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ATRA Trail Ambassador program presented by CamelBak announces seventh honoree in 2019

September 16, 2019

Please welcome the twenty ninth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the seventh in 2019.  Nebraskan Mindy Coolman is a goal oriented and passionate trail runner and volunteer.

Nominator Amy Cherko wrote, “Mindy has been a fixture in the Omaha Trail running scene since I can remember. She’s always supportive and encouraging to all runners out on the trail. She’s a dietitian at Children’s Hospital here in Omaha, and always willing to share her insights on nutrition. She’s written a great blog about ultrarunning nutrition that’s resonated with a lot of our runners. She’s a very accomplished trail runner across numerous distances up to the 100 mile (a 9-time 100 mile finisher), and she’s always got a smile on her face, no matter how much of a pain cave she may be in. She’s a responsible and disciplined runner and a great example of how to train with consistency and purpose. Mindy also enjoys horses and trail riding and is a huge asset in helping trail runners and riders find a middle ground. Mindy is a GOATz board member and regular volunteer at our events and for trail maintenance days, helping out with everything from course design, trail mowing, trail marking, and anything else we need her to flex into!

Meet Mindy Coolman

With a hometown of Syracuse, NE, 37-year-old Mindy Coolman has lived in Omaha for the past six years where she works as a registered dietitian, the last four years of which have been at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

This proud dog mom and self-described stellar aunt has been trail running for the past decade completing distances up to 100 miles. In fact, on September 5, she finished her favorite trail race, the Superior 100, for the fourth time. Her time of 31:27:03 placed her sixth in the women’s field. “My first trail race was a 20 miler in 2010 put on by the Trail Nerds in Kansas City,” said Coolman. “Prior to running that race, I was rapidly ticking off marathons. So, of course I thought 20 miles on trails would be a walk in the park… pardon the pun. Despite being nearly too sore to walk the next day, I was hooked! A year later I returned to the same race and ran my first ultra – a 50k. It has now been years since I ran a road marathon.”

Coolman moved to the Omaha area in 2013, relocating from Kansas City where she was very involved in the trail running community. “I remember my biggest fear was missing out on the camaraderie of trail running,” recalled Coolman. “I knew about the Greater Omaha Trail Runnerz (GOATz), as they had been formed a little over a year prior to my relocation to the area. I knew after my first GOATz group run, that I had found a great group of people.

“We have a great variety of trails to choose from and it is rare to go for a run on trails without seeing other GOATz,” continued Coolman. “One thing that I think sets the GOATz apart is our mission – Community Driven Running. We give back to the community in many forms; through trail work, giving to charitable organizations, a scholarship program for cross country teams, and more. It’s something I am very proud and honored to be a part of.”

That volunteer spirit has been a big part of Coolman’s involvement with the sport. “I started volunteering at trail races about 5 years ago. Surrounding races, I am the trail marking guru. I know all the courses for the current local races and I enjoy doing it. I will be marking the course for Hitchcock 100 in December. Having run many races, I know what a well-marked course should look like. I also do some trail mowing and weed eating during the summer.

“The best part about volunteering at trail races is primarily watching others succeed at their goals,” added Coolman. “Secondarily, being on the other side and gaining a deeper appreciation for those who give of their time to volunteer. It might seem like an easy job, but it’s not always. I truly feel everyone should volunteer at a race to better understand the demands.”

What Coolman has learned from trail running is that most people can accomplish way more than they ever think they can. “At times it’s hard. At times it’s easy. But, it’s always worth it,” she said.

Her advice to someone considering getting into trail running or racing is this, “Grab a friend and check out a trail. Ease in until you are comfortable. Then think about this: Have you ever made it to the top of a mountain in time to see the sunrise? Or, perhaps the sunset? Trail running can change your life if you let it.”

The ATRA Trail Ambassador program is presented by CamelBak with support from adidas Outdoor, LEKI USA, and CEP Compression.