Petrina Bursie: From Empty Nest to Success

By Jenna Schifferle

Several years ago, Petrina Bursie ventured out into the elements on a 7-degree day in Buffalo and started running for the first time ever.

A recent empty-nester, Bursie, now 49, had joined a Learn to Run group at Fleet Feet on Delaware Avenue. It was her way of keeping herself busy after her two daughters left home.

“I put my running clothes on, laced up and started my journey,” she said.

“It was hard and rough, but I met some really fun people. We trained and got it done together.”

A lot has changed since Bursie’s foray into running. Today, she serves as race director for the Harriet Tubman 5K, a race she co-founded with a friend. It took place in March. She also sits on the board of the Officially Unofficial Sunday Run group and teaches yoga with a focus on trauma sensitivity at Heart Fire Yoga. She’s run seven half marathons and is a part of at least five different running and fitness groups, including Black Girls Run, Snyder Run Club, Body of Wealth, Fleet Feet, Yogis in Service and November Project.

To top it off, Bursie will soon receive her Master of Business Administration degree, an achievement that comes as her oldest daughter, Telliah, graduates with her MBA and her youngest daughter, Ayana, graduates with her bachelor’s degree. Bursie pursued her degree while working full-time as a finance manager at Sodexo and participating in many different fitness groups.

Being part of the running community has gotten Bursie outside and helped her discover a deeply rooted love of nature. One of her favorite running routes cuts through Williamsville and ends at Glenn Falls, where she soaks in the sight of her favorite waterfall, the perfect way to end a meditative workout. It’s those small moments in nature that help Bursie reset and clear her mind to stay centered in her day-to-day life.

‘When you run, you zone in. There’s just something about being alone, listening to your thoughts, feeling your body move and noticing the concrete underneath you.’

“When you run, you zone in,” she said. “There’s just something about being alone, listening to your thoughts, feeling your body move and noticing the concrete underneath you.”

As for what’s next? Bursie has big plans in store in honor of her 50th birthday this January. She’s planning to run a destination race in Miami or someplace warm to mark the milestone. Leading up to that day, she’ll be working on getting faster with a goal of bringing her 5K time down.

You’ll see her on the Buffalo Marathon course in May, too. She’ll be running the 5K and then handing out water and nutrition to athletes alongside her fellow Yogis in Service. Look for her toward the end of the course, around mile 11.

Through it all, the Buffalo resident remains humbled by the life she leads and eager for all that lies ahead. Her best advice to new runners and athletes is: Have patience with the process and stick with it when things get tough.

“Every run has a story. Today’s run may not look like yesterday’s run, but there’s a story behind it, so enjoy it while you’re doing it,” she said. The yogi in her added, “And remember to breathe.”

Interested in getting involved? Reach out to the admins of these groups on Facebook to learn more: Officially Unofficial Sunday Run Group, Snyder Run Club Black Girls RUN! Buffalo and Rochester, Body of Wealth, November Project Buffalo, Yogis in Service and Fleet Feet Buffalo.

Jenna Schifferle is a writer from Tonawanda. She runs to stay healthy, challenge herself, and collect new stories to write about.