Category Archives: Athletes

Kristen Arendt

Posted by on Thursday, September 25, 2014 @ 10:35 am | Leave a reply

Behind the friendly voice of this Newton product support team member are some fast feet.

Newton race for the cure 1 (2)

If you’ve called Newton Running’s customer service line lately, you might have been greeted by the cheery voice of Kristen Arendt, a member of Newton’s product support team. Or if you’ve watched Newton’s customer corner videos, you might have seen her smiling face. Not only does she know Newton product, but as a member of the Newton Elite team, she knows a thing or two about running.

Arendt grew up in the small town of Bailey, Colorado, which sits about 30 miles southwest of Denver at 7,756 feet in elevation with a population just under 9,000. Here, in the mountains, running came easily for her. Prompted by her mom, a runner, Arendt began running in sixth grade. But it wasn’t until she really started racing that she fell in love with the sport.

If enjoyment shows in accolades, then it was obvious that she liked what she was doing. By high school, she was racking up the accomplishments by winning seven individual 3A state titles and qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals.  She then went on to run track and cross-country at Adams State College in Alamosa, another small town in southern Colorado. There, she was an 11-time All-American and the 2012 Outdoor Track National Champion in the 5,000-meter event.

Training pic

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Buoyed by her successes in high school, she did what many young runners do. Straight out of high school, Arendt found herself running on scholarship for a Division I university in Texas. “Running was very much a business at the school. I wasn’t interested in that kind of pressure for my running.” Injured within her first three months, she lasted three semesters before packing her bags for home.

“It’s sad,” she says, “how many girls have that same story coming out of college. The year that I graduated from high school, there were a bunch of us that were talented and went away to run on scholarships. How many of them run now is slim. Running should be a lifestyle – something you can enjoy for the rest of your life.”

Arendt took a semester off to evaluate her priorities and understand what she really wanted from running. “We get caught up in PR-ing and winning this race for a state or national championships. But it can’t be all about that, it has to be for something bigger than that.”

As she was making the transition between colleges, she emailed Melody Fairchild. She had never met Fairchild, but Fairchild, also a Colorado native, had her own list of record setting and was in the process of getting back in the sport. “I felt my experience paralleled hers a bit and I asked for some advice. She was great enough to respond.”

Lug Shot

After graduating from Adams State, Arendt had hoped to keep running professionally, but not full time. She tried coaching and got involved with various race organizations. She worked at a shoe store in Longmont, and all the while, she kept her eye on Newton.  She began to apply for jobs at the company and eventually found the perfect fit.

Now, at age 25, she is both working for Newton and running on the Newton Elite team alongside fellow team member, Melody Fairchild. “For a little while it was unreal. I would have to pinch myself on runs and say ‘wow this is my teammate!’ But it’s great to have her as a resource.” Noting that both Fairchild and Bob Weiner are Masters runners, and team members such as Kara Henry and Brenda Carawan are hooked on ultra distances, she says she is referred to as the “baby” on the elite team, both for her age and her focus on the 5K and 10K distances. “I haven’t graduated to the longer distances.” And she’s not quite ready to yet.

Team pic Peachtree

“For me, right now, I just want to run as fast as I can.” Although she can see herself doing the marathon in the next few years, she has other short-term goals in sight, “I would love to make the US Olympic trials on the track.” With a 5K PR on the track of 16:11 and 33:52 in the 10K, she admits, “I will have to up my game and have a breakthrough.” But with her Newton Elite team to back her up and her favorite pair of Distance Elites to put in the miles, she is not counting out the possibility.

Even with this big goal in mind, Arendt still likes to keep everything in perspective. Noting the balance she sought when she changed schools, she says, “While running is one thing, for me, the balance of having a full-time job with running is awesome. At Newton, we’re more than just a running shoe company and Newton Elite is about more than just yourself.” Of her day-to-day work she adds with a smile, “I get to talk to runners all day. There are much worse jobs out there. For the most part, runners are really happy people. As long as they have their shoes, they’re good to go.”

 

 

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Bachelorettes Gone Wild

Posted by on Monday, September 22, 2014 @ 10:39 am | Leave a reply

Part Two

R2R2R_2

Sabina, Kara, Cody from nearest to farthest

Question: How did this not so average bachelorette party come about?

Kara: This is 100% Cody’s idea. Don’t let her blame it on me. She came up with the idea and we all kind of ignored it at first…but she’s not someone who likes to be ignored. After hearing about it for a while, she told us one day that she found a great price on flights so we all caved and booked right then.

Cody: One morning a couple months back I nonchalantly said, “we should run the Grand Canyon.” Working at Newton, it’s easy to talk almost everyone into something crazy, so both Sabina and Kara were like “YES!” and then we booked a flight later that night.

Sabina: It was Cody’s idea… AND I am easily convinced when it comes to any adventure! We were all sitting at our desk one day and she came up with this crazy idea and within the next 10 minutes our tickets were booked! The best part about all of this is on our very first training run she looks back at us and says “I don’t really like trails or lots of climbing….”

*Apparently we remember past events a little differently….

Question: Do you have any concerns about this trip?

Kara: Serious concerns? No. My concerns are more along the lines of: ‘will we be functional enough the next day for brunch and mimosas?’ and ‘how many times will Cody and Sabina use hashtag language instead of real words before I snap at them?’

Cody: My main concern would be that I really prefer running on flat terrain, that is paved. Kara and Sabina have both told me that I need to get over that…quickly.

Sabina: Yes! Cody and I will start singing lyrics to Spice Girls, and Kara will push both of us off a cliff! Oh and the fact we may run out of Tostito Peperoni pizza rolls within the first 10 miles… These are all real concerns of mine.

If you missed the intro to Bachelorettes Gone Wild…check it out here!

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Tyler McCandless’s Balancing Act

Posted by on Friday, August 22, 2014 @ 3:19 pm | Leave a reply

With the Olympic Marathon Trials and finishing his Ph.D both on the horizon, Tyler McCandless talks to us about balancing work, running and his drive to give back to the people of Kauai.

 

As the 2014 Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon approaches (it takes place August 31), we caught up with Newton runner, Tyler McCandless, who has won the Kauai Marathon three years in a row. This year, he’ll run the Half Marathon, while also focusing on the Kauai Marathon Kids Foundation.

Catching up with the 27-year-old McCandless in any context (not just running) is not necessarily easy. The former Penn State All-American runner, turned pro, qualified for the Olympic marathon trials at the Twin Cities marathon last October. But in addition to his training, he also is currently working on his Ph.D. through a collaborative research program run between Penn State and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. He holds a BS and Masters degree in Meteorology from Penn State.

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Tyler running his way to a first place finish at the Newton Race For The Cure in Eldorado Springs.

 

But being busy is what McCandless prefers. He tried taking a break from school and just focusing on running for a time, but he says, “I actually didn’t improve much in those two years. It took me going back to school to start improving again.” Now, working, running with a new coach (Steve Jones) and giving back to the people of Hawaii, McCandless has found his best balance yet.

Newton: You took time off from academics to run, but then decided to go back to school. Why was that?

McCandless: “I think everyone needs a balance. For some people, the balance is single focus that’s all they do—think about running and what they eat and how they sleep, it’s all encompassing. For me, I tried that and I did the best I could and it ended up being more stressful and taking the fun out of it. With my academics it took the stress off and now the running is the funnest part of my day. It makes me someone who enjoys the sport for the purity of it.”

Newton: You’ve noted your new coach, Steve Jones, has also helped you to enjoy running more as of late.

McCAndless: I officially started the Ph.D. program January 1, 2013. But it’s kind of like 3 things happened at once. I restarted my Ph.D. program and then a few months later I got Steve Jones as a coach and 2 months later I signed on with Newton. It was a great combination: Newton made me feel like I was competing as part of a team and a family again; I had a new coach who believed in me and that I could do great things; and, I was part of a Ph.D program that set my focus not just on running and made me more well balanced.

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Tyler with Newton Running Elite teammate Stephen Pifer at the Pearl Street Mile

 

Newton: You have a special place in your heart for the Kauai Marathon and the work you’re doing there. Can you tell us about this?

McCandless: I have won the Kauai marathon three years in a row. Every time I leave the island, I come back a better person. It’s a beautiful place and people are friendly, it makes me feel very empowered to give back to the people who have been good to me.

This year, I am doing the Kauai Half Marathon to raise money for the Kauai Marathon Youth Running Program. It’s a year-round running program and mentorship between the high school and elementary school. The kids run together, tally their miles, and really get a sense of accomplishment. I set a goal for running the half marathon in an hour and 5 minutes, to raise $13,100 for the program.

The overall goal is to put on a 5K in the spring as a build up to the Kauai Marathon in the summer. With the 5K, we also want to put on a health and wellness expo to teach kids about nutrition and science and full-body wellness. I have been working with Healthy Learning Paths. They work to empower kids to live healthier lives through in-school curriculum and after school activities. One of the top diseases is obesity, and with running, we can be really powerful and make a difference in our communities.

Newton is donating 50 pairs of shoes to kids participating ing the program. This is what I love about running for Newton. The socially responsible aspect of the company is something I take pride in. It’s more than a shoe company. They put shoes on your feet and you wear their name, but it’s more like you’re competing for a family that is trying to do good in the world and make it a better place which makes running even more fun and gives you a bigger purpose.

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Giving out shoes to the local schools.

 

Newton: After Kauai, what’s next?

McCandless: I’ll do some Grand Prix races. I’ll go back to Twin Cities this fall. It’s the US Championships and my goal is to try to win. Last year, I had the same goal and I faded over the last 10K or so. I want to establish myself as a contender for the Olympic trials. But even if I make an Olympic team and I look back on what I’ve done in my career, what I’ve done in Kauai is just as powerful to me—that I was able to make an impact in a powerful way.

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The Awa’awapuhi Trail started at ~4200ft and descended down to 2500ft in 3.2 miles at this lookout.

 

Newton: In closing, can you share with us your favorite running-related moment?

McCandless: When I was in Kauai for the second time, the night before the race, I was going to make banana pancakes and I had run out of bananas. I went to this farmer’s market, and I was browsing and some kid starts yelling, “Tyler.” Then, he says, “Thanks for coming to our team and speaking to us about running,” and he handed me bananas. They are expensive. What are the odds that he knew I was looking for bananas? I was blown away by the generosity—I was speechless.

I’m trying to keep a more balanced approach to running, where you’re running the absolute best you can but having the most fun and making the biggest positive impact.

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Tyler enjoying Colorado living!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Going the Distance

Posted by on Friday, July 25, 2014 @ 10:50 am | Leave a reply

Brenda Carawan is not your typical runner. But then again, most people who thrive in races that average 100 miles on the road, are not your every day runner. The Texas native, who has a 100-mile PR of 16:33, has had top finishes at the Spartathlon Ultra Race (153 miles) in Greece and California’s Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles). She’s been first overall female at North Carolina’s Graveyard 100-mile and Florida’s Keys 100 Ultramarathon, amongst other top finishes. And yet, the 38-year-old Carawan didn’t compete, or even run, in high school or college. Instead, she was an aerobics instructor who found her workout wasn’t cutting it anymore, so she started to run.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST RACE?

First, I did the Austin marathon in 1996. I was 19. It took me 6 hours. I came in third from last. In 1997, I did the same race in 4.5 hours. From there, I kept running and I never stopped.

WHEN DID YOU CHANGE FROM MARATHONS TO ULTRAS?

When I moved to Virginia in 2000, I needed a way to meet people. The big thing there was triathlons. I was like I can run and I have swum before and surely I can ride a bike. I did a couple of sprint triathlons. I always needed to finish so I could get to the finish line party.

In 2004, I signed up for an Ironman in North Carolina, even though it wasn’t trademarked that. My family flew in to see me do this race. The race day came and I missed the bike cut-off by over an hour maybe two hours. I got to the transition area and they said you’re disqualified. I said, my family has flown here, can I give you my timing chip and finish the run and they said ‘yes.’ It still took me 5 hours. But I caught enough people to not finish dead last in the whole race.

The next day I was embarrassed. I was supposed to be an Ironman and none of that happened. I went to REI and found this documentary called Running On the Sun about Badwater Ultramarathon. People were throwing up, crying and passing out. One guy had his toenails surgically removed, and I’m looking at this thinking this is what I’m meant to do. I will suffer but it looks like a lot of fun. This is the bucket list race.

THE ROAD TO BADWATER

Spartathlon 2013

In 2011, I got invited. You have to be invited and only 90 people get invited. To do Badwater, you have to have completed at least three 100-mile races within a calendar year and you have to submit a running resume. It’s not enough to have just finished three ultras. You have to have done well.

Preparing for and running Badwater, that just set the whole ultra scene for me. I fell in love with the adrenaline rush of getting ready for the races and pushing the limit physically and mentally. That will always be my dream race. The traditional Badwater is unique to any other race on the planet because of the climate, the temperatures and the solitude of not seeing anything for miles and miles.

WHAT’S YOUR AVERAGE WEEKLY MILEAGE?

Graveyard 100 2012

I run up to 130 miles the week before races and do about 5-6 weeks of 100-plus miles. For the Spartathlon last September—a 153-mile race—I got up to 150 miles a week in training.

WHY NEWTON?

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My coach is a huge proponent of Newton. She kept telling me about these shoes. Finally, leading up to my second 100-miler, I tried them and then I went and ran 20 miles. It was the most wonderful run I have ever had. I realized this is the fit that I need and I have never used another brand since. I stopped having injuries. My form got better. I attended the Newton coach training school so I could learn more about the science and the drills behind the product. It’s not just a shoe, there’s an actual science behind the shoe. That’s what is unique about Newton and that’s what I fell in love with, the science.

Going into 2012, I had my fourth 100-mile race. I was the first female and I won in 16 hours and 33 minutes. I went from running a 19:50 to a 16:33. I wholeheartedly believe it was because of what I learned from Newton and my coach. It’s those two variables that made a difference.

I decided to write Newton to be on the pro team. But every year the pro field was closed. Then the guy in charge of the pros said why don’t you contact Stephen Gartside who runs the elite team. Up until late 2012 the elite team had been closed to only people living in Boulder, Colorado [home of Newton headquarters]. 2013 is the first time Newton has let people outside of Boulder join the team. So Gartside and I ran together a few times, then in January 2014, he said “Welcome to the team!”

INJURIES?

Winning Nove Colli 125_miles 2014

Before I switched to Newton’s exclusively, yes, I had injuries. I tore my soleus, I had a partial tear in my hamstring, and there were good chunks of time where the nerve endings in my metatarsal were inflamed so I had to water run because I couldn’t run on land. Between my Newtons and my coach making sure I don’t over train, I have had no injuries or blisters. One pair of shoes no blisters.

At Spartathlon in Greece, they plop you down in a wheelchair when you finish and take you to the medical tent to tend to your feet. They took pictures of my feet because there was nothing wrong with them. That’s the way it should be.

WHAT DO YOU EAT WHEN YOU RUN?

Winning Keys 100 2013

When I’m running I drink juice, Gatorade, shakes. I do no solid foods at all regardless of the distance. Occasionally, I might ask for 2 or 3 Pringle chips. But when I say that, I legitimately mean 3 chips, if you hand me 10, I will eat 3 and put the rest on the ground.

When the race is over the best food I have ever had was in Italy. No other place to eat on the planet than in Italy. To stuff my face with prosciutto, wine, and pasta, that is just the closest thing to heaven that could possibly be on this planet for me.

WHY THE ROAD?

I really just enjoy the open road. It puts me in a good place mentally when I’m out there by myself. There are days that I start crying when I’m out there because I ‘m just in love with that moment of the road and me, it’s an intense love affair with the road.

WHAT DO PEOPLE AT WORK THINK?

My coworkers generally think I’m crazy. My desk becomes a confession stand where people feel compelled to confess that they haven’t worked out or that they ate unhealthy. They know what I’ve done and it’s like they’re seeking forgiveness for not having done their workout when they know what I’m doing.

FAVORITE MUSIC TO RUN TO:

I like to listen to music. I have everything from Julio Iglesias in Spanish to classical piano to Eminem to Annie Lennox. I have the full spectrum and I just genuinely love music. Me and a pair of Newtons with my ipod is about the equivalent of someone handing me a winning lottery ticket.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Winning Cowtown 50k 2014 NRE Debut

I just finished my biggest goal for the year. It was a double ultra, two weekends back to back. I did the Nove Colli 125-mile race in Italy in the mountains. And then, 5 days later there was a 100K road race in Italy. I found out later that I’m the only female who has done the double. They keep records for how fast all the guys have gone and the times I ran it places me in 4th place overall ever.

I haven’t chosen a race for fall yet. I am looking for a PR. I would like to break 16 hours.

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Keeping up with Sugarland guitarist, Thad Beaty

Posted by on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 @ 10:15 am | Leave a reply

When a health crisis hit his family, Newton Ambassador Thad Beaty, began to move his musical life toward new ways that mattered.

 

Thad Beaty loves music. Always has. When the guitar player for the country band Sugarland, is not on the road, he’s in Nashville working at his day job, Sorted Noise, producing songs for movies. But in 2009, a curveball was thrown at him, when his mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. Since then, his daily routine has involved a lot more than music.

At the time of the diagnosis, the 5’10” Beatty was 34 years old and weighed 230 pounds. He says, “We went into panic mode. My brother, my wife and I and my mom all decided as a family that we could do better at being healthy. So, we immediately started researching the best diet for dealing with cancer,” he says. What happened next, was something he never would have expected.

Thad Beaty, guitarist for country Grammy band Sugarland

“We learned that a raw diet, greatly lowers your cancer risk levels. But we thought, ‘good grief, there’s no way we can do that.’” Yet, he and his wife bought a Vitamix blender and started having smoothies for breakfast and salads for lunch. And suddenly, they were 66 percent raw already.

“Before I knew it, I was fully vegetarian a few months out and the only thing left before I went Vegan was Greek yogurt—that was the last stronghold.”

At the same time that his food transformation was taking place, Beaty started exercising.  While on the road with the band, he started to run. “I could take off running in the middle of nowhere.” When he came home there was a pool in his neighborhood, so he started swimming. Next, he pulled out his old mountain bike. “I was doing a little of each and a little more and then something just triggered along the way.”

Before he knew it, Beaty was Vegan, and his training turned to competing in triathlons—not just sprint triathlons, but Ironman triathlons, with his first in Arizona in 2012, then Kona in 2013. His 230 pounds quickly melted away to a stealth 160 pounds. In a relatively short period of time, his very Southern family had completely transformed itself, including his mom, who is now gluten free and vegan.

Along the way, Beaty started reading Newton co-founder, Danny Abshire’s book, Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running. “I started working on all the drills. Then I bought Newtons and hit the road. I was amazed at how my body felt and my times were way faster. I was hooked.”

As Beaty started down the Ironman path, he started to consider the powerful correlation between sport, the music industry and giving back. First, he struck up a relationship with the Ironman organization. Then, he began to look for companies who shared his belief system of giving back.  A training partner and Newton athlete, Shay Eskew, shared with him the non-profit work that Newton was doing. “Once I realized our core values aligned well, I had to reach out.” A partnership was struck, and now he says, “We have done some amazing things together and I think we will do a ton more.”

Around this time, Beaty founded Musicthatmoves.org to encourage the music industry to give back in ways that are healthy for the community. His motivation was spurred by the fact that in addition to his mom’s illness, the band’s guitar tech, Kevin Quigley, was diagnosed with Lymphoma and lost his battle against the disease less than a year later.

“Health is holistic. It is mind, body and spirit. If you don’t have a good balance of those three, then you are out of whack. I saw how harmonious endurance events and getting involved in social movements were together.”

Now, Beaty and a team of about 20 people from the music industry are training for the Ragnar Relay from Chattanooga to Nashville in October to “reclaim their health”.  Of his teammates, Beaty says, “They didn’t all come from an athletic background and they want to make a change. So we’re going on this journey together.” Each member is doing the relay to raise money for a cause or non-profit of their choice. “What resonated so strongly with them is that endurance events become a beautiful vehicle to affect change. If you do it for a cause, it becomes super special.”

Beaty and fellow Newton Runner, Bo Parrish, have also teamed up to form New Life for Newton, connecting gently used Newton shoes with cross-country and track coaches and inner city kids who are in need of shoes. They have enjoyed delivering the shoes themselves to these young running teams and spending an afternoon or day training with them. The list of initiatives Beaty has taken on is long and this is in addition to work and still training hard. Ironman Chattanooga in September is on his hit list for this year. But now with several races under his belt, he says, “It’s not about the finish line, it’s about everything you learn getting to the finish line and then that’s a place to celebrate everything you’ve learned and to carry those lessons forward.” For now, he’s celebrating the fact that his mom’s cancer is in remission.

 

You can watch Thad Beaty on ABC this Tuesday, July 15, on “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss.” In the episode he worked with a woman who went from the couch to doing a 70.3 triathlon. Beaty says, “We had her rocking some Newtons.”

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Steady Stephen

Posted by on Sunday, June 1, 2014 @ 5:17 pm | Leave a reply

Stephen Pifer’s running genes might just be the key to his consistent success, year over year

Stephen Pifer has running in his genes and it shows. He has been a natural from the moment he stepped onto the track in 1997 at age 13 and broke an 18-year-old school record with a 5:07 in the 1600 meters. Although his math teacher was quick to point out to him that the 1600 meters is not a mile (technically it’s 1609 meters), he’s been breaking records ever since. He has competed twice in the Olympic Track and Field trials for 1500 meters and most recently, the soon-to-be 30-year-old qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials for marathon in February, 2016 with a time of 63.44 in the half marathon. He’s also been consistent. He’s run a sub-4 minute mile for 9 years, and hopes to make a decade of running sub-4s later this year.

You don’t have to look far to see where Pifer’s running genes came from. His grandfather started the running program at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. His uncle was an All American at the same university and still holds the school record for the 800 meters. He went on to run marathons and eventually became Pifer’s high school coach before moving to Colorado to continue coaching. Both Pifer’s parents ran track in high school, too.

But before Pifer could commit to follow in the family footsteps, he had some things to do. He played soccer and basketball. In his freshman year of high school he made the Junior Varsity basketball team and basketball was his passion. But in this same year, his uncle recorded the Footlocker HS Cross Country Nationals.  Pifer watched the race and decided he wanted to go to this meet. His basketball coach was none too happy, when Pifer told him mid Freshman season that he was quitting to focus on running.

By the time his senior year rolled around, Pifer was a five-time school record holder and a two-time All-American in the Distance Medley Relay and the mile. That year, he became only the 6th man in Illinois’s history to win the Cross Country, 1600-meter and 3200-meter State Titles in the same year. And yes, he finally made it to the Footlocker HS Cross Country Nationals where he placed 14th.

This was good enough to land him a scholarship to CU Boulder where despite a rookie mistake that sidelined him for most of his freshman year, he garnered strong results. “Freshman year things went up and down. I got hurt running on the Mesa Trail. It was a Rookie mistake, trying to be a showoff. I watched my teammates go to the Nationals for cross-country.” But things picked up from there.

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Pifer became an All-Conference finisher (Big 12) four times and an All-Regional finisher three times in cross-country. He made Nationals and was an individual All-American four times. Although his team won two national titles, winning the Big 12 Conference in 2008 as a team was the highlight of his time at CU. “Not to take away from the NCAA championships, but winning the Big 12 title as a team was the best. We had a good group. It was a real team effort.” He credits the coaches for fostering this team spirit from the get go. “As Freshmen, we had a dodgeball team to try to tie everyone together. We were the ‘Track Whackers’. We had long jumpers and shot putters, we all knew each other and that synergy we developed led us to win over these powerhouse schools.” It was on the CU track team that Pifer met his future wife, Laura Zeigle “a stud runner in her own right,” he says.

From CU, Pifer headed to Portland in 2009, to run for one of the larger shoe companies. Where some runners struggle outside of college, Pifer still felt he was part of a team and as a result he had one of his best years yet, including a 4th -place finish in the 1500 meters at the USA National Championships. It was during this time, he and his wife started a family. “I was in a position where I didn’t have to work another job. I could train and hang out with my family and then go train again. It was pretty awesome.”

It was also during this time that his uncle, who was still coaching in Colorado, showed him a pair of Newton shoes. “I thought they looked crazy.” He appreciated being up on the ball of his feet, but he wasn’t sure about this new shoe company. But then a college friend went to work for Newton and a few years later as Pifer’s contract drew to a close, he says, “I noticed Newton was still around. I figured they’re obviously doing something right.” The next thing he knew he had landed a job with the company as a tech rep in Florida.

Having become used to getting free shoes in college, he said, “I had to look it as though it wasn’t me buying the shoe, because I go through a pair once every 6-8 weeks.” But now when he considers durability and dollars per mile spent, he says, “I get way more miles out of my Newtons than I did for any other shoe I’ve ever worn.”

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Having recently relocated to Colorado for Newton. Pifer was psyched to be chosen to run on one of the Bolder Boulder elite teams with his fellow Newton teammates Tyler McCandless and Fernando Cabada. Now, as he looks toward the ensuing Olympic marathon trials, he says, “Consistency is definitely something to be proud of. People get injured if you’re overdoing things. I am not getting faster, but I’m not getting slower. Hopefully, I can PR, I’m not ruling that out.”

As for his boys, between his wife and him, one can only assume the running genes found their way to them as well. But Pifer will let them find their own way to running, just as he did. “If they want to do it, I think they’ll have the talent,” says Pifer. For now, he says, they’re doing jumps on their scooters, rock climbing and hiking, and taking advantage of everything Boulder has to offer. Pifer adds, “We’re just having fun.”

 

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Winter’s World Record

Posted by on Thursday, May 8, 2014 @ 3:33 pm | Leave a reply

A World Record for Dad and the 1 in 6 Men Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer Each Year

Where did the time go? It seems like I was just 10 years old sitting on the couch flipping through the Guinness Book of World Records. Now 15, I just got the email stating, “Winter, your world record for the youngest person to run a marathon on all 7 continents has officially been recorded into the record books”.  It seemed like such a simple task back then. Run seven marathons around the world. Running was by far the easiest part of realizing this dream, though. The journey? Well that is another story.

At age 13, I ran my first marathon just 50 minutes from my Salem, Oregon home. Marathon great, Meb Keflezighi was there to give me encouragement and some last minute strategy. After all the controversy to get me into my first marathon, I felt I had a lot to prove that day. I still remember hearing my coach’s voice echo in my head as I hit mile 23, “Winter, you can run that course in 3:45:00”. Coach Hadley not only was right but more importantly he believed in me. Just five minutes shy of a Boston qualifying time, this 13 year-old conquered Eugene Marathon in 3:45:04. A precedent had been set. I was serious about my mission and my running.

Marathon #1 Eugene Marathon April 29, 2012 Finish Time 34504- Winter with a Race Pacer

Marathon #1 Eugene Marathon

Running in Kenya

Marathon #2 Amazing Maasai photo credit Paul Ark

Marathon #2 Amazing Maasai photo credit Paul Ark

My next marathon added many elements on top of the pure fact of running 26.2 miles. There was travel, heat, pre-race nutrition issues and much more to consider.

You would think getting into a marathon in Africa would be easy for a 14 year-old, after all, it’s common for kids to walk more than ten miles round trip to school a day. I was shocked when I started getting turned down in South Africa by race directors.  By pure coincidence, I was introduced to The Amazing Maasai race directors who just happened to be two young women with running backgrounds. They had previously been on the Amazing Race TV Show, which is what inspired them to start this marathon to aid in the education of Kenyan girls. Thank goodness they believed in me! After taking 3rd place overall female in 4:04, through tough terrain and heat, my love for trail marathons began. I found the tougher the course; the stronger I performed. Much of my race was captured on film by a Canadian TV Show called Boundless.

“El Fin Del Mundo,” The End of the World

Antarctica Marathon

Marathon #3 Antarctica Marathon

There is nothing like going from the extreme heat of the Maasai plains in Kenya to one of the harshest, coldest places in the world, Antarctica. First you fly to “El Fin Del Mundo,” The End of the World, also known as Ushuaia, Argentina. Waiting for us there was a Russian research vessel to take us across Drakes Pass, know for some of the roughest seas in the World.

Several day’s later, blustery weather prevented us from going on shore. Instead, we found ourselves on land, for the first time in days, just minutes before the start of the marathon. No one really talked about what “getting your sea legs,” meant, but several miles into the marathon I realized the ground appeared to be rolling like waves under my feet. By not having spent any time off the ship prior to running on land, I had not gotten rid of my “sea legs.”

But without a single fall (the ice was another challenge), I finished in 4:49:45—another 3rd place finish. I was now the youngest person in the world to run 26.2 miles in Antarctica.

Tough & Tougher

Marathon #4 Inca Trail Marathon- Finish Line Winter 1st place female

Marathon #4 Inca Trail Marathon

Next, I headed to the Inca Trail, which I documented here in an earlier blog. At this, my fourth marathon, I captured my first overall female marathon win. If you are a runner and up for a challenge and adventure of a lifetime, the Inca Trail Marathon should definitely be on your bucket list.

Half Trail/Half Road

Marathon #6 New Zealand

My fifth marathon was across the diverse terrain of a small island called the Great Barrier Island, off the coast of New Zealand. Running the first half of the marathon through the interior mountain trails and then finishing the last half on the paved coastline was an interesting mix to say the least. Even at my young age, it was definitely a transition my legs and feet felt, going from the soft surface of trails to the pounding of pavement. It definitely gave me a reminder of why I had fallen in love with trail running.

The Trails of Genghis Khan & Ogres

Marathon #5 Mongolia August 7, 2013 photo credit Fredrik Koerfer

Marathon #5 Mongolia Photo Credit : Fredrik Koerfer

The second toughest marathon I traveled to was definitely Mongolia’s Sunrise to Sunset Marathon, which I also documented in an earlier blog. Despite the remoteness of this marathon, the incredibly athletic and talented crew from Boundless was able to capture amazing footage for their TV Show. The crew ran alongside us through the dark forest, down the steep ravines, all the while carrying heavy cameras and microphones. I was truly in awe as I caught glimpses of the TV crew at random places on the course.

A World Record

Panathinaikon Stadium- Photo Credit- Athens Classic Marathon

Marathon #6 Athens Classic Photo Credit- Athens Classic Marathon

I learned a lot about history from the places I traveled over my 18-month journey. Completing my marathon tour in Athens, Greece, on the original course of Phidipiddies, was a fitting place to set a marathon world record. A place where women where originally shunned and even killed for watching the Olympics. Where only “winners” were called athletes, others were just mere participants. It was my first full road marathon since Eugene and I cherished every footstep across the 26.2 miles. The spectators that lined the course all shouted “Bravo” as we ran by. In Greece, runners are still considered highly respectable athletes and are praised. Crossing the finish line in the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern Olympics, was an unforgettable moment. I pointed to the sky, symbolically to my dad, as I always do at the finish line, and thought to myself, “Dad, we did it!”

Back to Snow

Immediately upon returning from Greece, I exchanged my running shoes for ski boots. I had only a few days to reflect on my five-year journey to setting this world record. I think it will take me years to really comprehend what I was able to accomplish. My aerial skiing has now taken precedence in my life as I pursue a spot at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Several weeks ago I concluded my 2014 aerial season with a Jr. National title and 5th Place podium at the Jr. World Freestyle Championships in Italy. Some great steps toward my next big dream have been taken.

Winter NorAm Cup 2013 Mid Air Closeup Photo Credit- Trev Mozingo

Photo Credit : Trev Mozingo

Will there be an Ultra?

Many are asking what is next with my running. I definitely plan to tackle my first ultra marathon in the near future. As of today, my Newton running shoes are back on as I train for two big events in June 2014. I have been asked to join the winning team from last year’s Ropa Run in Europe. This is a well-known relay running event in Europe that raises money for cancer. I will join a team of seven men, with a total support crew of 26 people. We will run a 330-mile relay from Hamburg, Germany to Rotterdam, Netherlands. I will run roughly 80, one-kilometer sprints over a 30-hour period.

Then, I will join Simon Donato and a crew of elite runners and searchers to explore the high Sierras of California in search of a missing, downed military plane. We will hike up to 15 miles a day in harsh terrain at elevations of 10,000 to 12,000 feet, camping in tents and supported only by supplies brought in on horseback. Follow me on this great adventure with Adventure Science!

Obstacle Course Racing & More

I’m currently planning the rest of my summer events. Aside from my aerials training, you will definitely see me challenging my Newton’s on the Spartan Race courses, including the Spartan World Championships—and why not throw in a few triathlons as well!

Never Give In!

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Fresno Pace

Posted by on Sunday, April 27, 2014 @ 2:58 pm | Leave a reply

Don’t be fooled by the quiet reserve of Newton elite team member Fernando Cabada—he’s ready to race.

Stealth is one way you could describe elite Newton athlete Fernando Cabada. He is silent (when he’s not ribbing his teammates) and potentially deadly when running. Determined is another apt description. As is the comeback kid. But, no matter how you describe him, he is fast. And, he’s hoping his speed will place him in a top 3 position in the U.S. Olympic Trials for marathon in February, 2016.

Fernando IAAF

            Far fetched? No. Not given that he placed 7th with a time of 2:11.53 at the last Olympic Trials, which took place in Houston, Texas in January, 2012. On that same track, he recently ran a personal best half marathon time of 1:02:00. This was good enough for him to make the USA team for the World Half Marathon Championships, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark in March. The US team placed 7th overall.

Fernando Team USA

These accolades come on top of a longer list, including the fact that he set the American 25-K record with a time of 1:14:21, and he has been a three-time US Champion.

But there is another motivator that is driving him to the trials in Los Angeles in 2016. Cabada grew up in Fresno, California. This is the place where he learned determination and where running, in a sense, saved his life. Nothing would be more satisfying than having a top 3 finish in front of the home crowd—nothing, except for wearing “USA” across his chest at the Olympics.

Fernando Cabada grew up in Fresno with a single mom and a dad who went in and out of prison. When he was in 3rd grade, his mom was awarded assistance from the Housing Choice Voucher Program Section 8, which meant that Fernando and his mom could move to a safe neighborhood that also had a better school. Cabada suddenly had access to physical education and sports.

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“I was in 3rd grade and I went out and ran a half mile. I was second in my class. I was kind of fast. In 4th grade, I could go out for cross-country. My dad was pretty hard on me with sports, so I steered away from baseball and basketball. Running was the thing I could choose myself.”

Running helped him to fit into a very affluent neighborhood and school system—think the Orange County of Fresno, where everyone drives a BMW.  Cabada’s mom was on welfare, which meant he had free lunch tickets. Rather than stand out by using the tickets, Cabada chose not to eat. He went for years without eating much at school. “I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t start eating until I was in my Junior year, when my uncle would give me a job on the weekends. Then, I had $5 a day to buy something at lunch. People could see money in my hand. I didn’t want to stand out so much.

“I was embarrassed, I didn’t have the style of clothes everyone had. I was defensive and reserved. I wasn’t like them, so if anything I was more segregated than ever until I was in high school on the cross-country team.”

At the nationally distinguished Buchanan High School, Cabada began to dream about running with the senior team. “I would daydream for hours of running with the varsity team, so people would say, ‘Who is that brown kid?’ But these were just dreams, I didn’t believe it would happen. It’s like saying you’re going to win a lottery.”

In his Junior year, Cabada won the lottery so to speak, when he became nationally ranked and number 1 on the team. In his senior year, he was Athlete of the Year, beating out all of the football players and other athletes at the school.  After graduating in 2000, he attended college, something no one in his family had done before. Next, he jumped into the pro running circuit. But without a team of college friends to run with, running suddenly wasn’t quite so enjoyable.

“In college, in senior year, you’re going to these races to try to make as much noise as you can to continue your dream and you’ll do anything to get it. But you forget, you have to keep working. It’s hard to get it, but it’s hard to keep it.” After hitting some of his best times ever, he incurred some injuries and a sponsorship deal he had with another company ended in 2010. Cabada hit a slump. He considered hanging up his running shoes and headed to the oil fields of North Dakota to try to make ends meet. But once he got there, he realized, “I can’t quit running, I’m too good.” And he is.

Newton took notice of Cabada in 2012 after his seventh place finish at the marathon Olympic Trials in Houston. A relationship was forged and now surrounded by a team once again, Cabada’s enthusiasm has increased as his times have dropped. Now, with Boulder, CO established as his home, the once reserved runner is finally comfortable in his own skin and is even known for his sense of humor and being vocal on the team. Although he admits, “I’m pretty honest and sometimes can be controversial.”

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But that edge is what has helped drive his running. He is the Newton Running elite team’s fastest member. His plan is to get faster over the course of the next 21 months. “I had to have an edge walking to elementary school, because you were going through a neighborhood where you might get into a fight. This has helped me in my racing and life itself. If a situation is going bad, I can always put things in perspective.” He adds, “For me in my world, I’ve already won in life. I didn’t follow in my father’s footsteps. Now it’s all bonus.” And hopefully, that bonus will payout on February 13, 2016.

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Melody Fairchild: So This is 40

Posted by on Sunday, April 6, 2014 @ 9:24 am | Leave a reply

When it comes to running, Melody Fairchild knows what she likes and doesn’t like. For instance, uphills “yes,” downhills “no,” Newtons “yes,” other brands “no.” She should know, she has been running since she was 14. And we’re not talking jogging. She was the first high school girl to break 10 minutes for 2 miles and from there her list of accolades is long.

Last summer she turned 40 and aged up to Masters. She quickly proved she would be a force to be reckoned with in this category with three wins last fall in the space of a month: first place at the USA Masters 5K Championships with a time of 16:51; first place at the 15K Masters National Championship; and 1st female, and 2nd overall at the Project Athena US Trail Half Marathon, which served as the half marathon national championships, in Moab, Utah.

Fairchild started 2014 with a goal to do all of the USATF Masters National Championships and a main goal of doing the Master’s National Championship in the marathon at the Medtronic Twin City Marathon in Minneapolis in October. Obviously, age has not diminished ability nor competitive spirit.

So far this year, Fairchild has taken 2nd in the half marathon in Melbourne, Florida and 2nd at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder, both in February. Results most runners would consider great. But, Fairchild doesn’t like to lose. “In the Twin Cities, I plan on being a contender to win and I would like to win. I will have my work cut out for me, there are a lot of really good Master’s marathoners out there, including the two women who I have been beaten by already this year.”

Mel XC 1

Although Fairchild makes running look easy, she has had her share of bumps in the road. Looking back on her career, she credits her ability to still run strong to the fact that she took a break from running from about the time she was 27 to 37. This was at a time when many of her running colleagues were pushing the envelope and taking their careers to another level professionally performance wise. Her body was telling her to do otherwise. “I had to really listen to my body, and it was telling me to stop running. I had massive sciatic nerve pain and my feet were hurting. Rather than getting surgery on my feet to keep running, I went an alternative healing route.” Fairchild focused on getting healthy.

Along the path to healing, Fairchild also found a friend in Newtons. “I’ve been told I have a dropped metatarsal head. I thought it was a neuroma.” No matter how you cut it, it’s painful. “I also have large bunyans, which is why Newtons are great for my feet, because they have a nice wide toebox. With other shoes, I would have to cut them open because there was too much pressure on my feet.”

Fairchild used to race in the Distance Elite and train in the Distance U, which she loves because it’s so light. But then, last summer, she discovered the new Energy—not a shoe you would immediately pair with an elite athlete. “ I ran a half marathon in Costa Rica last summer and placed 2nd. Normally, I would take a racing flat, but I ran the whole race in my Energies.”

Fairchild says, for any Newton lovers with any sort of forefoot issue the Energy is just a fabulous option. ”I still feel the energy return that you get from a Newton, but it’s just so much more gentle on the forefoot, especially if you have a neuroma or a bone bruise.”

            Listening to and looking after your body, especially as a runner, is a message Fairchild now loves to share with the next generation of athletes. When she’s not training and racing—or planning for her wedding this summer (it’s true!)—she’s busy coaching across Boulder County. She runs after school cross-country and track programs, and running camps for girls in the summer. “My girls running camp in the summer is a passion of mine.  I know the pitfalls that befall young women. I help my girls gain a perspective of themselves and their life. It is a long winding road.”

As she runs from job to job and race to race, Fairchild knows that winding road well. But at this stage in life, she’s loving every minute of it. “It’s so awesome to be paid to run. Every day I get up and train and look forward to the next race I have planned. I definitely don’t take it for granted.” She adds, “For someone my age, competing at the level I am, to have the support from a shoe company, is off the charts.”

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Kara Henry

Posted by on Sunday, March 9, 2014 @ 8:16 am | Leave a reply

Don’t be fooled by Kara Henry’s relaxed nature. At the start of a race, it’s a different story.

 

Bacon. Check.
Gummy Bears. Check.
Coca Cola. Check.
Pretzels. Check.
Frozen pizza. Check.
 

These aren’t your ordinary race snacks, but then again Kara Henry isn’t your ordinary runner. One minute the 29-year-old is doing 6:20-minute pace in a half marathon, look again, and she easily falls into a 15-minute pace for the Leadville 100, where she placed 6th last summer in a time of 23:50 (four hours faster than her first attempt in 2012). But truth be told, 50-mile and 50K races hit her sweet spot. In 2012, she ran her first 50-miler, the Bear Chase 50, in Lakewood, Colorado. She not only won the women’s division, she set a course record. “That was a shock,” she says. But it also showed her (and others) what she was capable of.

Kara is the first to admit she has a competitive side. “I learned the hard way that I can’t do a race as a training run. I go into every race wanting to win whether I’ve trained or not.”

Growing up in Elmhurst, Illinois, Kara joined the cross-country team in 8th grade. She had never participated in competitive sports before and it wasn’t really the running that drew her to the team. Rather, it was the fact that her tough science teacher was the coach. She thought if she joined the cross-country team she could get in his good books and get a better grade. But that didn’t mean she came to practice ready to run, “I would show up at practices and walk and chat with my friends.” That was, until her very first cross-country race. “I couldn’t sleep the night before. All I could think about was winning the race.” And win she did. This set in motion a strong high school cross-country career that earned her multiple all-state honors and landed her a scholarship to Butler University.

After moving west after Butler, Kara notes, “running took a back seat to paying my bills for a few years.” But then, a friend convinced her to run the Quad Dipsea, a 28.4-mile annual trail run in Mill Valley, California, and surprise, surprise, that old competitive nature kicked in without hesitation. She placed second in the women’s race. “It’s a pretty prestigious race and no one knew who I was.” The ultra community would know who she was soon enough.

Shortly after that first race, Kara moved to Boulder, Colorado, in the Spring of 2012 to take a job as the marketing manager at Newton. Since she didn’t know anyone in town, she spent a lot of hours running the trails by her self. Then came the Bear Chase 50. “That first 50-miler was the best experience. It went so well for me. I think if it had gone poorly, I wouldn’t have kept on with the ultra thing.” It was at that race, where she realized what she was made of, “I had such a fun day and really learned to dig from the deepest depths of my own personal hell and get out of it. I learned when you think you can’t take another step, you can all of a sudden run 8-minute miles again.”

Although Kara knew she had great potential for the distance races, it hasn’t been totally smooth sailing.  “In 2012, I screwed up every week. One week I was vomiting, the next race I fell off a cliff, and I got lost. I am really bad with a sense of direction. Some people can look up and know where the car is, if you spin me around in downtown Boulder, I’ll get lost. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll go left, when I should have gone right.” Which is what she did when she went to Texas for the US 100K championships. She took a wrong turn and the next thing she knew, she was tumbling head over heels through cactus. “It’s a long way to travel to end up all bloody and in the car before the race was over.”

hope pass

At Leadville in 2012, she entered simply with the hopes of finishing, which she did, but not without hallucinating and falling asleep while running in the wee hours of the morning. “It was about 4am or a bit later. I had been out there for 24 hours and the sun was about to come up again. It’s really rough watching the sun rise twice. My friend was pacing me and she was just super chatty, chatty and she would ask me something and 10 or 12 minutes later I’d say, ‘what?’ She realized I was falling asleep, so she started breaking up Honey Stinger bars and she would make me eat these bites of sugar every 15 minutes. It woke me up.”

2013 was a different story. She took a different tact: she trained. “I really focused on a training plan and on the races leading up to Leadville. I was good with nutrition, everything that could have gone well went well.” In other words, she won all of the 25-mile and 50-milers she entered, and garnered 6th at Leadville.

So now what? “I’m going to take a year off from running a 100 miler. I’ll do a few 50s. I’ve had this marathon monkey on my back for a couple of years. I’ve never really raced a marathon. I’d like to get one real crack at a marathon and call it a day.” That marathon will be the Twin Cities in October and then she’ll focus on Rocky Raccoon, the Trail Running 100-mile championship 100-mile in January, 2015 in Huntsville, Texas.

Oh and about that nutrition thing. She did focus on good nutrition while training last year, but seems like anything goes in a race. Kara’s secret weapons are in fact gummy bears—she ate 5 packs of them in Leadville—“a lot of pretzels, some bacon…and cold frozen pizza is this excellent running food, too.” And that 8th grade science class? She got an A.

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