“The day I found out I was going to become a father I was pretty petrified. I had no idea how to raise a kid, I didn’t know how to make enough money to support a family, and I thought that my goals and dreams as a runner were all goners. I’ve been able to realize that life doesn’t end when you are a husband and a father. You just have to change your expectations, get more creative with time, wake up early, and plan your days well. I think my aspirations have only gotten wilder, bigger, and more exciting since I became a dad. And the truth is, my motivation is much more driven by something bigger than myself. I believe my chances of success as an ultra runner have improved by having my son, and that is something I never would have dreamed of before.” – New HOKA Athlete Ryan Ghelfi
“We trained for five months to climb Chimborazo — a 20,564′ mountain in Ecuador and the farthest point on earth from its center. To prepare for the high altitude, we hiked four Ecuadorian peaks beforehand — each one a few thousand feet higher and more spectacular than the last. When we finally got to Chimborazo, there was insane avalanche danger, and we had to turn back short of our goal. The conditions were just way too unsafe to even justify an attempt. But the four summits we climbed prior, the people we met along the way, and the strength and confidence we gained from training made it all worth it. It was an awesome trip.”- HOKA Fan Luke Kelly
“I had brain surgery in 1993 to remove a brain tumor from my right cerebellum. In December 2009, I was told that I had a tumor recurrence and two new tumors. I started running as an escape and ran my first half marathon in 2010. I continued my running journey until I had my second brain surgery to remove one of the tumors in 2012. I have continued running because, to me, running is a metaphor for life. In running, as in life, you gain strength from the challenges you face. Running continues to help me both physically and mentally get through the challenges of living with VHL. Within my own family, I come from a legacy of VHL WARRIORS, including my dad, uncle, cousin and most recently my brother, who have lost their lives to this disease. Von Hippel-Lindau is a genetic condition. Having an alteration in the VHL gene is what is known as a predisposition factor to certain kinds of tumors, including some specific cancers. My running journey has been such an amazing experience. It truly has given me strength and often is therapy. In 2015, I suffered a ‘moderate’ heart attack during a race. I was rushed to the hospital, and a stent was put in. The heart attack put an end to my 557-day running streak, but in the end I was able to concentrate on my health and achieve my goal of representing the VHL community in the 2016 Boston Marathon.”- HOKA Fan Shawn Mastrantonio
Shawn’s favorite shoe is the Clifton 3.
“My daughter, Sorel, has Rett Syndrome, and my friend’s daughter, Haley, has CDKL5. These are rare developmental disorders that affect their ability to walk and talk. They struggle so hard, so I thought I should do this for them. They can’t do it themselves because they’re trapped in these bodies that don’t work the way they should.
Running 50 miles is so easy compared to one day in their life. My body was giving out almost 40 miles into this one. It was so steep and the thing is just so mountainous. There’s no flat areas — it’s either straight up or straight down. I was just going to collapse. I was super dehydrated, my skin was white, my veins were purple. You almost want to fall down, but I’m like ‘I can’t stop.’ A couple times I’d slowly walk and I’d be like ‘no, I have to hammer this.’ You throw up and think you’re dying, but you’re really not. For some reason, I start thinking of them and then I got a call on the phone. I could hear Sorel’s sounds and I just started jamming. I sprinted like a seven-minute mile for the last three miles. They gave me the strength, those girls. I had so many low points in that race, but most of the time I was just crying of happiness. I did that for like half the race because I was just thinking of them and people probably through I was totally crazy. Sorel has made me so strong mentally. When I ran my first half marathon, I thought I was dying. Now I just break through all that stuff. It’s an honor to run for them.” – HOKA fan Chris Kolendrianos on running the Avalon 50 to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome and CDKL5 research in 2016
Chris’ favorite shoe, which he wore during the Avalon 50, is the Clifton 3.