Please welcome the twenty eighth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the fourth in 2019. Forty-three-year-old Greg Sisengrath is an athlete, coach, volunteer, and trail supporter. (Photos by Stasulli Photo / Trail Racing Over Texas).
Nominator Jason Bahamundi wrote, “Greg coaches athletes, sets up group training runs, provides advice and recently started the Team Dirt and Vert concept to help get more people involved with trail running.”
“I can write a book about Greg as he has been my pacer at five different hundreds and will be pacing me at Western States and I will be pacing him at Cruel Jewel this year,” continued Bahamundi. “When you become friends with Greg, or are coached by Greg, you realize that you can do more than you expect from yourself and that is because Greg pushes you to get better. He doesn’t do this with an in-your-face type of action, but rather a more subtle nudging. Before you know it, you are doing things that you considered ‘crazy’ and are excelling at them. Over the past eight years, I have seen him become more and more of a trail running advocate. He volunteers to help athletes, looks after the trails and does everything he can to ensure that the trail running community is served.”
With a hometown of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Greg Sisengrath has called Allen, Texas home for the past 19 years, 17 of those years married to his wife Fiona – also a trail runner. The couple has three daughters – Rylie 15, Haylie 13, and Emerie 10.
Sisengrath has worked as a Business Analyst for Bank of America for 15 years, and more recently, he has included coaching as a profession. “I started informally coaching in 2015, when a friend of a friend asked me to help her train for her first trail ultra,” said Sisengrath. “It’s grown organically since and Team Ninja now currently has a roster of about 30 road and trail runners.”
Sisengrath started running in 2009, in an effort to “get back into shape.” He discovered trail running about a year later (thank you Born to Run) and has been predominantly a trail runner ever since. “I mainly stick to trails and rarely race on road,” Sisengrath said. “I’ll race any trail distance from half marathon to one hundred miles. My favorite distance would be the 50K because I feel like that distance doesn’t require extended taper or recovery. My favorite race now would be the Franklin Mountains 50K in El Paso. The amazing views and challenging terrain are unmatched in Texas.”
In addition to racing on the trails, Sisengrath also volunteers. “I started volunteering at local races just so I could still be involved in the trail scene when I wasn’t racing. I’ve worked in aid stations, the timing tent and as a course sweeper,” he said. “The best part about volunteering is being able to give back to the trail community and positively impact someone else’s race.”
Part of his volunteer efforts focus on trail work. Sisengrath recently spent three hours doing trail maintenance at one of his local trails with the local mountain bike group, DORBA (Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association). The work included filling in deep ruts in the trail caused by water erosion. “A couple of friends and I (we call ourselves Team Dirt and Vert) will be organizing a trail relay in July to raise money for trail maintenance at our local trail. This will be our second event. We held a “fat-ass” 50K in March on a few weeks’ notice and were able to raise money which we donated to DORBA that will be used for trail signage.”
From trail running, Sisengrath has learned, “To never stop challenging yourself in life and that we are all capable of more than what we think.” His advice to someone getting into the sport includes a supportive environment. “I would recommend reaching out to their local trail community and just joining a group run. I think trail runners are the most friendly and accommodating and are more than happy to welcome new runners to the ‘dark side.’”
You’ll find Sisengrath racing the Cruel Jewel 100 next month, and Wasatch 100 in September. “I’m hoping to compile more tickets for the elusive Hardrock lottery,” he said. “I will also be pacing and crewing friends/athletes at Western States, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, Arkansas Traveller and the Pinhoti 100.”