Eight long years to Olympic trials and then a history-making win in Rio. Kristi never considered quitting, knew she would succeed, and continued to keep faith despite many obstacles.
Her story is currently inspiring student-athletes across the nation, and brings hope to people in all walks of life and in all professions.
NO HURDLE TOO HIGH
In 2016, Kristi and her teammates, Brianna Rollins and Nia Ali, made history by becoming the first Team USA women to sweep an Olympic track and field event. It was also the first time any country has swept women’s high hurdles. For Kristi, her Olympic Bronze Medal was the crowning achievement in a long upward surge toward success, including many international and national wins.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Kristi began running track at the age of 14 after four years as a dedicated cheerleader. She went on to be a four-time Georgia State Champion as well as a school, county, region, and state record holder. In her senior year she won the Wendy’s High School Heisman award. She was a high achiever as a four-time time NCAA runner up, ACC champion, ACC record holder, and school record holder.
Kristi has competed in over 40 different countries, and continues to rank in the top ten worldwide for 100-meter hurdles.
Kristi was just as focused and dedicated in her educational studies. She signed a full scholarship to Virginia Tech after receiving numerous scholarship offers. She graduated with honors, earning a 4.0 average and a degree in political science.
She was also president of the National French Honors Society.
BEATING THE ODDS
Kristi is committed to speaking openly about her experiences with the type of random violence that can sometimes strike innocent citizens without warning. She lost her father to gun violence at a young age, and was at Virginia Tech during the mass shooting in 2007. She also meets many fans who generously relate their own similar encounters. Her success demonstrates that everyone can rebound from tragedy with even greater strength, and can prosper despite extreme obstacles.
In a recent interview, Kristi remarked: âI want kids, adults, everyone to know that despite hard times, a hard life, and personal tragedy, you can still achieve joy, happiness and success.
IT’S A NEW DAY
Constantly pushing herself to surpass past accomplishments, Kristi continues to train for competition. In the aftermath of her Rio win, she’s also visited the White House, been seen on the runway in sponsored fashion shows, made an appearance on the Steve Harvey show, and become Health & Fitness Ambassador for the Seattle Sounders FC. In addition, she remains the U.S. Ambassador of Sport to the country of Guyana.
Kristi continues to share her motivational story with NCAA student-athletes across the U.S., so that her wealth of knowledge, positive attitude and lifelong determination can inspire others to greatness.
Author, Motivational Speaker, Adventurer, former US Navy Air Rescue Swimmer.
Adventures – Everest, Island Peak, Aconcagua, Patagonia, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Kosciusko, Vinson Massif (Antarctica), Cascades, Waddington Range, Alaska Range, Canadian Rockies, Smokies, Sierra, White Mountains, Appalachian, Andes, Himalaya, Caucasus Mountains, Sentinel Range, Marathons, Swam Alcatraz, Adventure Races, Ultras, OCR, Surfing, Rock/Ice Climbing, Rappelling, Backcountry Touring (split board), Snowboarding, Mountain Biking.
Military – Former US Navy Air Rescue Swimmer / Combat Search and Rescue
Hi! My name is Jennifer, and I’m a climbing, peakbagging, homeschooling, adventure-loving mother, currently residing at the base of the Sierras with my husband, and our two children. I’m also a woman living with Lupus (SLE) and Celiac Disease, two commonly co-occurring autoimmune disorders.
Being a family of climbers, we’re often outdoors. When not out on the rocks, you can find us camping, hiking, exploring our favorite known mountainous areas, finding new ones, or training/goofing-off in our recently-built climbing cave.
Trained as an Epidemiologist, I was readying for medical school after years of putting myself through college as a single mom, when life threw a curve ball, dramatically altering my course. My father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Multiple Myeloma and needed care. After moving North to be with him while he underwent 2 years of chemo followed by a stem-cell transplant, I joined the local SAR group’s mountaineering/climbing course where a new path awaited (along with my future husband).
It wasn’t long before I developed an intense passion for climbing. Being placed in the present moment, weaknesses front and center while being forced to seek out strengths in order to ascend a route so closely mimics overcoming life’s challenges. This fundamental part of climbing is ever-present, and there’s nothing quite like being 100âs of feet off the deck, route finding, totally relying on yourself and your partner in every way.
Does living with multiple chronic illnesses makes an adventurous lifestyle tricky? Definitely. Impossible? Not a chance. Through years of demanding no less than the right to follow my dreams, I’ve realized that “impossible” is only a state of mind. Healthy eating is crucial for remaining in top shape for climbing and avoiding dreaded flare-ups that can land me in bed or the hospital. As a woman climber with Celiac it’s an honor to represent one of my favorite makers of a gluten-free food made ideal to bring on any adventure!
I grew up playing the typical US sports – baseball, soccer, football, basketball. It wasn’t until high school that I tried something that would change my outlook on sports – triathlon. One of my friends was very involved with triathlon, and I was interested in giving it a go too. I convinced my father to sign up for one with me, and the rest is history! That first summer, we raced three local sprint triathlons. The next – nine. The next – eleven. I was hooked, and I also quickly found success locally. I was fortunate to be training and racing with a group of local all-stars, which helped to get my foot in the door at some higher level regional and national races – ultimately leading to earning my professional license (a major goal when I started).
Ironically, this is where my endurance sports career took a turn. I had just entered my senior year of college at Villanova University, and a number of other life obligations took the front seat. The biggest one was the opportunity to move to California to work for my dream company: Specialized Bicycle Components. As I drove across the country, I was primed to start “working” on things that were my passion, while attempting to swing a pro triathlete side-job.
I instantly fell in love with what California had to offer – 12 months of sunshine and endless landscapes to enjoy. It also meant that I’d have to ride my bike more often to enjoy them. I decided, after half-heartedly swimming/running for the first six months of living in California, to hang up the running shoes and swim goggles. I haven’t looked back! I quickly went from a Cat 4 to Cat 1 cyclist in my first season (2015), then raced with Team Mike’s Bikes in 2016 (and won Amateur Nationals in the Individual Time Trial!), then was fortunate to be offered a spot on Team Illuminate. Racing during the 2017 season took me to five different continents, and I raced in seven different countries. It has been a dream!
It’s hard to swing two jobs – I was fully aware of the position I was putting myself in when I decided to race professionally as well. Thankfully, I work for a leader in the industry – and with a number of extremely passionate coworkers who live and breathe bikes just like me. Every day, most people in the office head out on a lunch ride. This means I have a dedicated time to get some work in on the bike – adding in a coach since becoming a professional has ensured this time is used efficiently! On days I have some more freedom, I get to duke it out with the rest of my coworkers on some lunch rides that are often more challenging than some races. It’s a big reason I was able to get faster and gain experience so quickly!
Climber & Guide
My name is Lizzy VanPatten. I am a 27 year-old from Marysville, Washington – climbing, guiding, and playing music at different climbing areas throughout the world.
In October of 2014, after graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Political Science from Western Washington University, I set off on a solo mission to South America with one plan – to explore Patagonia. For months I lived in the mountains, disconnected from comforts, wifi, a bed and everyone I knew. After living out of a backpack for 6 months and being more joyful than I have ever been I quickly realized that my world would never be the same again.
Since my first trip to South America nearly everything about how I choose to live my life has changed. I sold the majority of my belongings and moved into my van, traveling with the seasons to explore different climbing areas. I have since returned to Patagonia, explored the Bugaboos, summited peaks in the North Cascades, adventured in the Utah desert, guided clinics at Smith Rock, and scared myself on the big walls of Yosemite.
In recent years I began guiding in hopes of showing people, especially women, how powerful they are.
Professional Race Walker
Born and raised among the Sierra Mountains and the eclectic lifestyles of the Bay Area, nature and my family is the “home” where my heart is. I started running when I was in Middle School because XC allowed me to run freely through dirt, sticks, and over rocks. When my parents told me I had to pick between dance and Track & Field, I began racewalking because it reminded me of a dance. My first time being quoted in the newspaper is when the reporter asked me what I think about when I run, I was 12-years-old: “Hello trees! Hello flowers!” Ha, my passion for the outdoor activities is in this bird’s nature.
My athletic, professional, and creative interests take me exploring worldwide. When I’m not running or racewalking kilometers upon miles, I’m: – Dreaming up costume designs inspired by characters my boyfriend (a professional writer) introduces to the world in his novels and short stories. I wear them. – Snapping photos with my beloved camera or whatever image-capturing device I can get my hands on. – Assisting photographers and directors with lighting, production, acquiring marketing material, and editing. I LOVE being around other Creatives and Explorers, meeting new people, and giving dogs skritches behind the ears and belly rubs.
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