mid-2018. Without training or intending to, I won my age group, which was a complete surprise.  After that race (the “Bootlegger 5K”) I started running and doing short trail races at the whitewater center and placing in them and that kickstarted my obsession.  I can’t imagine the last 5 years, or my life, without it.

Having recently secured a Boston Qualifying time at Grandma’s Marathon after a couple of attempts, can you share some details on that journey? 

My BQ journey was honestly pretty tough on me, if I’m being real honest it might be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I seriously considered quitting running at several points over the years I spent chasing it. I ran Boston in 2008, but I didn’t qualify. 

After about a year of getting more and more serious about running, I set my goal. I was going to BQ. So I bought a book/training plan, and did 99% of the workouts at the proscribed paces for my qualifying standard (3:05). I was miserable, overtrained, and making all the mistakes a new runner can. I ended up missing my BQ by 7 minutes that first race (3:12)…after I ran the first half on-pace to qualify (1:30 first half, I completely blew up on the back end). I was crushed. I did exactly what the book told me to, I couldn’t understand how I could be so far off?

After that race, my wife saw how much I wanted the BQ, so she got me a coach for a marathon cycle as a Christmas present. Coach Mike completely changed my running and training approach, with a lot more easy miles and more structured workouts. I went into Myrtle Beach Marathon feeling confident, I was going to learn from my mistakes! I ended up missing my BQ by 33 seconds, 3:05:33. It was (and still is) a PR, but missing out on my dream by 33 seconds left me questioning everything. How long did I walk through that water stop at mile 24? Could I have found some way to push a little harder those last 4 miles?! Should I have run harder in the first half? I couldn’t believe I missed it again, and by so little. It hurt…bad.

A few months later many of my running friends started sharing their BQ celebration posts. I  was so happy and proud of my friends, but deep down I had complicated feelings about it. I had dedicated more than 3 years at this point of training 6 days a week, and “nothing” to show for it. This was the first time I seriously considered moving on from running.

Instead, I threw myself for the next 6 months entirely into my training. I took the mindset that before I moved on from my BQ goal, I needed to know that I did EVERYTHING I could to qualify. I skipped countless happy hours and social events. I gave up drinking most nights of the week. I frequently ran after my kids went to bed and would get back from my run at 10 at night, then wake up at 4:30 and go for another run. Sometimes when workouts would get tough I’d yell out “33 seconds!!” To remind me of what I was chasing. There’s no one at my track at 9pm on a Wednesday so I could be as weird as I wanted. I ran my most mileage ever in a long run, week, and month. I dropped 2 runs when I had COVID, but otherwise nailed training. The result? I ran the Richmond Marathon 10 minutes slower than Myrtle Beach – Thanks Race Day 70F  Weather!

Not only did I miss the BQ, my time was slower. I put everything I had into Richmond, mind, body, and soul. I was fed up, mad, and ready to move on to another hobby. I couldn’t believe I “wasted” 3.5 years chasing Boston and didn’t have a thing to show for it.

After Richmond I had a call with Coach, and leveled with him. I was questioning whether I was a runner anymore, I didn’t enjoy hardly any part of the Richmond race itself, and I was generally bummed out. Mike told me that I needed to find what I liked about running again, what was it that made it fun? I didn’t know it then, but that was a key moment in my running story.  

What advice would you share with others who are aiming for that BQ or have narrowly missed out on a BQ in their previous attempts?

I’m a normal guy who discovered that I love running, and set a big goal. I failed at that goal, spectacularly…several times. I spent 4 years thinking about getting a BQ nearly every day. After all that time, and miles, I would tell anyone chasing a BQ this:

  • There are things outside of your control that can really impact your race. For me, it was weather. Three out of the 4 marathons I ran trying to qualify for Boston were all unseasonably warm, which negatively impacted me. Sometimes you have to accept that there’s a bit of luck to having a good race, and it’s completely outside your control.


  • Find ways to bring joy into your training. This one was what actually made me fall in love with running again. I found out I loved my morning track workouts, with training partners. When I started training with partners, we joked, we pushed each other, and I got a tiny Bluetooth speaker to blast heavy metal while we did the work.


  • Don’t let yourself get caught up in the trap of comparing yourself to anyone else.  You can only run your race, and what someone did or didn’t do, or how fast they went, or what their splits were, or how many reps they did doesn’t make you faster. Or happier.


  • Have a goal – but don’t make it an obsession. Listen to your body, give yourself some grace, sleep in once in awhile. Racing marathons is like cooking a steak. A little under-cooked is ALWAYS better than overcooked.


  • Stick with it. It might take you one race, it might take you 6 or more. My journey was 4 marathons and 4 years from deciding to get serious and give it my all. The single biggest determinative factor of success (in anything) is persistence. Plus, and I cannot overstate this, the cumulative effect of lots of miles will naturally make you faster over time. You just have to keep it up.

Would you recommend Grandma’s Marathon to others? What advice would you share with anyone running Grandma’s that may help them on race day?

I would HIGHLY recommend Grandma’s. Biggest advice I would give is to talk to someone who’s run it for all of the logistics hacks. Duluth is too small of a city to host a marathon of that size, so everything is hard to find/crazy expensive. There are ways to make it a lot easier on the wallet and your sanity though. If you want to do it, I’d love to tell you everything I know. Hit me up, I can save you $$ and stress.

As far as the race, I would say not to be scared of the one “big” hill at Mile 22. For runners around here, it was not much to write home about. 

What music/podcasts do you listen to on your run? 

If it’s an easy run, I like podcasts: This American Life, Radio Lab, More Perfect, Serial, The Daily, and Strength Running. If it’s a workout, I need either Heavy Metal (Metallica, System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, Guns n Roses), Old School Hip Hop (Eminem, Dre, Drake, Ludacris), or EDM.

What is your current shoe rotation? Do you use a particular shoe for different runs? 

Easy Runs: Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 or Speed 3 – LOVE these shoes

Long Runs: Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 or Nike Vaporfly 

Speed Work/Tempo: Nike Vaporfly 

What fuel do you use to train and race in? (good to include how often you like to take it during a race too).

I use GU, and switch between Caf and non-Caf on long runs every 4-5 miles. If it’s a workout over 7 miles I’ll sometimes take a gel after I warmup and right before the workout. I tried Maurten a 100 times and it upsets my stomach. When I race I’ll take 5-6 gels, alternating between caf and non-caf. I take them every 4-5 miles.

What is your go to pre race meal (night before and breakfast)?

Night Before – Some kind of pasta, with fish (preferably salmon), a vegetable (broccoli, asparagus, salad, etc). Sometimes I’ll throw in a late night snack (when I can’t sleep) of a bagel with peanut butter.

Morning of: Maurten 360 Drink, banana, apple, oatmeal

What is your favorite workout?

15x400s. I love the track, and 400s are great because they’re long enough to feel them, but not so long that they really hurt. Or more accurately, they’re short enough so that it doesn’t hurt for very long. 

What race are you working toward now and what is your goal? 

Nothing on the books right now, looking for some shorter races after banging out marathons the last few years. Really getting excited to chase my 5K and 10k PR. I’ve never run a Turkey Trot, pretty sure I’m going to do one of those this year (He is, with his son, who is chasing his own PR!).

What race or performance are you most proud of and why?

I think I’m most proud of Grandma’s. I was this close to quitting running prior to this race, and I was supposed to travel and run it with a friend, but he got injured one week prior and couldn’t make it. It was too late to have my wife/family come so I did the whole thing by myself. It was a whirlwind trip, but I could tell you in detail every minute from when I landed in Minnesota until when I pulled in my driveway. 

What race would you recommend to others? 

Hood to Coast Relay from Eugene to Seaside Oregon. One of the greatest, most fun running events I’ve ever done. Just a blast, and the vibes are great the whole time. Everyone should find a way to get on a team and run that event.

Guilty habit that you don’t want the coach to know about? 

I love chocolate, and keep dark chocolate bars in my fridge for snacking at night

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