Meet the team. From running to downhill mountain biking, they redefine what it means to Do Outside Stuff. They’re the NAAWK Ambassadors.
ULTRA MARATHONER + PHOTOGRAPHER
Ben Altenes @flyaltenes
I am a Father, Photographer and Veteran of the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. After my service with the U.S. Army which ended in 2003, I returned back to the war zones in the Middle East for another 10 years to perform Diplomatic security for a Government Agency. Throughout all of those years exposed to a level of Trauma in war zones I developed an amount of Post-Traumatic Stress that eventually got the best of me when I made the concise decision to not return to the Middle East. Not being with the Men and Woman I trusted with my life and not fighting alongside of them anymore made me feel lost. I was struggling with employment, and struggling with my relationship with my spouse and children. I was also at the time not running the trails as much as I had use to. I had lost my family and was forced to seek help through the Department of Veterans Affairs as a result.
The VA only helped to a degree, but one thing I learned while talking with my VA counselors was that I knew running and being out on the trail amongst nature was better therapy for me than coming to the VA facility. I returned to the trails immediately after this realization. I began running in new locations that I hadn’t ran in the prior years and it was the Best drug for me times 10 over. Trail running has allowed me to escape and to also reflect on my life. The trail has brought back some amazing vivid memories both good and bad. It also made me fight through the stressors and cry out my emotions on the trail; leaving those tears to the trails and to nature was the best medicine ever. No one to tell me there opinion on my matters nor what I should or shouldn’t be doing in my life.
Trail running has changed my life! The fitness and health aspect of this sport has made me healthier and stronger. It has allowed me to pursue my photography passion by being confident in reaching certain destinations by simply running/hiking into the backcountry. Capturing images and creating a visual journal has been a fun adventure for me. I started capturing images for that simple reason of a visual journal. It later turned into a serious hobby and onto an incredible opportunity to grow my portfolio.
All of my current favorite local trails bring their own level of exercise. Jamming up the West side of Grandeur peak or Mount Olympus is my go to for Leg day. It’s mostly vertical and there isn’t a fast point until you head down the mountain. Longer and faster trails like Salt Lake City’s Bonneville Shoreline trail is a personal favorite as it has moderate terrain and elevation ups and downs as it wraps around the city. Other personal favorite running spots take me to some sweet scenic views. Lake Blanche, Desolation Lake, Phiferhorn, and Angels Landing in Zion National Park just to name a few are all very rewarding. The trails may not know about my stressors or the amount of Anxiety I bring to it. It lets me be me and lets me dance along its terrain.
Taking my running and fitness to the outdoors and trails has essentially saved my life or at least has saved me from depression and it has allowed me to get my free dose of Vitamin D, breath in some fresh air, it also allowed me to capture some awesome pictures and to get some real-life fitness in at the same time. There is something emotionally and physiologically cathartic about sweating out the bad chemicals and replacing them with healthy self-produced chemicals.
Ben has images on permanent exhibit in the U.S. Pentagon and Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Images are also on Display at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, Africa and also in the U.S. Embassy’s permanent art collection in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Blake Palmer @finalsketches
So yeah I am a farther, husband, an artist, and trail runner. I call Utah home but originally from SoCal.
Started running a few years back with a good buddy of mine. It was so hard (still is) we had all the wrong gear, but fell in love instantly. I grew up mountain bike racing so I was already familiar with the trails. Running the trails is a different kind of adrenaline for me. Helps clear my head from stress and anxiety, so I guess it's my therapy. The burn in your lungs, the feeling you get at the top of the peak and leaving behind all the B.S. of the rat race.
Salomon: great gear ranging from my S.Labs shoes to clothing, and running packs.
NAAWK: I may have darker skin but I still burn! I also love their athletic rub for after runs or before a cold run.
Skratch Labs : Simply the best hydration you can get whether you use their drink mix or energy chews.
Whiskey: Just a little, for a long race or if it's super cold out.
Art, wood work, photography, getting out my BMX bike at the skate park or streets, hiking, climbing, traveling, graffiti, graphic design, and family hikes.
Drew Palmer-Leger @bike_ski_live
My name is Drew Palmer-Leger. I am a competitive mountain biker and nordic skier that lives in Park City, Utah and Sun Valley, Idaho. I have been mountain bike racing since I was 7 years old and Nordic skiing since I could walk. Before I started racing I watched my parents race. After watching my parents race it made me want to do the same. I then expressed interest in racing. Soon after I started racing and have not stopped since. In the past few years I have been able to travel around the US and parts of Canada racing my bike and skis. I feel that this has changed me as a person because I know how lucky I am to live in Park City and be able to do the things that I do. I have been able to meet and race with incredible people from all over the United States. Biking and skiing have enabled me to see so many great places. Besides skiing and riding I like to travel, listen to music, and research electronics.
Holin Wilbanks @holins_trail_hustle
Originally from Texas, I know call Utah my home (but don’t tell my Texan friends that, they wouldn’t understand.) I am wife to a fighter pilot, mother of two, and the economic development director for Weber County…and most days you can find somewhere on a mountain smiling from ear to ear. It started 11 years ago after moving to Utah. I would have never dreamed that I could climb mountains, bag peaks, play in streams, dance in meadows of wildflowers, get lost in golden aspens, and push though pillows of snow covered trails as part of my daily life. I truly live in a runner’s paradise. The mountains are so close, I can bag a peak at lunch and then make it back for an afternoon meeting at work. My car is my locker room, and its paid off many times.
HERE'S A LITTLE ABOUT ME:
How did you get into running? It wasn’t until after college that I fell in love with running. Sure… there was high school cross country (I actually won the state championship one year), but running was only something I did in the off season to stay in shape to play basketball. Then after two years of playing collegiate ball and multiple repeat injuries, I finally realized that my body was never going to last competing in that sport. It was then that I turned back to running as my outlet for activity and competition. In 2008, I chased a handsome fighter pilot to the mountains of Northern Utah and truly fell in love with trail running. I found freedom in exploring the local dirt trails; finding hidden waterfalls, hitting peaks with endless views, chasing the sunrise over the horizon, and seeing the same trails with new eyes as every season covers them with their beauty. Life is crazy and I find my sanity, strength, rejuvenation, patience, and laughter when I’m lost in the mountains. For me, it’s not about being the fastest runner, but experiencing the journey and making memories and friendships along the way.
WHAT ARE SOME GOOD PRACTICES FOR TRAINING?
Do what I say, not what I do… You should cross trail. Mix in stretching and core strength training. I’d like to say that I do this regularly, but I don’t. I love to be in the mountains and on the trails so mostly I just run. However, I noticed that when I was doing regular cross training, my body felt strong and oddly enough, I actually found an ab in there.
Jared Shumate @jared_shumate
My name is Jared Shumate and I am a professional Nordic Combined skier. I grew up in Park City, UT, and growing up in a mountain town has shaped me into the person I am today. Ever since I was a little kid I have spent as much time outside as possible, whether it be spent skiing, mountain biking, hiking, running, or sitting on a peak watching the sunset. Being outside is a fundamental part of who I am, and I am thankful for any opportunity I get to spend in the mountains.
I started alpine skiing when I was two years old, and found the sport of Nordic Combined at nine. I qualified for the US Ski Team in 2018 and have been a member of the US National Nordic Combined team ever since. Nordic combined merges Nordic ski jumping and cross-country skiing and requires an immense amount of training to compete at the top level. I spend hundreds of hours per year training, whether it be ski jumping, Nordic skiing, working out in the gym, running, biking, hiking, rock climbing, or roller skiing. Spending so much time training has made me extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and even more thankful for the places that I get to train.
Being a Nordic combined skier means spending 11 ½ months per year training, and about 6 months per year travelling the world to train and compete. I compete at the World Cup and Continental Cup level, with aspirations to compete at the 2022 Olympics. This past season (2019/20) was my most successful season to date, with consistent top-15 results on the Continental Cup Circuit and numerous top-40 World Cup results. With more training this summer, I hoping to become a force on the World Cup circuit and fight it out closer to the top of the field.
In addition to skiing, I am a student at the University of Utah studying Geography and Sociology. When I’m not training or in school, I work as a barista at Ritual Chocolate in Park City, UT. My favorite meal is breakfast, but I love dessert, and my favorite trail snack is peanut butter & jelly. I love spending time in the desert of Southern Utah but being in the mountains brings a smile to my face every time, no matter the season or activity.
- 7th Place, 2020 Continental Cup, 10km (Oberwiesenthal, GER)
- 21st Place, 2019/20 Continental Cup Overall Ranking
- 35th Place, 2020 Lahti World Cup, 10km (Lahti, FIN)
- 9th Place, 2019 World Junior Championships, 10km (Lahti, FIN)
- 10th Place, 2019 Nordic World Championships Team Relay, 4x5km (Seefeld, AUT)
- 1st Place, 2017 Red Bull 400 (Park City, UT)
- 3rd Place, 2018 Red Bull 400 (Copper Peak, MI and Park City, UT)
- 6th Place, 2019 Brighton Cirque Series, Pro Category (Brighton, UT
Josh Page @jpagereckless
I grew up in Illinois and knew from the time I was a teenager that I needed to get out of the state and head somewhere more exciting.
At 17 years old I joined the Marine Corps. Upon completing basic training and the basic infantry school, I knew I wanted more and decided to take the Recon indoc. After passing, I attended the Basic Reconnaissance Course where I became a Recon Marine. I was stationed and lived in Okinawa Japan for 2 1/2 years.
I loved my job, but was done with the military, so once I go out I started working overseas as a private security contractor. The work was great, and I got to experience all different parts of the world unfortunately it wasn’t a full time job so I needed to find something to do between gigs.
I had been coaching CrossFit at a local gym and my wife was starting to love it. In January 2011 we started an affiliate in our garage and grew to an 8500 square foot facility by early 2012. We both became addicted to the sport of fitness and trained our brains out. I qualified for the CrossFit Regionals in 2012, 2013, and 2014 before deciding I wanted to focus on the coaching aspect more than the competing. I continue to coach to this day and couldn’t ask for a more fun and rewarding job.
At the end of 2016 we decided to close our affiliate to travel full time. Throughout the past year my wife and I have been living out of our van and traveling all over North America. I couldn’t think of a better way to experience life and see all that there is to see state side. We’re looking forward to exploring and photographing many more amazing places as we continue our travels. Maybe we will run into some of you on a hike, climb, powder day or in a parking lot while we’re cooking up dinner in the van!
TRAIL RUNNER + SKIER
Jules Parke @julesparke2
An Alaskan girl at heart, I love the cold and the dark, and I love the sun even more. I was born and raised in Anchorage, and the lessons I learned growing up there will always resonate through my core. The winter sun would barely pop over the towering Chugach Mountain Range during the height of winter, yet the summer nights were nearly eternal as the sun barely skimmed the surface of the horizon. I would spend my summer nights fishing for trout with friends using homemade flies made from random garage scraps, or we might dive into the ice cold glacial lake to see who could withstand it the longest. Often times, I couldn’t leave my house to walk to school because a family of moose would make camp in my yard. Parents would stand at the bottom of the ski hill after a race to put our jackets on after speeding through a -40 degree chill. Alaska makes you tough, to say the least, and it gives you the opportunity to push your limits and learn how to endure. I have been a ski racer my whole life, and a die hard adventure seeker. From hiking and biking to Nordic and alpine skiing, my adventure repertoire is vast and ready to rip. I attend the University of Utah majoring in psychology and aim to be a pilot in the U.S. Air Force through the ROTC program. I also continue to shred with the University of Utah Club Ski Team, where I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up some first place beer steins here and there. NAAWK keeps me sheltered from all of the harsh sun and snow conditions in my life, and the athletic rub feels like heaven at the end of a huge outing. I’m pumped to be here, so come adventure with me!
PRO SKIER + TRAIL RUNNER
Madison Rose @madisonnnrose
Born in the hills but made for the mountains. Growing up in a small town in Northern Michigan, my parents thought it would be a good idea to to put some garage-sale skis on my feet (when I was 5 years old) in hopes that they had finally found a way to release all of my energy. I immediately fell in love with the sport of skiing and as I got old, and my passion grew stronger, my family and I moved to Utah so I could chase my dreams! Being a ski racer my whole life I have been extremely lucky to travel all over the world, but I would like to think that skiing has helped me find an extreme passion for the outdoors and being in the mountains. I love free skiing, powder skiing, backcountry skiing, summer skiing, hiking, climbing, trail-running, camping and everything that I can do that involves the outdoors. But I wouldn't be able to do any of these things without having respect and appreciation for mother nature and all she offers. It was skiing and being outdoors that brings life to a whole new level for me. Currently I am a student athlete at Westminster College, Salt Lake City, and compete at a NCAA Division 1 level for Alpine Ski Racing.
I have a big sweet tooth: I love chocolate and FRO-YO!!!
I am very extroverted and give lots of hugs :)
I am the youngest and only American-born skier on my ski team at Westminster College. My favorite team activities are ultimate frisbee and soccer.
I love singing and dancing like a goof ball at random times during the day….everyday.
I am overly obsessed with Christmas and Christmas Music.
I LOVE THE SNOW. I am a red-head with very pale skin so NAAWK helps keep my skin protected when I am doing what I love!
My favorite place to ski is Alta and Snowbird on epic powder days.
I love being around people and making new friends.
PRO TRACK ATHLETE
Dr. Sil Pimentel @sil.brazil
My name is Silas Efraim Bezerra de Araujo Pimentel, but most people know me as Sil. I am originally from the beautiful coast of Natal, Brazil and moved to the U.S. when I was 13. This is where my appreciation for running really began. Running has played a big part in shaping who I am as an athlete, but more importantly as a person. My journey has been one of blood, sweat, and tears but I wouldn’t want it any other way. The sport is one of discipline and dedication. Today, running is very different than when I first started in my youth. My respect for the sport and for those I compete with has continued to rise throughout my running journey as I have moved from racing my buddies in junior high school to completing against some of the best in the world.
Running has always been a part of my life. One of my favorite childhood memories was waking up in Brazil to the smell of my favorite sugar sweet black coffee and crackers for breakfast. After eating, I would get together with my friends and we would all race to the sand dunes near my home. I can’t forget the feeling of red hot exploding volcano lava running through my little legs as I ran at full speed in hopes of getting there first. I promise I’m not a masochist, but pacing was not yet in my vocabulary. Growing up I never knew track was a sport, but running was necessary to perform well at soccer, so I did it quite well. After moving to the United States, I became more and more passionate about running due to a PE coach who recruited me to run for my school. This is where the limitless opportunities started to rain down from heaven, slowly snowballing into a full-ride scholarship to Utah State University for track and field. Who would of have thought that the feeling of red hot exploding volcano lava would follow me from my boyhood in Brazil to a bachelor’s degree and now on to my doctorate in physical therapy.
When my time as a collegiate athlete concluded, I realized that the privileges I had been receiving had come to an abrupt end. Access to athletic trainers, state of the art facilities, personal tutors, etc., were all a part of my past. I had to make a decision, like most other collegiate athletes, to continue or not with my sport. I actually made the decision to stop running competitively for a little while. What brought me back to running was my drive and my desire to find out my true potential. I wanted to find out the athlete I could be without all the perks and built-in support system I had at Utah State. There are three categories I use to determine my success in life: success in my relationships, success in my career, and success in my sport. To me, achieving the greatest success in my sport, would be making it to the Olympics. If I didn’t try, I would be depriving myself of one of the greatest opportunities this sport offers. This is what I am striving for today both physically and mentally. I consider my raw talent to be a gift from God. That is a gift I have treasured and worked countless hours to develop into the runner I am today. I hope to show the world that one can accomplish anything they put their mind to if they are willing work hard enough for it and never give up. This is my hope as I prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games. I got so close these past games and I hope that I can re-write this page in my book, not only to show gratitude to God, but to give hope to all those who have a similar dream.
In order to prevent history from repeating itself, we have to do something different. I came across a quote from a very good friend of mine, by Charles Bukowski, that has given me a constant reminder to always be improving myself in order to overcome complacency. "Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself, don't swim in the same slough. Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and stay out of the clutches of mediocrity. Invent yourself and then reinvent yourself, change your tone and shape so often that they can never categorize you. Reinvigorate yourself and accept what is but only on the terms that you have invented and reinvented. Be self-taught and reinvent your life because you must; it is your life and its history and the present belong only to you." I have learned to take advantage of the opportunities and blessings that have been given to me. I’ve also learned that even though I have been blessed with a unique talent, I must act. Success can only be achieved by always working for something bigger and better, and not settling for anything less.
There are 3 things that every athlete must do in order to see success in their sport:
Life sometimes can get very busy and crazy, believe me, I know. Every once in a while I get home from a long day and think to myself, "I'm too tired, since it's pre-season training time I could easily skip today..." What helps me overcome these types of thoughts is scheduling my workouts into each day. This is what my schedule looks like:
-5:00 AM get up
-6:00 AM coach for an hour
-8:00 AM to 4:30 PM rehab patients
-5:00 PM coach for an hour
-6:00 PM start my run
-7:00 PM start my lifts
-8:00 PM free time
-9:00 PM sleep
This is how I structure my day-to-day, but I also make sure to have a good life balance which includes time for a social life. Even though I don't schedule it in, I make time each day for those I care about.
One of the biggest reasons for my success is the trust I have in my coach. At times it can be tough coming to track practice after a long day of performing clinical work, to your coach asking to pull 5x300 meters at 38 seconds out of your already exhausted legs. However, because I trust him and his philosophy, I make it happen.
A preseason week of training for me may look like this:
Monday – 10x60 @ 80% with 80% HR Recovery
Tuesday – 3x150 @ 100% with 80% HR Recovery
Wednesday – 20x200 @ 30.80 with 1:48 minutes rest
Thursday – 4x300 @ 40.5 with 4:18 minutes rest
Friday – 5:20 mile, 4x60 meter springs, and drills
Saturday – Block starts
Sunday – An easy bike ride or a 30 minute walk
All of my workouts are planned for me to peak at a specific time, and trust is a must in order for me to see success. People often don’t see the road, only the results, and this is what the road looks like.
Running can be considered my number one passion in life, with food coming in as a close second. A VERY close second. I really, really like food. As I have consulted with professionals, my appreciation and love for food has increased even more as I have learned to properly fuel my body. I have learned that there is more to food than meets the eye. When I first started down this path in college I tried to eat very healthy with a very high fruits and vegetable diet, and even though I was excelling, I now know I was not my best. In college I was probably not eating more than 2400 calories a day, and now I consume 3800 calories a day, which is a huge jump. Since this change I have improved in all of my events. I often get sick of eating, but just like training, you eat for your sport.
We all have gifts, find yours and work to develop it. There is a quote by St. Jerome that goes, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best”, so be your best!
FAVORITE NAAWK PRODUCTS:
-NAAWK ATHLETIC RUB (Great for sore muscles, especially for my hamstrings) -NAAWK UP - ENERGY BLEND CAPSULES (There is nothing like these energy capsules for a good gym sesh. I can proudly say I’ve made huge gains in the gym due to this product)
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