Please welcome the twenty sixth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the second in 2019. Colorado native Josh Eberly is an accomplished athlete, coach, and mentor. Always with an unforgettable smile, and a can-do attitude, this 38-year-old is an inspirational leader and competitor.
Nominator Greg Chase wrote, “As the head coach of the Trail Running Team at Western Colorado University Josh Eberly is undoubtedly shaping an important segment of the future of competitive trail running. He fosters a community of consistent training and strives to pick up everyone on the team who is willing to put in the work and who is focused on improving as athletes. He is also a beast and leads by example.”
“I am also involved in the trail running community here in Gunnison and Crested Butte, which is vibrant,” continued Chase, “And Eberly’s influence and what he is doing with this group of athletes is amazing.”
Eberly was born and raised in Arvada, Colorado, and has called the Gunnison home for the past 20 years. He lives in this mountain hamlet –population 6,000 – with his wife and their two young children. Eberly owns Run Sleep Design , a web development/design company he founded 15 years ago which is responsible for designing & maintaining this website. For the past four years he has also been the Head Coach of Trail Running for Western Mountain Sports.
A former competitive road runner, Eberly got into trail running about six years ago. “I was getting a bit bored of the roads,” recalled Eberly. “I wanted to change it up and climb some mountains!”
Since his foray into the sport, he has run numerous trail and mountain races and represented the United States at the World Mountain Running Championships and NACAC Mountain Running Championships. He has run distances from 10K to 50 miles though he has no favorites. “They all bring out a different beauty,” said Eberly. “Whether it is super technical or mountainous, I’m glad just to be out on the trails.”
And out on the trails he is, much of the time with the Western Mountain Sports Trail Team he coaches. “This very unique, one-of-a-kind Collegiate Trail Running Program was built on a club framework,” explained Eberly. “With investment in coaching and resources, we turned this into a turn-key Trail Running program, where young athletes can get a dose of the Mountain, Ultra, Trail landscape. Bringing my work ethic from the NCAA side and somewhat rigorous training schedule, I was able to help these kids reach their individual goals of excelling in Trail Running.
“The program has grown immensely over the years and we are really having fun introducing this young generation to the trail running / ultra landscape. We have around 40 kids in the fall with less in the Winter/Spring due to the Winter Sports. These kids are the future of the Trail world. I am taking full advantage of this opportunity by showing them all the things I have learned over the years to become an ‘okay-runner.’ The number one thing is consistency and enjoying the process,” continued Eberly. “I have got a lot of athletes from the NCAA side who come over because they get too burnt out from NCAA. It takes about 1-2 weeks in our program to show them the joy and the reason they started to run in the first place. The NCAA is not for everyone, having an alternative to NCAA Running makes logical sense for any College to adapt. We train 6 days a week with 2 workouts, 2 core sessions 2 days of lifting, one over-distance run and a few easy runs sprinkled in there. We also do a lot of strides and agility drills. We are learning every year what to do and what not to do with these athletes. We have a lot of fun, and we never take ourselves too serious!”
The Team has enjoyed some great support. “We have been very fortunate to partner with adidas Terrex this past year and they have provided shoes, apparel, and accessories,” said Eberly. “The kids can now focus on training smarter and racing better without worrying about buying their next pair of shoes. adidas Terrex also provides an amazing opportunity for six of our athletes to race internationally this June at the adidas Infinite Trails World Championships in Gastein, Austria.”
Volunteerism is important to Eberly and the best part is, “To see the diversity and camaraderie in trail running. It is never about how fast you run, it is all about the stories and friends you meet!”
Annually, Eberly leads his team on a volunteer project with the local trails system. “Gunnison Trails has been such a great leader and has an amazing philosophy in trail maintenance and building. It is great to be a part of it,” he said.
Eberly has learned a lot from trail running, probably the most indelible is the following. “Sometimes stopping and appreciating the pure beauty that surrounds you every day helps with all of the ‘other noise’ going on in the world. It gives me a chance to unplug and think about the things important to me.”
His advice to those considering getting into the sport reads like this. “Trail running isn’t for everyone, but give it a try. Climb a mountain or run through a forest. I think you might like it.”
Follow Eberly’s results this year as he gets set to race at the adidas Infinite Trails World Championships in Austria, the Silver Rush 50 miler, the Audi Power of Four and Aspen Backcountry Trail Marathon.