Q&A with Simple Hydration Ultra Team Runner Silke Koester

Posted February 22nd, 2014 by Brian Hock

Silke Koester - Simple Hydration Ultra Team Runner

Name: Silke Koester
Age: 31
Height: 5’2”
Location: Boulder, Colorado

Q. Where did you grow up and how did you get into running?

A. I dabbled in cross country and track in middle school but promptly ditched that in favor of the swimming pool – a much more bearable way of surviving the Houston heat and humidity! I started running again recreationally in college. I ran my first half-marathon in 2003 with a friend and without the slightest clue what we were doing – we wore cotton socks in the pouring rain! It wasn’t until I moved to New York City and joined the road running scene in Central Park that I toed the line of my first road marathon in 2006 with my sister.

Q. Did you run in high school and college?

A. I don’t think you could have convinced me to put on a pair of running shoes in high school. In college, I was on the rowing team and skillfully avoided afternoon workouts in the erg room by escaping onto the running paths of St. Louis’ beautiful Forest Park instead.

Q. What are your personal bests (PBs) at various distances and also please list top race performances with place?

A. Last fall I ran a road marathon in Scotland along the banks of Loch Ness in 3:19. One of these days I’ll take some time to focus on polishing my road speed – I’d love to see how close I can inch to the 3 hour mark. But honestly, I can’t pull myself away from the trails long enough to really work on that.

These are my top trail race performances:
- Aspen/Snowmass Power of Four 50K 2013, 1st place (5:52:56)
- Quad Rock 25M 2013, 1st place (4:20:54)
- Aspen Backcountry Marathon 2012, 1st place (4:33:24)
- San Juan Solstice 50M 2013, 2nd place (10:36:26)
- Run Rabbit Run 50M 2012, 3rd place (9:09:28)
- Bandera 100K 2014, 4th place (11:01:44)
- Speedgoat 50K 2013, 7th place (6:52:16)
- Pikes Peak Ascent 2013, 7th place (3:13:04)

Q. Your 4th place at this January’s USATF 100K Trail Championship earned you a spot at Western States this year. This would be your first attempt at the 100-mile distance? How do you feel about running that distance?

A. I’m beyond excited about Western States. Mentally, I’m finally ready to face 100 miles, especially now that I’ve done my first 100K. I’m surrounded by so many amazing ultra-runners with so much experience and advice to offer. I know that with their help I’ll be able to make it to the starting line well-prepared for the race.

Q. What do you do for a living and how to you manage to balance it with your running?

A. I’ve always worked in the field of education. Currently, I work for a non-profit that focuses on improving college readiness and completion in the United States through innovations in education.

Boulder is quite possibly the easiest place to balance running and work. The mountain trails are on my doorstep and, with over 300 days a year of pure sunshine, the weather is pretty much always beautiful. My absolute favorite is running up to the top of an 8000’ peak in time to catch the sunrise before work.

Q. How did you get into trail and ultra running and how long have you been doing it?

A. Between graduating college and moving to NYC, I spent a few months living in the Tetons where I fell head over heels in love with the mountain trails. Even though I lived in NYC for the next 6 years and absolutely loved running in Central Park every day, I craved more adventure. Every weekend I’d catch a train or ride my bike or rent a car and head up to the Hudson River Valley, the Appalachian trail, the Catskills, or the Adirondacks to spend hours running on the trails with a small group of friends. In 2008, Ryan and I ran our first trail ultra in the Pacific Northwest – I’ve run 25 ultras since!

In 2011, Ryan and I packed up our things, said our goodbye to our life in NYC and spent the next year running in the most amazing mountains around the world. By spring of 2012 we relocated to Boulder, Colorado and have been living our mountain running dream life ever since.

Q. What person(s) in running inspire(s) you?

A. My friend Amelia is my ultimate inspiration in life and running. She is a visually impaired runner and an incredible person. Her ambition, strength and positive attitude shines so brightly. She has brought to life so many beautiful details on our runs that I used to just blaze past without even noticing – like the sound of a hooting owl in a distant tree or the fragrance of blooming lavender bushes along the paths or the way to air changes when you hit the open plains. Most of all, she shows me that there are no limitations to what we can do, so long as we have the desire and courage to do it.

Q. What was/is your favorite race and why?

A. San Juan Solstice 50M is my favorite race. It’s a true Colorado mountain run with the most breathtaking views along the Continental Divide.

Q. What is a typical week of training in your life right now?

A. I don’t follow any particular training plan or schedule. Mostly I just run whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it – which ends up being pretty much every day, sometimes twice a day! I’m always up for a spur-of-the-moment adventure run in the mountains with friends – that’s what running is all about after all!

Q. At what distance do you take water/hydration with you on a run?

A. I used to not carry anything for runs less than 2 hours long mostly because I didn’t like to carry a handheld or hydration backpack. Ever since I discovered the Simple Hydration bottles I pretty much never run without it. It’s comfortable and convenient and it holds just the right amount of water – not too much, not too little.

Q. What was your reaction to the Simple Hydration Bottle after using it?

A. I’ll be honest, when I first saw the SH bottles, I was sure that it couldn’t possibly stay put tucked-in like that in the back of my running skirt. When I tried it out I was so impressed – it doesn’t even bounce when it’s completely full and you’re blazing down a fast technical descent! It is so comfortable to carry that sometimes I completely forget that I’m running with it! The bottle itself is easy to squeeze and narrow enough that, even with small hands, I don’t waste energy gripping it. I hate over complicating my running with loads of gadgets and gear – I don’t even wear a watch – so I love that this bottle keeps me running simple and free.

Q. How do you use the bottle in your training/races?

A. On hotter days or in races where the aid stations are spread further apart, I like to pair a SH bottle with a regular hand held. It allows me carry enough water while still keeping my body relaxed and light. It also means I can have 1 bottle with water and 1 with a sports drink. This is what I did at the Bandera 100K and it was perfect.

In cold weather, the water in the SH bottle won’t freeze like the straw of a hydration bladder might because the SH bottle stays up against my skin and under a jacket. Also, having my hands free means I can wear thicker mittens that don’t fit under a regular handheld bottle strap – warm fingers make for a much happier runner!

Q. What races do you have planned for 2014 and do you have a focus race?

A. I’ve signed up for a few races this year so far. They’re all focus races! But, of course, my eyes are set on the longest ones – Western States in June and then TransAlps in September.

- April 26 Zane Grey 50 Miler, AZ
- May 10 Quad Rock 25M, CO
- May 31 Dirty Thirty 50K, CO
- June 28 Western States 100, CA
- Aug 16 Pikes Peak Ascent, CO
- Aug 30 – Sept 6 TransAlpine Run, Germany-Austria-Italy

Q. Anything else you would like to add?

A. I’m very excited to join the Simple Hydration Ultra Racing Team!

Note that you can follow Silke’s running on her blog Dirtproof.