Pack Animals

Salomon runners Kilian, Iker and Miguel and NF's Sebastian running together at UTMB 2011

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives. 
- Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)

When you think of running, teamwork is not the first thing that comes to mind. It is very much an individual endeavor but what I have found over the few years of my running career is that teamwork elevates that individual pursuit and helps you reach new levels you didn't know you could. Whether that is having a team of handlers and pacers to guide you through a 100 miler or having a rockstar partner who can patiently push you up the final ascent out of the big ditch. Sometimes teamwork is just having someone along side you for a time to keep your mind right and your spirits high.

Salomon runner Ryan Sandes dominating Leadville. Winning in 3rd fastest time ever in his debut 100 with help from Salomon teammates.
Photo courtesy Anna Frost

In the past few weeks, I have been incredibly inspired by my Salomon international teammates. Not just because of their incredible performances but because they have demonstrated time after time these value of teamwork. I truly feel that I am a part of a cohesive team, with members who would help me reach my potential, not just someone who shares the same sponsorship. I am incredibly proud of my teammates and very thankful for the support crews that help support all of our efforts. In just the past three weeks, I  have watched:

  • Ryan Sandes kicked butt in Leadville with the support of Salomon team members.
  • Rickey Gates and Anna Frost work together and push each other at TransRockies, absolutely dominating.
  • Kilian, Iker and Miguel run side by side at UTMB. Even stopping at points to wait for each other.

Maybe it is because I hail from a teamsports background that this team aspect geeks me out. But I don't think so. I really believe that even individual pursuits are better through teamwork. I believe we can accomplish more when we work with others than we ever could alone. I fundamentally believe community is one of the most important aspects of personal development.

Salomon runners Anna Frost and Rickey Gates, dominating the Open Mixed division through teamwork at Gore-Tex TransRockies run (source)

Teamwork is currently one of the foremost things in my mind as I set out to run the WC100k in Netherlands next week. Why? Because it is an event in which I represent my team as much as I represent myself. When I run the WC events, I have a one track mind: how do I best serve my team? I best serve my team by running as best and as fast as I can and by helping and supporting my teammates however I can. One of my favorite moments in all of my running life is from two years ago at the WC100k in Belgium. Meghan, Carolyn and I knew we had a firm grip on the gold medal and we worked together through the wee hours of the morning to maintain our position and help each other through rough patches. I will never forget how cool it was to run together en route to a gold medal and 4 top 10 spots.

I proudly don the Team USA kit because it makes me a part of a team. Just like when I don my Salomon gear, I feel a part of something. Next week when I line up, I am excited to help lead my team and fight for a gold medal. Whatever happens, I know that I have some amazing teammates working their butts off and fighting hard for the same goal. I know that I have people pulling for me and their strength will buoy me and drive me through the rough patches. Together we will all succeed. To me, there is nothing better in life to share the journey, the fight, and the triumph.