SRC-Brooks Team wraps up 2023

Kristi | Dave | Barrett | Katelen | Trisha | Aaron | Bergman | Erik | Adam | Chris

Kristi Williams

The later half of 2023 has been filled with trails and the cross country courses! The summer was completed with a 5th place finish at the USATF PNTF 14.5 Miler Trail Championships on Cougar Mountain (August Cougar Mountain Trail Series race). I was pleasantly surprised making the top five considering the level of amazing female athletes that were present. Being 39 (an almost masters) and competing on the same level as those who may be close to half your age is challenging and slightly daunting, but at this point in my running career I am happy to be out there still doing what I love regardless of my age and what is going on in my life! “Run happy” is my mantra no matter how I feel, it helps me race with optimism versus stress and anxiety. After the completion of the Cougar Mountain trail series, I was so excited to discover that I had outright won the short series! I never imagined I was capable or talented enough to achieve such an outcome. It just goes to show hard work, commitment, showing up, and doing your best can pay off even if you are not an expert in that area…I still find myself to be slightly naive or blissfully oblivious when it comes to trail running. 

The transition into cross country was a bit difficult. Trying to get my muscles to remember what it feels like to really push hard over a short period of time took some work and patience. I managed to run all the xc races SRC competed in this year, but it took some of the races to really reengage that mindset necessary to run successfully in cross country. I had to accept that I shouldn’t go out with the lead pack, but rather run consistently and slowly work my way up. The Bill Roe Classic was an eye opener which led to a more successful Lower Woodland and an even better performance at Lincoln Park PNTF Championship. XC Regionals in Portland was a hoot mainly because of the tight timeline I found myself on where I drove up with my mother in law, who also raced, and managed to warm up and race within half an hour of the race’s start time.  Let’s just say my hips were solid as a rock and it became a game for me, during the race, trying to figure out how to run quickly with little to no gross motor movement in the lower half of my body. Not entirely desirable results, but the course was long and it was windy so that will be what I will attribute most of my troubles to! The last Cougar Mountain 7.6 miler was a blast and a well deserved change from fast parks and golf course settings! I managed a second place finish and was delighted to be back on the trails.  I love how I crave the mountains and trails now more than flat speedy surfaces of roads and fast grass….who knew I’d really morph into a trail runner after all! I am not racing XC Nationals this year due to how far away Florida is, but plan to run the Christmas Rush 10k to end my XC season with a fast, flat, and fun road race! 

I enjoyed volunteering at the last two Cougar Mountain Trail Series races in August and October at the food tent (my favorite volunteer position!). I love cutting watermelon in the summer and plating pumpkin pie in October. As always, it is a thrill watching people finish their races ranging from first time trail 5kers to 50k studs. It is a blast being surrounded by like minded individuals who value nature, the thrill of trail running, and community. 

I love the new Hyperion Max and have been utilizing its cushion and quick turnover for workouts while the Catamount 2 remains my trail favorite. Although, the Caldera 6 has grown on me for those trail runs with lots of descents… knees appreciate all that cushion! 

Thanks to Seattle Running Club and Brooks for supporting my fellow teammates and myself! It is a wonderful feeling to be a full time working teacher and mother while still having support from my local club and running company to help me realize my running dreams and potential! Thank you SRC and Brooks!

Dave Messenheimer

The second half of 2023 has included lots of miles, lots of trails, unfortunately some injuries slowing me down, and lots of fun times running with other SRC members.  Racing performances have included a 3rd place at the USATF PNW Masters Trail champs at Cougar Mountain in August, some middling cross country results for SRC, and being part of the winning team at the Cougar Cup race in October. In September, I joined fellow SRC members Chris Tremonte, Uli and Trisha Steidl, and Erik Barkhaus in a beautiful run to Pyramid Peak on the slopes of Mt Rainier. This was especially challenging for Erik and I, as we had just raced the Bellingham XC race the day before! The Brooks Cascadia and Catamount have become my go-to trail shoes, and I’ve been impressed with how well they grip on PNW trails. 

As important as the running accomplishments have been this year, getting to volunteer with SRC and Brooks has been equally enjoyable. We’ve helped maintain trails and performed some heavy blackberry and log removal at Cougar Mountain.  Being part of the SRC-Brooks team has been an honor this year, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities it has granted me, not just for the actual running but the amazing people I have gotten to know and share time with.

Barrett Gray

For the second half of 2023, I turned my focus to FKT (fastest known time) adventures. I did an FKT around my birthday in early August for the second year in a row with my friend Charlie. For this year’s “Birthday FKT” we ran the Foss Lakes – Iron Cap Loop, a 26.5-mile route in the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness with some scrambling and off-trail travel in the middle section. We set a new Mixed-gender team FKT by almost 5 hours. The Birthday FKT has become a fun tradition! Next up in my FKT season was the Grand Loop, a rugged 44-mile route in Olympic National Park with 13,000 ft of gain. The loop was absolutely stunning and quickly became one of my favorite routes in Washington. My main goals going into the run were to keep moving with few breaks and to be efficient with water stops and pole transitions to prepare me for my bigger FKT attempt on Section J of the PCT a couple weeks later, and I was stoked for that to all go well and help me get the women’s FKT! Two weeks later I set out at 4:45 AM from Stevens Pass on my Section J FKT attempt. 16 hours and 15 minutes later I made it to Snoqualmie Pass for a new unsupported women’s FKT on the 75-mile section of the PCT. This run was a big milestone for me in many ways. It was my longest run ever (by time and distance), and by far my longest solo effort. I backpacked this route a couple years ago over 5 days and it was fun to experience a familiar trail in a new way. There was something magical about experiencing sunrise and sunset out on the trail in the same day and covering so much distance in a beautiful place. This route will always be very special to me!

Running the FKTs was a fun change of pace from ultra-racing, but I didn’t completely stop racing on the trails and enjoyed switching it up with a couple sub-ultra races in the second half of the year. In August, I finally ran my first Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series race at the USATF PNTF Trail Championships. The 14.5-mile race had a competitive field and we started out fast on the flatter parts of Cougar Mountain. I was in 4th place to start, but as the course became hillier and more technical, I was gradually able to make my way to the front for a 1st place finish. It was fun to test my speed on home trails and be out there with many SRC teammates! To cap off my year of running, I decided to do one more sub-ultra race at Run the Rock 20 miler at Smith Rock State Park. Conditions were perfect this year with great weather and dry trails, which made for a very pleasant race experience in contrast to last year when I ran the 50-mile distance and there was a snowstorm the night before and morning of the race. I led the 20-mile race from start to finish and came home with a win and a new course record by 16 minutes. It was a great way to end an awesome year of running!

I’ve still been loving the Brooks Catamount 2 for all my fast trail endeavors. I quickly went through my first pair and was excited to get a second pair in August. The Brooks Cascadia 17 also came out this year, and I’ve been loving the new model. It’s been a great shoe for my endeavors on technical trails and terrain. My Brooks shoes are also great to wear while I’m volunteering at SRC events! I always enjoy helping out at the Cougar Mountain races and had a fun time volunteering at the Billy Mills Run/Walk for Life this year.

Katelen Phelan

Imposter syndrome mainly defines the latter half of my 2023 year in running. I’ve attempted to run, but my body hasn’t healed yet from my high-risk tibial stress reaction (yes, from April). So, my movement has been redirected to neighborhood strolls, bike rides, in-home stationary cycling (have you ever tried Zwift?!), physical therapy and light lifting routines. I can now do multiple pull ups! In September I eventually started getting runner-specific physical therapy through Chris Johnson at Zaren PT. He’s guiding me towards a strong recovery with minimal setbacks. The process takes time, but having tailored physical therapy exercises to get me there is giving me hope. 

This fall cross country season; I was a volunteer coach with the Highline High School Cross Country team again. This year’s coaching staff gelled well together. As the injured coach, I often led modified workouts for fellow injured runners, core work, and stretches. The most rewarding part was connecting with athletes about their hopes and goals both within the xc season and for their future in general. Some of these athletes were former students/athletes of mine at the middle level! The young athletes dialed in on setting PRs, encouraged one another and treated competitors with respect (despite some bizarre race day shenanigans). I also had the honor of volunteering at the Hallows Eve October Cougar Cup Trail Race at Cougar Mountain. So many friendly faces, strong paces and entertaining costumes. It was a frigid and frosty morning with one patch of pre-race sun for runners to huddle up in. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s been a challenge to stay engaged with home gym routines and solo walks. However, this extended recovery time has helped me reach out to and reconnect with friends and family who are also approaching physical activity in lower-impact ways. Turns out the views last a little longer and more can be noticed when you slow it all down. I’m looking forward to lacing up my Brooks shoes and going for runs in 2024!

Trisha Steidl

After spending the first half of the year focused on the 24 hour race, I needed a mental and physical break. I didn’t know how long that break needed to be, but figured my brain and body would let me know. I was also excited to get back out on the trails again. Fortunately, my good friend asked me to pace her again at the Cascade Crest 100 mile race. I was more than happy to oblige and tried to get my trail legs under me. It seemed to work, though my downhill ability was sub-par. I had a blast volunteering the day before the race and being part of a team of incredible women working together to crew and pace her to yet another win and a new course record! Supporting someone else in achieving their goals is a true privilege.

The following week I volunteered at the Buck Creek aid station at the White River 50 mile. It was fun to provide support to so many runners and to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in awhile as well as meet new folks. The August Cougar race was also the PNTF Trail Championships and I volunteered there and the next day drove up to Bellingham to volunteer at the Hamster race. I ended up pacing a guy for a couple of loops around Lake Padden. It was fun to meet him and his family and to support him as he earned his first 100-mile buckle! What a treat to have the impromptu opportunity to meet and help someone towards such a big goal!

A couple of weeks later, I volunteered at the Billy Mills Run For Life race which is a wonderful event that promotes suicide awareness, specifically in the Native American community.

During this time I was getting out on the trails more in my trusty Cascadia 16s and planned a couple of bigger, fall foliage, trail runs with small groups of friends. It’s always fun to take friends to beautiful places they’ve never been before and explore them myself, too. I also got to cheer on my SRC-Brooks teammate and friend, Barrett, as she finished setting a new FKT on Section J of the PCT! More volunteering at the October trail work party at Cougar and the race the following weekend where I got to cheer on my teammates.

Finally, I decided I was ready to race – at least mentally. I brushed old grass and dried mud off my Brooks Mach Spikeless Spikes and ran the PNTF XC Championships at Lincoln Park. Racing 6k after not doing any racing for several months and not doing the training for such a short race meant it was slow, but I felt so good, ran strong, and truly enjoyed the experience. Our women’s masters team earned a 2nd place finish and I was 2nd in my age group. It’s always special to race as a team. Two weeks later I raced at the Regional XC Championships in Portland where our masters women’s team earned 2nd place again and I earned 3rd place individually in my age group on a cold, blustery day. 

I’ve got two more short races on the calendar (Brooks Hyperion, for the win!) to finish out the year. My hope is that by racing more often and doing shorter races, I’ll be able to get to a place of fitness I haven’t been in awhile, gain that fitness in a fun way, and represent my club and Brooks better and more often. What a full year! Huge thanks to Seattle Running Club and Brooks Running for their continued support!

Aaron Roche

For the second half of 2023, I continued the pursuit of the running goals that I had set for myself – race hard, stay engaged with my local running community, and have fun! As an ambassador of the SRC-Brooks team, I coordinated with the United Native Education Alliance (UNEA) to strengthen our partnership at their annual Run for Life event. As a coach at Beacon Hill’s Cleveland High School, I contributed to the progress of 30-plus cross country athletes this past fall. And as an athlete, I competed in four races and one 4th of July Egg Dash. I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me as a member of the SRC-Brooks team and the support of Brooks Running.

July through September stats. Volunteering: one event for a total of 4hrs. Training and competing: 97 hours across 771 mi (1,240km). For the second year, I led the SRC volunteer effort at the UNEA Run for Life held at North Seattle College. This event is a staple in the UNEA’s calendar of events. It provides important awareness to suicide prevention that disproportionately affects the Native American population and includes a keynote address by Olympian Billy Mills. Seattle Running Club was responsible for helping with registration, course marshaling, and race photography.

Training and racing-wise, I was in the thick of preparing for my big hairy audacious goal of running the New York City Marathon in early November. En route, I was the sole SRC-Brooks participant at the inaugural Redmond Harvest Half Marathon on Labor Day. Later in the month, I joined our harriers up in Bellingham for WWU’s Bill Roe XC Classic. It was an honor and a privilege to suit up in the SRC Sky Blue singlet and represent among collegians half my age.

October through November stats. Training: 48 hours across 389 mi (626 km).

The work continued all through October. I had a massive stretch of back-to-back-to-back weekends with long runs or 39k, 39.5k, and 40k that simulated the various bridge climbs that make the New York City Marathon unequivocally the toughest of the six marathon majors.

November 5th, 2023. The New York City Marathon had finally arrived! I navigated the complicated pre-race logistics with relative ease, made it to the start line on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and raced through the five-borough route to a one-minute personal best!

I had some awesome support that enabled me to achieve this year-long objective. My team of physical and massage therapists are right at the top of those who helped me on my journey. Brooks running has been masterful in creating the best training shoes (Glycerin 20s) for all those long run climbs up Madrona Drive. A huge thanks to my SRC-Brooks teammates for the inspiration to stay fit and keep up my competitive spirit. And last but not least, my partner and fellow 2023 NYC Marathon finisher, Anna Smu, for being with me stride for stride throughout the trails of life. But most importantly for putting up with my alter ego: running Diva Aaron.

Bergman Umana

My second half of 2023 was a blast! I focused on trail races that ranged anywhere from 5k to 20 miles and had the great opportunity to volunteer for Brooks at the Dawg Dash 5k and SRC’s Cougar Mountain October Series.

One of the most memorable races this season was the Backcountry Rise 20m. It was a big reach for me since I had never ran this distance before. On top of that, I had skipped way too many Wednesday workouts this summer to feel confident. But there I was, Mile 13, totally in my zone. I think it was the bee stings at mile 4 that helped me stay mentally grounded, haha. At mile 17, I suffered a fall that slowed me down for about a mile, but I was able to come back and put my batteries on for the last 3 miles. The remainder of the race was grueling, but I pushed through and finished 18th. Completing this race made me excited about my future adventures in trail running.

Another fun race I competed in this season was the Middle Fork 13.1m. This was a fun little race I ran with some of my friends. The goal was to take it easy and enjoy October’s turning leaves. At mile 5 however, my friend realized that she was in 1st place for the ladies, so naturally, we picked up the pace.  I ended up in 6th place and my friend snagged women’s 1st.

In 2024, I’m looking forward to longer distance runs and exploring Washington’s mountains!

Erik Barkhaus

Summer running has traditionally been a time of bulk miles and grand adventures on the trails, yet I found myself heeding the advice of the Dr. and limiting mileage and intensity. Luckily progression in rehab and heeding the advice of my doctor still allowed me to run pain free while vacationing in Maine with my family and visiting my girlfriend’s family cabin in upstate New York. Both completely new territory for me and worth the increased humidity of the east coast summer. I found myself browsing races in the area to revisit in the coming years! In keeping to the cautious side, I did not race in the summer but was a regular in the Cougar Race Series registration tent. I enjoyed observing the various pre-race routines and speaking with all the excited, nervous runners. It’s refreshing to see so many folks out there just enjoying themselves and not overthinking it (Note to self). It’s great to see this series going strong 10 years after I first ran one! It was hard to be sidelined, but I was still able to enjoy some great finishes by SRC Brooks team members and other SRC members. It’s always fun to talk to someone after a race once they’ve caught their breathe but still enjoying the full rush of a runner’s high.

September means cross country season and the arrival of crispy fall weather. I’ve always felt a boost from the cool weather and the balance of speed and trail in cross country has always been a great match for my strengths as a runner. I was a regular at both SRC Wed night XC workouts and races from September through November. In late September we kicked off racing in Bellingham for the Bill Roe Invitational, I was quickly reminded that running in college races means going out fast but I was still able to run the race I wanted to, an even effort meant to be a rust buster for my body to acclimate to racing again. I ended up running three more XC races, culminating in the Regional Championships in Portland where I was able to run a full minute faster than my first race of the year. While I felt some of my goals for 2023 were derailed by injury, I was able to pivot and make the best of the second half (thus far) and reconnect with one of my favorite running disciplines. XC is more team oriented and generates an exciting atmosphere so it is a welcome change from the usual routines of individually focused efforts that are common in a post college world. I’ve still got several weeks left of 2023 and I’m already excited to ramp up training again. In past years I found myself needing an extended break towards the end of the year, but perhaps my caution early in the year set me up for an even stronger end of 23’and beginning of 24’!

Adam Hewey

The second half of my year was a whirlwind or should I say Worldwind? I had the good fortune to be able to travel all over Europe and beyond for two and a half months. The problem with living out of a backpack is you can only bring one set of running clothes and laundry is a luxury. This led to much less running than I’d have liked but the running I did was unforgettable. My three favorite runs I did on vacation were:

Tour of Porto, Portugal on foot. 

My fiancée Elly and I ran all over Porto one day. Amazing views were in abundance and we stopped a few times to visit art galleries, step into very old churches and we may have paused to have lunch and a glass of wine. Not the fastest run but way more fun than most. 

Sunrise in Tangier.

We set the alarm early and ran into the sunrise as it came up over Africa along the beach in Morocco. Some runs tick a bucket list box you didn’t even know you had.

The Ladder of Kotor.

Montenegro is an amazing country just South of Croatia. Limestone mountains hover over sheltered bays and tiny medieval towns dot the coast and hilltops. Above the walled city of Kotor is a steep switchback trail called The Ladder of Kotor. It goes up 3,000 feet to what was a mountain top town. The views were memorable and the hike up and run down was exhilarating.

It has been a blast wearing my Seattle Running Club gear in so many countries. It has been a pleasure being part of the SRC Brooks Team. 

Chris Hoffman

The second half of the year flew by and I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish with my racing even as my training mileage has decreased. At the July Cougar race, I came in 3rd in my age group in the 10-mile race and was even able to improve upon my time from last year. From there, I transitioned to longer races, with a 2nd place finish in my age group at the 20-mile Backcountry Rise race. I finished up the year with the last race of the new Vert Series at the North Bend Trailfest 30k. While I finished out of the medals at that race, I was able to lock up a 3rd place overall finish in the series for the masters category.

On the volunteer front, I continued to lead work parties for SRC at Cougar Mountain. Running around the Cougar trails with club members and SRC-Brooks team members is always a good time, especially when you feel like you are helping maintain one of our local treasures. I also volunteered at the Brooks display at the University of Washington Husky Dawg Dash. The love for Brooks is strong here in the PNW and that came across loud and clear from all the racers who came by the display. As a SRC-Brooks team member it’s very rewarding to be associated with Brooks since they are such a community-focused company.

Summer and fall is always prime time for hitting the trails and I got out on some old time favorites like Section J of the PCT and tried some new to me trails including Panhandle Gap/Indian Bar at Mt. Rainier and the Foss Lakes Trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The latest iteration of the Cascadia (the 17) has grown from a casual fling to a full-fledged love affair. I expect to be running happy in these for a long time!