My story is not typical. And it’s particularly far from the norm of a professional distance runner. The last ten years have seen a progression from a less than promising high schooler to a mediocre college runner to a National Champion, 3-time World Championship medalist and team USA member, World Record Holder, top 20-30 in the USA for marathon (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), and the second fastest American ever for 50km.
(Note – read from the top for most recent bio or from the bottom for the full chronological bio)
2020: A Year of Uncertainty
As of this writing, we’re only 25% of through 2020 and already we’ve seen more unpredictable events than the last few years combined. For me, it’s been a tumultuous year full of change, personal hardship, and uncertainty.
I started the year in Quito, Ecuador again, looking forward to the US Olympic Marathon Trials. I had a great month or so of training before having that derailed by a trauma in my family life which issue affected my mental and physical ability to train at a high level.
I was happy just to start the Marathon Trials and ended up running a smart and strong race, passing nearly 100 runners in the last 20 miles to finish 82nd. My post-Trials vacation ended up being another opportunity to push myself. With so many races being cancelled due to COVID-19, I tackled an entirely new type of challenge: setting the speed record (FKT) on the Everest Base Camp Trail. In my longest single day push ever (distance and time), I set the record and became the first person to cover the 104km trail in under 24 hours.
Now, no one has any idea what’s next. Races in September (including 100K World Championships, which I was planning to target) have already been cancelled. Runners will have to get creative with how we challenge ourselves for these next few months. It’ll be a wild year.
2019: From Frustration to Joy: Embracing Ultra
By the end of 2019, I was happy to call myself an ultra runner. I started off the year with another great winter-altitude block in Quito, Ecuador and once back in the USA repeated as champion at the Rock n Roll D.C. Marathon. Rather than a focus, this race was a spring-board towards HOKA’s Project Carbon X, an attempt to break the World Records for 50 miles and 100km. Having never run this far, I was out of my element, but gave it my best shot, lasting about 40 miles well under world record pace before eventually wilting in the warm California sunshine and dropping out w/ severe cramping.
Frustrated, I managed to bounce back just 3 weeks later and return to the Vermont City Marathon for my 4th time and 4th podium finish (3rd place — my first loss!) After another great summer in Peru w/ Strive (which included my first competitive trail-run: a record on the 40-mile Salkantay Inca Trail), I flew to Romania to compete on my third US National Team at 50K World Championships. 2019 turned out to be a year of “almost”s, though; despite having a fantastic summer, I suffered from food poisoning the night before the race and dropped out after only a few miles.
Even more frustrated, I finally redeemed myself in my debut at 50 miles at the Tussey Mountainback 50 Miler (the US National Championship for 50M on the road), winning and breaking the course record. With my first national title under my belt, my first Trail FKT to my name, I felt ready to jump into the ultra world with both feet.
2018: Chasing Records, Victories, and PRs
2018 was a year of chasing. Having relocated for the winter to Quito, Ecuador at 9,300 ft., I spent the beginning of the year chasing some very fast dudes around the track as I prepared for my biggest goal for the spring: setting the World Record for 50K. Though I fell short of the overall record, I ran the second fastest time ever for an American (2’46’06) at the distance and set the World Record for 50,000m on the track. In the build-up, I won the Rock N Roll D.C. Marathon and in the aftermath, I won the Vermont City Marathon in 2’17’37 – the second fastest time ever run on that challenging course.
After another great summer at 9000+ ft with STRIVE, I relocated once again to Cambridge, MA, where I began my fall build-up. Unfortunately, I was sidelined for most of the season with achilles tendonitis, but still won the Baystate Half Marathon (Lowell, MA) to finish out the year.
2017: International Racing and Repeat Victories
2017 began with a trip to the other side of the world to compete in my first race in Japan! I had an extremely strong winter buildup and raced well, finishing as the top American and top-20 in the extremely competitive Lake Biwa Marathon in a time of 2’16’06 (my second fastest marathon ever at the time).
Shortly after that, I began a season of various road races where I notched victories in Madrid, Spain (5K), Nashville, TN (at the Rock N Roll Half Marathon), and finishing things off with a repeat victory at the Vermont City Marathon (Burlington, VT).
After my strongest season ever of altitude training with the STRIVE-Peru gang, I returned to the US excited to race at the US Marathon Championships at the California International Marathon. I had my best marathon build-up to date, including a victory at the Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon along the way, but was derailed by a foot injury just before the race which prevented me from finishing. I left California disappointed but more excited than ever to come back and go for it in 2018.
2016: World Championship Silver Medal and Personal Bests
After struggling at the 2015 50km World Championships and 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials due to a previously un-diagnosed breathing issue (which had been exacerbated by heat in both races), I won the 2016 Mad City 50km (2’56’01), set the course record, and qualified for the 2016 US 50km World Championship team. This was on the heels of a personal best of 14’12 for 5km at the 2016 Guayaquil 5K, showing a great mix of strength and speed.
With a fantastic summer of altitude training in the mountains of Peru under my belt, I also broke a 32-year-old course record and set a new personal best (2’15’52) at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (10/9/16). Finally, I had a supremely redemptive race at the 2016 50K World Championships (11/11/16), earning an individual Silver Medal and helping the USA to earn the Gold Medal in the team competition.
2014-2015: HOKA ONE ONE Sponsorship and Olympic Trials Qualifying
Coming off a successful debut, I knew I still had plenty of room for growth, so I focused my sights on qualifying for the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In my first attempt, I ran a personal best of 1’05’48 at the Hartford Half Marathon (just 48 seconds off the qualifying standard of 1’05’00). Though I was disappointed, this result gave me great confidence moving forward and at the California International Marathon I ran a personal best of 2’16’59 (over a minute under the qualifying standard of 2’18’00).
With the qualifying for the Olympic Trials out of the way, my coach and I looked at 2015 as a chance to try some new things, improve my personal bests at other distance, and prepare for a strong build-up towards the Olympic Trials. In March, I ran my first 50km race at the US National Championships and finished as the runner-up, despite suffering a mid-race injury. This performance earned me a spot on the US National Team to compete at the 2015 50km World Championships.
In addition to this, I continued to train and race at other distances from 5km to marathon, running personal bests at nearly every distance. Highlights included a 1’03’38 half marathon (part of an event to set the world record for treadmill half marathon at the 2015 Boston Marathon Expo) and a 2’17’19 marathon at the 2015 Grandma’s Marathon.
2013-2014: Post-College in Ecuador
And so, I decided to move back to the mountains of Quito, Ecuador, where I had work for STRIVE Trips (a running-based NGO which I co-direct) and I could give one last shot at finding my potential as a runner. After reconnecting with my original coach, Jon Waldron, and focusing on re-discovering the joy of training, I once again improved my personal bests, running 1’02’13 (20km) and 29’48 (10k road).
Thanks to a strong season on the roads, I was invited to make my marathon debut at the 2014 Boston Marathon. I’d always found success in longer races and responded well to high volume workouts and overall training loads, so the marathon was always seen as an inevitable next step. I continued training in Quito in early 2014 to train for Boston and ran a debut of 2’21’33 (29th place) despite missing a month of training after being hit by a car. Feeling like I had more in my legs, my coach and I decided to run the Vermont City Marathon just 34 days later, which I won in 2’20’27 (#8 all-time on the course).
2011-2013: NCAA Career
I then transferred to Tufts University in Medford, MA, where I competed in NCAA Division 3 for the next three years, improving each year increasing my overall training volume without injury up to 120-140 miles per week as a senior. Despite graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Astrophysics and improved personal bests of 30’22 (10,000m), 14’45 (5000m) and 1’07’03 (HM), I felt that I still had significant room for growth and improvement.
This passion and Jon’s continued guidance carried me through the next two years without an organized team – first, during a gap-year spent living and training at altitude in Quito, Ecuador and second as a freshman at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY). I continued to find joy in my own self-improvement through healthy and consistent training and improved to still-modest personal bests of 15’37, 32’24, and 1’13’03 for 5k, 10k, and half marathon.
2006-2008: High School
I caught the running bug fairly late, during senior year of HS and did not show immediate promise, improving my 5k personal best from 20 minutes to 18-minutes. More importantly, however, I developed a strong connection with my then high school coach, Jon Waldron, who helped me to develop a deep passion for training and self-improvement.