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If I could name one person in my life who has always believed in me, encouraged my talent and helped me pursue my goals it would be Greg Lautenslager. Since taking over the running group in Nelson I have seen Greg give 100% to me and every other athlete who has joined our group. Taking his time to talk to each athlete, write training plans and encouraging us by running alongside. But Greg just gives more than most coaches I have seen. Nearly each day of the week he is collecting kids from school to go for a training run. Greg always told me he would take me as far as I want to go with my running, national title and a full ride scholarship to America is where I went. He has been one of the biggest influences in my life and so many of the other talented athletes I have had a privilege to train with.”

Mandy Russ,  32, School teacher, Motueka High School


Greg became more than just a coach of distance running to me. Greg created a safe haven for me away from school and home life. He adopted me as not only an athlete but as a friend and as a student of his wisdom. The pride and happiness that Greg showed when an athlete performed was truly an inspiration in itself. I gained such a strong desire to perform to my highest ability not only for my own personal satisfaction but because it brought me joy and fulfilment to see that Coach Slammer had taken pride in me achieving and surpassing my goals and his expectations. Greg as a mentor has inspired me to reach my potential through hard work and diligence. The sport of running has changed my life and guided me to where I am today

Dominic Channon, 29, Photographer and owner of Dom Channon Photo


Greg was a hugely positive influence on me throughout high school. He was a coach to us, and a friend. He was always there with a kind word if I’d had a bad day at school. Greg was endlessly encouraging and supportive. I loved how he would allow us, the runners, to choose how far we wanted to take our running and support us literally every step of the way. Training with Greg instilled in me a passion for running, which continues to be a huge part of my life.  It has been invaluable for mental clarity and focus in my work.

– Heidi  Sharples, 30, Nutrition Research/ Nursing


The Academy taught me strategies to achieve at the highest level, in both running and academic life. I learned that training your mental strength is just as important as physical aptitude.

– Peter Meffan, 28,  Doctor


I look back on the many years training with Greg with great fondness and pride. Greg is an incredible running coach, whose training has not only improved my athleticism but also my discipline and grit – attributes that have extended far into my everday life.  Greg’s training schedules were always bespoke to the individual runner. Greg never did training “just because”; every run had its place in the greater scheme of the season.  Also Greg’s good character inspires a culture of camaraderie, teamwork, and discipline. The road-trips to our races were the stuff of legend! They were always full of good cheer and friendship which contributed to the success of the group.

– Joe Dixon, 26, Graphic Design Artist


Greg has been one of the most influential people in my life and opened many exciting pathways for me. I have traveled the the world, made countless friendships and learnt many valuable lessons from, or as a result, of his coaching and mentorship. This has extended into my life beyond running and helped me excel in my educational, career and personal pursuits.

-Tom Stringer, 25, Head of Supply Chain at Retail Links


Greg’s running academy taught me skills from a young age that shaped my life. From the age of 14 to to 18 I followed Greg’s daily running programme and went to his training sessions 2-3 times a week as well as competitions. I learnt that success takes hard work and discipline. I had not been a strong athlete in younger years but I quickly realised that consistently training every day would get me results. It was this mindset that enabled me to get into law school and secure a position at one of New Zealand’s top law firms. It also helped me through the ups and downs of running my own business.

-Florence Van Dyke, 29, Lawyer and Business Owner


I trained with Greg Lautenslager (aka Coach Slammer) for five years. My running improved dramatically and Greg helped me take it to the next level, winning a national medal. Greg gives an enormous amount to his athletes and cares deeply about helping all of them succeed, regardless of how talented they are. He fostered a great club culture and was always there as a coach, mentor, and friend. This review barely scratches the surface of all the things I am grateful to Greg for.

-Jules Riley, 29, Marketing Director


I couldn’t imagine the person I would be today without running. Greg’s training taught me some invaluable life skills including perseverance, how to remain calm under pressure and the ability to pick oneself back up after a low moment. He is a kind, dedicated and talented coach who never pushes his athletes to do anything that he doesn’t think they’re capable of.

-Emma Dallison, 25, Product Owner @ Regional Facilities Auckland


I was at Greg’s first meeting when he arrived in Nelson in 2002. Since then I have seen Greg coach, mentor, and develop many fine young people to become their best selves and runners. He personally coached me from 2002-2010 guiding my passion for running. Because of Greg I was able receive a scholarship to the University of North Texas where I was able to achieve many athletic and academic goals including; CUSA titles, NCAA national track and field qualifier, Bachelor of science degree and a Doctor of Physiotherapy. There are many stories similar to mine due to Gregs passion for developing and getting the best out of everyone.

-Matthew Russ, 28, physiotherapist, Melbourne


Being part of Greg’s running team was an integral part of my teenage life.  I was a bit of a social misfit at school, but I found acceptance and friendship in Greg’s team, where I made lifelong friends. I loved running and learned focus determination and how to push myself harder than I ever thought possible through the sport.

-Terra Dumont, 30, Ecologist and Artist, Christchurch


I first met Greg and his family while visiting his garden with my dad.  Greg encouraged me to join his running group, and after a couple of laps around Saxton’s field and some encouraging words from the other runners, I quickly became excited about the sport and the team. I learned valuable life skills during my time spent running with the team.  Running is a sport that requires focus and perseverance.  While training with the team I was pushed to work and train hard and establish a consistent schedule.   I have continued to use the same valuable skills of mental focus and perseverance in my research as a graduate student.  Through Greg’s guidance and encouragement I have not only learned to become a better athlete, but also a well-rounded individual with practical skills that are invaluable for academic, career, and life success.

-Matt Thirkettle, 30, PhD Candidate in Economics at Cornell University, New York


I was part of Greg’s team at the National Academy of Distance Running during my senior years in secondary school. Greg not only managed to take my running to the next level, he also taught me important skills like discipline, mental endurance, and selflessness. Greg has been an inspiring mentor and a loyal friend throughout the years. Looking back, I can only say ‘Thank you’ to Greg for giving me the opportunity to train with such a highly talented group of distance runners and ‘Go for it’ to anyone aspiring to become part of his team.

-Volkmar Noeske, 28, Senior Project Manager at Roland Berger in Frankfurt, Germany


Fifteen years ago Greg Lautenslager asked me to be a part of his training group, I had no idea at the time that this was the single greatest opportunity I would ever be offered. Greg is the type of coach that comes around every blue moon, not only has he shared his years of wisdom and experience with me but he has been my motivator, inspiration and above all a loyal friend.  When training under Greg you have no doubts, no fear and every belief that you will succeed. These qualities not only take over in your sport but in everyday life. I’ll forever be grateful for Greg’s selfless time and effort he has put into getting me thus far in life.

Dallas Bowden, 29, Lead Analyst for Stryker, a medical device company in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Our son joined the Academy sometime around Year 11 and continued through the end of college (Year 13). As parents we were slightly apprehensive as our son was not overly competitive and we were aware that many of the Academy members were at a high level. In addition, our son has Asperger’s (high functioning autism spectrum). However, his experience could not have been better. He attended weekly trainings and competed in many meets over this time. He was treated as an equal, included in every aspect, and benefited from the fitness and camaraderie of the entire group. We cannot say enough about Greg, who imparted this equanimity and enthusiasm in so many ways. Today our son continues to proudly wear his Academy kit on his weekly runs–we are thrilled that his experience was so positive that he is carrying this into adulthood. —J.B.