June Keogh Uhlig, Artist Athlete
I asked June if I could post her art work, she replied, “I am just an art teacher who now and then drags things out of my heart for me.”
That sums up June right there. Perpetually of service to everyone. Come on, “just an art teacher”? Teachers are much like endurance athletes, takes a lot of stamina to stay on course. I would guess June Uhlig may be the most fit teacher at her school because she’s not afraid to get her sneakers dirty.
I feel like I’ve know June for years, probably because she’s so welcoming. I don’t remember if I met her on facebook first or at a trail race. I’ve seen her crewing many times. Last time I ran Javelina Jundred, I was running back to my tent to doctor my feet and tummy. Outta nowhere, June appeared with a plastic box of aids. If you don’t know me, this tickles me happy (perpetually organized!). June and another ultra runner, became my pit crew, bandages and tums, and I was back out for another loop. The kindness of the “ultra family” never disappoints.
June is also a very talented artist! This week, she posted a book she is working on for a fundraiser, Illuminating the Arts, in Nevada. Her photos on one page; drawings on the opposite pages. Absolutely beautiful! I’ve been curious about the artist and athlete coexisting since I began running in 2004. I asked June to share how she navigates the two paths.
I have made art all my life. I was very athletic and wanted to be a PE teacher. A bike accident changed my world and my senior year in high school I took art instead of PE. At college I found out I really was a good artist. I just never knew. I became a teacher in 1977 because, well, that is what one did. I taught at a parochial school in inner city Detroit for 3 years, married had kids pursued my MA in ED but didn’t finish due to kids and unemployment. In AZ, I stayed home, raised my kids and jumped into my art as a passion. In the meantime doing small races here and there. In high school I ran track one year and held the school record in the 400. I was not allowed to run distance due to a heart murmur.
I had to start teaching full-time again in ’97 due to spouse illness (now my ex). I moved to Vegas where the job was from Sierra Vista, AZ. I have been here 20 years teaching 6-12. I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in 2000. After a year of chemo I slowly got back to the passion of running, but melanoma is a sun related cancer so I had to be careful. After divorce and weighing in at 180 lbs , I got back to losing 45 lbs, boxing, working out and ran my first marathon in ’05 for Make A Wish in memory of a student who died of cancer at 15.
I ran mostly shorter distances. In 2012, I was introduced to trail distance running and I have never looked back. I teach photography, film, and I am always taking pictures on my runs. And since Red Rock is in my back yard, that is where I try to capture it. As an artist, I enjoy the beauty, as a photographer, I try to capture the moment, and as a trail runner, I get to be out in nature and have time alone, with God, myself, cry, laugh, breath and just be me. I have had a few injury set backs. Like now. BUT, I go on. I will be 62 in May and hope to get in a solo 100K in the desert. Also my goal is to finish a 50 miler. I have completed every distance race through 100, except for a 50. Working on that.
Without my running in Red Rock almost everyday, this book would not be possible.
~ June Keogh Uhlig
Right brain, left brain, yin or yang – all can coexisting. #ArtistAthlete
Here’s more of June Keogh Uhlig’s art.