HPW Then & Now : Part I

Members of HPW during the Autumn 2016 season included (from left to right): Eleanor Fulton, McKayla Fricker, Kristen Findley, Kristen Rohde, Nicole Blood & Tara Welling. 

Members of HPW during the Autumn 2016 season included (from left to right): Eleanor Fulton, McKayla Fricker, Kristen Findley, Kristen Rohde, Nicole Blood & Tara Welling. 

In the summer of 2015, I founded High Performance West to provide a home to any competitive runner in Portland, Oregon who had the work ethic and dream of molding themselves into a world class competitor.

That first year 24 athletes jumped at the opprtunity.

Many were already living in the Portland area but several moved to the Rose City just for a shot to chase their dreams.

By design, it was a no frills operation. We didn't have a sponsor. Or funding. Or state of the art facilities. Or a team physiotherapist. We shared the local public track with hobby joggers, walkers, and other motivated souls looking to better their condition. By all accounts, we're weren't much different.

All I could offer was a t-shirt and your picture on a half-assed website I created in my sparse free time. Few were on contracts of any kind. Most, if lucky, got some free/discounted gear and supplies here and there. Everyone had a job, either full or part-time. In fact, the athletes paid me to coach them at rate of $100/month. In return each got my time, belief, support, attention, and guidance 7 days a week, year round.

While light on accoutrements, we were heavy amazing people. I've always believed world class people are the difference maker, not high-tech, fancy facilities, gear, equipment or a slick digital presence. That first version of High Performance West validated this belief. 

Many fond memories were made and accolades achieved. Since HPW's inception we've had multiple athletes qualify to and make the finals at the USATF Indoors & Outdoors Championships as well as the 2016 US Olympic Trials in the Marathon and Track & Field. And saw countless podium finishes on the roads, grass, and track at the local, regional, and national levels .

One of my favorite triumphs was seeing Tara Welling earn herself two US national titles on the roads (in the 1/2 Marathon and 15K) in 2016 after being forgotten and left for dead by many in the industry. Tara is a fighter. A true champion. And embodies what HPW is all about: showing up, doing important work that matters, having faith, a steadfast resolve and competing with all you got. 

In those early years, I like to think High Performance West became a People's Champion of sorts. Often I called us a band of inspired underdogs and misfits — an orphanage for diamonds-in-the-rough who were overlooked and passed up by the power brokers of the track & field world.

It wasn't easy. The daily reality was a steady diet of ceaseless disciplined, difficult, unrelenting work. Many morning workouts were in the dark before an athlete's day job. As well as late nights after work. A few members never worked out in the light of day. We called them HPW Running Vampires.

I will always look back at those first two years and smile. The athletes met and coached who have since moved on. The HPW veterans I am still privileged to work with. And the new faces who have joined us and added an additional spark of energy. So much was achieved by so many and on such scant resources. Upon reflection, I shake my head in a happy disbelief. 

To everyone who was — as well as still is — a founding member of High Performance West, I want to express my gratitude: Thank you.

But now it is time for change. Progress. And so here we find ourselves on the precipice of what Steve Magness and I have dubbed: "The High Performance West Reboot."

The precise details about the New High Performance West are exciting. I am looking forward to sharing and unpacking them in the coming days here on this blog. HPW is evolving to be more than just group of track & field athletes based in Portland, Oregon. The culture and community we want to build with you promises to be one-of-a-kind. Nothing like this have ever been attempted before. 

I'm honored you're here. Interested. And open to joining. We can't do this work without you. We need your enrollment and participation. Having you join will make us all better. I can't wait fill you in on all the details and then see what more High Performance West achieves with you on board. 

Thank you // jm


Jonathan Marcus