Frisco, Texas – Race production and running outreach company The Active Joe moves into its tenth year as a sponsor of the Western States Endurance Run and is excited to announce Karen Ellis of Cypress, Texas as its 2024 sponsored athlete.
Karen Ellis and fellow Cypress Wolfpack member Giff Calibo running their first 100 miler at Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run 2022. Photographer: Jenny Thorsen
The Western States Endurance Run is the oldest and most well-known 100 mile race in the United States, running along the Western States Trail from Olympic Valley, California, to end in Auburn, California. The Active Joe owner Libby Jones attended and volunteered at the 2012 race and fell in love with the event. A race producer herself, Jones was also impressed with the mission of the non-profit Western States Endurance Run Foundation. In addition to helping set standards in the organization of 100-mile endurance events, they promote trail stewardship and emphasize their role through maintenance and support of the Western States trail. The WSER Foundation also supports medical research into ultrarunning that helps the sport and the community.
As part of the sponsorship, The Active Joe gets to choose an athlete each year from the qualified runners who apply to the lottery, and the chosen individual receives an automatic entry. For 2024, Karen Ellis of Cypress, TX, will be representing The Active Joe.
Karen Ellis vounteering as a runner/pusher for the charity, Ainsley's Angels. Photographer: David Reynolds of Digital Knight Productions.
Karen started running in 2018 after having had two daughters and realizing she felt very out of shape. Karen slowly built up her distance and then the COVID pandemic hit - she ended up doing the Tinajas 100K that year self-supported with a rolling wave start to spread runners. In 2021, she achieved one goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and then one month later, found herself at The Active Joe's Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run, getting 3rd in the 5 miler and pacing 32 miles of the course for her friend and fellow Cypress Running Club Wolfpack member, Thomas Perkins.
Karen decided to make Dino Valley her first 100 the next year and found support within the Women's 100 Miler Project facebook group, founded by Lee Connor and Karmell Ohlrogge. Dino Valley had a large group of their runners attend the race in 2022 (43% of our 100 mile finishers were female), and Karen completed her first 100 miler. All the while, Karen helped encourage others in social media and always had a positive social media presence in the running community!
Karen Ellis at Rocky Raccoon 100 in 2023. Photographer: Jesse Ellis of Let's Wander Photography.
Karen received her qualifier for Western States this year by completing Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville, TX. She then ended up with a free entry for Dino Valley that her friend had won and couldn't use, so she returned to collect her SECOND 100 mile buckle at Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run. Additionally, she had arrived the Friday before the race to help pitch tents and set up the race site as a volunteer. She has completed 237 rocky, hilly miles at Dinosaur Valley State Park through our race there!
Karen registered so early for the 2022 Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run that she scored bib 1. Photographer: Jenny Thorsen.
Karen was chosen from a large pool of qualified runners who all wrote essays for consideration for the spot. "I have literally been thinking about WSER since first finding Youtube videos and watching them on the treadmill before I could even run a half marathon. I never imagined I would get to go, even after getting my first ticket at Rocky Raccoon. I can't wait to share this adventure with my family and trail family and run around that track!"
"It's one of the highlights of my year to get to choose a trail runner to receive this automatic entry,” The Active Joe owner Libby Jones said. “Karen represents a lot of average joe's out there getting active. She has a positive voice in the running world and is incredibly accepting of all in her community. And she works incredibly hard for all the finishes she has garnerd. I can't wait to see her line up at the start of the Western States Endurance Run in June and see how her race journey progresses toward Auburn as a representative of The Active Joe!"
Info on Past Sponsored Athletes:
June 2023 event: Phyllis Stanley of Montesano, WA
June 2022 event: John Farris of Fort Worth, TX
June 2021 event: Luke Bateman of Dallas, TX
June 2020 event: Canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
June 2019 event: Kelli Coleman of Dallas, TX
June 2018 event: Pam Smith of Salem, OR
June 2017 event: Jess Mullen of Seattle, WA
June 2016 event: Michael Wagner of Albuquerque, NM
June 2015 event: Robert Lopez of Seattle, WA
June 2014 event: Jennifer Kimble of Dallas, TX
The Active Joe was founded in 2008 with the mission of providing running outreach to the local community. The organization produces 3 trail events, including a 100 mile running event, the Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run 100 Mile, 100K, 50K, 25K, and 5 Mile each fall. The Active Joe produced the first organized 100-mile trail race in North Texas. The company also has 2 road events and between road and trail, the company helps thousands of participants achieve their goals each year. All events are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. Owner Libby Jones has been an active member of the leadership of the Dallas-Fort Worth running community for many years and has many ultramarathon finishes herself. For more information go to www.TheActiveJoe.com.
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