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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!

Sig

Join Team Winter or make a Donation!

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‘Tis the Season to Give Back – An Interview with Wendy Lee

Posted by on Monday, December 9, 2013 @ 11:35 am | Leave a reply

“Our company was founded on the principle of helping others. It starts with our commitment to our community and continues with our involvement with a diverse range of philanthropic organizations both here and abroad.”

 

Is this a running company? Yes, it is. And, yes, this is what’s written at the top of Newton’s Global Responsibility page. “It’s my dad,” explains Wendy Lee, whose dad, Jerry Lee, is CEO and cofounded Newton Running together with Danny Abshire, CTO. “Honestly, when he founded the company with Danny, he was at a point where he had been very successful in his previous career. He said, ‘If I’m going to start another company, and particularly a running shoe company, the reason I’m doing it is to help other people.’ It starts with him and he made the philosophy from the beginning and made it understood.” Lee, who is Director of Global Sustainability and oversees Newton’s initiatives in this arena, adds, “Of course, we want to make the best running shoe and provide the best running education, but at the end of the day we want to help the lives of other people.”

And this isn’t just a Jerry and Danny thing. Employees hear about social responsibility in their initial interviews and are introduced to it in the orientation process. It’s also written into job descriptions. “Every employee needs to be involved with social responsibility to whatever level possible. Everyone knows that’s what we stand for and that’s why we exist.  It’s not just something we do on the side, this is why we exist and I find that people really like it and get excited,” explains Lee.

So what exactly does all this talk mean?

  • Prostate Cancer Foundation:

    Newton has supported the prostate cancer foundation for many years. Lee’s dad and founder, Jerry, is a prostate cancer survivor (since 2005), so she says, they feel strongly about that one. Newton Running also sponsors team athlete Winter Vinecki, who lost her dad to prostate cancer and races to raise funds to fight the disease.

Memorial

  • Team Kokua:

    Newton has always encouraged athletes to participate in triathlon, while raising funds for causes that hit close to home, such as prostate cancer. In 2013, Newton partnered with the Ironman Foundation to create an ambassador team of 45 athletes. This team of athletes not only raced, but they were charged with raising funds and participating in direct service projects to give back to designated non-profits in the communities in which they were racing. The team has raised $70,000 so far, and Lee is hoping they will break $100,000. Most recently, the team was in Arizona where they organized a track and field day at a school, and then presented a check to the school to go toward a PE program and physical fitness. Next year, Lee says she expects the team will have closer to 60 athletes.

Team 2

  • Trickle Up:

    Newton has sponsored Trickle Up since 2008. It is an organization that provides education, training and grants for some of the world’s poorest people to develop microenterprises. “It’s a small charity, but they do incredible work,” says Lee. “Trickle Up focuses on the extreme poor, who seem to be overlooked by other charities. They are left out because they are so isolated and impoverished. They live on under $1.50 a day. There are a lot of people, especially women with children living under this poverty line. The quality of life is very low.” 

Trickle Up works with local organizations to help train these women how to start their own businesses, usually in textiles or farming. They help these women to establish their own micro-economy and to have a sustainable economy for themselves, which then allows their kids to go to school and to get an education. Each season, Newton chooses a shoe from which a $1 per sale goes to the Trickle Up campaign.

casa guatemala

  • One World Running:

    This Boulder-based, nationwide, volunteer-run organization takes in used running shoes, cleans them up and delivers them to impoverished villages around the world. When they deliver them, they typically host a race in the village the next day. Newton Running has donated more than 5,000 pairs of mostly new shoes to the organization. “We have a constant stock that we donate to them,” says Lee.

owr1

  • Back on my Feet:

    This group is east coast based with offices around the country. Back On My Feet organizes running groups for homeless shelters. They meet once or twice a week in the morning and run as a group. Newton donates shoes for every participant in each of the locations around the country (more than 1,000 pairs).

IMG_7654_1

Being a company that does the right thing also means that after Hurricane Sandy hit, Jerry Lee spontaneously gave 100s of pairs of running shoes that the company had brought to sell at the New York marathon expo to a group of firefighters who happened to be walking through the expo. They in turn donated the shoes to survivors of the hurricane.  Likewise, shoes have been sent to the Philippines and the company even helped their own community after the Colorado floods sent water gushing through Newton’s backyard this fall.  “We are always ready to help where we can,” says Lee. The company also gives a discount to military members.

Although Jerry Lee won’t toot his own horn, his daughter will, as will Newton employees who have witnessed the giving firsthand. Lee encourages others in the running community to do the same, to look around and see where there is a need. “If there’s any way to help, then do it. Be aware of what’s going on and get involved.” She adds, “We have so much to be thankful for, our health and our well being, particularly when you think about the flooding and the fires that have happened in our own backyard. We’re thankful as a company for our customers and their support of us. We have been fortunate and continue to be so as a company, so it’s our responsibility to give back. It’s what we do.”

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Experience Spartan World Championships With a 14 Year-Old

Posted by on Monday, October 21, 2013 @ 2:18 pm | Leave a reply

I sat on the steep hillside with a 5-gallon bucket of gravel between my legs, protecting it from spilling. This was just a temporary stop to collect my strength as I climbed up the Killington, Vermont ski run. It was a brutal reminder that ski slopes are for skiing down and that is it! This same obstacle was my biggest challenge at my first Spartan Beast several months ago in Utah. The sight of a bucket now makes me cringe. Descending the hillside, with my bucket in my arms, I thought I might actually cry. As I dumped my gravel into the bin at the end, successfully completing the obstacle, I said to myself, “Pull yourself together, you still have a long way to go.”

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-start line

Show Time

I had no idea this race would be so hard. Standing at the start line, I felt welcomed amongst my new Spartan family. I appreciated the cheers and well wishes from my fellow racers as my name was called to the start line of the Spartan World Championships. I found myself standing amongst some of the world’s greatest athletes. There were Olympians from around the globe as well as Xterra, USTAF and Trail World Champions, Professional Obstacle Course Racers, Adventure Racers, triathletes and marathon winners. This talented group of athletes, including the Spartan Pro Team, will be featured in the NBC Sports Network TV special about the World Championships on October 19th.

Given Spartan’s history and the presence of NBC TV, most of us assumed we were about to embark on the toughest, most grueling 13-mile course ever designed by Spartan. Little did we know how humbling the day would be—the steep climbs, cold water and grueling course would sideline even some of the world’s most fit athletes.

Climbing & Descending

The first part of the course was mainly a steep never-ending trail climb up the hills of Killington Ski Resort. I was happy with my selection of running this course in my Newton Distance. I knew there would be a lot of serious climbing so I chose to stay on the lighter side with my shoes. I had done my last Spartan Beast in my Newton All-weathers. The unique lug design of Newton shoes is not only great for forefoot running but also provides great traction on these difficult courses. Spartans were once again falling, slipping and sliding on the steep descents and I was able to keep my footing. There were a few walls and round hay bails to climb on our way up, which is always fun.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-wall traverse

Living and training at 7,000 feet in Park City, UT, as well as only carrying 98 pounds on my small frame, was a great advantage on the first part of the course. I was surprised to find myself hanging with many of the elite females for the first six to seven miles. It was only when we encountered the heavy obstacles, that their more adult bodies became a huge advantage for them.

Two-thirds My Weight

Upon reaching one of the few black diamond ski runs at Killington, I peered up the steep slope.  As far up the mountain as I could see, it was just a stream of racers carrying something. As I approached a pile of sandbags, I quickly realized there was only one size. Many of the weighted obstacles at Spartan Races have female and male sized weights. This was the World Championships, though, what was I thinking. There was no time to stop and think. This was a race!

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-60#sandbag carry

As a competitive athlete, you learn to improvise as you go. I wasn’t sure how I would handle this heavy obstacle but knew I just had to get moving with it. I grabbed my sandbag, tossed it up onto my back and began the long trek. I would alternate carrying the weight on one shoulder, then the other. When both shoulders got fatigued, I would place it evenly across my upper back and neck.  The one thought I had the entire time was, “Why is a 14-year-old girl carrying what a grown man is carrying?” At the time, I had no idea I was carrying 60 pounds, literally two-thirds my body weight. All I knew was, “It was heavy”.  It was only after the race, that I had learned the actual weight we were all carrying.

Burpees & Perseverence

The Hercules Hoist gave me my first set of burpees. A cement bucket is hooked to a pulley system.  You must use a rope to pull the bucket up to the top. As I started to hoist the bucket up, I would quickly find myself being pulled up in the air as the bucket returned to the ground. “You got to be kidding me! I’ve done this before. This cement bucket must be heavier than my last race.” After being lifted off the ground several times and only getting the weight half way up, I realized Hercules would win today. I immediately started doing my 30 burpees.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-rope climb

During the entire race I was reminded, “I had it easy.” I was not carrying a tumor, like my new friend, Iram Leon. He is 32 years old and living with an inoperable brain tumor, yet not letting it slow him down. I had two healthy legs unlike the amputee that crawled up the entire Killington ski slope on his hands and knees or like the female amputee who stood at the start line with me. I was able to just be at the event, unlike my dad and many others that left this world too soon. It wasn’t hard to put my pain aside and persevere.

Having previewed the course the day before, I knew the water obstacles would come at miles seven and ten. Seeing all the water on this course, I also knew I wanted a shoe that had great drainage, not one that would hold water. I had poured water in my Newton trainers prior to the race to see how quickly it would drain out. Unlike many Spartans, I was not intimidated by the water, but rather excited. As a two-time triathlon national champion, I had been battling it out in the water since I was five years old. I didn’t take into account, however, how much wearing shoes affected your ability to swim. I was especially glad I didn’t wear a hydration pack like so many did. It would have been yet another thing to weigh me down as I swam across the frigid water and climbed up the rope climbs.

Tarzan & The Tyrolean Traverse

The Tarzan Swing was nearly impossible! I heard of only one female who made it successfully across. This obstacle consisted of ladders and ropes suspended from a bridge in the middle of a lake. After swimming out and climbing up to the top of the bridge, there were about five or six little ropes. One had to swing across these ropes to get to the bell. I made it across two ropes then fell about ten feet into the lake.  As I swam to shore, my only thought was, “I think I’m turning into an ice cube.” As I crawled onto shore, it was burpee time again.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-barb wire

Next up, the Tyrolean Traverse. Imagine a rope suspended across water; a kids dream, an adult’s nightmare! I may have moved slower than Sid, the two-toed sloth, but I made it! I hung below the rope with just my knees and elbows draped over the long rope that spanned the freezing cold, irrigation pond for the ski resort. There was no way I was going to fall off that rope, swim to shore, do 30 burpees and then have to reattempt it again. It was pretty intimidating seeing Elite men wrapped in a foil blanket at the edge of the water, hypothermic and unable to continue on. Today, the Tyrolean Rope would separate the winners from the losers. All I could think was, “Just hang on!” I have some great rope burns on my arms to show for my effort.

Tyrolean Traverse- Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013

Pushing Beyond

The Spartan World Championships pushed me farther, mentally and physically, than I have ever been pushed before. However, with this being said, I know I have not reached my limit. There is always a take home lesson I learn from every race; whether it is a triathlon, a marathon, an aerial skiing competition or a Spartan Race. Spartan reminded me how crucial the mental component of a sport can be. Even if your body wants to give up, you can usually mentally keep pushing on and many times your body will recover. If you give up mentally though, it is over immediately.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-fire jump

For many, crossing the finish line on Saturday was the end of their race weekend. Placing first in the world in the 19 & under open division and 28th amongst the elite females was perhaps my greatest accomplishment ever. However, the most important race to me was actually the next day. For the first time, Spartan offered a charity race. Beat up and exhausted but willing to do it all again, my team of five athletes, Team Winter, set out Sunday morning to try to capture the Spartan Charity Race Title. Our team raced for the 1 in 6 men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer that took my 40 year-old-dad from me when I was only 9-years-old.

We were expected to navigate a two- to three-mile course, with the fastest three times from each team counting. Seeing some of Spartan’s best obstacle course racers smiling at the start line Sunday and getting their “Spartan On” for something bigger than themselves was a great sight. These guys and gals went out with revenge and were ready to give everything they had left for their cause. Although Team Winter took 2nd place by only a few seconds, we were proud to stand on the podium as one of the top five teams in the world. Each team took prize money home for their charity and most importantly raised awareness for their cause.

Finish Line Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013

Spartan World Championships was great training as I headed into my sixth marathon on October 12th on New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island—my second to last continent on my world marathon tour for prostate cancer awareness. Keep following Newton for my next race report!

Never Give In!

Sig

Join Team Winter or make a Donation!

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