“When Alina walked out of my life in 2009, despite me feeling that I found my soulmate, I felt lost, and I didn’t know what to do. I decided on running across a few countries for Alina in order to prove my feelings to myself and to her. But, I didn’t tell anyone, except my grandpa, until after I’d run across my first country.
I had already run across multiple countries when I told her what I was doing. She thought it was crazy and didn’t know how to react as we hadn’t seen each other in four years at that point. But, she was definitely interested. It was unique, and we started a relationship after I came back from running across Cuba. This was an eight-year long journey, and I never expected it to work or to win Alina’s heart. I proposed as soon as I finished the sixth and most recent run across Switzerland. Alina said yes, not because of the running, but because she said I have a big heart.” – HOKA Fan Slava Koza
“February 2015 was the last time Jim Walmsley cut his hair after years of keeping it short serving in the Air Force. Jim started growing out the curls around his move back to Arizona, and they have been a staple of his look for those who have only followed him since he started running ultras competitively. He was really proud of them, but a bet was made earlier in the year that if Jim lost a race in 2017, he’d have to cut his hair. So, last night he paid up after dropping out of Western States® 100-Mile Endurance Race on Saturday by having all of the Coconino Cowboys take a cut.”- Photographer and friend of HOKA Athlete Jim Walmsley, Myke Hermsmeyer
“Coming back to Western States with Jim, there were so many parallels to last year’s race: from Jim’s brash pre-race confidence, to James Bonnett urging Jim to relax as he tore ahead of the field early in the race despite the snow and heat, to the crazy crowds and buzz at Foresthill and then the deflation of the radio silence as the clock kept ticking and everyone wondered, where’s Jim? Running well below course-record pace and on the verge of doing something none of the best runners in the world have achieved, or even attempted, is just what Jim does now. He was chasing audacious goals with long odds. When things went south this year, the sense of loss wasn’t as sharp — this wasn’t a tragic wrong turn and clearly Jim beat Jim. As we were driving Jim up from the Rucky Chucky towards the medical tent at Placer where Jim was cot mates with race winner, Jim said of the race, ‘Sometimes when you’re not careful trying to set off fireworks, you light yourself on fire.’ While he got burned pretty badly yesterday, Jim has pulled himself out of the ashes before and has a lot of support around to help put out the flames. It’s only a matter of time before Jim starts playing with fire again.”- Photographer and friend of HOKA Athlete Jim Walmsley, Myke Hermsemeyer
“I came into the final aid station, and I sat down. My body had lost the ability to move — on the climb up to the aid station, I couldn’t even step up a few inches without full-body cramps. It was a bit of sadness tinged with a lot of comedy, laughing in bemusement as I waited out yet another cramp in the bushes as the race passed me by. So when I sat down, I was not planning on getting back up. For an hour, I did not move a muscle. Then my wife and fellow teammate, Megan Roche, came around the corner. She was having her own version of a full-body shutdown, but she looked determined. When she got to the aid station, she made it simple: ‘You’re coming with me.’ I got up, cramped, then waddled off behind Megan a few seconds later. Every minute, she’d wait for me when she heard a yelp of pain. She never stopped believing in me, even when my muscles clearly did not agree with her assessment. I planned on those last five miles taking just over 30 minutes — they took closer to 90. But, with a bunch of “I love you” and “You got this” statements, she got me to the finish line. We crossed hand-in-hand, smiling and laughing, hours behind when we were expected to finish. But, I don’t think I have ever been happier. And that is how love turned my worst race into my best memory.” – HOKA Athlete David Roche
Watch Episode 1 of “Lighting the Fire” as HOKA Athlete Jim Walmsley shares how his past in the Air Force and getting lost at the 2016 Western States® 100-Mile Endurance Run turned him into the ultrarunner he is today. “It was a phase or a time in my life that wasn’t the prettiest. Not my proudest. But, it really steered me in a direction in life to go do something that I’m passionate about,” Jim Walmsley on his path to the 2017 Western States® 100-Mile Endurance Run.