Please welcome the twenty first American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the ninth in 2018. Stephanie Davies is a trail runner, race director, coach, and an enthusiastic advocate for women’s running. This 49-year-old grew up in Hammonton, New Jersey and has made Belmont, California her home for nearly three decades.
Wrote nominator George Rehmet, “In 2017, Stephanie started a trail race in Huddart Park through the Mermaid Series which she co-directs, offering different distances on a course that was not overly technical to make it approachable for those new to trail running. Moreover, Stephanie taught participants trail etiquette and how to navigate trail markings. As a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) certified coach and RRCA certified race director, she is very knowledgeable about best practices in coaching and putting on races. With the latter, Stephanie is currently planning her own trail race in Water Dog Park in her hometown of Belmont.”
Added Robert Rhodes, “Stephanie’s contributions to the running community in the San Francisco Bay Area span some 30 years. Her father, a former cross country coach in New Jersey, unknowingly gave her the tools to run successfully and injury free. She maintained her passion and dedication for the industry as a recreational runner, and in 2013, built a community called I RUN California. Through this group and on social media, Stephanie has successfully forged and maintained networking and sponsorship relations with major US marathons, running stores, race directors and other trail running clubs. At the same time she was building her network, Stephanie took on a number of roles as an Ambassador for brands that included, INKnBURN, Skratch Labs, and Swirl Gear.
“Naturally she found her way into race directing and started working with the Mermaid Series to host a number of large races throughout the Bay Area,” continued Rhodes. “I’ve been to a couple of these large events and saw her in action working timing, check-in and course marking. She exudes friendliness, goodwill, hugs and smiles! As a race director myself, I have had the pleasure to work with Stephanie on a number of occasions. Not only has she participated in my races but she has also volunteered… one time even sweeping an entire marathon course for me. She is very well-known and loved in our community and does so many great things to keep it fun and entertaining.”
Davies will soon celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary with husband, Mike. Possessing a degree in business, Davies started her career as a corporate accountant for a mutual fund company before time away from the office as a stay-at-home mom raising Chad, now a sophomore at UofA, Cole, a senior in high school, and Senna, a sophomore in high school. “After a few years at home, I decided to reinvent myself,” said Davies. “Today, I am a RRCA Certified Race Director and Coach, and for the past three years, race director with the Mermaid Series.”
Davies foray into trail running began when she was 17 years old. “My brother, who was 14 at the time, committed suicide,” reflected Davies. “Finding my brother was really hard to handle and I had to handle it alone. My parent, who had custody at the time of his death, did not believe in therapy. Running became my therapy and still is.”
Part of that running therapy includes racing on the trails, which Davies loves especially at the 50K distance. When asked to pick a favorite, there are many that come to mind for this trail racing aficionado. “For the quiet and canopied single track, thick with ferns and lush greenery, it would be the BayTrail Runners Whiskey Hill. For the challenge, I love Brazen Racing’s Trail Challenge at Mt. Diablo. And of course, through Mermaid Series at Huddart Park in Woodside, CA, the 3, 6, and 9 mile events I direct.
“The Mermaid Series has been such a wonderful experience for me,” continued Davies. “I started off as an ambassador in 2014, promoting the series on my community page, I RUN California. Soon, that ambassadorship became a partnership and job with the owner of the series, Carlo Facchino. Carlo asked me when I first met him, ‘What is your product?’ I couldn’t answer him initially, but I am happy to say that through Mermaid Series, I realized my product was and is to Inspire Women.”
With this product in mind, Davies inspires women every day getting them out on the roads and trails to try new distances. “I work with them to embrace the moment and love the skin that they are in,” said Davies. “Mermaid Series is about empowerment. I believe we achieve our goal and our message reaches our core constituent group. Recently, we were invited to China to share about our success in the United States as a women’s race series, and are one of the founding members of the International Women’s Running League, a group focused on women’s running.”
For the past four years, Davies has also worn the hat of a volunteer. “I have managed aid stations and registration, but my favorite role is sweeper,” she said. “I just love being there for that person at the end of the day. I stay far enough back that they don’t know I am there, but watching them achieve that goal they have set for themselves makes me so happy.”
Davies also has a focus to help preserve the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course in her local community. The course was created years ago by Robert Rush, now 85 years old, and greats such as Frank Shorter and Jeff Galloway have run on the trails. “The creator is getting older and he really needs assistance. I feel it is my calling to help him out as much as I can. There are some people I know of who wish to close the course down, but I will stand with the over 700 thousand runners who have come to that course and save that from happening.”
Through trail running, Davies has learned patience and humility. “Trail running has taught me that I have to appreciate the beauty of the moment,” she said. “Trail running has taught me to be patient with myself.”
Her advice to those considering getting into trail running or racing is this, “Do it. Yes, you will fall – I have gravel in my elbow and knee to prove that. Yes, you will roll an ankle. However, if you don’t try, how will you know if you like it or not. It is sightseeing on foot in the most beautiful places. How can you pass up that opportunity?”
On November 17, join Davies when she runs the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k, or come out and support her as a volunteer, participant, or spectator in the Mermaid Series Trail Run on December 8, 2018.