Ragnar Trail Los Coyotes: Meet the Another Mother Runner Team!

Ragnar Trail Los Coyotes

We are happy to announce the eight runners (seven spots + one alternate) who will join captain + coach Jenn Gill at Ragnar Los Coyotes on November 9-10.

Thank you to all who entered the contest; we loved reading all the essays and putting together a team that will maximize teamwork, laughter and miles on the trails.

Congrats, BAMRS! Enjoy the training and your adventure!

Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesAmy Rieke
31 years old (I'll be 32 in a couple weeks; thanks for the best birthday present ever!); Inver Grove Heights, MN

I became a mom when I was young-ish (24). Since then, as an introvert living a couple hours away from where I grew up, I have struggled forming strong friendships. When I was 29, I began running and my world opened up to the wonderful, welcoming running community. However, I still tend to view this community from a distance. On Facebook, I say I am interested in the weekly night run at the local running store and I went so far as to get a Parkrun barcode but I have yet to actually attend any of these events.

Two and a half years into my new running lifestyle, I feel I’m missing out on a big chunk of what running has to offer me. It is time to push myself out of my social comfort zone!

Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesJen Smith
39 years old; Louisville, CO

In 2013-2014, in the span of a just over a year, I had a baby, quit my job, was diagnosed with cancer. I popped out the other end of six months of chemo physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I was cancer free but had lost my sense of self.Before baby, I had casually flirted with running. I completed a half marathon or two but with little sense of commitment. However, our house backs up to a recreational path and all day long I watch runners and bikers pass by.

The second time around, I latched onto running with a fervor. It filled a void that I hadn’t even realized was there...Last fall, I completed my first marathon: Marine Corps!  In honor of completing that race, and in honor of the journey yet to come, I got my first tattoo…

Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesJamie Merritt
31 years old; Wentzville, MO

I have a wonderful life being a dietitian for the nutrition program in a rural school district in Missouri.  However, the summer has left me feeling a little low. I dedicate a lot of my time to my job, often sacrificing my personal life. I am very single—I am, however, the mom to a beautiful 5 year old Britney Spaniel Pitbull Mix, who I rescued 4 years ago—and the realization that I am over 30 and not married has hit me very hard.

I watched my best friend, sister, and running buddy, fall in love and get married this past month. (IT WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE WORLD!) As I see her and her husband on their honeymoon, I started to realize I need to start doing things that make me happy. My parents suggested that I come up with a “bucket list” to help me separate my work life from my personal life. The number one thing that makes me happy is, of course, running.

Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesKatie Carstens
33 years old; Westlake, OH

245 days. That’s the number of days this mama has currently been running consecutively.Last year on November 13 (my 33rd birthday), I decided that I would run at least a mile every day for the next year. Prior to having kids, I was a casual runner.

After having 2 kids in the past 4 years, I wanted to try and find the balance of time for myself during motherhood; that's why I given myself the gift of at least a mile every day. So far I have run through multiple ear infections, potty training, several date nights, logged miles in multiple states and completed my first 25k. It’s provided me an outlet, not an outlet to get away from being a mom during my miles, but an outlet to become the mom that I envision, and also to embrace the one that I already am.

This Ragnar race happens to fall 2 days before I hit 365 days, and I truly believe it’s the perfect way to cap off my running streak.

Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesJoelle (Jojo) B. (with dog and husband)
29 years old; Grand Canyon, AZ 

I would love to run this Ragnar race to be part of an all-women running team and complete a shared goal of finishing together. It might sound strange, but the opportunity to run with other women would be so unique and such an amazing novelty. I work as a federal law enforcement officer, a VERY male dominated profession and mostly spend the majority of my day around men. The opportunity to do an event like Ragnar as a fiercely female BAMR team would be undoubtedly a memory of a lifetime.

Ragnar Trail Los Coyotes

Heather Valentino
39 years old; Willoughby, OH

Over the last few years, I have been working on figuring out who I am. My husband of 12 years, and I divorced. My kids were 5 ½ years old and 6 months old. I had just gone back to work full time and now was balancing a career, two children all as a solo parent. To get “me” time I began running on the treadmill after the kids went to bed since the kids didn’t visit their dad.

Fast forward four years and the kids began spending holiday breaks with their dad. The first time they were gone, I sat at home for days, feeling lost. he next holiday break, I traveled to a half marathon race and my love for destination races was born.

Due to being a solo parent, I don’t have the ability to attend races with my local running group or participate in group runs most months. However, my ex-mother-in-law now provides me  one weekend a quarter to have a “me” weekend.

Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesJulie Hollis
34 years old; Pearland, Texas

I fell in love with running while on my college rowing team. Then I got hooked on races—and earning race bling—when I decided to run a half marathon just before my wedding in 2005, and I have had a love/hate relationship with running for 13 years now.

Over the years, I have learned to use running as one of my outlets for my severe anxiety. I have also used running as one of my favorite tools to help me lose 70 pounds and reach a happy weight. I even have my husband addicted to running now (even though he really likes the treadmill while I love hot, sticky, sweaty Texas summer runs).

I have also signed up for my first full marathon in March of 2019, so I have been looking for a race to run this fall. My current life goal is to earn 40 medals before I turn 40 and I would love to add a beautifu Ragnar medal to my collection.


Ragnar Trail Los CoyotesBrandi Bell (our alternate)
45; Midland, TX

Last December, I finished my first marathon: San Antonio Rock n Roll. During my training, I was involved in the Route 91 Shooting in Vegas, which almost ended my training. I was scared I would not be able to be in a large crowd, in a downtown setting, with loud music playing just two months following the event.

But running became my therapy. I have a great group of running buddies and they were all really good about getting me out on the pavement and running to work through my fears. I was able to complete my first marathon and I am thankful I was able to use running to deal with a tragic situation in a positive manner.

I am coming up on the one-year anniversary of that event. I have been looking into doing some sort of race to work through what I know will be an emotional revisiting of events. While Ragnar is a month after that anniversary, I just think it will be a great event to focus on and again use running to work through all those emotions.

8 responses to “Ragnar Trail Los Coyotes: Meet the Another Mother Runner Team!

  1. I love reading about the background of all of you runners! So inspiring! It makes me feel larger than myself to be in community with you and all the BAMR’s in Another Mother Runner! I think we make our world a better place by the support we give each other here in this wonderful community for women that Dimity and Sarah made happen. The coaches and support team are amazing! The resources outstanding. You all will rep us well! Best to you in your training and can’t wait to hear all about your adventure – the race itself and the many happy miles that will get you there!

  2. Awesome group of women and I wish them all the best! I am sure they will have an amazing time together.
    I noticed that they are all pretty young and it got me thinking… When we might see an AMR masters or, even better, an AMR seniors (classified for racing as over 50) Ragnar team?

  3. Congrats to you all. Ragnar is such a wonderful and unique experience. Amy Rieke, I live in White Bear Lake. If you’re looking to make some wonderful running friends, check out Moms on the Runs. I don’t know if there’s an IGH group but there is one in Cottage Grove and Woodbury. Only a couple weeks left in summer session but fall will begin after Labor Day.

  4. SQUEEE!!!! So excited for you ladies, you will rock it and have the best time ever! And I KNOW one of you! Go HEATHER!!!!

  5. Sounds like such a fun group! I love the diverse backgrounds and perspectives; should make for some great times in the van!

  6. Congrats! You all are in for a challenge and a great. As a fellow Arizonan, I can’t wait to follow Jojo, even if her adventures will not include her dog!

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