Service Award: NYX athlete who contributes to their community
Winner: Jim Murff
Murff cannot be found tooting his own horn, so we’re doing it for him. We have reliable sources that say he has cooked meals for Oceanside Love on the Ground (an organization which provides resources for the homeless) 40 out of 52 weeks of the year. On a number of occasions, Murff stepped up to buy dinner when another organization didn’t come through with meals and he provided full Thanksgiving dinners for families in need. To sum it up, Jim Murff is always finding ways to do what he can for his community.
Sherpa Squad Award: NYX athlete who devotes outstanding time/energy to supporting their teammates
Winner: Stacy Sauls
It’s not just that Stacy traveled to 3 of our team races (70.3 St. George, IM Coeur d’Alene, and IM Arizona), just to cheer on her teammates. It’s the energy and enthusiasm she brings to the sidelines. We know that our sport is about more than just the athletes on the course; we need the cheerers, the volunteers, the families, friends, and random strangers holding signs. We have more strength to persevere when we do it together and Stacy knows this better than most. Her generosity of spirit is palpable.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Marcoux
Do we really need to explain this one?
Winner: Casey Fleming, at 70.3 Worlds
In case you missed her story, Casey tore her MCL nine weeks prior to the 70.3 World Championship. Six weeks prior to Worlds, she was able to get in the pool and start riding with minimal resistance. Three weeks prior to Worlds, she did her first run post-injury, and her longest run leading up to the race was 5 miles. On Thursday before the race, the phone call with Coach Laura was about whether or not she should even start the run. For an athlete who won her age group in her 1st Ironman by 40 minutes, she didn’t know how to make a goal for a race where her body was in a completely different state of fitness and preparation than it ever had been. But Casey wanted to see if she could go out there and stay open enough for something crazy to happen. Every race up until now was about finding out what she was capable of physically, and this one had to be about what she was capable of mentally. How relentless could she be? She came out of the water right on track, moved up the field on the bike (her signature), then never stopped running all the way through the finish.
Honorable Mention: Rami Wilder
“The authenticity and vulnerability that Rami displayed in the newsletter article about the loss of his mother and an open water panic attack really resonated with me. As I read the article it helped me to realize that anxiety is more common than I thought and hearing it described in someone else’s words helped me clarify my own feelings. Many are unwilling to talk about panic attacks and because Rami was willing, he not only validated my issue but he gave me a vehicle for how to embrace the darkness.
I used his “focus on what the future Rami wants” mantra during my recent Indian Wells open water swim. For the first 500 yards I was rehearsing a negative story and then I remembered my mantra and started to focus on what the future Darci wanted. 1500 yards later I was running up the beach to pass the timing chip to my biker. Thank you Rami!!!”
– Write-in nomination from teammate, Darci Axmear
Best Newsletter Interview
Winner: Kathi Cover
NYX Pride Award: NYX athlete who shows off the most NYX pride:
Winner: Jeff Krebs
We have quite a few athletes with enviable collections of NYX gear, but it’s possible that Jeff takes the cake. However, this award is about more than just making our gear look good. Jeff’s pride in his community radiates through the active roll that he takes in contributing to and building community. Through our regular “Dr. Jeff” Newsletter segments and making himself a resource for teammates, he is always willing to share his medical knowledge and expertise as an act of service. We’ve even caught him putting lube on his teammates’ bike chains before a race!
Winner: Rami Wilder
We first learned about Rami overcoming a panic attack in the water at 70.3 St. George in this article. Then he further inspired us in his recent interview where he talks about losing his mom and allowing the pain to break him open, rather than affirm his fears of the darkness. Sometimes we invite the darkness in, sometimes we are dealt the darkness we would never have chosen, but we always get to choose how we respond.
Winner: David Hibbs
Hibbs’s consistency is about more than just turning all of his workouts green in Training Peaks. For all of the years of coaching Hibbs, there has never been a dip in his level of engagement. Sure, we all go through motivation slumps, but the difference is that Hibbs shows up even for the slumps. There are always post-workout comments and he stays engaged – whether that’s trying to find a way to navigate through them or just giving them space to breathe while he prioritizes other areas of his life. During the challenging times, like working towards never-been-done-before goals, he is always willing to do the dirty work (physically and mentally) that requires getting to the next level.
Winner: Meg Tobin
Each coach designated an athlete who had a stand-out performance.
Shiela Mongeon (Coach Julie): ½ marathon PR (7:10)
Sheila had a big goal and was not afraid to embrace the training. I challenged her with paces that she was afraid of, and she went after them week after week. Come race day, she followed the plan, did not think about it and ran her arse off! PR’s do happen at 55!
Colleen Peterson (Coach Alison): Marathon PR (8 min improvement, 14 years later!! – and 2nd Grand Masters Female – at Kiawah Island Marathon)
Colleen set out with a BQ goal, but also knew she had the potential to run significantly stronger than that. A strong benchmark to kick off training created some aggressive race-day targets, but Colleen embraced the training. She switched from trail running to road running, and focused on nailing all her run targets, from tempo to intervals to marathon-pace segments in her long runs. Some training days went perfectly, others were a struggle – cuz that’s how training works – but all of that built her running fitness and her mental toughness for race day. On race day, we developed a plan which she followed SO well. The last 8 miles hurt, but that’s what marathons are, and she dug into that mental toolbox and stayed tough!
James Bilan (Coach Laura): 17 minute 70.3 PR
James and I had been working on training by feel for months. We’d go back and forth between hitting numbers and then trying to match the watts/paces/etc by tuning into the subjective feedback from his body. Not everyone picks this up very quickly (and not everyone needs to), but this was working better for James than following data. He wasn’t just using it as an excuse to go easier on the days that he was extra tired or stressed. He also allowed himself to have breakthroughs on the days that his body was ready to level up. It was his idea to race completely by feel at 70.3 Augusta (don’t worry, there’s still a race plan for that) and he nailed it: huge 70.3 PR and a long-awaited run breakthrough.
Most Miles Raced in 2021
Mike Cragg (773.3 miles)
Mike had planned a pretty full race schedule for 2020, and then … well, we all know how 2020 went. As races were canceled through the spring and summer, Mike deferred some of his races to fall and early winter 2020 and even added a few 2020 races in hopes of actually getting to a start line. Unfortunately 2020 didn’t pan out, and so Mike found himself registered for 8 races in 2021. Instead of deferring some of those races to 2022 or just accepting a DNS or two, Mike embraced the schedule and was actually flat out excited by all the racing. He completed three Ironman events and five 70.3’s for a total of 773.3 miles of racing, including a 70.3 PR, his highest age group finish ever, and six of his top eight best long-course races.
Team Engagement Award
Winners: Michelle Friedrich & Dave Schwartz
Community building is on the top of our priority list and we can’t do it on our own. We need leaders who see what we’re trying to do and are willing to show up around every corner.
Team Happy Hours? Check. Pre-race briefings? Check. Race weekend meet-ups? Check. Team gatherings for challenges, photo shoots, and general merriment? Check. Team relays at Indian Wells? Check (for 2021 and 2022). NYX Camp? Check. Plans to road trip twice in 2022 just to be part of the Sherpa Squad? Check. Making meaningful connections with NYXers at every event they attend? Check. If there’s anything happening with NYX, you can count on the fact that Michelle & Dave will be a part of it.
Winner: Alexis Barnes
We are all “busy” and have commitments that get in the way. Alexis manages a BIG Job, Dir of Communication for UCSD Medical, a busy middle schooler who plays multiple club sports, her parents, and being a committed partner. Along with this she has recently decided to go to Medical School at 45! With 12+ hour days, 5am classes and attending most of her son’s games, Alexis still manages to get in one workout per day. She is committed to strength, running, and is a level 45 on Zwift and manages to volunteer when she can. She is also committed to her family, her job, her team and her community.
Winner: Kasey Burcham
From a torn meniscus, to an unstable knee that she’s not technically supposed to run on, to overcoming breast cancer, Kasey never let any of those obstacles get in her way of crossing her first Ironman finish line at Ironman Arizona. But to say that Kasey simply “overcame” the hurdles isn’t quite doing it justice. If you ask anyone who knows her, Kasey is the first one to show up for friends and teammates, even if she is the one who is most in need of support. Kasey has overcome much more in her life than most of us know about and through it all, it is her light that shines far too brightly through the darkness to be diminished.