“I’ve always wanted to know how far my feet can carry me,” Bryan Schlinkmann, tells me. Bryan is a Western Mountain Sports athlete and is finishing up his degree in Environment and Sustainability at Western this December. As a high school junior he decided to run a marathon. Then he read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and also became aware of ultra-marathon events (distances greater than a marathon) and the many 100 mile events that took place in the country. He was hooked from there on. Bryan’s choice to attend Western was largely driven by his knowledge that there were both great trails in the Gunnison, CO area and an active community of trail runners.
As part of the Western running club as a Freshman, he learned the local trails and began to network within the trail running community. He ran his inaugural Ultra the summer of 2013, the Leadville Silver Rush, a 50 mile run. Since, he has completed four 100 mile runs and over a dozen other long distance events. Bryan’s increased activity in trail running has tracked directly with the creation of the Mountain Sports Trail Running. His early motivation and excitement around the sport put him in Duncan Callahan’s office and step-by-step a trail running program gained formality. The team, which is housed under Mountain Sports, grew from Bryan and one or two other athletes to a team of over 30 athletes with two coaches. At every step of the way, Bryan was present with ideas and motivation.
Speaking about Bryan’s current influence in the Trail Running team, coach Josh Eberly said he “is very enthusiastic and passionate about the Trail Running Sport. He has many great stories and advice that he lends to his teammates on a daily basis. Bryan is 100% in on our program and is always talking about ways to make it better. He is definitely the “Pappa Bear” for our Team!”
Even while pursuing his own goals in running, Bryan admits that some of his happiest moments have been watching his teammates complete runs at distances they couldn’t imagine possible. It is this cohesive community of encouragement and support rather than the pursuit of a single accomplishment that keeps Bryan running.
Looking forward, Bryan is still interested in how far his feet can carry him. He plans to run the Badwater 146 this summer as a fundraiser. It’s a 146-mile event, known for brutal hot temperatures and finishing at the summit of Mt. Whitney. He is also interested in building his speed at the 100-mile distance and shifting his focus from finishing to becoming more competitive.
Be sure to follow him at schlinkmann.wordpress.com.