A few weeks ago, four elite runners from the NorCal Distance Project came to visit, take some pretty photos, and talk to us about their training. Kim Conley, Alycia Cridebring, Rachel Mitchell, and Lianne Farber donned New Balance apparel from the upcoming Spring 2016 line, looking as fly as they did fast. We even had the opportunity to film a hard workout which gave us a unique glimpse into their journeys as runners. These girls are making moves! And they’ve caught our attention.
So, who is Kim Conley?
Kim Conley is the most unlikely of American Track and Field Olympians. Her high school career at Montgomery High School was capped off by a 19th place finish at the 2004 California State Championship track meet. The pinnacle of her UC Davis career was her 80th place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. These accomplishments are better than the vast majority of young American runners have experienced, but they do not put you on the shortlist of Olympic hopefuls.
Kim could have used her UC Davis degree and started a fruitful career, or gone to grad school, like most of her peers. Instead she dedicated her life to seeing how fast she could be. Without the support of a major sponsor, she had to lean on family and friends, and her own tenacity to see where her legs could take her.
Her wild bet on herself paid off. Thanks to a 3rd place finish in one of the most dramatic races of the 2012 Olympic trials, she qualified for a trip to London. Her story is a metaphor for what hard work and faith in oneself can achieve.
But her story didn’t stop in 2012.
She has continued to be a fixture at the top of women’s distance running ranks in the US, qualifying for a pair of world championships teams in cross country and track, and winning championships on the track and the roads. She continues to be as hungry as ever to see what her legs can do. She has continued to run fast and win races and improve. She has also started NorCal Distance Project with her coach Drew Wartenburg and is helping her young teammates follow in her footsteps, targeting Rio and beyond.
What’s up with the NorCal Distance Project?
Based in Sacramento, CA and coached by Drew Wartenburg, the mission of the NorCal Distance Project is to create an elite training environment for athletes in northern California to train for national, international, and World Championship competitions in events ranging from 800m to the marathon. They have a total of 7 women who train together including Kim Conley, Kate Grace, Lauren Wallace, Alycia Cridebring, Rolanda Bell, Lianne Farber, and Rachel Mitchell, each with different goals and different accomplishments.
They’ve got a pretty legit mission statement, too. Ahem:
The NorCal Distance Project commits to:
- pursue individual and collective excellence with a purposeful approach
- abide by the WADA Code and support the campaign against all forms of doping in sport
- compete fiercely, yet honorably
- place proper emphasis on both the process and outcome of athletic endeavors
- convey positive ideals through the sports of cross country, road racing and track & field
We see you, NorCal Distance Project, and we can’t wait to see what you do next. Stay tuned for more from our time with NorCal Distance Project.