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Runner stories

Back on track

Runners running on a track
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After a lengthy layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooks elite athletes are gearing up for intense competition.

The path to Eugene

Behind every elite runner is a story about who they are and what shaped them on their journey. Want to understand what’s going through the minds of pro runners like Nia Akins, Allie Buchalski, and Josh Kerr? Watch the video to discover what motivates these athletes leading up to this summer’s trials in Eugene.

Oregon in their sights

Some of our athletes are at the beginning of their careers, and others are in the home stretch with hopes of overcoming the next big challenge. Regardless of where they are in their personal journeys, our elite runners are ready to run their best times this summer at the Eugene Trials in Oregon.

The opportunity to compete at this level is a dream for many athletes. According to Julie Culley, Sports Marketing Manager at Brooks, there might not be a moment of an elite runner’s career that’s as important as these trials.

“The trials and their unforgiving format create a crucible of pressure and intensity unlike any other running event. Even the best athletes must perform, given the strength and depth of the competition. No outcome is guaranteed for anyone. The difference between third and fourth can come down to the smallest margins on the track but represents a chasm in an athlete’s career that can never be overcome,” she said.

Women sprinting down a track
Woman standing alone in the middle of the track
Two men doing warm-ups on the track

Members of the Brooks Beasts track team are pictured during a training session. Clockwise from upper left: Allie Buchalski, Nia Akins, Josh Kerr, and David Ribich performing drills.

A lost year and some gained perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for athletes across the globe, and our elite runners were no exception. The leadup to the trials in Eugene was bogged down by lockdowns, travel bans, and plenty of uncertainty.

“The trials being held a year later has made it hard to focus. The other issue we have faced as a group is that COVID-19 has shown some long-term effects on individuals, and we did not compete at all in 2020. So this year was an extended break from intense training and competing. Getting back into that flow has been hard for our athletes,” said Danny Mackey, coach of the Brooks Beasts track team.

On the bright side, according to Coach Mackey, the delay allowed for injury recovery and mental preparation. “Some athletes had chronic injuries that we could be very patient in addressing. And younger athletes having a year to slowly transition onto a professional team was nice. The limited travel was good for them mentally, too; they were forced to take care of themselves.”

Women sprinting off the start line

800m runner Nia Akins launches into some speedwork.

Coach Mackey is looking forward to what’s in store for the Brooks Beasts this summer. “I love watching athletes compete in general; it’s one thing that draws me into high-level sports. I know the 12 Beasts personally and professionally super well, and being with them on this path has been challenging over the last year. I am curious plus excited to see how this chapter ends. We have tried to do the right thing all year and the element of the unknown is scary, but exciting,” he said.

What’s next?

Get to know the Brooks Beasts before the trials. You probably won’t be able to catch our elite runners, but you can follow their journeys on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.