Joel Gaff and his family -- wife Laura and their two little girls -- have spent the past several months in Portland, Ore., adjusting to quarantine life while juggling parenting with jobs in healthcare (Laura) and in the running and endurance sports industry (Joel). (Listen all the way through to hear an adorable interaction with Joe's daughter's Hazel, age 2 1/2, and Penelope, age 1 1/2).
As the co-founder and owner of Endurance Evolution, a race management and timing company, Joel and his team, like so many others, got creative with their race events, like the Traverse City Trail Running Festival, this spring and summer. This meant transitioning to virtual races and creating all-new events -- a couple with real-time engagement from Joel and his team. New virtual events included the Backyard Ultra, The Mitten Run, and The Oregon Run, as well as the Lake Michigan Ride, a cycling event.
Joel, who also serves as race director of IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City, shares how he's been staying active, what it's like to not have an IRONMAN on his own training schedule this year, and just how many hours a week he can actually work with two adorable little girls underfoot.
Eddie Kline and his team are working hard to make this fall’s Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K an in-person event. Now in its 7th year, these west Michigan races are set for Sunday, Sept. 13.
“As race day approaches, we are putting together our plan to keep runners safe,” Eddie says, adding that efforts are evolving as government recommendations and regulations continue to change.
As of late July, the race is on -- with some changes to ensure participants stay safe during the pandemic. “We cannot eliminate all the risk -- this is a public event with hundreds of people -- but we’re putting safety measures in place."
Eddie joins Heather on the show to share these safety measures -- reduced capacity, no-contact aid stations, prepackaged finish line food, among other efforts.
He also shares what he’s been up to during the quarantine and this summer, why he’s doing more cycling these days after successfully finishing a 50-miler in Big Rapids last fall, and what he likes best about his new temporary part-time job delivering packages for the U.S. Post Office.
A race discount code for listeners -- $12 off race entry to the Sept. 13 Holland Haven races -- also is shared during the show.
More details about race precautions to be taken at the 7th annual Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon & 8K:
Holland Haven Marathon 2K20 Covid Safety Plan
Triathlete and race director Eva Solomon, co-founder of Epic Races in southeast Michigan, returns to the show to talk about the future of racing. Having cancelled and reimagined the races her company organizes -- Epic Races is behind numerous running, cycling, and swimming events held all year round in Michigan -- Eva and her team had to think fast and get creative these past few months. As she explains, it happened quickly for Epic Races, which had three events in March that were affected by the pandemic and subsequent quarantine.
Eva also is heavily involved in running and triathlon organizations on a national level, and she's been talking a lot about the future of our beloved sport with her race director counterparts. She shares what she has learned, how races may look in the future, and how Epic Races has adapted and pivoted to continue offering opportunities to stay healthy and active during this time. Ceasing her business operations has never been an option: "It's what we do -- we put on races," she says.
Along with adjusting current races on their roster, Epic Races has gotten creative with new events, too. This includes the virtual Oh MI Goddess Half Marathon & 5K -- "that woman race from Michigan -- which is underway now.
Eva and Heather also talk about favorite mantras as well as the gifts and interesting family aspects that came with the quarantine.
It's always a special treat to have Jonny Tornga -- ultrarunner, MRG podcast producer, talented musician and all-around great guy -- get behind the mic and join Heather on the show. And even better yet: Jonny and Heather catch up on location at the new Traverse City Lululemon "pop-up shop," which just opened on Front Street downtown.
Jonny, who previously worked for the popular athletic and yoga wear retailer while living in New York City a little over a year ago, is serving as assistant manager of Lululemon's first northern Michigan store. The company plans to run the 2,000 square-foot "pop-up" store at 204 East Front Street through at least the 2020 holiday season and possibly beyond.
Jonny talks about what it's been like to open a store during a pandemic, how this assistant manager opportunity was "serendipitous" following a job loss this spring, how his training and running have changed throughout the quarantine and as summer got under way ("I had a full summer of ultras planned, and so that has obviously changed a lot"), why he loves trail running so much, and what he's looking forward to this summer.
They also talk about the grief process related to races being canceled.
"I had a great ultra plan going when both of my races were canceled. One of them was the Marquette Trail 50 -- it was a 50K and I was going to use it as a tune-up race for Ultra Trail Stokely Creek, my big one. It’s an 85K. That was cancelled as well and that was hard. The emotions I had ... I am starting to come around and now I am just into planning an adventure. I just want to go and find a cool place to camp in the UP and go run for a day or so and get lost in the woods and get my 50-miler in that way.”
Of course, Heather and Jonny also talk about the latest and greatest Lululemon items ideal for summer running and outdoor fun.
In addition to online sales, Lululemon also operates 460 stores worldwide and 11 in Michigan, all in the southern part of the state. Traverse City's store is the company's first location north of Grand Rapids.
NOTE: You'll notice a bit of audio quality issues in the first several minutes of the show, but please keep listening. We had a few on-location technical difficulties, but got them worked out!
If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app.
A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show.