As a child, 58-year-old MITCHELL LANSKY rode his bicycle endlessly around his family’s block. Where he was going in the circular cul-de-sac and how he didn’t get dizzy was a mystery to those around him. He simply enjoyed being on his bike, and his love of cycling has since endured.
His love of running didn’t come so easily. Twenty-one years ago, Mitchell reluctantly agreed to jog with some of his friends, and everyday they ran a little further. When the group reached 16 miles, his friends broke the news to him—they were training for a marathon, and so was he. Though he sometimes needed persuading, Mitchell began to take running and cycling more diligently. He still runs with that same group that trained together all those years ago.
Mitchell’s pursuit of fitness has propelled him through seven marathons and countless other races. However, for him fitness is more than just a singular pursuit, it’s what ties a whole community together. For nearly nine years, Mitchell has volunteered as the ride director for Cycle the Greenway, a fundraiser for the Wolf River Conservancy. Already they have surpassed their goal of raising $45,000.
From his time spent on the Greenway, he’s noticed more and more people—from mothers with strollers to tourists to couples on a romantic walk—taking advantage of the space. “It’s not just for runners anymore,” he says. The Greenway connects all the Memphis areas, and by 2020 it will reach from Cordova to Mud Island. Through different fitness programs and events, Mitchell has made countless friends and seen how exercise brings people together.
Every year Mitchell also volunteers as part of the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club and has trained hundreds of riders for the Bluff City Blues 100 century ride. “It is an honor for me to be able to help, and without a doubt, I am sure I get more out of it than what I put in,” Mitchell says. From April to October, he helps riders build up their endurance to ride 100 miles in the fall race.
Outside of devoting the majority of his year to the Memphis community through fitness, Mitchell stays busy with at his own law firm that specializes in estate planning, elder law, and business law. He’s also active with his family that includes his wife, three children, and two beloved dogs. He credits exercise as one of the traditions that him and his wife share. Every morning they set out together for a run/walk at 5:30 am He aims to run three to four times a week accompanied by strength training and some yoga.
While his love for fitness may sound intimidating to others not as active, he believes anyone can develop the passion for health simply by having supportive companions and staying as consistent as possible. Reflecting back to the days when he first started running, he says with sincerity, “Even if you don’t feel like it, you usually feel better after you do.”
By Susanna Lancaster. Photo by Philip Murphy.