Categories
Interviews

OLYMPIAN MECHELLE FREEMAN & TRACKGIRLZ

Mechelle Freeman is 2007 World Track and Field champion, and a 2008 Olympian in the 4×200-meter relay. She founded the organization TrackGirlz in 2015 as a way to provide exposure and access for girls to the track and field world that so often gets left behind after college.

She and her co-director, Jennifer Nash Forrester have developed this community to create sisterhood, provide empowerment and to equip girls with the resources necessary to pursue track and field at any level.

Mechelle Freeman - Olympian and Trackgirlz Founder

MEET MECHELLE FREEMAN

“Growing up, our mom always made sure we had access,” Mechelle said over a nice 9:00 am zoom call. “Whether it be dance, theatre, sports, she always made sure.”

Mechelle and her sister were dubbed “the fast twins” after becoming track athletes in high school. Have a record near and dear to your heart? If it was between 100-meters and 400-meters, you could have wished it farewell once they stepped onto the track.

“We broke records and got state records. When I went off to college at the University of South Carolina, we brought back the first National Championship the school has ever had,” she said.

When we think of track and field today, or have friends who participated in it growing up, there’s often a massive drop-off in participation after high school. The National College Athletics Association (NCAA) released their 2018-2019 “Estimated probability of competing in college athletics” report in which they found that of the 605k high school track and field athletes, just 4.8% go on to compete at the NCAA level.

POST COLLEGIATE JOURNEY

After university, Mechelle found herself in New York City as an intern for VMLY&R (previously Y&R), a top ad agency where she placed her focus for a few years.

Being on a budget with the exorbitant prices in the NYC area, the cost of training, commuting, and gear, Mechelle knows first-hand just how difficult pursuing track can be when you’re on your own.

“I had a vision, though. I knew I was going to make the Olympic team. I became very intentional, everyday.” She later decided to quit her job and make a run at becoming an Olympian.

Coming in last in her first race, her support system was there to encourage her to keep going. “There were a lot of losses and uncertainty,” she says about the start of her time back on the track. “I was hustling, working odd jobs, traveling across town to practice, I relearned discipline.”

FINDING HER STRIDE

After finding her *stride* and gaining more consistency, she found herself in a race with Allyson Felix and others at the U.S track and field championship in the 100-meter sprint (aka the make-or-break race of her career).

“I was on the right side of the race that day. I looked up and saw I came in 3rd by 100th of a second.” For reference, the top runners then go on to make and compete on the World team. She showed up for herself that day and gained Nike, her old ad agency and a local gym as her sponsors.

And so the story goes.Mechelle gets a shiny new PR in the 100-meter sprint of 10.01-seconds and goes on to the Olympics to make the 4×100-meter relay team.

THE OLYMPICS

“It’s all about executing the battle. You can only control the controllables and that’s what I had to do.”

Mechelle and her team were watching the Men’s 4×1 relay team against Jamaica where they dropped the baton. An absolute nightmare, and the men’s team was disqualified. The women’s team was next and Mechelle was the second leg.

“I was just going and going on that straight. Passing people everywhere, you know? And I knew all I had to do was pass off the baton and we’d be good, I’d have done my job.”

She comes into the passing zone seeing her teammates hand, which to us would look just fine, but Mechelle could tell the hand was just a little bit lower than comfortable. Hand back, she reaches out to pass the baton and they nail the exchange. Her teammate is off in stellar position to run the final curve and hand-off to the anchor.

“It was all just happening so fast. I was trying to breathe and I looked up and, well, they dropped it in the same zone the men did.”

_____________________

“People kept telling me track wasn’t relevant after a certain point. I just want to expose the dopeness,” Mechelle starts to tell me. “I want to provide a consistent platform for the community.”

TrackGirlz - strength in speed

TRACKGIRLZ LAUNCHES

Thus, TrackGirlz was born.

What started as a general platform to empower girls and women in the track and field space, turned into a non-profit organization in 2018 after she met her co-director, Jenniger. Since then, they’ve put on running camps both domestically and internationally as well as running and fitness workshops.

This past year in 2020 amid the start of COVID-19, they’ve started to work on making grants accessible to be able to support girls who want to have the chance to take running to the next level – whether it be in high school, college or after. Exposure and accessibility are two key things Mechelle had learned from her mother growing up. Exposure, accessibility and inclusion are all three key things that are also promoted in TrackGirlz.

“I want to get more Black, Indigenous and people of color involved to expand the conversation,” she says about the future of the organization. “I want to bridge the gap between track and the rest of the running community. I want to bring out all different body types to show just how inclusive this sport is.”

What’s Mechelle’s advice for getting more involved in the running community? “Find your local track club to create community, so you can have people lead you. Track and field has organic diversity, so you can always find something.”

As for future goals of TrackGirlz, Mechelle plans to be able to provide access to millions of girls for sport, to be able to provide direct mentorship opportunities to help them reach the next level, and to eventually develop a team that can be financially supported.

Want to learn more about TrackGirlz? Visit their website here for information about the organization, Mechelle and Jennifer.

Categories
Interviews Reviews Training

RUNNING A VIRTUAL MARATHON & THE BEST SHOES TO DO IT

Virtual Boston is in the books for 2020. With in-person marathons out, runners all over the world have been encouraged and inspired to run their virtual marathon anyway.

This month we checked in with two runners from Colorado who chose to run their ‘Bostons’ in two very different places.

Meet Kara Diamond-Husmann, who ran her race up Vail Pass in Colorado (ok, she’s is also an ultrarunner!) and Jess Gillman, who ran a fast, flat race to celebrate what would have been her very first Boston.

Go forth on your own virtual marathons and races, and celebrate the journey. As theses ladies clearly demonstrate, 2020 is all about the journey.

Kara - Virtual Marathon in Vail
Running Vail Pass as the ‘Boston Marathon’

KARA RUNS ‘BOSTON’ IN VAIL, COLORADO

by Kara Diamond Husmann

Boston Marathon holds a special place in my heart! My first Boston Marathon was in 2007 during the infamous Noreasterner. I’m usually a one and done on race courses; I want to race so many places. But, after the Boston bombings I decided I’d run the Boston Marathon every year after and nothing has stopped me from running it even a tibial stress fracture one year. There was no way I was going to let Covid-19 stop me!

Planning for the virtual marathon I knew no PR’s were going to happen, so I designed my course in a town that holds a special place in my heart, Vail, Colorado.

I love the trails, but there was a 6 hour time limit to get a medal, so I knew I needed mostly road. But, I wanted to climb; I love hills! All my life I’ve passed the Vail pass bike route, so I thought this was the place to set my marathon route. Add to that I’ve always wanted to hike Shrine Trail Ridge at the top, so, because I was in charge, I incorporated that in my route too!

On the drive up to Vail, I actually started to get some pre-race jitters. As we drove by the virtual marathon course I mapped out, I was thinking, ‘What? This is steep!’ The elevation of the run starts at 8,700 feet and climbs to 11,900 feet. And, then I’d need to run it all the way back down and I know what downhill running does to the body.

PRE-RACE VIRTUAL MARATHON

The night before we pretended we were having dinner in the North End of Boston and made pizzas for authentic race preparation.

I packed all my nutrition GUs, Cliff Bar, Shot Blocks and 4 water bottles for the run since there would be no aid stations on this course. I’d also have to carry the clothes I start out with in the morning. Mountain morning air is chilly and there’s no throwing clothes on course when it’s your own route.

In the morning, I ate breakfast and gathered my gear and some signs I made for myself to carry. With my Bib number in hand, I drove off to my unofficial ‘Boston’ start line! The beauty of my start was an empty Porta-Potty line, I went to the bathroom and visualized being in Hopkinton walking to the start from Athletes Village.

I set my watch and off I went. No fanfare, just a beep.

The first mile I was uncomfortable and my breathing was off from being at 8,700 feet and a steep climb right away. I imagined myself at mile 1 in Boston and pretended to see the crowds lining Hopkinton and running down that steep hill instead of the climb. The miles ticked away and I fueled exactly like I do in real marathons and drank at miles I stop at aid stations.

At mile 9 I reached the top of Vail Pass at 10,600ft. I felt good. But mile 10 I started to feel the altitude and thought I have 1,300 feet more climbing to do before I reach the ‘WELLSLEY girls.’

I took my mind off the climb and looked around thinking how lucky I am to be in this beautiful place. Once I hit a two-mile single track I started seeing people out on a short hike. It gave me energy seeing people. They’d say nice things and I’d think to myself, do they know I ran from Vail Village up here!

Kara - Boston Marathon in Vail
Kara with the ‘Wellesley Girls’ on the top of Vail Pass

Being a self-supported race seeing people was a huge mental boost. By mile 13.1 I was running along Shrine Ridge and it was absolutely beautiful, I could almost hear the WELLSLEY girls offering their support.

The turn around was here and it was all down hill. Ouch! I took in a Cliff Bar; my stomach was churning from the GUs and needing some solid food. The run down was a mental game and I kept putting myself on Boston’s course to keep me running. Bikers would fly by and cheer me on; it gave me a motivational boost!

With one mile to go, I saw the Citgo sign in my head and could hear the crowds cheering as I ran in. Visualizing turning on Boylston and hearing the cheers I kicked it up a notch and sprinted to my car and stopped my watch!

I was on cloud nine!

I felt good and drove back to my condo where my daughters decorated the place. We celebrated the day pretending we were in back in Boston. I even put on my celebratory jacket and walked around Vail Village. A few people stopped to congratulate me and even a couple said they heard about me running on the pass earlier in the day running 26.2 miles and thought it was a CRAZY RUN!

I loved the day and another – albeit solo – Boston Marathon in the books.

Every Boston Marathon really does have a special story, and this one will stay with me forever.

Jess - Highline Canal
Jess with her ‘rabbits’

JESS RUNS ‘BOSTON’ ON THE HIGHLINE CANAL TRAIL, COLORADO

I think what pushed me to do a marathon on my own steam was the fact that I had essentially been training for the Boston Marathon since November of last year.  I’d put in so many long runs, hill repeats, strength training days to help me take on Boston in April of 2020 and the thought of letting all the preparation go to waste made me really sad to think about. 

As we all know, marathon training is no easy thing. It takes time and dedication in order to run a successful marathon and I for one was not going to let it being cancelled stop me from seeing what I could do on virtual race day!

Being from Colorado, we are really lucky that we have a ton of amazing paths we can run for miles and miles! I had several options leading up to my race day but ultimately decided to run a route where I knew other people would be on that morning.  Because we had to start so early (5:00 am) I wanted a route that would be pretty popular in case of an emergency.  Sadly, being a female runner we always have to think about our safety when we are running in the dark and also being in Colorado, we have to worry about the possibility of wildlife chasing us – which incidentally did happen on the ‘race’ at mile 9!

There was an awesome group putting on a small race called “Boston not Boston” so we used their course for the most part which made it easier because they mapped out where the restrooms were on the route in case they were needed and also trouble spots where traffic may be crossing.  I am very appreciative of this group for doing a lot of the dirty work for me! 

Jess Boston Marathon in Colorado
A ‘Boston’ race day jacket is just as sweet

RACE DAY AND RACE PREP

Did I have to dig deep for this virtual marathon?

For the race itself, no! For the training leading up to the race 100% yes. 

I remember being on some long runs in the summer heat thinking to myself, “Why are you doing this? You could be sleeping in or heading to the pool versus running 19 miles”. This is when I had to dig and really think about what I wanted and why I wanted to do this race. 

For the actual race, it was such a build up to that point for myself that I was ready. I had no goals in mind for time, no thoughts on outcome only that I wanted to be with my friends, talk, laugh and hopefully sit on a pace that felt comfortable so that I could run and coach my sons 3 year old soccer practice immediately after. 

I think when you have been working up to something for so long as an athlete, when it comes to game day you know you are prepared because you trained, you know you can run that race because mentally I had run that race over and over again! 

Mentally I was beyond prepared for this day, that moment!

SUPPORT CREW FOR A VIRTUAL MARATHON

My run crew came and ran with me! Holly and Emerald had been with me from the start of this road to Boston.  Both are former Boston Marathoners themselves (2007 and 2009) so they knew how magical this race is suppose to be. They wanted to do everything in their power to make this special for me even though we were not in Boston. 

Holly had planned to run the first half with me and Emerald was going to run the last half. Holly being Holly decided at about half way that she felt good and was going to keep going, she ended up running all 26.2 miles with me. 

Emerald is the gazelle in the group and she met us half way with nutrition and Advil! She kept us on pace and even doubled back because I was having an issue with my hydration pack rubbing my shoulder raw!

Both of these girls selflessly helped me achieve my goal and they did it with a smile on their face! To them I am immensely grateful and I hope others have such an amazing community of friends that can help support them. 

Additionally, a group called Run to Change Lives had set up small cheer zones along the route and so every now and then we would here a shout from someone saying, “Strong ladies, you’ve got this!”

It was small gesture, but felt oh so mighty!

BOSTON 2021?

I plan on applying for the Boston Marathon for 2021 when that application opens.  Until then, I am just running to run and have fun. 

I have unfinished business with Boston Marathon, and so I am determined to run that course and celebrate with 30,000+ runners when it is safe to do so. 

Until then, I am just going to keep on running. 

Best shoes for a virtual mararthon

TOP FIVE MARATHON SHOES IN 2020

Brian Metzler rounds up the best of the best for your virtual race months.

There still aren’t many races in the U.S. this fall. However, you can still create your own opportunities to run fast on your own — either through virtual races, personal time trials or simulated race efforts with your running pals.

To run your fastest, you’ll need a lightweight, speedy pair of shoes. Here are five of the best shoes in a variety of price categories that will keep you on pace for fast times and inspiring new goals for 2021.

Brooks Launch 7 - womens

BROOKS LAUNCH 7

A $100 running shoe? For racing a half marathon or marathon? Is that a mistake? Heck no! The Brooks Launch 7 is an energetic and well-cushioned shoe that also comes with an affordable price tag. With a relatively light and snappy demeanor, the Launch is somewhat of a unique ‘tweener. It falls between the category of performance trainers and the wide range of high-mileage trainers that are about a full ounce lighter. But if your race goals are modest or just want to complete a 10K, half marathon or marathon at your own goal pace, this can be an ideal shoe is for you.

Plus, it can also double as an affordable, do-everything trainer shoe that’s versatile enough to endure long runs and also quick enough to run faster, shorter workouts like tempo runs, fartlek runs and track intervals.

Weights: 9.2 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (26mm heel, 16mm forefoot)

SHOP BROOKS LAUNCH 7
Hoka Rincon 2 mens

HOKA ONE ONE RINCON 2

$115 While Hoka One One’s Carbon X is an exceptional long-distance racing shoe, we’ve chosen to focus on the fast and light Rincon model for this roundup of racing shoes instead.

Why? First, it’s a great shoe for running fast over all distances from 5K to the marathon. It’s also because it’s much more affordable too. The Rincon 2 is unfettered and fast, but it still has a lot of cushioning in every stride thanks to the full-compression EVA midsole.

The Rincon doesn’t feel like a stripped-down racing flat, but the soft, smooth and energetic demeanor allows it to perform like one when you want it to. It’s light and fast enough to be an energetic performance trainer for fast workouts. It also enough cushion and protection to be a long-run shoe or even an everyday trainer.

Weights: 7.7 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (men: 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot; women: 26mm heel, 21mm forefoot)

SHOP HOKA RINCON 2
New Balance 860v8

NEW BALANCE 890v8

$120: New Balance has several racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates embedded in their midsoles. But the 890 is the brand’s tried and true featherweight performance-oriented trainer/racer. It has always been known for its light, agile and very energetic vibe.

The New Balance 890 has been overhauled in recent years. It now includes a high-rebound FuelCell midsole, a supportive yet comfortable knit upper and a gusseted tongue for a snug, race-day fit. It has a semi-firm feel and a slightly lower to the ground geometry. This gives it excellent feel-for-the-ground proprioception and a lively feel in every stride. The 890 is fast, light, versatile and capable of taking you race-day goals. Even if your race is a virtual event or your own personal time trial!

Weights: 8.4 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (25mm heel, 19mm forefoot)

SHOP NEW BALANCE 890 v8
Saucony Endorphin Pro - Men's Style

SAUCONY ENDORPHIN PRO

$200: The Saucony Endorphin Pro is a top-tier long-distance racing shoe. It features a carbon-fiber plate embedded in a soft, very resilient midsole foam. It debuted on the feet of Saucony pros at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in February in Atlanta, including women’s second-place finisher Molly Seidel. It represents the best of Saucony’s engineering and design efforts. It’s built on SpeedRoll technology, a forward-leaning geometry that propels you forward. It has a feeling of continuous momentum, so you can run faster and more efficiently without running harder. It feels light, firm, energetic, efficient and smooth, especially at faster speeds.

Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot)

SHOP ENDORPHIN PRO
Nike Tempo Next %

NIKE AIR ZOOM ALPHAFLY NEXT%

$200: The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% mixes durability with a design that helps push to a personal best. The result is a shoe built like a racer, but made for your everyday training routine.

Nike ZoomX foam in the footbed delivers energy return as you move forward. A visible Zoom Air unit provides responsive cushioning, giving you an additional spring with your stride.

The rubber outsole features a design created using data from hundreds of runners. That information helps place traction where your foot needs it most, giving you grip on multiple surfaces.

Weights: 9.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (46mm heel, 36mm forefoot)

SHOP AIR ZOOM TEMPO NEXT%
Categories
Diversity Interviews Trail Running

SACRED SPACES: LEARNING THE LAND OF THE NAVAJO

EMBRACING THE LAND WE RECREATE ON WHILE PROTECTING OUR ELDERS AND THEIR STORIES

By Tiona Eversole

I begin to walk up the rough road on the edge of the Sangre de Cristo mountains through the darkness. A few faint lights from the nearby town Alamosa, Colorado, are visible below in the vast San Luis Valley. I look down at my watch — the time is 3:23 a.m. I’m not typically this early of a riser, but I want to reach the summit of Sisnaajiní, or Blanca Peak, by sunrise. With a few friends by my side, I quicken the pace as the minutes move toward dawn.

Sacred Spaces: Dibé Nitsaa or Hesperus Peak 13er in the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado near Sharkstooth trailhead
Summer views from the summit of Dibé Nitsaa, or Hesperus Peak. The author plans to return to this summit in a few weeks as long as the snow holds off. Photo by Matt Yeoman

THE FOUR SACRED MOUNTAINS

Sisnaajiní, also known as the Dawn or White Shell Mountain, is one of the four sacred mountains of the Diné, or Navajo people. This impressive, 14,345-foot mountain signifies the eastern boundary of Diné Bikéyah, the traditional homelands of the Navajo.

I have chosen to begin my journey across Diné Bikeyah with Sisnaajiní because of the reverence my people hold for the dawn, signifying the beginning of a new day. It was the first mountain created by the Diyin Dine’é, or Holy People. The Diyin Dine’é stir in the early hours of the dawn, which is why our hogans — traditional houses — are built with the door facing east. It is why I always try to start my morning runs heading east. 

I reach the summit of Sisnaajiní, and facing towards the sunrise, offer a prayer to the Diyin Dine’é with corn pollen from my medicine pouch. I am in a sacred space, so I tread lightly and do not overstay my welcome. The wind carries the chill of late September. We take each gust as a word of caution, and begin our retreat to the basin below.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will travel across Diné Bikeyah to summit the three other sacred mountains, which include Tsoodził (Mount Taylor) to the south, Dook’oosłííd (San Francisco Peaks) to the west, and Dibé Nitsaa (Hesperus Peak) to the north. 

Tsoodził, also known as Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain, is next. This is the mountain that watched over me as I lived out my adolescent years in the tiny New Mexico town of Bluewater Village. Despite growing up a short distance away, I have never stood on the top of Tsoodził.

Next is Dook’oosłííd, or Abalone Shell Mountain, an area that I am unfamiliar with. I’ve traveled through Flagstaff, Arizona, but have not spent much time in these prominent peaks easily seen from town. I plan to summit Dook’oosłííd close to the same time as Tsoodził, as the snows of the coming winter will soon arrive (one storm already has this year), which could put my mission in jeopardy.

The fourth and final summit of Dibé Nitsaa, or Big Sheep Mountain, is the summit I’m most concerned about. In my current home of Durango, Colorado, Dibé Nitsaa is, debatably, the tallest peak in the La Plata Mountains at 13,232 feet (some argue that nearby Lavender Peak is slightly taller). This mountain is also known as the Jet Stone Mountain for the dark, heavy rain clouds that reside among the peak. This late in the season, snowfall has the potential to make this ascent tricky. Only time will tell.

Sacred Spaces: Summit of Dibé Nitsaa or Hesperus Peak 13er in the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado
Looking at Dibé Nitsaa from the trail. Photo by Tiona Eversole

TYING THE LAND TO CREATION STORIES

Many of our creation stories are tied to the four sacred mountains and the land within their boundaries as well. The mountains are home to the Diyin Diné’e, and demand the most respect when one visits these spaces. Tread lightly through these breathtaking landscapes, respecting the plants and animals that call this place home while also practicing leave no trace ethics. 

Prominent landmarks such as Tsé Bit’a’í (Shiprock in northern New Mexico) and Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii (Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah border) tell their own unique stories of monsters and warriors, with the rock monoliths serving as reminders of the slain monsters that once walked the earth. 

Other places such as Tséyiʼ (Canyon de Chelly in Arizona) are the settings for stories that include key deities such as Spider Woman, who is known as a protector and advisor to the Diné, and gave them the gift of weaving. Her home is Spider Rock in Tséyiʼ.

These stories tell of who we are, of where we came from and how to live our lives in hózhó, in beauty and harmony. This is why we are meant to stay within the boundaries of the four sacred mountains. Everything we need is right here: water, food, herbs for medicinal purposes and ceremony, shelter and our people.

Sacred Spaces: The Mittens of Monument Valley Tribal Park on the Arizona/Utah border at sunrise
The first glimpse of sunrise at Monument Valley. Photo by Tiona Eversole

PROTECTING OUR ELDERS

The Diné are a people of oral tradition, with many of the creation stories passed down from one generation to the next. Our songs reverberate through our traditional ceremonies, and are tied to the creation stories that help to remind us of our existence in this world. The stories of our ancestors live in the voices of our elders. However, our elders need our help.

While the land within the four sacred mountains is beautiful, abundant and diverse, the living conditions for Diné living on the reservation are similar to those of a third world country — and it’s happening right in our backyard. Many families do not have access to running water, healthy food options and immediate medical care.

My journey to the top of the four sacred mountains across my homelands is not only for myself and to deepen my understanding of the land — it is also a means to raise money for Navajo elders ahead of the winter. Pre-COVID, Our elders were already struggling to make ends meet. Now, COVID-19 has added another threat to their overall health and well-being, and has wrecked the entire Navajo Nation. I have teamed up with nonprofit, Adopt a Native Elder, to help bring supplies to elders in need.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The Diné stories of these lands are nizhóní, beautiful. So are the elders that keep these stories tucked away in their hearts, waiting to share them with those who will listen. These tales and folklore are deeply embedded not only in their memories and traditional upbringing, but in the rivers, canyons and night skies of the Southwest as well.

Many areas of Diné Bikeyah are now considered public lands. Public lands are defined as “land owned by a government.” I urge you to gain a new understanding of what public lands are, and to learn about the history and creation of public lands. Spoiler alert: It’s not pretty. Many of these public lands we know today came into existence through wars, displacement of tribes from their homelands and broken promises. These lands weren’t “saved” by the government; they were stolen.

On this National Public Lands Day, I encourage you to reevaluate your perception of the lands that you recreate on. Who lived here before the government stepped in? What stories are tied to common landmarks and popular destinations you visit in the Southwest? The Diné were not the only ones who inhabited this area. Many other tribes such as the Ute, Pueblo, Hopi and Zuni all roamed these lands, and have their own stories to tell.

Listen, and you will find that these lands are rich with culture and history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ya’ah’teh’ shi’ keh’ do shi’ Dine’. Chishi’ nishli. Bilighaana bashichchiin. Tl’aaschi’i’ da shi’ cheii’. Bilighanna da shi’ naali’.

Hello my relatives and my people. I am Apache born for Anglo. My maternal grandmother clan is Red-Cheeked People. My paternal grandmother clan is Anglo.

Ti lives in Durango, Colorado, and spends her time romping around the Southwest. She is an avid runner, mountain biker, rafter, hiker and snowboarder. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @run.wander.ride.

Categories
Interviews Saucony Training

LAURA THWEATT: OLYPMIC TRIALS & 2020 RUN TIPS

LAURA THWEATT TALKS OLYMPIC TRIALS AND SHARES HER ADVICE TO RUNNERS

By Brian Metzler

Saucony athlete Laura Thweatt ran the fiercest, gutsiest race of her life on Feb. 29 at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, finishing fifth place in 2:29:08 but missing a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team by a mere 18 seconds. Despite the disappointment of narrowly missing the team, that effort galvanized her resolve to return to the elite marathon scene after years of injury. (Prior to being hurt for part of 2018 and 2019, Thweatt ran a 2:25:38 personal best at the 2017 London Marathon, the sixth-fastest time in U.S. history.) But when COVID-19 swept across the world and changed everything, the 31-year-old marathoner had to reconfigure her approach to running and training like everyone else.

We caught up with Laura near her home in Boulder, Colorado, recently to talk about how she’s maintained her training, her favorite new shoes and how she’s looking forward to 2021.

Laura Thweatt - Running

Well, 2020 was going to be a new chapter in your running career anyway, right?

“Yeah, I started training with a new coach, Joe Bosshard, and a new training group, Boss Lady, after several years of great success under Lee Troop and honestly there was a lot of unknown going into the year. I trusted Joe’s coaching, but it took me a while to feel comfortable in training. Anytime you change coaches, you wind up doing things differently, doing different workouts, learning different ways to get fit and approach a race build-up. So that was hard. I was running the miles and getting fit, but it was a big change. Also, I was the only marathoner in the group.

The other women in the group are amazing — Emma Coburn, Cory McGee, Aisha Praught-Leer, Dominque Scott-Efrud —  but they’re all track athletes who run shorter, faster events. But it all worked out in the end and about a month before the Olympic Trials Marathon, I felt really good about my training and how it was working out.”

How did you approach the Olympic Trials?

“I was still nervous and a bit worried going into the race. I knew I was running a lot fewer miles than most of the women there. I was running about 80 miles per week and there were plenty of women running 100 to 110 miles per week, but ultimately I couldn’t worry about that. I did a great 27-mile run in my build-up and that gave me a lot of confidence to know that I was fit and that I had to trust my own training.

When I got to Atlanta, I knew that the race was going to come down to how well I could compete and how determined I was. And that’s what I did. Midway through the race, I felt really good, really strong and I kept fighting. I knew I was running a good race and, despite the ultimate disappointment of not finishing in the top three, I was really happy with how well I competed and the final results.”

What is your take away looking back on your result now?

“It was one of those things I wasn’t sure how to feel. On the one hand, I was really proud of the race that I ran and felt like it was the first race since London in 2017 that I was really able to get out there and race with confidence and strength and have the belief that I could do it. So that was really great, but it was also super heartbreaking to come so close and put it all out there on race day and realize it just wasn’t quite good enough.

But overall, I walked away feeling like there were a lot of positives to take away from it.”

What advice can you give to everyday runners who are dealing with the massive changes in the world because of COVID-19?

“Well, we’re all in this together. No matter if it’s elite athletes or recreational runners, we all have to find a way to make things work. I know it’s been a sad year because so many people have gotten sick and died and many more have lost their jobs.

Fortunately, we all have running that can keep us healthy and keep us focused. Running has always been my favorite form of exercise and my daily therapy too, a great time to think and figure things out. So my best advice is to tell people to stay after it, keep lacing up their shoes, keep showing up and keep running.

A daily run can go a long way in making everything else work out smoothly.”

The Saucony Endorphin Collection

Even amid the crazy year, Saucony released three great new shoes in 2020. How are you using each one?

“It’s been a great year for Saucony with the new line of Endorphin shoes. Each one of them is so different, but so good! The Endorphin Pro is what I wore in the Olympic Trials and it’s an amazing shoe — so smooth, so fast and so easy to run in. The carbon-fiber plate embedded in the midsole makes every strides so smooth and so efficient that you barely feel the shoe when you’re running.

I love the Endorphin Pro for racing and long, fast training efforts, but I think the Endorphin Speed is my favorite. It’s also very fast, but it’s very versatile too. You can run long runs, you run fast intervals and you can run easy runs in that shoe. It has amazing cushioning that feels soft and bouncy, but it’s resilient and quick and not soft and mushy like some shoes.

And then the Endorphin Shift is just a really good all-around training shoe for a marathon, ideal for long runs, recovery runs and even tempo runs.

They’re all really amazing shoes that have really changed the game and helped me train better every day of the week.”

How have changed your outlook since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down?

“It’s been a crazy year since the Olympic Trials. I am so glad I had that opportunity to race because it was only about a week or two later that everything got shut down and races were postponed or canceled. I was going to take a break and then get ready for the spring track season, but once everything got shut down, I took about a month off from running to recover and also work on my strength.

I had hoped to come back and run the New York City Marathon in November and started training for that, but eventually that was canceled too so really I spent a lot of my summer training and being healthy without a real racing goal ahead of me. That was hard but we all have to make the best of it and keep looking forward to 2021 when things will return to some sense of being normal again.”

Have you been training this year?

“Everyone has really approached this year from so many different angles. Some athletes have taken a step back and shut things down. Other people have been trying to stay in some kind of competitive shape and have been jumping into racing opportunities as they’ve come up. And others have just taken the opportunity to train and get ready for next year. There’s no one way to approach it. It’s just all based on what’s best for the individual. And nothing really counts for much, but I know a lot of athletes want to stay sharp and have the experience of racing.

For me, I’ve been training pretty well, but I’m a big planner so it’s been hard for me to approach some of the races that have popped up, only because I like to map things out well in advance of a race. But that’s been hard to do this year.

It’s exciting that the London Marathon is still doing an elite race, but for my first thoughts were ‘Can I plan for that?’ and ‘Can I get over there?’ So it’s been a really strange year for all of us.”

Have you been doing anything differently?

“I think the biggest thing I’ve done differently is that I spent a lot of time at home making my own food and cooking more than ever. I haven’t really changed my diet, but I’ve experimented with a lot of things and tried new things and that’s given me a greater appreciation for the food I eat but also for the time and effort that goes into it. I haven’t made sourdough bread or anything, but I’ve enjoyed learning how to cook more foods and use more ingredients.

And like everyone else, I’ve watched a lot of Netflix but I’ve also read a few books too. It’s amazing how you pass time when everything seems to change.

Fortunately, I still have running to keep me sane.”

Laura Thweatt - Saucony Endorphin Speed

TOP TRAINING TIPS FROM LAURA THWEATT

What’s your best advice to recreational runners training for a half marathon or marathon?

“My best advice is to train as best that you can and go into a race with confidence to run as well as you can, but also make sure you enjoy it and that it’s a happy experience. I see so many runners who dread running or are overly worried about a race experience and that’s not good.

We all get injured or sidetrack and sometimes don’t train as well as we could have, but there is no perfect training buildup. You can only do what you can do, but you should rely on that and trust your training.

Also, running should bring you joy, no matter if you’re an elite runner or a new runner just starting out. Make it the one thing in your day that is full of positive energy and you’ll be able to feed on that throughout the rest of your daily life.”

How are you looking forward in 2021?

“The pandemic has changed my outlook for next year, if only because I want to get a qualifier for the 10,000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in June. So I’ll focus my first part of the winter on running a fast 10K and see how that goes and hopefully get into the Trials. [Laura was fifth in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Track and Field Trials.]

After that, I’ll switch to marathon training and then hopefully run the New York City Marathon in the fall.”

How do you think running will rebound in 2021?

“Next year will be a huge year for running once things start coming back. I think we’ll have to wait and see, but it’s going to get better and things will return to normal and races will come back, even if it’s different.

It’s an Olympic year, so that will be exciting and just in general to have races come back that you can plan for and train for will be so refreshing after this year. Thinking about training for four months and then running through the streets of New York City is super inspiring right now; I think it must be for a lot of people who don’t have race goals.

If we can all keep that in the back of our mind as we go out for our daily run now, things will be OK.”

Follow Laura Thweatt’s adventures in Colorado and beyond on Instagram.

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Interviews

5 WAYS RUNNING COULD CHANGE IN THE NEW NORMAL

 

HOW RUNNING COULD CHANGE

by BRIAN METZLER  | MARCH 2020

 

5 WAYS RUNNING COULD CHANGE IN THE NEW NORMAL

By Brian Metzler

The Boston Marathon postponed? Running stores closed? No Olympics this year? Statewide orders to stay at home? Trailheads and running tracks off limits? Yikes!

Yeah, the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic is real and it’s even affected our ability to run and exercise. First things first, our personal exercise habits are far less of a priority than the thousands of people who are ailing from the coronavirus. 

To do our part, we must continue to follow social distance guidelines and be respectful about how we interact with other people in public places. We can and should keep running, but we need to do our part to help reduce the spread of the virus. 

Eventually, things will be somewhat normal again, even if it’s a decidedly new normal. Here are some ways running might change as that new normal emerges in the second half of 2020 and beyond.

1) Running Resurgence
For now, we should all embrace running in any way we can, even if it’s just for a 20- to 30-minute daily jaunt around our neighborhood as a daily dose of therapy or affirmation that life is good.With gyms, yoga studios and swimming pools mostly off-limits, running is all we have, and it’s going to lead to a big boom in participation by the time summer rolls around.Sports Illustrated wrote about “running as the outlet” to escape the quarantines and awkwardness of social-distancing recommendations while The New York Times called it “A Back-To-Basics Exercise Boom,” and Running USA has suggested we need to get ready for the Third Running Boom

2) Running Shoe Revival
Having been cooped up because of necessary quarantines and stay-at-home orders,  we’ll all likely appreciate the simplicity of running. All you really need is a pair of shoes, right? Regardless of when races return, expect everyone you know to be buying a new pair of running shoes soon. It will be the new currency of cool, just as it was during the original running boom of the 1970s. Some new models might be late arriving because factories and the production supply chain have been greatly impacted, but there are lots of great shoes debuting this summer and fall. Fast runners, slower runners, new runners and savvy veteran runners will all be able to embrace the notion that, “Happiness is a New Pair of Running Shoes.”

3) The Race is On
This fall could bring about a renewed marathon mania, if — fingers crossed! —big-city races are held as planned. With Boston (Sept. 14) and London (Oct. 4) rescheduled for the fall and Berlin (Sept. 27), Chicago (Oct. 11) and New York (Nov. 1), there could be five Marathon Majors in a six-week period, not to mention many other enticing races from 5K to half marathon. With new runners and veteran runners eager to participate after months of training, it could bring about a huge surge of participation and excitement. But let’s be real and realize that there’s no guarantee those races will actually happen this fall, so maybe we’ll have to wait until next year.

4) Let’s Hit the Trails
Trail Running has been growing for years, but it could grow exponentially through the rest of 2020 given the concerns about overcrowded city parks and mass participation events. If you consider that thousands of people have been hitting the trails since mid-March and the notion that many cooped-up runners are thinking about big, life-changing goals, there’s a good bet that trail running and ultrarunning will get a huge boost through 2021 and beyond.

5) The Rise Inexpensive and Virtual Events
Virtual races have always been a bit quirky, but they suddenly mean a lot more now because we don’t have any other platform to go all out and enjoy the spoils of our efforts. If you haven’t tried Zwift, you should! The virtual running platform is growing by leaps and bounds. Look for more free and inexpensive community-based events to thrive in the second half of 2020 and into 2021. And expect expensive, top-tier events to fall off from previous participation because of the new wave of frugality sweeping the U.S.

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

 

Brian Metzler is the author of “Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes” (2019, VeloPress). He has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of “Running Colorado's Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner.”

 

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Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

 

 
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RUNNING BRANDS CHIPPING IN TO HELP COMBAT COVID-19

 

RUNNING BRANDS HELPING WITH COVID-19

by BRIAN METZLER  | MARCH 2020

 

RUNNING BRANDS CHIPPING IN TO HELP COMBAT COVID-19

By Brian Metzler

Along the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Mass., there are dozens of former factory buildings that are being converted to condos and shops and modern office buildings.

But there is one particular old factory that’s still a factory. And for most of the past four decades, it has produced New Balance running shoes.

The Boston-based shoe brand has always taken great pride in being the only sporting goods brand to manufacture running shoes in the U.S. Now it’s pivoting some of its domestic factories into production facilities for personal protective gear necessary in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

When every other brand sent its shoe manufacturing overseas in the late 1970s and early 1980s to reduce costs, New Balance went the opposite direction and restored a 19th century textile factory building in Lawrence and started making its 990 series running shoes there. 

Since its re-opened in 1982, American workers have produced 15 million pairs of shoes from that factory. It’s a testament to the brand’s commitment to domestic jobs, but it has always allowed the Boston-based company to speed up innovation or pivot production in time of need. They can produce prototypes, custom footwear or one-off models for an athlete or a promotion in a pinch.

As of last week, New Balance was using that facility to produce prototypes of face masks for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers caring for the rush of patients suffering from the coronavirus. The company says it will scale its process and adapt its other domestic factories accordingly beginning this week.

“The global COVID-19 health crisis has called on individuals and organizations to bring their expertise and resources to solve new and extraordinary challenges,” New Balance announced on its website recently. “We are coordinating our efforts with our government officials and local medical institutions as well other U.S. consortiums and testing facilities.”

The brand has also committed $2 million in non-profit grants through the New Balance Foundation to support local, regional and global communities as the world battles the COVID-19 virus. 
It’s another sign of the running community coming together in a time of need.

“We firmly believe it is our civic duty to support our communities in need around the world,” said Anne Davis, managing trustee New Balance Foundation. “As we witness the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are inspired by the acts of humanity, kindness and compassion that have emerged in support of one another during this health crisis. Guided by our values, NB Foundation will remain generous, flexible and responsive recognizing the uncertainty created by these challenging times.”

 

Face Masks for the Front Line - Covid 19

MORE BRANDS, MORE ACTION

Several other brands in the running and endurance sports industry are doing their part, too. Nike and Superfeet are also making mask and face shields for healthcare workers, while Nike, Under Armour and Brooks have pledged money for coronavirus response efforts. Plenty of other brands are donating in-line product to first responders and healthcare workers.

“Companies like Nike need to do our part,’ Nike CEO John Donahoe said during a Q3 conference call. “Based on needs identified by the teams and health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University, our teammates are working right now about how to best help, including prototyping face shields of OHSU and others.”

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

Brian Metzler is the author of “Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes” (2019, VeloPress). He has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He’s the author of “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

 

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Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

  

 
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BE SMART, CAREFUL AND RESPECFUL, BUT KEEP TRAINING

 

KEEP TRAINING

by BRIAN METZLER  | MARCH 2020

 

BE SMART, CAREFUL AND RESPECFUL,
BUT KEEP TRAINING

By Brian Metzler

Admittedly, this spring is a tough time to be thinking about our own personal running goals. With the dangerous and debilitating COVID-19 pandemic, there are more important concerns around the world and around the block.

For the time being, we can be grateful for our health and that we can still go running smartly and safely, even though limited by shelter-in-place regulations and social distancing practices. With races big and small being canceled or postponed, it might be hard to stay focused. But if you look at it from a glass-half-full perspective, you can actually train better because of the extended approach to your next race, says Boulder, Colo., coach David Roche.

Roche believes recreational athletes who adapt to the current situations and find ways to refocus on training could experience big breakthroughs by the fall. Developing consistency, doing regular core strength workouts, eating better, getting more sleep, and figuring out a way to maintain a work/life/family balance are some of the touchpoints that can be improved during this unique and trying time in the world.

“It’s not like you go run the most miles you ever have or anything like that,” Roche says. “But it is a time to do the training to where you want to go. That doesn’t mean you even know where you’re going. It’s just the idea of self-belief. If we don’t have races to train for, what are we training for? We’re training to find out what we’re capable of, and that’s independent of a race in the next few months.”

Don’t worry about specific training for a race, but instead focus on being consistent and thinking about long-term development and what kind of runner you want to be a year or two down the road.

“The way I like athletes to think about this is in a framework of long-term training without interruptions,” Roche says. “It’s not that much different in some ways than the period from December when you’re restarting your season. Every single breakthrough I have ever seen — and by breakthrough I mean people reaching a new level of performance — is preceded by one of these long, uninterrupted stretches of focused training. Yes, this is a very difficult time in the world and we should take caution and be safe with training, but this can be breakthrough season, too.

It’s not just the millions of recreational runners who are going through this, but elite, professional runners, too. The International Olympic Committee announced on March 24 that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo would be postponed to 2021 and later USA Track & Field announced the U.S. Olympic Trials track and field championships would suffer the same fate. 

“We’re all in this together,” says Lee Troop, the Boulder, Colo.-based coach of a dozen elite runners, including newly minted U.S. Olympic marathoner Jake Riley. “We all have to make the best of a bad situation.”

First and foremost, Troop says, it’s all about having a proper perspective and realizing that a lot people are losing their jobs and getting sick and dying. Take care of yourself and your family and those around you the best you can, he says, but know that running can be part of the way you do that.

Understanding the proper time and focus on training is something that’s always important when training for a race, but it’s especially crucial now as we get through this challenging time. Being mindful and soaking in the benefits of a daily workout can make everything else in your life go more smoothly.

“We will eventually get out of this, but trying to remain positive is extremely difficult at best,” he adds. “But if you can get outdoors and do a run, the adrenaline you can get from doing a hard tempo run or the endorphin release you can get from doing a hard hill workout are still there. There might be no racing options at the moment, but the join and the thrill of being able to get out and run — providing that they’re social distancing — isn’t lost.” 

David Roche and Laura Cortez

Coach David Roche and JackRabbit Runner Laura Cortez in closer and happier times!

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

 

Brian Metzler is the author of “Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes” (2019, VeloPress). He has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of “Running Colorado's Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner.”

 

FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW

Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.  
Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

 

 
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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020 – FIVE RUNNERS, FIVE STORIES

 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2020

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | MARCH 2020

 

WOMEN RUNNERS ARE PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES

Women athletes have never had a better moment to let their performances speak loud and their words to resonate further. In 2020 we welcome our role at JackRabbit to make a difference in media coverage of women's athletic performances by sharing their races and their stories.

40% of all athletes are women, but women's sport only receives 4% of media coverage and we can all play a role in championing women athletes.  To celebrate International Women's Day, we invite you to meet five talented female runners doing what they do best, lacing up, racing and inspiring others by the paths they have taken. 

COURTNEY DAULWATER: THE ULTRA RUNNER

Courntey Daulwater battled for two days and 205 miles around Lake Tahoe to an overall victory in the Tahoe 2018. She took on lack of sleep, misadventures and a relentless competitor hunting her down. What can happen in 205 miles?  Quite a lot of things apparently.  

To quote Courtney, 'You can learn a lot about yourself when a race goes well, but you can learn even more when it all goes sideways.'  Watch this coverage of the race to be inspired by her journey courtesy of Salomon TV.
 


 

 

ASHLEY STINSON: THE BALANCED RUNNER

Running is about balance for teacher Ashley Stinson. The mantra she lives by is you can be successful in running and in other areas of life at the same time.  She uses the mental space of running to give herself confidence when she lines up alongside professional athletes as well as her journey through life and what she gives back to the students she teaches. 

Watch her stride out on the track courtesy of Saucony Running
 

 

AMANDA BASHAM: THE ULTRA RUNNER

Running is freeing for Altra athlete Amanda Basham.  Running is forward progress – a metaphor for both sport and life. Having battled an eating disorder, running has been part of her journey against negativity. She loves the stories from the trail running community and the camaraderie from those she races with.

Watch Amanda's journey and learn why she has a tattoo bearing the motto 'Relentless Forward Progress.' 

 


 

 

SAMANTHA CHAN: PIONEERING RUNNER

Samantha Chan has been a pioneer amonst female Asian ultra runners.  A Hong Kong native, she was told that girls don't run. But she kept running anyway.  Running has allowed her to see the world and open up her eyes to the possibilities for all female athletes. Running, as she says 'has brought me happiness and brought me freedom.'  

Thanks to HOKA for honoring her story. 
 


 

 

HILLARY ALLEN: THE ULTRA  RUNNING COMEBACK

Ultra runner Hillary Allen suffered a near fatal injury when she fell 150 feet off a ridge at the Tromso Skyrace in Norway in 2017.  She broke vertabrae, ribs, and tore ligaments.  Battered, she took on the long and painful road to recovery not knowing if she would ever run again.  In 2019 Hillary returned to Norway to race again to gain closure on the journey she was forced to endure.

After the day was done, Hillary commented, “There’s a peace that comes when facing your fears, and now, after facing mine, I can celebrate closing this loop and appreciate how beautiful the journey is.”
 


 

 

SHOP GEAR FOR FEARLESS WOMEN

 
 

 

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JACKRABBIT X SAUCONY: THE JACKALOPE PACK

 

JACKRABBIT X SAUCONY:  THE JACKALOPE PACK

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | FEBRUARY 2020

 

HAVE NO FEAR. JACKALOPE IS HERE

What is a Jackalope? Gifted with the speed of a jackrabbit and the endurance of an antelope, the Jackalope is every runner’s dream animal. Capable of tackling any distance with ease, the mythical Jackalope should inspire any runner to lace up their shoes and go! 

With that in mind and a design sense of humor in our heart, JackRabbit has collaborated with our pals at Saucony to allow runners to experience of the mythical Jackalope. The exclusive and limited edition Jackalope Pack is a collection of top styles from Saucony reimagined for JackRabbit, capable of tackling any distance with ease and guaranteed to guide you to victory*, no matter what journey you find yourself on.

We had the chance to sit down with Saucony Footwear Designer, Moira Cunningham, the color and trend lead, and ask her about the style and color inpsirations for the JackRabbit x Saucony Jackalope Pack. 

* ok, we cannot guarantee they'll guide you to an actual victory, but they will win you a style victory every time. 

Moria Cunningham - Footwear Designer Saucony

JACKRABBIT X SAUCONY: THE JACKALOPE PACK

What is the JackRabbit x Saucony Jackalope Pack all about?

Jackalope by JackRabbit and Saucony is a fun union of both brand personalities into a trend-forward color and graphic execution across some of our favorite runnning shoe models: Guide 13, Triumph 17, and Freedom 3.

We are responding specifically to two 2020 trends. The first is what I describe as Haven, an emerging leisurewear trend which elevates lounge- and athletic-wear by incorporating casual and outdoor style influences. The second trend is Fantasy, which has influenced everything from TV (e.g. the mainstream popularity of Game of Thrones) to food and beverage products (such as mythical Polar Seltzer flavors).

To merge Haven with Fantasy, I have created the Jackalope collection to celebrate Saucony’s partnership with JackRabbit..

What was the inspiration behind the Jackalope?

The Jackalope possesses mythical allure and personality traits that tie the JackRabbit and Saucony brands together. Both teams were very attracted to a specific quote that accompanied a Jackalope illustration we came across: “The most important thing is I believe in myself.” This quote breathed life into the mythical Jackalope and also inspired us when considered through the lens of running.

We want to inspire runners to believe in themselves and to have some fun along their fitness journeys. We also like to think that the Jackalope is so fast, you can’t even see it!

How did you choose the colors and design for the collection?

A lot of influences informed the Jackalope color palette. The core of the Haven trend is muted and foundational tones, including tinted neutrals and dusty pastels. The Jackalope traces its roots back to remote areas in Wyoming, inhabiting dry and rocky terrain, so I looked to natural and desert tones.

Finally, I looked to Jackalope interpretations in art, media, and products to find color consistencies. The resulting colors are a mix of Cameo Rose, Henna, and Granite and Rosin greens, reminiscent of desert landscapes. They are calming in a way that defines Haven and outdoorsy to align with the Jackalope theme. Additionally, to add athletic boldness, ViziRed and Black ground the palette across both genders.

The Jackalope tessellation pattern [showcased on the insole and the interior of the boxes] is something I am very excited about. I wanted to create something communicating quickness, community, and excitement, and this repeatable pattern just fits (that’s totally a pun).

I worked with a graphic designer who helped with the math on this special project so that each Jackalope fits like a puzzle piece with those around it. It is a unique and distinctive element to symbolize this exciting collaboration.

JackRabbit x Saucony Jackalope Pack

THE MAGIC OF DESIGNING THE JACKALOPE PACK

What is the shoe design process like?

For projects like these, the design process is about considering the partnership first and then interpreting the result through current and/or future trend. For this partnership, JackRabbit x Saucony = Jackalope; the graphics and palette I develop should support this story. Then, I consider seasonal trend: What does the Jackalope story look like for spring 2020? Because Haven is a big seasonal trend story for Saucony in 2020, a tinted neutral palette will be trend-forward and support our broader color approach. Interpreting Haven with a desert and natural color perspective will apply the trend to our Jackalope story for a fresh capsule of product unique to JackRabbit.

How do you determine what is on-trend or off-trend?

Color is interesting in regard to trend, because in a lot of ways it is very subjective. People have strong opinions about color, and sometimes those are unwavering opinions. Without the context of a story, color is left to be interpreted by a viewer in black and white terms. But, when color palettes become the communication element of a story, the story and color become indivisible; the story sells the color and vice versa.

I think that color trend is more about telling relevant stories in relevant ways than it is about very specific color choices. I want a positive response to my color stories, so I try to consider how I can make someone feel good or nostalgic or excited (etc.) by my palette and color pairing choices. One of the best (and simplest) examples I can think of for the marriage of story and color is how a response to color might change just based on the color name (a tiny story in itself). A pink named Bubble Gum will likely elicit a different response than the same pink named Pepto Bismol.  For my Color & Trend Lead role at Saucony, I aim to tell great stories with colors that supplement or enhance.

Which is your favorite design in the pack?

While I think all of the women’s options are great, I am most excited about the all of the men’s options. I think each are unique color and blocking executions that are both bold in blocking and understated in tone. The tension, especially in the tech running space, is really beautiful and unexpected. I look forward to introducing the JackRabbit x Saucony collaboration and sharing our Jackalope story with the world.

SHOP THE TENACIOUS JACKALOPE PACK

The JackRabbit x Saucony Jackalope Pack features three essential styles from Saucony: the Guide 13, Freedom 3 and Triumph 17.

The entire collection will be available from February 29th at JackRabbit stores and online at JackRabbit.com while stock lasts. 

 
 

 

FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW

Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.  
Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection?  There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!  

 

 
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INTERVIEW WITH HOKA ATHLETE SAMANTHA CHAN

SAMANTHA CHAN: RUNNER, ADVOCATE, CHAMPION

by MELANIE MITCHELL  | FEBRUARY 2020

MEET SAMANTHA CHAN: PUSHING BOUNDARIES FOR ASIAN WOMEN

HOKA ONE ONE athlete Samantha Chan is both an impressive role model and talented athlete in the Asian ultra running scene.  She made the switch from track to trail and since has dominated 100km races in China and has placed 13th at the epic
UTMB, a 145km race through the Alps starting in Chamonix.

Talking of her childhood growing up in Hong Kong, “They think that girls should be quiet. That they shouldn't do any sports. That they should stay home and do
the housework. Ever since I started running, my parents yelled at me — but I just ignored them!” 

Samantha continues to blaze a trail for female Asian athletes whenever she races.  With every step, she empowers more and
more women in her tribe.  She speaks loudly in support and her tenacious spirit in her races needs no voice to be heard.

MEET SAMANTHA CHAN

Growing up in Hong Kong you defied expectations usually applied to women. Tell us how you broke down barriers and first found your way to the track and the start of your running career.

When I was young, my mother
often told me that sports were not for girls, and the family doesn't have extra resources to support me in developing any hobbies, but I found that running was cheap, I just need a pair of shoes and I could do it everywhere. Then I
found it the open space in the track and the park brought me unlimited freedom, thus I ignored my mum's suggestion, instead of staying home, I went out and run.

You started as a track runner then graduated to trail running. What was your motivation to change the environment in which you run?

First of all, I think I am not graduated. I am still learning about myself through running. I tried to discover more about my body and my mental side through different training and races. but that's true, I started with track
running, and training in track was intensive by then, there was not much fun. I know suffering made me better, and the self achievement motivated me a lot. Plus the freedom in the opened track made myself happy, that's why I kept training
in track when I was young.

When I started trail running, I found that the nature is wonderful, I feel so happy and relaxed staying in the mountain. It is very peaceful. I don't mind staying there long and have a nice chat
with my buddies, or have a nice chat with myself. Every time I go to trail and have a run, I often go back home with a smile. 

You’ve commented, “ultra races are very painful. Every time I sign up, I ask myself why I do it. Why I’m suffering on a cold mountain in the middle of the night, but I keep signing up.” What drives you to be an ultra athlete and how do you prepare mentally for training and racing?

It's very lucky to be an ultra runner. Life is all about experience, and being an ultra runner, we have different valuable experience by training and racing. We often push ourselves up to a point that reach the limit in races.
Every time when I feel tough but still carry on in races, I understand myself better, and happy to push myself beyond the limit, it's another self achievement.

I especially like to sign up overseas races. Doing a 100 miles
somewhere in the world is like a trip on my feet, those races bring me to see different parts of the world. I tell myself it's gonna be a fun trip when I sign up an ultra every time, and forgot how I swore and cried in the last ultra race

Where has been your favorite place to run? Why?

My favorite place to run is definitely Hong Kong. The mountains in Hong Kong are not very high but they are all spectacular. It is my home,
and that's so cool that I can enjoy the trails nearby my home. I enjoy the trails, but then go back to the civilization and enjoy all the convenience in the city in 15 minutes. How wonderful it is!

Samantha Chan Runner  - Running in Hong Kong

EMPOWERING WOMEN RUNNERS

You’ve often spoken about the camaraderie and support from other female athletes in the ultra-running community. How have you been inspired by others, and how are you looking to empower your fellow female runners? 

Inspiration by buddies are very important. They set the examples to show me how to break the boundaries. We encourage each other and exchange information. It's very joyful. We are from different backgrounds and have totally different
personalities. I really like the fact the ultra running brought us together.

I didn't really plan to empower my fellow runners, I don't think I am that powerful, but I always think that if I am focused, serious, always
try my best to achieve something and being cheerful, people can feel the positive energy, and they will stay positive too.

Do you have a favorite pre/post race meal and/or ritual you like to follow?

I especially like rice as my pre race meal, it's very easy to digest and give me good energy. For post race meal, I go naughty, I like fries and ice cream. I like them all the time, but to make sure that my stomach is good for race,
I stop eating them in some serious training/ racing periods. They are my reward for myself when I finish an ultra.

Tell us about your partnership with HOKA ONE ONE

HOKA have supported my running gear
since 2017. I love the wonderful cushioning and grips in their running shoes. I admire the brand not only because of its great gears, but also because they appreciate the effort of every runner, regardless whether they are elite level
or not. That's awesome! Their encouragement means a lot to so many of us.

What are your favorite go-to shoes for training and for racing? 

I especially like HOKA Speedgoat series for my trail running, both training and racing. I like the new Carbon X for road racing.

What are your big racing goals for 2020?

I want to train hard on road in early 2020, I am going back to train on the track most of the time now and hopefully I will be back to the trail in the second half of the year, stronger and with better cardio and running ability.
UTA will be one of my 'A' races.

SHOP SAMANTHA'S FAVORITE SHOES

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