The Corner Store

It was her brother Sebastian, who would gently spot his younger sister a head start to that corner store. He was fast, damn fast. But those childhood sprints motivated her. She relished his competition, embraced the fight and learned to never quit. But most of all, she learned that running was fun.  Pure fun.

Aurelia Yoblonski learned that fun in Algonac, Michigan, which sits on the banks of the St. Clair River and St. John’s Marsh. Her story didn’t begin there though; it began in a very different place. It began in communist Poland and by the time Aurelia was three, her family had emigrated to the U.S. At first, it was hard. Her parents didn’t speak English and they knew no one. It was a new culture and a new way of life, but America was opportunity. She was freedom and liberty. She was hope.

As her American life began to settle in so did the foot races with Sebastian. They were young and competitive, and as a seventh grader Aurelia joined the track team. She was chasing Sebastian again, who was making a name for himself as a high school football, basketball and track star. When he left home to play D1 football at Eastern Michigan, Aurelia’s own star began to rise quickly and in her senior year at Algonac High School she set three Muskrat school records in the 400m, 4x8 relay and long jump. It turns out the little sister, that little girl, was fast too! Real fast!

After graduating from high school Aurelia received a scholarship from Macomb College and for four years continued to compete in the long jump, 200m and 400m sprints. While at Macomb, against many odds, her distance medley relay team, accomplished the near impossible by qualifying for the Nationals in Kansas! 

Her college athletic career was over but for Aurelia it meant something new. A new opportunity, a new ‘corner store’. It was distance running. She had some experience with cross-country in high school but endurance running would test her strength and determination. She thrived.

Aurelia has run five marathons, including Boston and New York. 20+ half marathons and too many 5K’s to count. It’s a phenomenal resume for any runner, no less a sprinter and she accomplished all of this in such a short period of time.   

Every athlete deals with pain and injury. For over three years Aurelia has struggled with low iron levels, so bad at times, that it prevented her from running a quarter mile. She’s had to deal with iron transfusions, blood issues and misdiagnosis.

And after her NYC Marathon she took a month off from running, began working out and playing in an adult co-ed kick ball league. Then came the knee problems. A bone bruise and stress fracture. Knee cap unlinking and lateral meniscus problems. 10 weeks of crutches and 6 months of not running. But she fought the iron issue and she fought the knee injury. She will always fight for her running.

It’s this fight that helped Aurelia earn a qualifying spot for Boston, the most prized invitation in marathon running. And it’s not easy. It took strength, an undying commitment and the love and support of her husband Brian, her stepdaughter Makayla and of course, Puggles, their pug.   

What’s next for Aurelia? She hopes to run Berlin, Chicago, London and Tokyo to complete the six world majors. She’d even like to run the pacing for some half and full marathons. 

Our childhood shapes us. It forms us. And what we learn lives with us for a lifetime. Some days we see a reflection that reminds us of that. It reminds us that we started somewhere else and it reminds us that our journey was never alone.

On September 1, 2013 she ran along side him in the Disneyland Half Marathon. They trained together and they ran together. They talked and they laughed. It was their first race together in a very long time. It was the corner store.