Jacob Bergmeier Jacob Bergmeier has been competing in running events for 25 years, first toeing the line during junior high school. When he was 16, Jacob participated in the National Junior Olympic Championships in the 400 hurdles in Houston, Texas.Jacob’s running career continued throughout college where he was a member of the Saint Rose Golden Knight’s cross country team. Post-collegiate, Jacob coached for the high school in which he currently teaches. In 2013 Jacob picked up his racing shoes again when he completed his first endurance event at the Lake Waramaug 50 mile ultramarathon. Since that time, he has finished the Lake Waramaug 100k, Breakneck Point, Vermont 50, and Bear Mountain 50.
Virgil Bretz Virgil started running more seriously when he ran his first Ultra, the Vermont 50, upon turning 40. Since then he has been a true generalist, enjoying all distances and surfaces. He enjoys 5k runs and 100-mile events and has been successful on both the roads and trails, having run sub 3 at Boston in the last two years as well as winning the highly competitive "Trail Mix Series" in Westchester County, NY. That series of races includes the iconic Leatherman's Loop 10K. He has also completed two 100 milers including Western States in 2017. He just loves being outside period in the elements.
Chris Deming Chris' first contact with running was with the track team at Broadview Junior High School in Danbury, CT in 1981. where he competed in the mile. He mostly stopped running when he started high school, and didn't start regular running again until in his late thirties. In 2004, the sedentary lifestyle had him weighing an uncomfortable and unhealthy 275 lbs. To lose some weight, he started running on a treadmill every other day. After a year of this, he started racing 5K road races, and found that he really liked the competition and the training plus the improvement in his waistline. He started running dozens of races each year - mostly in Western Connecticut - first on roads and eventually adding mountain and trail races to the mix, varying in distance from 1 Mile to the marathon to 50 Kilometers.
Some of his favorite road races are the Roxbury race series, New Haven 20K Road Race, Danbury Half Marathon, and the Western CT United Way King of the Hill 5K. In mountain and trail races, the Soapstone Mountain 24K race, the USATF New England Mountain Race series, and the Steep Rock Trail Series in Washington, CT are some of his favorites. Exploring roads and trails in solitary or group runs has become part of daily life for Chris. In October 2017, he did my longest run so far: a supported solo run from Brewster, NY to Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, NY - 48 miles on paved rail trails. He hopes to continue running far into the future, exploring trails and roads, testing and stretching endurance.
Charlotte Dequeker Charlotte completed her first marathon in 2005. After running Boston twice, she decided to switch to triathlon. A couple of Ironman later (France and the one and only NYC), she decides to try her first ultra. How hard could it be she thought? Only a few more miles than a marathon… Well, her first 50k took her 7 hours and 50 minutes. And she was hooked the minutes she finished.
Since then, Charlotte has completed more than 28 ultras, including five 100 miles races. She finished first female overall at the Great New York Exposition 100 miles in NYC in 2016. She usually tries to make the “miles count” and raise money for charity. Her next 100 miler will be the Orcas Island 100 off the coast of Seattle in February 2019. When she is not running, Charlotte works full time for a VC firm. She is the mom of 3 boys (21, 19 and 17) and her pastry chef of a husband makes sure she is well fed for her adventures…
Ted Erkkila In addition to football and lacrosse, Ted ran indoor track in high school where he considered anything over 400m unreasonable punishment and possibly anything under as well. After finishing his college football career (including a season in Germany) he caught the endurance bug rowing on Lake Cayuga and later the mighty Hudson. This was just a gateway to the harder stuff: triathlon and road cycling (including multiple participations in the NY Empire State Games as well as sandbagging as a CAT 5 and breaking legs for as long as they would let him). Completely unsuited for climbing, Ted turned to climbing – not just by bike but also through a successful stint in stair climbing races. After moving to Seattle, Ted started to slowly slip into the high mountains only to be brought harshly back to earth – and then slightly further – for 5 years in the Netherlands. This led to 4 more years of football and dozens of meters of vertical cycling when not sneaking out of the country on long distance cycling tours. After moving to Switzerland in 2011, Ted spent long days up in the clouds and longer and faster races including just over 5 hours running ‘alongside’ the likes of Kilian Jornet in the Marathon Mont Blanc in 2014 – which it turns out Ted ran with a mild case of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Oops. During the next few months a lot of days were spent in the mountains wondering if it might be the last time on his favorite trails. Rumors of his runner career’s imminent demise were greatly exaggerated, however, and after a year Ted picked up where he left off – always with an eye for the steepest, highest and least advisable. Highlights include the Matterhorn Ultraks and Ultratrail des Vercors. After moving back to the USA in 2016 Ted started running with the Leatherman Harriers and participating in the local scene as well the global with recent trips with 3000+ meter adventures in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Switzerland and the Hawaiian Islands. Destinations this year will include Mexico, the high French Alps and several ‘work’ trips to Switzerland. Ted’s lovely wife has three children - ages 9, 20, and 44.
Bill Goodman Bill has been a competitive endurance athlete for as long as he can remember, beginning as a mountain biker in the early 1990’s. After participating in cross country and track in high school, he began running again in 2010 with the Roxbury Road Races crew, mostly for the breakfast. After previously claiming he would ’NEVER’ run a marathon, he decided, on a whim in 2014 to run Boston. He qualified in his first attempt at the distance and ran a marathon PR in Boston 2016. He was sidelined for much of 2017 with a nagging injury and a relocation to the west coast. Bill remains an avid cyclist and is a sporadic participant in competitive cycling events. He hopes to further improve his marathon PR and will take his first foray into longer, off-road racing this fall, although he maintains the position that he will ‘NEVER’ run an ultra.
Scott Gregor Scott Gregor'sinterest in fitness started with weight lifting. After several years of weight lifting, he ran an obstacle course race and excelled at the obstacles but struggled with the running aspect. He was interested in OCR and realized he needed to improve his running to be able to complete longer distance OCR races. Weightlifting started to take a back seat to running, and It wasn’t before long that he ran my first road marathon and wondered what was the next step. His discovery of ultra marathons lead me to the trail running world, where he dreamed of one day competing at the 100 mile level. Continually seeking to challenge himself has lead him to mountain based running. Some of his accomplishments include:
Beating the course record at my first 100 miler, the Peak Races in 2016
3rd place at Manitou’s Revenge in 2016.
Finishing three 100 milers in 2016 (Peak races, Vermont, Grindstone)
2nd place Cruel Jewel 100 in 2017
1st place Barkley Fall Classic in 2017
3rd place Massanutten 100 in 2018
Aaron Heath Aaron Heath has had a passion for being outside his entire life. Growing up in Western Colorado provided plenty of opportunity for him to push his limits regularly. He transitioned from skiing to running after moving to Germany to attend university after spending nearly a decade as a ski bum in Utah's Wasatch mountains. After earning a Computer Science degree in Germany, Aaron moved to New York where he develops Web Content Management systems for large organizations.
Aaron has made a name for himself in the local ultra running scene in and around NYC. Winning the New York Ultra Running Grand Prix Series for the last 6 years in a row. And now, competing as a masters athlete. Aaron placed 2nd (masters) at the 2017 Hartford Marathon with a time of 2:36 earning himself a spot on the New England's Finest elite program. He also won the masters title in the 2018 USATF 50k road championships with a time of 3:17, which was enough to earn the USATF open athlete of the month for March as well. To Aaron, running has always been more than results though - providing an outlet to focus his energy, while learning about himself and connecting with friends and nature is always the priority.
Jim Harron Jim started running when he was in high school and it has always been part of my life. Jim hails from Brookfield, CT for the last 17 years. His sister and he own a beautiful tea and coffee shop in Brookfield called Simpson & Vail. He started running way back when he attended Pleasantville High School. He ran Cross Country for two years and track for four years. He then attended and ran for Southampton College Cross country team. He loves the camaraderie of being part of a team. In the early 90’s he met and married his wife Monica who is also a runner. They have two wonderful children, Paulina and James, both who have also grown up to be runners. Paulina ran and threw the Javelin for Brookfield High School and now she runs for fun. James also ran for Brookfield High School and now runs for Springfield College. These were very busy years in his lives and running always kind of took second place to everything. He slowly started seriously running again and in 2007 he decided to run the Lake Waramaug 50K. This run was close to home, close to a marathon (ignorance is bliss) and he really wanted to see what he could do. He ended this race in 3rd place, in a respectable time under four hours. Since then he has run 5k’s to marathons which have included the Yonkers marathon, five Boston Marathons, two Hartford Marathons and the Steamtown Marathon. His times have ranged from 2:57 to 3:24. In the last couple of years, he has run various trail races, enjoying the training, the trails and the way you can get lost in the moment. He said he's lucky to have been able to run with a great bunch of runners. His future goals would be a 50 miler, more trail races and just run the miles, enjoy the people and have more fun (and maybe some beer too).
Scott Holmes Scott grew up in upstate New York and competed in track and cross country from middle school through college, while also playing on soccer and basketball club teams. He has continued outdoors-oriented activities throughout his life; following college he completed a self-supported bicycle tour across the country, and later hiked the Northville-Placid Trail with his father. A love of training and racing at a variety of distances, from 5k’s to longer trail courses, has made running a constant through his life. Scott is a professor at Wesleyan University, where he also serves as academic advisor to the men and women’s cross country teams, running with the teams 1-2 times a week through the fall.
Veronica Leeds Veronica started running at age 28 when she saw an advertisement for the Ridgefield Half Marathon and decided – on a whim – to register. 13.1 painful miles later, she was hooked, and soon began a love affair with trail running. Race highlights include a 5th place female at The North Face Massachusetts 50k and 1st place female at the obscure and gnarly Battle of Bristol Mountain 50k. She looks forward to continuing to explore and tackle difficult terrain while growing as a runner and human. While not running, she is still outdoors; skiing and hiking with her toddler and husband, and working as a Preserve Steward at Mianus River Gorge.
Sabrina Lewis Sabrina started her running journey in 2012 by joining some friends at an after-work “Running Club.” From humble beginnings of trying to get around the full loop of the compound without stopping, Sabrina then moved on to become a 5k addict. From there it was a slippery slope into all sorts of adventures of 10ks, half marathons, full marathons, snowshoe races, various obstacle course races, and ultras. She has done several ultras ranging from 50k to 100k+ and recently completed her first 100 miler. Sabrina loves all things trails and pushing herself to her limits. She also enjoys doing trail maintenance volunteer work. Notable events of 2018 include: At the Endurance Society’s Frigus Snowshoe Marathon she took 3rd female overall and at the Chattanooga 100 she came in 8th female overall.
John McElroy Inspired by his older brother, John started running cross country and track in high school. He did a season of D III cross country, but a back injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. He struggled to get back into shape over the Summer, but suffered another setback when he contracted Lyme disease. After missing the Fall XC season, He traded in my running shoes for rock climbing shoes and didn't do any significant running for another 18 years. In my mid 30's he felt as if he needed to give endurance sports one more shot. After a rather inauspicious start as a triathlete, he turned my focus solely to running, trail running in particular. The trails offered him the opportunity to get back to running without any of the hang-ups over how slow he had become. Since my return to running he has PR'ed every year in distances from 5k through 50 miles. he qualified for and ran in the NYC and Boston Marathons, placing top ten in his age group at the NYC Half this Spring.
Alan Peck Alan grew up in the Adirondacks with three television stations in the 70's and 80's thus, outdoor experiences were daily routine. Snowshoeing, cross country, alpine, back country and water skiing complimented fishing, boating, rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking the high peaks. As a captain of his high school football team, my coaches had me throwing shot and disc for spring track, which gave him his first real exposure to running, but it wasn't until much later in life that he began running competitively. His first road race was a 10K at age 35, and my first marathon followed a few months, and 20 pounds later. Bit by the marathon bug, he PR'd at 3:00 in Hartford, and went on to qualify/run Boston 6 years consecutively. Organizing relay teams with friends, he won my first race ever at the inaugural New England Ragnar, winning by almost 2 hours over the 200 mile course. The team went on to place 2nd in NY the following year, and then 4th overall as an ultra team. The bug bit again, but this time it was the trail calling, where he has been running almost exclusively for the last number of years in addition to cycling. Team trail racing, long runs with friends, and the peacefulness off the road has been a pleasure. Now it's time to set some more PR's on the trail.
Patrik Puhala Patrik grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii, spending most of his time either in the mountains running, hiking and mountain biking or in the water surfing. He ran cross country in high school while also competing as an amateur surfer. Now living in Connecticut, he continues his love for the outdoors by spending his time in the mountains running and hiking. Patrik has competed in races ranging from 5k to 50 milers with a main focus on trail and mountain. He hopes to build up to his first 100 miler soon. Professionally he works at Blue Sky Studios as a Lead Animator creating animated films.
Rick Rushka There are things you can learn about yourself only by going outside of your comfort zone. These challenges change your perspective on who you are and what you are capable of. They can change your outlook on life and give you a greater appreciation for the simple things. I’ve found in running a place to seek out these challenges. By going a little farther, by climbing a little higher. By learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. With each run i learn a little bit more about who I am.
2017 North Face Endurance Challenge NY 50 mile - 13th Overall, 1st Master
2017 Manitou’s Revenge - 13th Overall
2018 North Face Endurance Challenge NY 50 mile - 13th Overall, 2nd Master
2018 Manitou's Revenge - 10th Overall
Brian Shafer Brian began running competitively in 5th grade and continued a successful career in XC and track through his last years at Boston College. After graduating, he “retired” from running and enjoyed the life of a non-runner. A decade later, older and heavier, he decided to set the goal of running a 100 mile race. “Since I will never be faster than I used to be, I just have to go farther.”
Over the past few years, Brian has gradually worked his way into the sport having completed numerous ultras and three times the 100 mile distance. He plans to continue in his progression and learning of the sport, knowing that there will always be more races to run, and maybe even some PRs ahead of him. “For me, I view ultra running as a completely different sport, especially 100 miles. I love it because I feel like I will never figure everything out. I always learn new things, about running, or myself, or just life in general with each race. It’s more about the experience of the race or run, rather than the result. I want to keep doing this as long as I can, not necessarily as fast as I can. There are times when my competitive spirit peeks out, and that can be enjoyable and motivating, but it can also do more harm than good in the overall “life puzzle” if I’m not careful and attentive to my priorities. Strange as it sounds, doing something extreme like ultras, forces me to have balance. Without balance, things can fall apart.”
Andy Vermilyea Andy has always been involved in athletics starting with soccer growing up through college, then competing in Ironman triathlons for a few years before finding his passion in the mountains and on the trails. Being an all-around outdoor enthusiast from hiking and camping to fishing and hunting he started to combine his love of the outdoors with running in 2013 when he finished 2nd in his first ultra 50 miler at Virgil Crest. Since then he has found success in races from 50-100 miles with his best results in the races with more technical terrain and lots of climbing. He loves adverse conditions and to cross train in the winter by back country and nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and carrying his daughter up mountains on his back. Some of Andy’s top finishes include:
1st Manitous Revenge 54 miler 2018 (CR)
2nd Manitou’s Revenge 54 miler 2017
47th UTMB 2017
2nd Vermont 100 miler 2016
2nd Grindstone 100 miler 2015
1st Virgil Crest 50 miler 2014
Brian Vanderheiden, Steep Endurance founder Brian has been a runner since a young boy running with his father around the track in his pre-teen years. After running XC and track in high school, he took about a dozen years off from running (except for running a marathon at age 22 with little training). Reaching his 30's, it was time to get some exercise and get back in shape! About ten years later and with 15 marathons under his belt, including 2 Boston Marathons, the trail/ultra bug bit him hard. In the last 6 years, he has run over a dozen ultra marathons including four 100 milers with one of those the iconic Western States Endurance Run in 2016. Building on his passion for the trails, he has launched a new business in "Steep Endurance" to create new, exciting, and unique races in the Northeast. He also offers coaching for runners from shorter races all the way up to ultra marathons. It's been a rewarding experience seeing them achieve their goals! His mantra is that you should continue to aim to "Reach the Summit of Your Potential"!
Michele Zandona Michele is Brazilian and a mom of two kids. She came to the US in 2001, leaving her family behind without knowing how to speak English. The passion about running developed when she was 3 years old when she used to wait for her dad hanging on the fence barefoot to go for a run around the block after his work. She started running and competing when she was 11 years old, even though her pediatrician said that she couldn't due to a heart murmur. She ran cross country and track, she won a few State titles and she was second best in the 400m at Nationals in High School. Since then she's run many road 5K & 10K races, as well as a few half's, three marathons, of which two were NYC Marathon, and a Ragnar Relay. After volunteering at North Face Endurance Challenge back in 2009, she fell in love with trail running. She was back the following year to run her first 10K trail race. For her, trail running brings back childhood memories of climbing trees, playing in the mud, and jumping over fences. If she is not running, she is crafting or cooking . She loves to live a healthy life. Her latest achievements on trail races was doing her first 50k at North Face Endurance Challenge NY in 2017 where she placed 7th female overall and first in her age group. She was also first female overall at the Breakneck Point Trail Runs Half in 2018.