Strava Track Club members are engaged in a wide variety of vocational and other pursuits in addition to their running. Find out more about our team in our new weekly feature, Meet the Team. This week's athlete is Nick Scalfone, an east coast transplant who has found a way to enjoy running and racing in unique and evolving ways. Follow Nick over the snow and up many steep hills on Strava!
Being a part of Strava Track Club has brought me together with a diverse and talented group of athletes. I have the pleasure of learning each teammate’s personal running career story including their past accomplishments and goals for the future. My story doesn’t feature breaking 4 in the mile, a trip to the Olympic Trials or even a division I college pedigree. My story is of the challenge of reinventing myself as a runner and finding crazy, new endeavors in the process.
In high school, I was your average cross country and track runner and went on to a have a fulfilling but average career for SUNY Oneonta, a small Division III college in central New York State. After foot and hamstring injuries had affected my already unimpressive speed, I decided to transition away from track to shorter road races and eventually marathons and trail racing. I ran the Boston Marathon in 2007, New York in 2011 and had totaled 7 by the time I completed San Francisco Marathon in 2012. While none of my marathons were record breaking or complete disasters, I was still left looking for fun, new, challenging ways to enjoy the sport as my career progressed.
In 2010 while living in Ithaca, New York, I was introduced to trail running and snowshoeing by my two training partners, friends and mentors, Eric Sambolec and Earl Steinbrecher. What began as a social way to add variety to my training and to enjoy the great outdoors during all seasons in upstate New York, eventually became my running niche. My success, however, was not instant by any stretch of the imagination. In my first 2 trail races, I fell down and finished middle of the pack. One race director even gave me a special recognition for most time spent on the ground and awarded me a 6-pack of beer as a consolation prize. Trail racing was incredibly difficult compared to track and road, but for some reason I wanted more and believed I could master it over time. Trail racing is not just about speed, but rather a delicate balance of agility, strength and technical mastery. This only motivated me to get out there on the trails and train as much as I could to refine my footwork and build strength in new areas of my body.
My initial experience with snowshoeing was almost identical. On my first time out on a snowshoe run with my experienced friends, I was unable to finish just one mile without stopping. It was the most strenuous aerobic workout my body had ever experienced and despite my poor attempt, I wanted more! I soon invested in a high-end pair of Dion racing snowshoes and set out to practice as much as I could. By the end of the winter 2010, I could finish our 10k training loop without stopping. The following year after a season of training and more experience, I began competing in snowshoe 5k and 10k races. By 2012, I was consistently winning races. In 2013, I placed 7th at US Snowshoe Nationals in Bend, OR. Because of the minimal snow in California, 2014 was a more difficult season and I placed 10th at Nationals in a deep field in Vermont. Again this year, due to unseasonably warm weather I have only had three opportunities to snowshoe. To compensate, I train heavily on hills and supplement my running with weight training and core exercises.
As I write this, I am preparing to travel to Eau Claire, WI, to compete in my third US Snowshoe Nationals 10k on February 28th. Regardless of the competition and my access to snow for training, it is always my goal to place top 5 overall and make the US National Snowshoe Team (Ed. note - Nick finished 7th, three spots better than in 2014).
Later this year, I plan make my 50k trail debut in Laramie, Wyoming as I celebrate my 30th birthday by running a 50K (30mi and then some icing on the cake).The second half of 2015 will feature the USATF Mountain Championships in Bend, OR, the Xterra US Trail Half Marathon National Championships in Ogden, UT and finishing the year in our backyard with the USATF Club Cross Country Nationals in Golden Gate Park.
I'll conclude this blog entry with a motto of my former college coach, which I believe epitomizes my approach to running and challenges in life in general: "bold dreams, hard work, raw confidence."