Melanie Blenis has been a runner for about ten years. Prior to that, athletics were not part of her life experience. Four years ago, at 42, her son signed her up for her first trail race. She was hooked. Shortly, thereafter, Melanie completed her first Spartan, a Sprint in Atlanta, in 2011. It was life changing for Melanie and her entire family.
Melanie’s passion is communicating with women about how taking one small step can lead to transformation for them and those they love. In her words, “we sideline ourselves in so many ways, as girls, as women and as mothers”. She believes that women are often the supporters of their children and husbands pursuits and loose themselves along the way. Athletics is a way to “be you”. In this way, she says, women shine.
Melanie balances work and family life with her love for trail running, Crossfit, and tennis. Most mornings, she is up at 5 am to get it all done. She has completed the Vermont Beast, twice, along with many trail runs of various distances. Her favorite run is a 13 mile, scenic trail with friends or family – and think, she was the little girl that avoided P.E. class!
“For me, it is all about play.”
Personal Blog: http://www.seedifferentlynow.com/
Kathryn is a 40 year old Veterinarian and single mother of two beautiful girls. She was co-owner of a Holistic Health Centre in Vancouver and a practitioner of Neurological Integration System, before her recent move to Ontario. Kathryn enjoys running in the stunning Niagara escarpment trails that are practically in her backyard, and while she believes pavement or treadmill running is to be avoided at all costs, trail running really gets her moving.
Kathryn has been drinking the Crossfit Kool-aid for roughly 6 years and hits WODs, on average, 3 times a week. Exercise became a passion when she was a Veterinary student at the University of Sydney, Australia, where she first started running and competing in local road races. A proud member of the Canadian obstacle racing contingent since 2014, Kathryn entered her first obstacle race somewhat naively, yet somehow survived the Spartan Ultra Beast in Vermont. The personal achievement from that race had her hooked on obstacle racing, and surprised herself with a great finish in her second race, the World’s Toughest Mudder. Kathryn believes it is never too late, anyone can come out and play.
Coach Casey, BS, CSCS, CES, SGX
Coach Casey shares her wisdom for training and racing from the female point of view for the obstacle racer and women in general. We are excited to have her on board.
Born and raised in South Florida, Casey is a fitness professional of the highest education and has been working full time as a sports performance coach for 10 years. After graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science, Casey continued her education by acquiring multiple fitness certifications and interning at many different rehab settings where she learned to treat a variety of patients with physical and mental limitations. Casey’s passion for fitness and helping others is what led her to start Foobie Fitness, a nonprofit aimed at helping women recover from breast cancer related treatments. Her knowledge, experience, and eagerness to help others truly make her an outstanding coach!
Education – B.S. in Exercise Science
Certifications: ASFA Fitness Cycling Instructor, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, NESTA Fitness Nutrition Coach, Spartan Group X Certified, Heartsaver First Aid/CPR
Also certified to coach kickboxing, speed/agility, marathon, pilates, breast cancer recovery and advanced exercise nutrition.
Maia is our youngest contributor to Dirt in Your Skirt. She brings a completely new view to Dirt in Your Skirt. We are excited to have her share her wisdom and thoughts on a monthly basis.
Maia Cammisa is 9 years old, and in the 5th grade. She is an honor roll student, with a love for reading and writing. In addition to training with her mom to do OCR, she also rides horses, participates in chorus and girl scouts, and is a member of her school’s Beta Club.
When Maia grows up, she wants to be an author, and an athlete. Maia wants to see more kids becoming active and getting involved in obstacle course racing. Her focus now is to get the word out about the benefits of OCR and how it can make your entire family healthy and happy. She plans to run several kids OCR events in 2015, and give kids and parents what they are looking for as far as information. Maia is currently working on a kid’s book about OCR.
Mary Carideo has been running for three years and some highlights are: 5 marathons-including The Disney Dopey, finished World’s Toughest Mudder, received a sextuple (6) Spartan trifecta last year, helped Sean Hall who has cerebral palsy complete a trifecta, and she has an IR4 buddy, Phillip “who is so amazing!”
This year, she is training for a 50-miler trail race, The Ultra Beast in Vermont, World’s Toughest with a minimum of 50 miles, the 30 hour SISU Iron, and many more. She has also lost over 100 pounds since 2007 and continues to get stronger. “When I am feeling down, I think of Sean and Phillip and know that Can’t is not in my vocabulary! Every year I am getting faster and stronger and always thinking about what goal I can shatter! There’s No Rest For The Wicked!”
Sarah Fox is 26 years old and lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband Mark. She works in accounting for an architectural and interior design firm in uptown (downtown to those from normal cities that don’t like to be difficult!) Her first OCR was Warrior Dash in 2012 with a friend’s wife. He convinced her to do it as a push to train for her first Tough Mudder with him and a group of friends 3 months later, knowing that she couldn’t resist a challenge.
She went out despite being a smoker, 50 pounds overweight and scared out of her mind. Needless to say, she fell in love. “I busted my ass over the next 3 months training for TM, dropping 29 pounds in the process.” The following year was a roller coaster that involved some depression and going back to old habits. She went to one TM that year, but really fell off the healthy lifestyle wagon.
In 2014 she decided that she never wanted to be that again. She got back in the gym and started running again and crushed my goal of 14 races in 2014. In 2015, she has kept looking for new challenges and races to push herself. She says, “I still struggle with my weight, but push myself every day.”
Most of the time, when you see her on a course, she will be helping an adaptive athlete with the Dirtbags and More Heart Than Scars. “As much as I love pushing myself and running a course for time, I love watching and helping adaptive athletes complete races. A lot of my training this year is revolving around spending hours upon hours on the course, running for myself, and running with them.”
“I’m excited to be training for WTM (OK, I’m scared shitless, but hey, if your dreams don’t scare you they probably aren’t big enough, right?!) and can’t wait to really get out there and see what my body can do!”
Hannah Hudson is a writer and athlete with a passion for all things nerdy. She will be sharing some of the unique issues she faces as an athlete with PCOS. As well report on the more off the beaten path sports she competes in.
She is one of a handful of female knights who compete in the brutal sport of Medieval Armored Combat. When she’s not wielding a sword and shield, she’s wearing a kilt and throwing cabers as a competitor in The Scottish Highland Games with the Utah Heavy Athletics.
After being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of sixteen, Hannah decided to dedicate her life to helping others with this condition live life on their own terms. In 2014 she founded the group Salt Lake City PCOS, which helps women with various insulin resistant conditions become more active and lead healthier lives. Her blog of the same name provides a glimpse into the life of being a plus-sized athlete with PCOS.
Hannah and her husband live in Utah, where they can be found running trails and participating in various obstacle course races on their weekends off.
Liza Lederer is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer working on her MA/Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition. She is an avid trail runner, always looking for a new challenge. She can usually be found running, swimming, or playing with her small herd of rescue dogs. She also writes for RunHaven.com
Jamie Lesk is 24 and hails from the very Midwestern state of Michigan. She is a full time MBA student at Western Michigan University as well as an employee of FedEx Ground. Any free time is spent training for an upcoming race. Last year was her first as an OCR competitor and runner in general. I did 6 races; including earning a Spartan trifecta, running my first half marathon, and competing in both the individual and team events at the inaugural OCRWC this past fall.
This year she is on to new endeavors, including running some new races such as Atlas Race and Tough Mudder. Her first ultra marathon will be this spring. Everything this season will be leading up to what will be by far her biggest challenge mentally and physically, World’s Toughest Mudder 2015.
“I love OCR because of the personal challenges as well as the fantastic community. The best people in my life are the ones I’ve found playing in the mud.”
Renee Raffaela Minutola ran her first mile at a Tough Mudder in 2012 at the age of 30. To date, Renee has run in open waves of 23 OCR events including the Spartan Ultra Beast Vermont and World’s Toughtest Mudder Las Vegas in 2014. This year she will add more events to her total, including her first Xterra half-marathon. Her ultimate fitness goal is to participate in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
Working full time as a hair stylist, Renee’s training involves early morning trail runs and late nights at the gym. Renee also added rock climbing lessons to her training this year. Outside of training, Renee volunteers with The American Cancer Society and participates annually in Relay for Life where she currently holds the local track record for most laps by an individual. She has completed two Susan G Komen 3-day for the Cure walks and participates in many cancer-related charity events.
Renee loves getting lost outside looking for inspiration in photography and painting. She is a huge fan of all things comic book, science fiction, and zombie. She loves animals, often caring for strays, and has two cats of her own.
Jackie Rust is a Spartan Race Pro Team member. She live in Aubrey, Texas with her Husband and two children. She has over 15 years experience in distance running and is no stranger to the gym. She started doing Obslacle Course Racing in 2010 and has achieved much sucess within the sport. In 2012, she competed at World’s Toughest Mudder and finished 5th place while raising funds for a quadruple amputee. In 2013 she placed 11th at the Spartan Race World Championships and then returned the next day to take on the mighty Ultra Beast and managed to finish in 3rd place.
She works as a group fitness instructor and enjoys volunteering in her community. She started a kids running group at her children’s school as well as a local running club for families within her community. She writes about balancing life, a family and racing.
Valerie has been an active member of the OCR community since 2011. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA where she is a member and admin of Georgia Obstacle Racers and Mud Runners. Recently, she left her corporate/office job to become to become more involved within the OCR world taking a position as the Human Resources Director for United States Obstacle Course Racing (USOCR). She is a familiar face of Obstacle Racing Media as a staff member but also on the course as a member of their female ORM race team. Sponsored by Athletics8, she has also been an ambassador for Reload Fitness and Dirt in Your Skirt for the past few years.
Valerie lives a very active lifestyle and can be found most days either in the gym lifting weights, taking crossfit or in a state park close by. While obstacle racing is her primary activity, 2014 was a turning point for her in many ways. She took her racing to the elite level placing within the top ten females in almost all events she competed in. She became involved in endurance events and is now a 2X Death Race finisher with plans to continue to participate in this style of event. She also started competing in crossfit competitions when time allowed.
“Training has gone from actually being training for me and more of a lifestyle. Physically and mentally, I find that being active has made me a much happier and healthier person. It is common for people to ask me how I keep going all the time and I respond that it is just what I do. I have simply built my life that way. I am one of the lucky few who is able to follow my passions from a work and pleasure perspective.”
Lauren is a student athlete at the University of South Florida and is relatively new to the running world. She fell in love with the obstacle course racing world back in October and has set some high goals for herself in the upcoming year. In 2015 she plans on qualifying for and competing in the OCR World Championships, participating in the 30 Days of Shale Hill, World’s Toughest Mudder, as well as various other races.
Lauren is a full time international business student, works two part time jobs, and spends any extra time she has training. She strives for constant improvement and works hard to make sure she reaches her goals. The mantra Lauren lives by is “better every day.”