Since Vinu Malik designed the first hydration belts and launched FuelBelt in 1997, we’ve been pushing the boundaries of hydration gear. Twenty years later, our goal remains the same: provide the most streamlined hydration, storage, and safety solutions that minimize disruption and maximize comfort so you’re equipped to perform at your best.
We’re thrilled to introduce this year’s squad of ambassadors who are equally committed to pushing themselves and their limits. Our 16 endurance athletes hail from all over the country, from the southern California coast, to the baby blue waters of Miami, to the icy, leaden waves of Boston. They test themselves in all types of distance events, from 5ks to ultramarathons to Ironmans.
But like all of us, they are so much more than the name and number on their race bibs. We’re galvanized by their diverse motives for throwing themselves into the masochism that is endurance sports, the heroic circus acts they perform to juggle athletics with life, and their aspirations. So without further adieu, meet our team and catch the stoke!
If you’re wondering when it’s too late to delve into a new sport, the answer is never. Endurance athletics wasn’t always Bostonian Seth Taylor’s forte. In fact, “400 meters was more than enough distance for me in high school,” he said. “My, how times have changed. Running and endurance training now provide me with amazing physical and mental benefits.” A guide for Achilles International, Seth recently helped an athlete win the men’s impaired division of a 5K in 22:59.
Nebraskan Tyler Paul is also surprised to find himself an endurance athlete. “I played college basketball so any running behind 3-point line to 3-point line always seemed crazy to me,” he said.
Zero ability to swim didn’t stop him for signing up for his first triathlon-- only after he told his friend “no” the first five times he asked. Now a hard core endurance junkie, Tyler only missed qualifying for Triathlon Age Group Worlds by two minutes. His goal is to redeem himself this year and snag a spot. A mental health practitioner by day, Tyler enjoys delving into the mind of competition and athletics.
But the real reason he participates in sports? “I compete in triathlons now because I enjoy food way too much and triathlons allow me to eat copious amounts of food,” he slyly admits.
The birth of North Carolina native Walker Jones’ first child inspired her to start running. Now a mother of three, she ran her first marathon in December and leads training programs with a local Fleet Feet store.
Building a family also motivated Salt Lake City native and Fort Collins, Colorado resident Brooke Webster Clayton to get serious about running. Now, she will run in anything. “People think I’m crazy but I’m just enjoying life and the outdoors,” she says. “My coldest run this winter was six degrees and snowy, running in the snow is magical.” The mother of four is an integral member of her local running community. Brooke works at Runners Roost and loves chatting about running all day and helping people get back into the sport. In addition to racing in six marathons, she tries to hit up all the local 5ks and 10ks.
Keri Russell started running almost twenty years ago as “a simple way to not gain the dreaded freshman 15.” Running remained “pretty recreational” until six years ago, when she “fully caught the running bug.”
Since then, “I have been fully addicted to running,” Keri said. Competing in at least 15 races a year, the San Jose resident has raced 11 marathons to date.
Many of our athletes gain inspiration from their surroundings, including Brazilian and now Broomfield, CO, resident Adriana Giorgetii. Adriana switched from triathlons to ultras “because I love the mountains more than the concrete life.”
Our one international ambassador, Elisha Allen, calls the verdant trails of Vancouver her playground. Over the past few years, she has completed a variety of long distance races, everything from half marathons to a trail race up Whistler Mountain, to her dream race: the 2017 Boston Marathon. She describes herself as “extremely passionate about helping others explore and enjoy running.”
For other athletes, sports provide a platform both to run away from the dark aspects of life and towards the light. “I’m a sexual assault survivor, and running saved me,” said Jersey girl and PA student Kelly Guzman.
Ironically, sometimes not being able to run is the biggest motivator to get going. Jill Marie started running after a many year hiatus after a foot-crushing injury from a horse. Her physical therapist had her run on an anti-gravity treadmill. “That feeling of running again when I was unsure if I would walk without a limp got me back into running,” she said. “I love running and being out in nature. Running changes you inside and out.” She is training for San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon in June, her first full 26.2.
Identical twin sisters Colleen Shelgren and Karen Rooney are both marathoners and occupational therapists living in the Washington D.C. area. They are both training hard to qualify for Boston.
Alex “running addict” Carrion is also a twin. He also enjoys biking and has competed in a handful of half Ironmans, two full Ironmans, and six marathons. But he has found his passion with ultrarunning. “I did my first 100 miler last year,” he said. “And it was amazing!”
At only 17, Kayla Duvel is the youngest member of the squad. The Rhode Island high schooler competed in her first triathlon five years ago, and has been hooked ever since. Her ultimate goal is to race the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, but “I have to wait to age up first! Ugh!” she laments.
Another triathlete and Los Angelene Jillienne Sanders hopes to PR in both the full and half Ironman distance this year “while smiling and giving out high-fives on the course.” (Is there a better motivator than having fun?!)
Bostonian Tahnee Lacey started running (and working out) when her friends roped her into it. Just five years later, she’s raced three marathons, one ultramarathon, and is a coach. An assistant by day, Tahnee is an improviser and puppeteer by occasional night.
Last but certainly not least, Fort Lauderdale native Philip Miscione relishes being able to run outside 365 days a year. “I love the outdoors,” he says. “I enjoy everything from the beach, to boating, fishing, scuba diving, and ESPECIALLY running.” Philip’s running career started when he enlisted in the Marine Corps at 18 and was “forced” to run. “From being forced to run in the Marines, I actually started to enjoy the punishment,” he explained. After leaving the Service, he still enjoyed running but didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t until Philip joined a Fort Lauderdale running club two years ago and met likeminded runners that he gained the inspiration and motivation to delve into the sport.
“With the joint accountability and social aspect to the group, I started to push the distance and setting goals,” he says. Philip has raced three marathons and five half marathons to date. He’s running Grandma’s Marathon in June, hoping to redeem his Boston Marathon qualifying spot after hitting the qualifier but missing the acceptance time by 30 seconds.
“I am happy to be supporting FuelBelt as an ambassador because throughout my training runs and my races, FuelBelt has been there for me when I needed a little squeeze of H2O, or a little extra light in the wee hours of the morning,” Philip said. “A little gratitude goes a long way to those who help you accomplish your goals and I am thankful for the support.”
Okay that’s a wrap! In the words of Philip, “Get out there and run!”