“I love running because it focuses me in the present, in the moment”
“I am not an elite athlete and you will likely never hear my name called to stand on the podium after a major event. What I do enjoy is testing my physical abilities and mental strength, entering into and going through situations that challenge me with learning along the way.” (Fairweather Steve, 2021).
When I first met Fairweather Steve for a trail run, he told me that running was not his primary sport, cycling is.
This is three days after he pulled off a top 20 finish in a 50km trail race in the Franklin Mountains over in El Paso.
When you meet Steve, his cheerfulness and openness stand out immediately. Like talking to someone you’ve been friends with since grade school. He has a large Strava following, and it is unusual to see this guy not work out. He will do a massive bike ride at wattages that could power most of my house, then follow it up the next day with an ‘easy’ 10 mile run over the latest set of hills he has discovered. But for someone that trains so hard, he is entirely humble and just truly happy to be out cycling or running, in the moment.
When it comes to training, Steve is laid back. “Every workout counts, even if it is a walk” he said. His most frequent training partner is his son. Do not mistake being laid back with lack of effort. When Steve needs to put the hammer down in training, he does.
He is retired Air Force (think Desk, not Jets), and spending time with his family is his top priority now. He schedules his workouts around shuttling his kids between activities and appointments.
Steve was not always a super athlete. In the Air Force, he could pass the yearly PT test, but did not really have to put much effort into it. As he says, he used to smoke and drink while his buddies went on runs. One day his buddies finally convinced him to go on a run with them. His back started hurting pretty bad, and he knew something was wrong.
He worked through the injury, and quite smoking cold turkey. He started hanging out more with his friends that were active, and discovered that he really enjoyed running. He was transferred to San Antonio, and then Korea. In Korea, something clicked. He was recovering from a running injury and had taken up cycling. He did pretty good, but tended to just go on rides when it was nice out. After his riding buddies roped him into a few rides in really bad weather, something flipped in his head. He started to enjoy it and even thrive in it.
He got transferred back to San Antonio and decided to retire there, as his wife was still in the military and finishing out her 20 years. He has found that running or cycling in the moment, plus spending time with his family, make for a pretty darn good life.
Steve is a humble, energetic guy and always open to new friends and workouts. He is a normal guy, doing some extraordinary things. You can follow him on Facebook: FairWeather Steve | Facebook
In his own words: Top 3 Events
Bandera Endurance Trail Race 50k/100k. The annual Bandera trail run held in January at Hill Country State Natural Area every year is just a special place and race, I ran my first ultramarathon there in the 2018 in the form of a 50k. Still learning but not fully understanding Ultrarunning, I offered to pace a friend in 2020 and he had a great 100k finish time. Inspired by his strong finish, I followed his lead and earned my first (and only) buckle in 2021 completing the two lap 100k in 15:20. I owe it all to crew and pacers: Jeremy, Bryan, Gin and Jessie for that success.
The Mid South 50k in Stillwater Oklahoma was on a Friday in early March of 2020. I ran a 50k in 5:25 which stands as my current PR. What I was really there for was a gravel bike ride on Saturday consisting of 100 miles but it happened to be in the rain and cold and took more than 12 hours to complete. I finished among 33 individuals who completed both events. These two events together are the hardest thing I have ever done. I wouldn’t have finished if not for some amazing USMES teammates on the course and waiting at the finish line. Then the entire world shut down for COVID the following day.
Hotter’N Hell This one isn’t an ultramarathon but a combination event like nothing else many have experienced. The annual Hotter‘N Hell has been held at the end of August for the past 40 years in Wichita Falls, Texas. What started as a 100-mile endurance ride on a Saturday morning has now added multiple different events over the weekend with Crit racing on Friday and Sunday, a mountain bike race on Friday, a gravel bike ride on Saturday night and a half marathon trail run on Sunday. The Quadzilla is the combination of the four events for a total of 300k on the bike and then a half marathon trail run. In 2021 I finished 4th among the 22 athletes who completed all four of the events. Credit goes to my amazing wife (Mrs. FWS) who crewed and supported all weekend plus even ran the half marathon with me as her first ever registered half or trail run.