“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
My last several years as a “professional” athlete have left much to be desired. There have been many high points in the form of experiences, race results and just gosh darn beautiful runs with gosh darn awesome people. However, there were more frustrating experiences than I could even count. From struggling to find a track to practice on for several weeks in the dead of track season, to being denied entry into specific races, to just feeling disrespected as both an individual and as a team. There were many days when myself and my teammates would vent to each other about how difficult and challenging the world of post-collegiate running was. Guidance, resources and opportunities are very hard to find. Whether you are a NCAA champion or an average runner with some potential, you tend to finish college saying “now, what?” Even if a contract is handed to you, it doesn’t usually come with instructions. It kind of just says “here’s some money, run fast and make us look good” without really telling the 22-year-old holding it how to do so. If you fall into the category that myself and the overwhelming majority of post-collegiate runners do, your situation looks more like “here are some shoes and a little gear, now figure out how to train hard enough to compete with the nation’s best while trying to balance a job(s) to support yourself financially, drop hundreds of dollars to travel to each race, likely without access to the resources, treatment and coaching that you need.” After awhile you start to look around and realize that you’re approaching 30 and feel like you have spent the last several years swimming upstream, without really getting anywhere. In college you get access to world-class training facilities, excellent coaching, treatment and doctor options, free travel to the best competitions in the country, and all the shoes and gear you need. Once you are done, you are expected to continue the same trajectory of improvement, with all of that being taken away, and that is not something easy to do. While many, many athletes do it and have inspirational stores to tell for doing so, just as many talented athletes are slipping through the cracks, and things need to change.
After spending enough time griping about the state of the sport, we here at Hudson Elite have decided to stop waiting for change to happen, and to do something about it. The good news is that we aren’t the only ones. Elite teams like ZAP Fitness, Team USA Minnesota and Hanson’s have paved the way. However, over the last several years there are even more groups popping up around the country dedicated to the development of the athletes that maybe otherwise wouldn’t be getting the opportunity. Groups like NJNY, NAZ Elite and Furman Elite are doing big things. Knowledgeable and successful coaches are taking on the task of guiding groups of athletes like ours, one that isn’t always easy and certainly isn’t lucrative. Companies and individuals of all kinds are doing their part to help fuel the dreams of the athletes that fall just outside the border of getting assistance, an area that is a small one without room for many people. It’s an exciting time in the sport to see so many people stepping up to the challenge of changing the face of post-collegiate running.
What sets us apart from other elite groups is that we are an elite team being set up by the elite athletes, themselves. Through all of our individual experiences, we know what athletes aren’t getting and what they need. While many teams were started by a hefty donation or financial backing, we are starting from scratch. While this is challenging, it is a great opportunity to build a foundation that we hope to build on for years to come. We discovered very quickly that our “foundation” was made up of the running community not only in Boulder, but around the country. We have been overwhelmed by the support of influential people in the community who want to be part of what we are doing. We recently began an online coaching endeavor in which we invited runners around the country to become part of our extended team Hudson Community. We were completely overwhelmed by the response we got, and our team continues to grow every week. Hudson Elite is not just made up of the elite athletes training here in Boulder, but every single person that has bought one of our tee-shirts, joined on with Hudson Community, or just offered words of encouragement and support. We have an unorthodox setup in that our team practices are often open. What is great about that is that we usually have people dropping in on Sunday long runs and weekly workouts. These people range from those that just love to run to some of the best athletes in the country who are in Boulder training. This creates an accepting environment that reminds all of us why we all fell in love with running in the first place.
Hudson Elite is dreaming big, and we have very lofty goals and a sky high 5-year plan. We hope to continue growing so that we can provide opportunity and guidance to athletes coming out of college who otherwise may be forced to give up the sport or, even worse, forget why they loved it. While we want to offer them the resources and support that they need to reach their potential, more importantly, we want to surround them with people who care. It is easy to get bogged down with frustration when thinking about the restrictions and barriers this sport provides, but you will never attend a Hudson Elite practice that isn’t full of laughter and smiles. When I look around, almost all of the best things in my life are because of running. From the friends I have, to the experiences we’ve shared, to the places I’ve seen, to the levels I have pushed my body to. That is the opportunity that we are looking to share; remembrance of what it is all about.