2017 Speakers Coming Soon

2016 Speakers Tentative Schedule

10:00 am     Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer at Runners World

11:00 am    DeAnna Bennett, MMA fighter. A different path to the half

12:00 pm    Misty Diaz, Spartan Racer Raising Awareness for Spina Bifida

1:00 pm     Molly Barker, Founder of Girls on the Run

2:00 pm      Meb Keflezighi, Need We Say More, (This is a Virtual Talk and there will be Q&A)

3:00 pm     Liza Howard, Ultra Runner and Team RWB Coach

at the Pasta Party :

5:15 pm Steve Gonsor, physical therapist


Liza Howard

Liza Howard is an accomplished mountain, ultra, and trail runner living in San Antonio, Texas. She holds multiple records ranging from the marathon to 100 mile trail races. 

Among her many accomplishments is winning the Leadville 100 twice. Liza achieved a 100 mile PR of 15:07 which is one of the fastest 100-mile trail times ever recorded in the United States.  

She divides her time between her husband and two young children, teaching for the Wilderness Medicine Institute, coaching, directing Team RWB’s national trail camp, all while training for 100-mile and multi-day stage races.  

Liza recently coached a local Buffalo runner to run her first ultra at the American River 50 Mile race in Carlsbad California through the Becoming Ultra Project. 

 Visit Liza’s daily blog at lizahoward.com to keep up with her latest training and coaching endeavors. 


Molly Barker

Molly is the founder of Girls on the Run, a national non-profit organization promoting lifelong health, fitness, and self-confidence in girls through running.  She is also a writer and a four-time finisher of the Ironman triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. 

When Molly began running at the age of 15 she found herself stuck in what she has described as the “girl box,” or the idea that societal stereotypes about adolescent girls result in limitations of girls’ choices in extracurricular activities and sports. Molly used her running experience as a teenager and her background in in counseling, teaching, and research in adolescent issues as inspiration to develop the Girls on the Run program in 1996. 13 girls attended the first Girls on the Run session in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the program has steadily grown since then. 

Today 220,000 girls in 220 cities throughout North America participate in Girls on the Run each year.

Molly’s achievements and work have been featured in People, Runner’s World, Glamour, Shape, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In 2013, Molly was recognized as a Daily Point of Light, a designation awarded to volunteers to honor their efforts.  Runner’s World has recently named her as one of the “Top Most Influential People in Running.”  She has also authored two books, Girls on Track: A Parent’s Guide to Inspiring our Daughters to Achieve a Lifetime of Self-Esteem, and Respect and Girls Lit from Within, which was specifically written for girls in grades 3-8.

Molly continues to enjoy running as well as writing and yoga, but most importantly, living life “outside of the box.”


Misty Diaz

Misty Diaz, also affectionately known as “Lil Misty,” is an athlete and motivational mentor in both the running and spina bifida communities.

Misty was born in 1984 with myelomeninegocele, one of the most severe forms of spina bifida.  She endured 28 operations in her early life, which left her physically weakened and feeling emotionally defeated.  Knowing that something in her life had to change, Misty decided to begin by taking brief walks within her neighborhood.  She created a routine, which made it possible to build her endurance to the point where she could walk a 5k. Misty’s walks eventually turned in to a 5k run in 2012, and she hasn’t stopped running or competing since!

Being involved with the running community has allowed Misty to both raise awareness for spina bifida and to connect with the children and adults with spina bifida inspired by her journey to encourage them to start participating in races.  When Misty is not running or racing she serves as a motivational speaker in schools and as mentor to adaptive athletes and children with spina bifida.  She hopes to one day create a 5k Walk/Run to raise funds for those on limited incomes living with spina bifida.

Misty is traveling to Buffalo for Marathon weekend to visit and run with a young area girl with spina bifida who is running in the Kids Mini Marathon.


Meb Keflezighi

Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi is hailed as one of the greatest distance runners of our time.  He is a three time Olympian (10,000m and marathon) who earned a silver medal at the marathon distance during the 2004 Summer Olympics. He is also the only runner in history to win the New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and an Olympic medal.

Meb is also widely known for triumphantly winning the 2014 Boston Marathon at the age of 39, the first American male to do so since 1983, and the oldest male since 1930.  The win was also especially significant being 1 year after the tragic Boston Marathon bombings.

Besides being a decorated athlete, Meb is a dedicated worldwide motivational speaker, author, and inspiration to individuals of all athletic abilities.  His message of “Run to Overcome” has helped countless people pursue their dreams despite any obstacles they may face.  He also founded MEB (Maintaining Excellent Balance) Foundation, which advocates health, education, and fitness for youth.

Meb makes his home in San Diego with his wife Yordanos and their three young daughters.

He will be competing this summer in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.


Bart Yasso

Bart Yasso has been the chief running officer for Rodale’s Runner’s World magazine since 1987.  He has coached thousands of marathon runners through the Runner’s World Challenge, and he is also known as the “Mayor of Running”– the man who seemingly cheers on every runner across every finish line of every marathon.  

Bart travels nonstop to bring the joy of running to millions of people around the world.  Join him here in Buffalo as he shares lessons, wisdom, and the insights he’s learned from running in more than 1,500 races. Experience firsthand not only how Bart’s training tips and practical advice make us all better runners, but also how his infectious spirit and love of life make us all better people.

Awards and Achievements:

  • Inducted in to the Running USA Hall of Champions

  • Creator of the Yasso 800s, a marathon training technique that predicts marathon race pace by running 800 meters 10 times

  • Author of My Life on the Run
  • Runs marathons worldwide – from Boston and New York to Antarctica and Mount Kilimanjaro, and at least one on all seven continents
  • One of the relatively few ultra-endurance runners to complete the Badwater 146 through Death Valley
  • Completed two solo, unsupported bicycle rides across the U.S. in 20 days, averaging 155 miles per day.


Steve Gonser

We are pleased to welcome back physical therapist, founder of RunSmartOnline.com, and endurance athlete Steve Gonser to our Health & Fitness Expo as a speaker.

This year, Steve will be sharing his course specific race strategy tips on how to best race the Buffalo half and full marathon. Whether you would like to set a new PR, race the distance for the first time, or simply finish strong this will be a talk that you won’t want to miss!

Steve is a two-time Ironman finisher, ultra-marathoner, and frequent sub 3-hour marathoner who has earned his second trip to the Boston Marathon in 2016.  He’s analyzed the run form of thousands of athletes across the United States, and he helps many local runners with both injury prevention and treatment.


DeAnna Bennett

DeAnna Bennett is a mixed martial artist currently living in Spanish Fork, Utah, who began her professional MMA career in 2012.  DeAnna currently competes with Invicta Fighting Championships (“Invicta FC”), a mixed martial arts promotional organization for professional female fighters.  She has a record of 8 wins and 2 losses.  

As a high school student, Deanna was a member of the water polo team.  By chance, the water polo coach also coached wrestling, and Deanna’s journey towards mixed martial arts began when she was recruited for the wrestling team.  During college, DeAnna’s participation in a kick boxing class led her to join a kick boxing gym, and ultimately to pursue muay thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu which are forms of martial arts.   Training with her current coach, Jason Mertlich at the Four7 Training Center in Spanish Fork, Utah, DeAnna has earned a purple belt in jiu jitsu.