Public Servant/Atlanta City Council President/GirlDad/Runner
If you think running for Atlanta City Council president as your first elective office is impressive, how about running - period - after surgery for a torn ACL (2003) and a ruptured Achilles (2010)? Doug Shipman, elected in November 2021 to the city's #2 position, has succeeded at both. At 49, he's actually running more than ever, having re-committed to the roads just before the onset of COVID - 19. In May 2021 Shipman and some friends ran 26.2 miles on a "DIY" course , and last April the Atlanta Track Club member ran his first official marathon , in Nashville. On July 4, he served along with Mayor Andre Dickens as an official starter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, before participating himself, donning a "Race Cam" for the council's social media. He's eyeing another marathon in December.
Your Instagram bio reads "Public Servant/Atlanta City Council President/GirlDad/Runner, a description that positions running as a mighty important part of your life.
(Laughing). Yes, I have embraced it.
What was it like for you to run in the early days of COVID-19?
It turned out to be a helpful outlet. COVID for our family, as for many others, was a very disconcerting time. My wife (Dr. Bijal Shah) is an emergency room physician at Grady Memorial Hospital and she lived in an apartment for a while , so I had the kids (two girls, now 8 and 10) myself. Woodruff [Arts Center, where he was CEO at the time] had shut down. We didn't know what was going to happen next. Running became a central practice for me, the one peaceful time of the day when my mind could detach.
And then during the campaign?
Running a marathon and campaigning have a lot in common: one mile at a time, one day at a time. Just get through this mile, just get through this day. Unexpected things happen that you have to cope with as you go. You're physically and mentally tired. You're not sure it's worth the effort and then you see a sign or hear a cheer and know that someone is pulling for you.
Did you run more often or less often during the campaign ? I found myself running more, as a stress reliever. I'd tell my staff, "For the next hour, you can't reach me."
How much are you running these days? When and where?
I run five or six days a week, usually at 5:30 or 6 a.m. I live at the junction of two very long running trails, the Freedom Path and Beltline. It's a runner's paradise. I turn in one direction toward The King Center or the other toward the Jimmy Carter Library ... left is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and right is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Do you use the time to ponder the day's issues , or to relax? I find myself occasionally thinking through things, but usually I just want to listen to podcasts about running or soccer. (Note: Shipman is a huge Atlanta United fan.) What's the best thing about Running City USA? The community that's been developed. Everyone from the super - serious runner to the recreational runners or walkers who go out a couple of times a week. Young, older, a broad range of racial and ethnic diversity - it's reflective of the entire city, with everyone being supportive of everyone else.
What's one thing that would make it even better?
There are statistics about the percentage of people in the U.S. who live within a 10 - minute walk of a park or other green space. We've improved over the years in Atlanta, but we're still in the 75 percent range. The closer you live to a park or a running path , the more likely you are to use it as a place to exercise, so I would love that to be 100 percent.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2022 issue of Wingfoot Magazine.