The Heart of the Matter
Three Women, One State, Once Championship Team
U.S.A. 100K World Championship teammates Meghan Arbogast, Amy Sproston and Pam Smith on a training run in their backyard- Oregon's Willamette Valley. Photo by Justin Bailie.
Underneath a canopy of towering firs, dawn redwoods and giant magnolia, three women run quietly in single file. Despite the steepness and slippery mud of the trail their gaits are fluid, and their breathing even. As the rain picks up, so does their pace, and before it can begin to truly pour the women have disappeared around a bend in the trail. But for the ease of their strides and the comfort of their silence they could have been any women, the trail could have been in any place. They are not any women, however, and this is not any place.
Pam smith, Amy Sproston and Meghan Arbogast form the heart of the U.S.A 100K World Championship team, and they are running on their home turf in Oregon’s Wil lamette Valley. In this strip of primarily agricultural land set between the state’s rainy coastal mountain range and its noticeably taller and more rugged Cascade Range, the three are forming new standards for the sport as they consistently take top podium spots, break records, balance careers and family and destroy past expectations depicting that of which women are capable.
At the 2011 100K world Championships, Sproston, smith and Arbogast led the six- person U.S. team to a silver medal. In 2012, they led the team again, and this time, all the way to gold. Sproston posted first overall. According to their team manager, Lin Gentling, if their current race and training results are any indication, there is little that will stop them from a repeat performance in 2013. The 2013 race, which will be held in October in south Korea, is still a long way off. And right now in Oregon, Sproston, smith and Arbogast have running obligations to attend to in addition to their personal, familial and professional lives. And while the trio has vastly different lifestyles, they have this in common: the responsibilities of kids, jobs and/or homes act not as deterrents from their running but as fuel for it. Here we introduce you to how they do it.
Back on the trail the wind has picked up. As the tree limbs are pushed first one way then another, smith, Sproston and Arbogast appear and disappear as they make their way to the ridge top. In the rain, running though mud and wind, they are clearly Oregonians, yet blazing bright on the back of their red jackets are the letters, U.S.A.