Look up the word “Tacoma” and you’ll find definitions ranging from “snow covered mountain” to “mother of all waters.” But the unifying theme in each translation is outdoor fun. With its majestic mountain peaks, vibrant city and energetic sea, Tacoma and the South Sound is the place for any type of outdoor sport, whether by mountain, city or sea.
The South Sound is also home to a slew of athletes with varying levels of prowess—from trail running to open water swimming and speed skating. These Ambassadors, active in both their sport and their community, make up the fabric of the local athletic community and inspire others in their athletic pursuits.
Rob McNair-Huff, Running
Director of Communication, Tacoma Metropolitan Development Council.
Rob’s a marathon runner—who ran 2,100 miles last year—and the co-founder of Tacoma Runners, which is often a run …and then a beer run. A 20+ year veteran of Tacoma, Rob tells us, “This is a great place to be active. For running, Tacoma has so many options—the waterfront, the bridges, the hills.” Rob isn’t hard to miss: You can spot him in a neon yellow vest and surrounded by a gaggle of up to 100 other runners on Thursday night beer runs.
Ellen Bayer, Trail Running
Literature Professor, University of Washington Tacoma.
A trail runner with two 100-mile ultramarathons under her belt, Ellen shares her outdoor passion with her students through a new Environmental Arts and Humanities academic program at UWT. She is also invested in Tacoma’s new chapter of Girls on the Run. Having moved to Tacoma from the cornfields of Indiana, she can’t imagine living elsewhere. Ellen is constantly amazed that “here you can actually go to the mountains, you don’t just have to look.”
Follow along with Ellen’s trail runs on Instagram: bfc.blackhorse.
Joe Clark, Cross Country
President, Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association, 5-time marathon runner.
Are you part of the Washington running community? Then you’ve heard of Joe Clark. His amicable personality has been like glue in the South Sound, bringing together athletes, coaches and volunteers from across the state. Joe tells us, “Cross country is an inclusive sport. There’s more of a sense of family and community” because anyone can participate, regardless of skill set or experience. He’s won coach of the year multiple times. And the best example of his dedication is the growth of the Fort Steilacoom Invitational, the largest cross country running event in the state of Washington. In 2017 the event drew in nearly 3,000 competitors.
Alex and Kristina Walker, Bicycling & Cyclocross
He’s a high school English teacher. She’s the executive director of Downtown On the Go! and co-founder of VeloFemmes. Alex and Kristina commute 24 miles to work, combined. Kristina promotes sustainable transportation and commuting around Tacoma while Alex rides in and announces at cyclocross events. “There’s joy in participating in the community.” says Kristina.
Duncan Stevenson, Volleyball
Director of District Athletics, Pierce College.
Duncan had no experience overseeing a college athletic department at the start of his career. But with an extensive background in operations, he helped build Pierce College’s athletic program from the ground up. For over 30 years, Duncan has been paving the way for sports at Pierce College. He’s a natural at it, as “Sports have been in my blood since a very early age.” Through his mentorship-focused approach Duncan has become a legend around the South Sound athletic community and is here to stay.
Miguel Jose, Speed Skating
President of the National SpeedSkating Circuit, 5-time national speedskating championship competitor.
Miguel is driven to succeed and help others. “I love the challenge… the community. It’s a big part of who I am.” Miguel and gold-medalist Joey Mantia formed the National SpeedSkating Circuit, which uses the Tacoma Armory for one of its three major annual events. “It’s a big, gritty building that works with the energetic crowd.” The group’s mission: bring speed-skating to a mainstream audience.
Watch TacomaSports.org/ambassadors as new athletes are featured this fall.