Orca Running Ambassadors

2021 Orca Running Ambassadors

Theresa

Hey I’m Theresa! You can often find me pushing my two boys around town, outdoor adventuring, or furiously baking. I’ve lived all over the country, but moved to the pacific northwest in 2019 and fell in love. The mild climate, the mountains, the sound, the shift of seasons, all of it is amazing.

Since becoming a stay at home mom, running has become my passion. The calm and confidence gained from running has kept me sane, especially in 2020. Racing is almost magical; you get to test your limits, with a group of like minded people cheering you along the way. Virtual racing (especially with Orca Running) has been great, but I am so excited to get back to in-person racing in 2021.

Instagram: @redhairedrunningmom

Rachel

Hi all! My name is Rachel and I am so pumped to be part of the Orca Ambassador team! I am a running mom of 2 wildly wonderful boys. Kaleb (5) and Colton (2). Running is definitely my happy place, especially trail running here in the beautiful PNW. I also enjoy swimming, hiking, and wakeboarding. Last year I took on my first trail marathon, and I am excited to attempt my first Ultra with Evergreen this year. Let’s do this!

Instagram: @rachelgetsoutside

Patrick

Hello! My name is Patrick. I was born, raised, and live in south Sound area, currently University Place. I’m 40-ish, married, and have 2 kids (one is now an adult!). I am a forester and part time archaeologist for the State, spending as much time as I can getting paid to wander the forests of Washington (sadly not as much as I used to).
I have always been active in some fashion from soccer and basketball to, obviously, hiking through the forest. I didn’t start running, however, until the fall of 2015 after I decided to focus on my health more. I needed a new challenge in life and wanted to improve my health and conditioning after being a light smoker for much of my early 30s and moving to an office-centric work role.
I definitely do not take running or myself too seriously. Running should be as fun as it is grueling and I try to have as much fun as possible while cheering on other runners. In 2022 I hope to get at least one new PR (looking at you Iron Horse Half!). Hope to see you out there!

Instagram: @run.forester.run

Aven

Aven grew up in the foothills of Colorado. Since then she has lived, worked and studied all over the US. From Massachusetts, to Hawaii and Alaska and now Washington! She’s loves being in or on the water – having worked as a PADI Divemaster in Hawaii and as an Expedition Guide and Coordinator in the Antarctic and Arctic. COVID meant she had to spend more time on land where she discovered the amazing outdoors in her own backyard. As someone who has struggled with Asthma running as a kid was almost pure torture. Growing out of the asthma has been a slow process and its been extremely rewarding to continue to show herself that she can do more, run faster, run farther and push herself. She is a huge MARVEL, LOTR, HP and Star Wars geek. And when not working or outside she enjoys learning to play the ukulele, working on artwork and reading.

Instagram: @alpineaven

Marilou

I’ve had a great time representing Orca Running for the last two years so I am thrilled to be back for my third year with the Orca Pod Squad! 
 
Although I don’t consider myself a natural runner I ran my first 5k in 2014 when I was 44 and didn’t start really training and signing up for more races until 2016 I have fallen in love with running and the local running community. I have made some of my best friends through running.
 
A few things about me:
  • Favorite Orca Race:  Captain Jack’s Treasure Run 12k, because who doesn’t like running while dressed like a pirate?!
  • Road or Trail Races:  I have run mainly road races but hoping to run more trail races this year.
  • Favorite Shoe:  I love Brooks Ghosts and Brooks Glycerins for road running. For trails, I like Brooks Cascadia, Topos, and Salomon Speedcross.
  • Favorite Race Distance:  Half marathons. I’m also a member of Half Fanatics.
  • Favorite Post Race Food & Drink:  Depends on the race, but tacos and burgers for food, and ciders or fruit smoothies for drinks.
  • Group or Solo Runs:  I mainly run/train solo, but I thoroughly enjoy a weekly group run with my local Run Club to connect with others and keep myself accountable.
  • Goal for 2022:  To improve my race pace in all distances and to complete my second full marathon.
  • Guilty Pleasure:  Signing up for all the races I can (and can’t) afford!
Looking forward to meeting more of “The Pod” at live races this year! smiling face with smiling eyes

Instagram: @marilouubungen

Katie

My name is Katie and I am thrilled to be back as an Ambassador for a second year! I started running back in 2009-ish when my daughter was 2 as a way to meet other moms in a local moms group. My kid is now 14 and I could never have imagined all the things running would bring into my life; friends, a sense of community, confidence, health, strength and the strange/wonderful knowledge that I am a freaking athlete! I’m a plus sized, mental illness fighting runner and I love showing that people of all kinds can find joy in the sport. 
This year I look forward to at least one half marathon (I’ve done 19 so far!) and various other distance races this year as well as volunteer opportunities when I’m not racing myself. I am in love with the Orca and the running community as a whole and am stoked for all that 2022 has in store! 

Instagram: @running_and_jellybeans

Denis

Hi! I am Denis, 42-year-old and father of a 12-year-old girl who will shine as a pro goalkeeper! I was born and raised in Brazil and Seattle has been my home for the past 14 years. I am well adapted to the PNW, love the outdoors and staying active, particularly on or around Puget Sound waters. My passion for the ocean and protecting all aquatic creatures and their environment is part of my profession, which gives me even more joy when I am running around Puget Sound trails and courses. I have been running as a “side gig” among a few other sports for the past 15-20 years. But I found myself on my couch for almost the entire 2020 with an injury and a hip surgery. This event made me decide to take running as one of my priorities alongside kiteboarding and my passion for wind and water. I found out I needed to challenge my body and mind a bit more and run more frequently and further.

Basically, I needed to add more dots on my kitchen calendar. Since then I have been discovering the joy of running, the happiness of sharing the tracks, trails, roads, and courses with fellow runners, the ecstasy of the finishing lines, the pleasure of waving and smiling at random drivers or runners as I cruise along as well as every single dog on their adventures. Just all that fun stuff! I am very excited to be a part of this awesome group of runners at Orca Running, make new friends and continue to share the stoke of running with EVERYONE! Let’s goooo!

Instagram: @deniskitesnw

Hannah

My name is Hannah and I’ve been running for a little over 10 years now! For me, running started as a stress reliever and quickly turned into a way to gain confidence and meet my fitness goals. My favorite running distance is a half marathon, but I ran my first full marathon last year and I’m looking forward to the Chicago Marathon in 2022! I’m so excited to join the 2022 Orca Ambassador Team and make more friendships on the roads and trails!

Instagram: @bauerha

Imaculate

Hi, I’m Imaculate! I’ve been running for almost 8 years and only recently got into trail running. Originally from East Africa, I’ve moved around a lot and I love that I can always run wherever I am. Although I’m slow, I like racing because it gives me something to look forward to. The half marathon is my sweet spot, while I work my way into ultras. What I lack in speed, I make up for in distance. When I’m not chasing medals, I’m either writing about them on my blog or pursuing other outdoor adventures that the PNW has to offer (on my feet or on two wheels) or writing software for my day job.

Instagram: @imaculatem

Katie O

I’m Katie O’Hollaren, originally from Gainesville, Florida. I now live in Tacoma with my husband and two dogs, Baxter and Bodhi. I am a 2nd grade teacher and I coach group fitness classes at Orange Theory Fitness. 
I’ve been running since high school but fell in love with distance and endurance after a minor setback. I got my spleen removed in 2008 after being diagnosed with a platelet disorder. I was told I may not be able to run again. After a successful surgery and recovery, I was cleared to run again, and boy did I do just that!
I ran my first full in January of 2011–the Disney Marathon. I have since run 10 fulls and 51 halves. My lifetime goal is to to run a marathon in every state!
I am crazy about my husband, our dogs, traveling, meeting new people, coffee, tacos, and of course, RUNNING!

Instagram: @kohollaren

Kelly

Hello friends! I’m Kelly and I live in Seattle, where I don’t have to go far to have some sort of adventure. After being a couch potato for the longest time, I decided to start running because it, at the time, seemed to be the easiest and cheapest (hah!) way to get fit. I started with 5k’s and worked my way up to marathons. One day I decided that wasn’t going to be enough fun in a day, so I made the move to trails and ultras. My longest race is 50 miles, which is something that I never even believed was possible until I crossed the finish line. Recently, I have spent more time on the trails than on the road and I love every second. My dream trail run is the Wonderland Trail and someday I hope to meet my very long term goal of running a race in all 50 states. I have checked off 11 so far!  

Instagram: @kellyrunsandhikes

Nancy

Hello everyone! My name is Nancy and I am super excited to asked back as an Ambassador for my 5th year with the amazing Orca Running Family! I began my running journey in the summer of 2014 and have completed 286+ running events! I love being part of the running community and have made some life lasting friends over the past 7 years.

My running goals were to grow in distance the more I ran but I have had to pull back a bit due to some minor medical issues. But I refuse to let this get me down, so I have decided that running/walking shorter distances would be best for me and still keep me doing what I absolutely love doing.

And of course, there’s my dogs – my dogs are one of the biggest joys in my life. I have 2 wonderful Boxers, Dexter who is 4.5 years old and Paisley who is 5.5 years old. These two mean the world to me – so much that I also volunteer with Wigglin’ Home Boxer Rescue! I love being part of this Boxer Rescue and have been with WHBR for 4 years now.

A girlfriend and I also started up a running group on Facebook called Puget Sound Runners. Please check out our Facebook site and if you are not connected with us feel free to send us a join request and check us out.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/pugetsoundrunners/

Morgan

My name is Morgan and I am excited to be back on the Orca Ambassador squad. You may also find me pacing some Orca races with the Seattle Green Lake Running Group pace team. I had my son in 2019 and have been learning how to balance running, working and raising a tiny human. 
My favorite Orca races are the Snoqualmie Valley half and the Iron Horse half, both of which happen to take place on my local trails. This year my big race will be the Berlin marathon (marathon # 9) and maybe a 50K.
 

Instagram: @morgoster

Jen

At the beginning of 2019, I decided to try and run an event a month. Between work and travel, it wasn’t always possible to do it here in Vancouver-ish, BC and Seattle seemed like the logical option as one of my dearest friends lives there.

My first Orca run was Kirkland Shamrock 10k seemed ideal. I loved the atmosphere, the comradery, and the dad jokes. I ended up doing two more races last year: The Great Ferry Race and Orca Half, each with a PR.

I’ll never be fast, but I have a ton of fun. Thanks to the amazing support of my Orca and Evergreen community, I managed to walk, hike, and run over 1,200mi in 2020.

Travel and exploring new cities might be out for a while, but I’ve rediscovered my love of hiking, trail running, and running thanks in large part to the events hosted by Orca and Evergreen in 2020 and I can’t wait to see where (and how far)  2021 takes me.

Instagram: @la_canadajen

Ingunn

I was born and raised in Norway, but now live in the gorgeous Seattle area with my husband, two little daughters, and our Italian Greyhound! I first started running a decade ago, but it wasn’t until I was between births in 2016 that I started taking it more seriously and entering races.

I love the joy and endorphins and alone time running gives me, especially on trail. It has been hugely important for my mental health! Most importantly, the community I’ve found in other runners is so accepting and inclusive and positive!

My favorite hobbies are going for long runs in the mountains and then scrapbooking about it when I come home.

Instagram: @smultrigunn

Alexis

Hello! I’m Alexis. I grew up in Seattle, went to UW, and lived with my husband in the Ballard area for more than a decade before moving to Tacoma in 2018. We both worked in the bar industry for 20+ years, and owned a bar in Belltown up until 2020. I now coach at Orangetheory and stay busy chasing my 2yo son.
I first got into running as conditioning for gymnastics (I was an elite rhythmic gymnast, yes, with the ribbon grinning squinting face). I then ran through my 20’s and early 30’s even though I smoked. After finally quitting in 2014, I ran my first half marathon. I totally loved it, and did another one the next year. I took a hiatus from racing while trying to conceive my son for 4 years. Combing back postpartum made me fall in love with running all over again, even more than I could ever imagine. It gives me so much joy, peace, and sanity. I ran more races in 2021 than ever in my adult life, and I can’t wait to do even more in 2022! Aside from the orca races I’ll for sure be doing, I’m running the Boston and Chicago marathons too. 
“Off to run I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
Aside from running, I LOVE to travel and drink good wine…separately or together! And I’m a big cat lady…mine is Sookie, she is my furrst baby. 

Emilia

Hi, my name is Emilia and I’m a Polish transplant in the Pacific Northwest! I run everything between 5Ks and half marathons, 10K being currently my favorite distance. My running buddies are usually my toddler (in the stroller), hubby or Lester the aussie shepherd. I love all things related to the ocean, hiking, cheesy pizza and matcha latte.

Looking forward to running with you soon!

Instagram: @embajkowska

Instagram: @emiliabajkowskaphoto

Courtney

Hi, I’m Courtney. I have been running for almost ten years now and this is my third year as an ambassador. I didn’t start running until after college and didn’t get absolutely hooked on it until after having kids. It started as a way to get out and exercise with them, and now it is my ‘me time’. I love road running but my true passion are the trails and I recently fell in love with ultra running. I grew up playing competitive soccer for many years and then joined the Coast Guard where I performed Search and Rescue missions. The Coast Guard brought me to the PNW and I began running as way to maintain fitness and relieve stress. 

Instagram: @courtney.n.c

Melody

I love the freedom, alone time, community, and challenges running allows me…everything from training for a fast road 5k to a mountain ultra marathon bring me great joy. In 2021 I created the Totem Lake Run Club that welcomes runners of all abilities to comfortably join weekly running meetups and build community.

I work part time as a Scientist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and take care of my two young children and two Italian Greyhounds. Our family spends as much time in the outdoors as possible hiking, camping, and cross country skiing!

I cannot wait to connect more with the Orca Running Community this year!

Instagram: @mandreanrunner

Instagram: @totemlakerunclub

Arielle

Hi there! I’m Arielle, your friendly neighborhood operating room nurse! When I’m not scrubbed in to surgery or running around supporting my team, you can find me on the Burke Gilman or on the trails. I live in Ballard with my wonderful husband. I started running in high school on the cross country back in 2007.
The love of road running has morphed into the love of trail and ultra running. In 2022, I’m making the full commit to trail racing: I’m planning on running my first 50 mile race and my first 100 mile race! You can follow me on Instagram and Strava to keep up with my running shenanigans. 

Instagram: @ohaiitsarielle

Andrew

Hello! My name is Andrew and I am so glad to be back for my 2nd year as an Ambassador. I was born in Colorado, raised in Wisconsin, did undergrad in Minnesota, and grad school in Illinois. I currently live in south Marysville. I studied Aerospace Engineering and work in the Aerospace industry on standardization and strength of materials. I am married, with 2 amazing daughters.
I have always tried to stay active, but I didn’t get back into running until Dec 2019. I picked up a treadmill, and started running consistently right away. In hindsight, that was such an amazing decision because running has been a major part of my new normal during the pandemic. Running has been keeping me healthy, safe, and sane through all the never-ending craziness.  You can often find me running (of course), reading, and hiking. My family makes it a goal to hike together once a week in the spring and summer, and that has been a really amazing way to bond and grow together.
I was introduced to Orca Running & Evergreen Trail Runs in 2020 by the Social Distance Run, and was so excited by the wonderful, welcoming community. I especially appreciate their commitment to the local community, environment, and more.
Current goals are to build strength, build up distance, and strive to be a better human.

Instagram: @the.running.steevens

Heather

Hi there, I’m Heather!  I was born and raised in the northeast, moved around the country a bit in pursuit of an education, and now settled down here in the beautiful PNW with my amazing husband and our cute little pup. My love for running started after moving to San Diego for grad school. Not knowing anyone or how to get anywhere, running became my way of finding community, learning my way around the beautiful city, and building my confidence and strength. Through all of the crazy, unexpected twists and turns life can throw your way (2020 AND 2021, amiright?!), running has been a constant for me – my go-to stress reliever. Last year I was so excited about in person racing again, I completed one half marathon a month through the second half of the year (all Orca, of course)! When I’m not running, I enjoy lots of other activities like hiking, weightlifting, gluten free baking, and inappropriate cross stitching :).
I’m such a huge fan of Orca Running, and am SO excited to be a 2022 Ambassador!  I can’t wait to share the joy and challenge of running with others this year, and look forward to meeting some of you!

Instagram: @_runlifteatrepeat

Kyle

I am a learner.  I am an artist.  I am an athlete.  I am a thinker.  I embrace the quiet of nature – whether on a mountain or on the water.  I am a community builder and adore my friends.  

Instagram: @mountain_goat_running

Jen

I started running in August 2017, and within the next 13 months I ran my first 5k, 10k, Half, Ragnar NWP, and Blerch Marathon! I started getting into trail running in 2019. My first official trail run was the 2020 Lord Hill 10-miler, and I ran my first ultra just one month later. I love the freedom and peace of mind I get from running. Nearly as much, though, I love the running community’s spirit and willingness to chase goals and help others achieve their goals; this feeling is so strong among the Orca Running and Evergreen Trail Running groups. Oh, also, honorable mention! I love the food at ultra aid stations. 

Instagram: @Jen_dana