Staying Vertical with Desiree Ficker Berry

On Thursday, November 10th, William Dyson, of High Five Events, sat down with Desiree Ficker Berry (see extensive recognition list below) to discuss her acceptance into the Austin Marathon’s Elite Athlete Program, her ability to balance family life and training, and what her goals are for the future.

Follow Desiree’s journey to the Austin Marathon start line on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

William Dyson – You were one of the first runners selected for the Austin Marathon’s Elite Athlete Program. Congrats! Why are you running Austin in 2017? 

The Austin Marathon presented by NXP

The Austin Marathon presented by NXP.

Desiree Ficker Berry – Thank you. I’m excited to be a part of the revitalized Elite Athlete Program! I’ve been cheering for or running the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon since 2004. It is sacred to me and it’s always an enjoyable race. Unlike most, I absolutely love the hills. I train on the hills and live close to the course. I’m honored to be a part of High Five Events first year producing the marathon and want to help support your efforts. I’m at a point where my training miles can be increased because my kids are a little older (daughter Beau, 3 years old and son Bear, 14 months). When I see my kids on the course cheering for me, when I see the look on my daughter’s face, I know I’m inspiring her the way my parents inspired me.

WD – What are your thoughts on the Austin Marathon bringing back a prize purse/elite field?

DFB – It’s absolutely fantastic. Any time you introduce a prize purse/elite field it makes it more interesting for everyone. It enhances the race for the other elites because they know they’re competing against the best. Every participant gets to share the same course as the elites; it adds a little more motivation for them. In what other event can you participate with the top athletes in that sport? Lastly, it’s thrilling for the spectators. I grew up watching races and it’s a spectacle to watch athletes give everything they have on race day.

WD – You’re originally from Maryland. Tell me, in 60 seconds or less, how you got to Austin.

DFB – I grew up and went to school in Maryland. I then attended and ran for the Univ. of Alabama. Afterwards I became interested in and began competing in triathlons. I entered a triathlon training program in Colorado Springs, became pro, then moved to Boulder. I met some friends who needed a house sitter for four month in Austin. While in Austin I became friends with Jack Murray, swam with Longhorn Aquatics, ran with Gilbert’s Gazelles, and had my first taco in the red caboose at Juanita’s Tacos.

WD – Who was your inspiration/role model growing up?

DFB – I grew up in track and field. I’ve been competing in some form or fashion since I was four years old. We traveled as a family to international events as spectators. We went to Beijing, Italy, Seoul, France, Tokyo, and Atlanta to name a few. Those opportunities to see the sport allowed me to watch Jackie Joyner-Kersee. I’ve always admired her spirit. She’s always happy, smiling, and gracious. I loved the fact that she was capable of being successful at numerous events. I remember in an interview she said one of her keys to success was to surround yourself with positive people. I’ve strived to follow her lead, both as an athlete and as a human.

WD – What was the catalyst that launched running for you?

DFB – My first memories of running started around four. I remember feeling the speed and being in the moment. It felt like I was flying. I had so much fun and I wanted to keep that feeling going. My dad was a competitive masters runner. He was always training. In the winter he would take us to run at the Univ. of Maryland indoor facility. We would run stairs and I remember trying to beat my dad.

Crossing the Jack's Generic Tri finish - 8/7/16

Crossing the Jack’s Generic Tri finish – 8/7/16.

WD – You retired from triathlons in 2011, yet you have raced in several events, like Jack’s Generic Triathlon, since. What drew you back?

DFB – Basically, I missed the triathlon. From a physical standpoint, I was much healthier when I included swimming and biking in my training. I also missed the people, missed the relationships. I love the challenge of doing three events in one.

WD – How is life post-triathlon retirement treated you?

DFB – I’m way more relaxed about training. Having kids means I have less time for myself and training, so I’m now way more efficient with my time. I get my workout done and knock it out. I’ve learned to prioritize workouts and eliminate junk miles,


WD – You can choose one (race) distance to run the rest of your life. What’s the distance?

DFB – The marathon; no question. When you’re fit and in great running shape, there’s no better feeling than being out there for 26 miles. You cover so much distance, see the beauty around you, feed of the energy from the crowd, and then the inexplicable feeling you get when you cross the finish line. I’ve always loved running because all you need is shoes and heart.

WD – Do you run with a training group in Austin in preparation of the marathon?

DFB – Yes, Gilbert’s Gazelles. They were the first group that I ran with and I’ll keep running with them as long as they’re around and I’m fortunate enough to continue running. Gilbert helped with my first years in Austin. He created a community within the group. The Gazelles offer workouts for all speed and abilities. I truly feel his motto’s three words when I show up for workouts, “Run with Joy.”

WD – Most people give advice to their younger self. What piece of advice would you give your future self for race day on Feb. 19th?

DFB – Patience, grasshopper. With the crowd, the energy, the adrenaline, there’s always the inclination to begin quickly. Remain patient, take your time, take care of your body, take in hydration/nutrition, run your race. Most importantly,  take care of yourself at the beginning so you’ll be ready at the end.

WD – You’ve won or placed at all of the big Austin running and triathlon events. How does it feel to win or place where you live compared to winning or placing somewhere else?

DFB – There’s a sense of patriotism towards your town, like hometown pride. The cheers are much bigger and louder. Any athlete will tell you they want to win where they live. It’s that much sweeter.

desficker2

Training Partners Bear and Beau.

WD – How do you balance your family life, work life, and running life?

DFB – It’s a balancing act, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. When my husband is on the road it is more challenging to manage workouts and my kids, but when he’s home I can get it done a lot easier. My kids have wonderful school programs, there’s a mother’s day out, great babysitters, and I push them in the double bob (stroller). My kids love it! We go on adventures and we always end with breakfast and a smoothie.

WD – What advice do you have for mothers who want to run or are just starting to run?

DFB – Think about how inspiring it’ll be for your kids to see you set a goal, work towards it, and achieve it, Remember to take time for yourself. Reward yourself in a healthy way. Don’t forget the importance of goal setting. Having a race on the calendar helps. Running with a stroller can be difficult at first but you will  become stronger and more accustomed to it. But know, when you race without the stroller you’ll fly through the course!

WD – How often to your kids run with you? –

DFB – I’d say about 50% of the time. They love to see all the animals on the trail. As I alluded to in the previous questions, running with my kids in the stroller makes me stronger. My turnover is slow, so I’ll include a complimentary turnover workout, keeping my feet moving fast feet. The other half is for my hard workouts

WD – What has running given you?

DFB – So many gifts! Running has given me confidence and strength. Running has given me experiences that I would’ve never had, like traveling the world to watch competitions and races. Running has given me a lot of joy, which is why I, like Gilbert, run with joy. Running is my main stress relief. My pregnancies were stressful and running was an outlet that reduced stress and made me feel better.

Fit Fickers - Fit is Fun!

Fit Fickers – Fit is Fun!

WD – Give me an update on Fit Fickers. How is it coming along?

DFB – We have two week camps every summer at St. Stevens, In 2017 they’ll be the second and third weeks of July. On 11/6, we finished our Sunday evening training group. That’s a six-week program where kids swim, then run at Quarry Lake. I love seeing the kids’ improvement. There have been kids who’ve conquered their fear of open water and become excellent swimmers. There are normally 15-25 kids/week and their ages range from 7-15. Coaching the kids is special to me; I love it. I’m giving them skills for life.

WD – After the Austin Marathon, what’s next?

DFB – I’m going to look at tri schedule and pick out a couple 70.3s. I want to  get my pro card back, I want to get back to racing as a pro. I want to race NYC, California International Marathon, Texas Tri Series, and the Cap10K.

Scenic Drive

Scenic Drive.

WD – Favorite place to run in Austin?

DFB – Scenic Dr. The view of the Colorado River is something else. There’s something new every day. I have a mile loop that I love to run. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Town Lake trail, but Scenic takes the cake.

WD – Favorite non-running activity?

DFB – Hiking with the family, taking my kids to the park, being outside in general. We love the Greenbelt. We enjoy visiting the parks around town and Texas State parks. Our favorite park to visit is the Terrytown Triangle Park.

WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?

DFB – I’ve got to break this down into three categories. #1: breakfast tacos, Taco Deli; #2: weekend must, True Food Kitchen, Seaholm District; #3 old favorite, Galaxy Cafe.

WD – Friends or family come to visit. What’s the first Austin thing y’all do?

DFB – I’m glad I live in Austin because my dad wants to get BBQ and listen to live music. If my mother-in-law visits we go on a walk around Town Lake with the kids. It’s such an enjoyable place to be.

WD – Des, thanks again for taking the time to swing by High Five Events HQ and lend your time. I look forward to hearing about your Austin Marathon training leading up to race day! We’re excited to have you and look forward to an amazing day. Best of luck with your training. I think it’s safe to say you’re now a role model for many.

DFB – William, it was great to swing by HQ. I’m glad I finally got to see the new place! I’m glad y’all are bringing back the Austin Marathon’s Elite Athlete Program. I think it’s going to enhance the race and be a positive light for our sport. I’m sure all see High Five before race day, but if not, I’ll see y’all at the start line!

Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the endurance community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers to understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the endurance community an inside look into the individuals that are just like you and me.

Desiree’s extensive recognition list:

2016 – 2nd place Run for the Water (1:04:46)

2016 – 1st place Austin 10/20 (1:04:40)

2011 – 1st place Austin Marathon (2:50:35)

2010 – 1st place Cap10K (35:36)

2010 – 1st place Austin Half Marathon (1:17:41)

2009 – 10th place New York City Marathon (2:39:30)

2009 – 2nd place Austin Half Marathon

2009 – 1st place Cap10K (34:56)

2008 – 1st place Cap10K 2007 (35:45)

2008 – qualified for Olympic Marathon Trials; finished in 2:48:11

2007 – 3rd place 3M Half Marathon (1:14:07)

2007 – 2nd place Austin Marathon (2:40:28)

2006 – 2nd place IRONMAN World Championship – Kona (9:28:02)  

Austin Marathon and St. Edward’s University Broaden Partnership

Collaboration will focus on enhanced economic impact and highlight St. Edward’s University experts

High Five Events is proud to announce the expanded partnership between St. Edward’s University and  the Austin Marathon® presented by NXP. Two of Austin’s more recognized entities will work together to showcase the marathon’s economic impact on Austin by engaging faculty expertise at The Bill Munday School of Business.

“The Austin Marathon’s economic impact has always been a stimulator for the local economy” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. “Strengthening our relationship with St. Edward’s will magnify what we’re doing and provide a report that better represents the true economic impact.”

By expanding the partnership with St. Edward’s University, the Austin Marathon will have access to some of the top economic experts in the country, including Associate Dean, Ali Dadpay, who is leading the research for the economic impact report. The 2017 report will include High Five Event’s localized spending, volunteer contributions, jobs created, vendor and supplier additions, and sponsors’ spending. Like previous reports, how much money was spent by participants on hotels, travel, entertainment, and meals will be included.

“This economic impact study allows The Bill Munday School of Business to continue its mission driven work by engaging Austin’s business community in finding answers to important questions for our regional economy,” said Ali Dadpay, MBA director for The Bill Munday School of Business. “As Austin continues to grow as a hub of innovation and economic activity, it is important to generate knowledge locally – about local challenges and opportunities – using globally accepted methods and benchmarks.”

The 2016 Austin Marathon contributed $25.7 million to the Austin economy.

About NXP Semiconductors: NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) enables secure connections and infrastructure for a smarter world, advancing solutions that make lives easier, better, and safer. As the world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, NXP is driving innovation in the secure connected vehicle, end-to-end security and privacy, and smart connected solutions markets. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has 45,000 employees in more than 35 countries and posted revenue of $6.1 billion in 2015. Find out more at www.nxp.com.

About St. Edward’s University: St. Edward’s University is a private, liberal arts college in the Catholic, Holy Cross tradition with approximately 4,600 students. Located in Austin, Texas, it is one of the top universities in Texas and offers undergraduate and graduate programs, including MBA programs and a master’s degree in counseling. With a network of partner universities around the world, St. Edward’s is a diverse community with programs designed to inspire students with a global perspective. St. Edward’s University has been recognized for 14 consecutive years as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report and ranks in the top 20 Best Regional Universities in the Western Region. For more information on St. Edward’s University, visit stedwards.edu/about.

Austin Marathon, Red Bull Announce Partnership

High Five Events, one of the largest privately owned event production companies in the United States, is thrilled to announce that Red Bull will be an official partner for the 2017 Austin Marathon® presented by NXP. The partnership will provide participants with Red Bull during their race day experience. Additional race day activations are still being planned and will enhance the finish line festival.

The original Red Bull energy drink and Red Bull sugarfree will be available to all participants at the start and finish lines and at every aid station along the full and the half marathon course. Red Bull, first created 29 years ago in Austria, is well-known for their sponsorship of and involvement with sports, racing, and extreme adventures. In addition to product support throughout the course, the Red Bull team is currently working on additional audio and visual race day activations.

“Having Red Bull involved with the Austin Marathon is a unique opportunity,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events. “They’re going to bring an energy that will brighten the course and provide participants the jolt needed to get them to the finish line.”

The Austin Marathon will celebrate its 26th year running in the capital of Texas. Austin’s flagship running event annually attracts runners from all 50 states and 20+ countries around the world. With start and finish locations just a few blocks apart, and within walking distance of many downtown hotels and restaurants, the Austin Marathon is the perfect running weekend destination. Participants can still register for the marathon, half marathon, or 5K.

Mayor Steve Adler Invites Runners to Austin Marathon

Austin Mayor Steve Adler extends an open invitation to all runners to come run the Austin Marathon® presented by NXP. Adler, a former finisher of the Austin Half Marathon, talks about the Mayor’s Cup, challenges businesses to sign up for the Corporate Challenge, and highlights what makes the Austin Marathon one of the greatest marathons in the country.

“Whether you’re an elite runner or you’re just going to take a leisurely 26.2-mile stroll around Austin, it’s going to be a beautiful course,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “There is no better city to recover in. Come see us in Austin.”

Mayor Adler has given his stamp of approval to the Mayor’s Cup, which will reward the top elite athletes and the business that wins the Corporate Challenge.

Elite Athlete Program applications are still being accepted and elite marathoners can apply on the Austin Marathon’s website. Athletes that meet the program’s standards and are accepted will be given one comp entry to the 2017 Austin Marathon, a complimentary ride from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to downtown and back to the airport, and the option of a hotel room or home stay for two nights at no cost.

The Corporate Challenge, powered by FitRankings, will challenge businesses to engage in a friendly competition with one another and allow their employees to track their training and race-day activity. FitRankings ranks companies and individuals using real-time data from the latest wearable devices and fitness apps. Sign up for the Corporate Challenge, add your company, and join the Austin Marathon Challenge.

The Austin Marathon will celebrate its 26th year running in the capital of Texas. Austin’s flagship running event annually attracts runners from all 50 states and 20+ countries around the world. With start and finish locations just a few blocks apart, and within walking distance of many downtown hotels and restaurants, the Austin Marathon is the perfect running weekend destination. Participants can still register for the marathon, half marathon, or 5K.

Austin Marathon and FitRankings Launch Corporate Challenge

High Five Events is proud to launch the 2017 Austin Marathon® presented by NXP Corporate Challenge along with FitRankings. Companies and organizations of all sizes are invited to participate in the 2017 Corporate Challenge, which will utilize FitRankings’ universal platform for tracking fitness activity. The winning companies will be awarded the Mayor’s Cup and have bragging rights for a year.

“We’re excited to have FitRankings  implement their cutting-edge technology,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events. “Austin is one of the fittest cities in the country and this Corporate Challenge will highlight that fact.”

The Corporate Challenge will challenge businesses to compete against one another for the Mayor’s Cup and allow their employees to track their training and race-day activity. FitRankings ranks companies and individuals using real-time data from the latest wearable devices and fitness apps. Their algorithm converts all activity into one metric (MET Minutes) that is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control. Sign up for the Corporate Challenge through FitRankings, add your company, and join the Austin Marathon Challenge.

We believe work is a sport and we understand training for a marathon can be lonely,” said Patrick Hitchins, CEO of FitRankings. “FitRankings’ technology will allow employees, companies, and the larger Austin business community to connect, compete, and come together in a meaningful way ahead of the event.

The Austin Marathon will celebrate its 26th year running in the capital of Texas. Austin’s flagship running event annually attracts runners from all 50 states and 20+ countries around the world. With start and finish locations just a few blocks apart, and within walking distance of many downtown hotels and restaurants, the Austin Marathon is the perfect running weekend destination. Participants can still register for the marathon, half marathon, or 5K.

About High Five Events: Beginning with the launch of a single triathlon in 2003, High Five Events has grown to become one of the largest privately owned event production companies in the United States. In addition to the events it owns and produces, the Austin, Texas-based company offers consulting and event production services to dozens of additional events each year. High Five Events is community-centric and has more than 83 years’ experience organizing large events across different venue types in a variety of locations. Follow High Five Events on Twitter (@highfiveevents), Instagram (@highfiveevents), and Facebook (facebook.com/HighFiveEventsWorldWide/) for news and updates.

About NXP Semiconductors: NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) enables secure connections and infrastructure for a smarter world, advancing solutions that make lives easier, better, and safer. As the world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, NXP is driving innovation in the secure connected vehicle, end-to-end security and privacy, and smart connected solutions markets. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has 45,000 employees in more than 35 countries and posted revenue of $6.1 billion in 2015. Find out more at www.nxp.com.

About FitRankings: FitRankings connects companies, organizations, and people through a universal platform for fitness. By using a proprietary algorithm, FitRankings converts any fitness activity from apps and wearables and into one metric, which has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control. FitRankings is helping hundreds of top companies redefine their health programs using the FitRankings Enterprise solution. Organizations are using FitRankings platform to create deeper relationships with their members. FitRankings connects friends, families, and people by allowing them to connect across apps, wearables, and activities. Connect today at FitRankings.com.

Austin Marathon Partnering with Oskar Blues Brewery Austin

AUSTIN, Texas, November 8, 2016 — High Five Events, one of the largest privately owned event production companies in the United States, is excited to introduce Oskar Blues Brewery Austin as the Official Beer Sponsor for the 2017 Austin Marathon® presented by NXP. The Austin Marathon will feature Oskar Blues signature Austin-brewed beers at the finish line festival’s beer garden.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Austin Marathon and offer ice cold, anti-ficial “recovery” drinks for all 21 and over race finishers,” said Diana Ralston, Director of Sponsorships for Oskar Blues. “We’ve been busy brainstorming ways to integrate along the course and are excited to bring a little OB vibe to this much-loved Austin tradition.”

Oskar Blues Brewery Austin, the first craft beer brewery to can craft beer, will offer 21+ finishers and spectators their award-winning, Austin-brewed beers on race day. The Austin Marathon’s beer garden will provide runners and their friends and family a place to gather, relax, and enjoy any one of Oskar Blues’ signature craft brews post-race.

“We’re thrilled to have Oskar Blues provide our finishers and spectators with their award-winning craft brews on race day,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events. “Oskar Blues has been a staple in the endurance and outdoor activity scene and their addition to our finish line festival will make race day that much more memorable for our participants and spectators.”

The Austin Marathon will celebrate its 26th year running in the capital of Texas. Austin’s flagship running event annually attracts runners from all 50 states and 20+ countries around the world. With start and finish locations just a few blocks apart, and within walking distance of many downtown hotels and restaurants, the Austin Marathon is the perfect running weekend destination. Participants can still register for the marathon, half marathon, or 5K.

About High Five Events: Beginning with the launch of a single triathlon in 2003, High Five Events has grown to become one of the largest privately owned event production companies in the United States. In addition to the events it owns and produces, the Austin, Texas-based company offers consulting and event production services to dozens of additional events each year. High Five Events is community-centric and has more than 83 years’ experience organizing large events across different venue types in a variety of locations. Follow High Five Events on Twitter (@highfiveevents), Instagram (@highfiveevents), and Facebook (facebook.com/HighFiveEventsWorldWide/) for news and updates.

About NXP Semiconductors: NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) enables secure connections and infrastructure for a smarter world, advancing solutions that make lives easier, better, and safer. As the world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, NXP is driving innovation in the secure connected vehicle, end-to-end security and privacy, and smart connected solutions markets. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has 45,000 employees in more than 35 countries and posted revenue of $6.1 billion in 2015. Find out more at www.nxp.com.

About Oskar Blues Brewery Austin: Oskar Blues Brewery’s Austin location at 10420 Metric Boulevard, near the Domain in North Austin, opened its doors to the public in late-July 2016 with a focus on providing the freshest possible OB beer to Texans. The taproom boasts a 5000 square foot space with a state-of-the-art sound system and stage for live music. The Austin location, Oskar Blues’ third brewery after the flagship in Longmont, Colorado and Brevard, North Carolina spans 50,000 square feet and will brew many, if not most, of OB’s well-known lineup plus many Austin-specialties. To keep up with all things Oskar Blues, visit http://www.oskarblues.com.

Austin Marathon Announces Elite Athlete Program Runners

This is the first round of athletes accepted into the program

High Five Events is excited to announce the first round of accepted athletes for the 2017 Austin Marathon® presented by NXP Elite Athlete Program. The Elite Athlete Program’s focus is to provide a clean and competitive environment, discover emerging marathon talent, and help the existing talent pool reach Olympic standards. The Program’s Year One prize purse totals $10,000.

The first round of 2017 Elite Athlete Program runners include:
  • David Fuentes (2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier – marathon, 3x Austin Half Marathon Champion (2010, ‘11, ‘15), 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon Champion)
  • Sean Brown (2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier – marathon)
  • Mark Pinales (2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier – marathon)
  • Rory Tunningley (2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier – marathon)
  • Desiree Ficker Berry (2011 Austin Marathon Champion, 10th place – 2009 ING New York City Marathon, 2008 Olympic Trials Qualifier – marathon)
  • Anita Perez (2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier – marathon)

“I am coming off a successful Trail and Mountain racing season and my current training is going well,” said David Fuentes, gold medalist at the 2016 World Mountain Running Association Championships. “My recent races in the mountain and trail circuit have been great additions to my overall aerobic and strength development. I will start my transition to the Austin Marathon build soon and really start to focus on putting in quality workouts for February.”

Applications are still being accepted and elite marathoners can apply on the Austin Marathon’s website. Athletes that meet the program’s standards and are accepted will be given one comp entry to the 2017 Austin Marathon, a complimentary ride from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to downtown and back to the airport, and the option of a hotel room or home stay for two nights at no cost.

The way the Elite Athlete Program has taken off is exciting,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events. “We’ve taken measures to ensure we have a clean and competitive race on February 19th. Our research and vetting process has been and will continue to be extremely thorough. We’re also asking accepted athletes to take the Clean Sport pledge if they haven’t already..”

 

FloSports to Provide Live-stream Coverage of 2017 Austin Marathon

High Five Events is thrilled to announce that FloSports will provide live-streaming coverage of the 2017 Austin Marathon® presented by NXP. The live feed will provide coverage for the entire race and be seen by fans across the globe on FloTrack.com, the leader in live-streaming video and digital content in running and track & field. […]