By Reesey Byers

I joined the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies training group and moved to San Luis Obispo on January 13th, 2017. I had no idea what to expect leading up to that spring of track and road racing. 

2017 was a very trying year with so many adaptations and changes in my life. It was the first time I had trained with a group of guys that were just as good me, as well as many who were better than me. I certainly was not used to that so it took me a little while to learn to train with the group. I also lost my mother in February, and that was the most difficult moment of my life. Luckily for me it helped a ton to be surrounded by so many loving and caring Aggies. Another way I thought I could keep my mind focused and off the recent tragedy was if I raced... a lot. 

I certainly was enjoying the freedom of racing whenever I wanted. Between road and track seasons, I think I raced almost every weekend last spring. Even though I was not running well, I was really enjoying myself. I knew Josh MacDonald (1st place on the 2017 PA Open Men's Short Road circuit) from many races in college, and I had started to notice his familiar presence at these PA races. I didn’t think much of it then, until I started to keep track of the scoring of each race. We would literally take turns beating each other in every PA race. By that time I had noticed he was in first and I was in second by just a few points, with one race left on the schedule: the 4th of July Freedom Fest 5K race in Morgan Hill. 

I was completely burned out at this point but I wanted to win the PA circuit. The gun goes off and Will Geiken goes out like a bat out of hell. I could tell right away my legs were not going to cooperate. But Josh was just a few spots ahead of me. I kept him in sight and prepared myself for the long drive home up the last hill. I kicked past a few fellow Aggies and a Strava guy. Being completely exhausted I swore up and down it was Josh that I had passed, even though the results had said he beat me. I even tried arguing with the race director and the people in charge of the results because I knew if I beat him I would win the circuit but vice versa if he beat me. It wasn’t until Stacey Geiken pulled up a finish photo at lunch a few hours later that I saw that indeed, Josh had just barely beaten me, and it was his teammate I had passed. It still burns a little bit to this day but I am certainly happy to get second place for 2017. I had the most fun I’ve had in a long time, competing and enjoying each race. But one thing is for sure: I definitely won’t let that happen ever again. 

PAUSATF 2017 Road Circuit - Men's Open Short: