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Sub-Elite Trail Coaching Scholarship

Mission statement

As coaches, mentors, and competitive runners, we want to create a program to empower the next generation of trail and ultra runners.

The ultramarathon distance has historically been where aging road and track runners go to retire and where a few elite athletes are able to dominate at a few select races. However, COVID and the ensuing current running boom have contributed to more runners looking to run trails and ultras or set Fastest Known Times. At the same time, the distance is grueling and complex. The strategy of a multi-hour or multi-day effort intimidated all of us as younger runners. It took time to finally start asking the right questions to reach our potential.

Rather than the burnout marathoner discovering trails at the age of 35, let’s have a 24-year-old ex-collegiate runner try to tackle the 100-mile distances. Let’s have a 26-year-old thru-hiker try to run the entirety of the 212-mile John Muir Trail. Let’s have runners from diverse backgrounds and with unique perspectives refresh and enhance a historically white and male-dominated sport. We’ve seen too many talented runners and athletes give up on ultras after crashing in a fiery ball of defeat at their first race. We’ve seen the trail running world ignored by those intimidated by either the distance or wilderness.

Trail running is empowering. It directs our passions and energies into positive, community-building experiences. The process to develop into a stronger runner requires patience, ambition, and curiosity. We want to cultivate passionate, younger, and talented athletes, and to introduce them to a world which we love so much.

We, Scott Traer, Yassine Diboun, Rosa Moriello, and Joe McConaughy, are offering a scholarship for one year of free coaching for 7-10 athletes. The goals of this program are:

  • To develop talent in the future generation of the trail and ultra runners, and mentor those individuals to succeed in running and life.
  • To broader the diversity of the sport to include those that have historically been underrepresented and/or discouraged from participation.

In the US, the ultramarathon distance is dominated by white athletes and individuals who identify as heterosexual males. While that isn’t a knock on previous generations of runners, we strongly believe our sport will flourish and be much more impactful if we have more Joseph Gray’sCourtney Dauwalter’s, and Ryan Montgomery’s. We hope to attract and select individuals who bring different perspectives and/or background to the sport, and that, by working with one of us, these individuals will find their footing and voice in the trail running community.

Each of us has had our own journey to discover trails. We hope our mentorship will encourage a few select young people to pursue trail and ultra distances and to accelerate their learning and enjoyment of the sport.

Should I apply?

This scholarship is meant to support younger adult runners who are looking to develop themselves as a competitive ultramarathon- or Fastest Known Time-focused athlete. See criteria below:

  • Between the ages of 20-28*.
  • A resident of the United States, Canada or Mexico. (coaching is remote/no geographic location required)
  • Athletic individuals with thru-hiking backgrounds; or,
  • Individuals with competitive running backgrounds. Time suggestions listed below:
    • Men: 4:20 mile, 15:00 5k, 31:00 10k, 1:12 HM, 2:30 marathon & competitive ultramarathon performances
    • Women: 4:50 mile, 16:30 5k, 34:30 10k, 1:20 HM, 2:45 marathon & competitive ultramarathon performances
  • We encourage individuals with various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds and/or sexual orientations or identities to apply.

*With these scholarships, we’re hoping to encourage and mentor younger athletes who might not otherwise have an opportunity to obtain or confidence to seek out high-quality coaching. That generally means folks around, 20-28; however, if you feel that you should be included within this group but are older than 28, please consider applying and telling us more about why this scholarship would be a good fit for you.

A runner on a remote trail in the French Alps
Running can take you to some amazing places, like the French Alps


Each coach is offering a few scholarships spots to different athletes for the entire calendar year of 2022, totaling 7-10 spots total.

  • 12 months of one-on-one coaching services* (a $2,400 value). Including:
    • Customized training plan via Google Docs or Final Surge
    • Private training Slack & Strava groups
    • Tempo, track, hill and long run workouts
    • Weight program consulting
    • Race nutrition consulting^
    • Gear and fast packing consultation
    • Injury consultation^
    • Sponsor discounts (COROS, TrailButter, and more)
  • Gear from sponsors potentially including Janji, Brooks, Columbia and others.
  • Additional mentorship: If possible, I will pair you with a regionally located athlete who is able to offer additional mentorship and potential transportation assistance for events. If events require travel, I will work to help you find local support from the community with transportation, lodging, and support if possible

*Individual coaches have different coaching styles and processes and have unique sponsorship arrangements to benefit you.
^While we make every effort to provide athletes with correct information that is tailored to you, we are experienced running coaches but not licensed medical professionals. We study modern running practices to attempt to keep any athlete injury-free and healthy, but running may cause damage to your body. For medical issues, you should see a licensed professional. Under no circumstance shall any coach be held responsible for injury or damages.

Application info & process

Please apply using this link. If you have questions about your application, please leave a comment below, or message Joe via social media.

In the application, you will be asked to answer questions about your personal history, training history, and goals. You will also be asked to submit a 500 word written essay on ‘Why do you wish to apply for this scholarship? Will this experience contribute to your personal or professional goals, or impact your community?’.

See timeline. When the application period ends, we will review applications and narrow down a list of finalists. Finalists will be notified and scheduled for a follow-up call. The purpose of this call is to make sure that you and your coach are the right fit for your needs as an athlete. Non-selected applicants will be notified, by 12/27/21 at the latest. Additionally, we have a plan to create a community and offering some coaching services for individuals not selected.

Application period: 11/17 – 12/20/21
Beginning of December: Interview of finalists and selection of 3 recipients
Coaching start date: 1/1/21

If selected, what will be required of me?

Your coach will work with you to set goals and a training calendar for 2022. We expect any athlete…

  • To dedicate significant time and effort to training (8-12 hours per week)
  • To have a long-term interest in developing into a competitive trail runner, ultra runner or fastpacker
  • To attend bi-weekly or monthly one-on-one check-ins with your coach
  • To set a race calendar for 2022 with at least 3 efforts/events
  • To be an engaged member of their local trail running community and steward of the sport, including at least 8 hours as a volunteer or pacer at a trail running event or race at two separate events
  • To engage with your coaches client roster for both their benefit and for that of the broader group
  • Optional: To write a monthly blog article on a running-related topic. This could be on the running experience, a race report, a gear review, or whatever topic is interesting to them. Link to blog.

Maximizing your potential as a trail and ultra runner is a multi-step process. In this program, we’re interested in helping younger athletes establish a program and process to develop their craft rather than focusing purely on results. Most ultrarunners post their best performances in their 30’s; becoming a strong trail runner takes years to develop, immediate results will not be the best measure of long-term success.

Coach Yassine Diboun

Coach Yassine Diboun

I am a father, husband, endurance athlete, coach, and co-owner of Wy’east Wolfpack out of Portland, Oregon.

I have run over 100 ultra distance races and adventures, including Western States 100 four times, and participated on Team USA at the 2015 IAU Trail Championships in Annecy, France. Since 2009 I have been coaching athletes, mostly runners, at various levels and distances and I truly love it!

Lately, I have been trying to help increase the racial and ethnic diversity in trail and ultra running, and this is another action that I can take to hopefully make a difference. As a person of color in a sport that lacks diversity, I want to inspire others like me to explore this growing and supportive community!

Connect with me on my website or on Instagram: @yassinediboun

Coach Scott Traer

Coach Scott Traer

I have been involved in sports my entire life. During 2009-2010 I was traveling through the Andes in South America and it seemed like every day my runs just got longer and longer. In my first full season racing in 2012 I qualified for the US Track and Field National Team  (24 Hour Event)  and since then have won close to 20 ultramarathons.

I have received coaching certifications through UESCA, USATF and TrainingPeaks. I am very fortunate to have coached athletes to new distances, ultramarathon wins and a few to top-10 performances at National Championship events.

By coaching and mentoring athletes from different backgrounds I hope they can inspire others to come out and find the same gifts trail and ultrarunning have given me.

Connect with me on my website or on Instagram: @runfastah

Coach Joe ‘Stringbean’ McConaughy

Joe McConaughy at the terminus of the 800 mile Arizona Trail

I am an ultra and fastpacking focused athlete and coach living in Seattle, WA.

I finished my collegiate track career as a miler at Boston College in 2014. I got my nickname ‘Stringbean’ when I became the fastest person to run the 2,660 mile Pacific Crest Trail after running at Boston College for four years.

Since the Pacific Crest Trail, I’ve gone on to become an experienced ultrarunner, fastpacker and running coach. However, my path wasn’t straightforward. I struggled with racing. It took me years before I started to realize my potential. Now, I want to be a resource and mentor for the next generation of trail runners. I want to increase the diversity of the people who participate in my sport; to guide runners to reach limits they never could’ve dreamed of.

Connect with me on my website or on Instagram: @thestring.bean

Coach Rosa Moriello

Coach Rosa Moriello

I am a coach for East by West Distance living in Denver, CO. I have been a runner since 2006. I ran cross country and track (800m – 10k) throughout high school, my time at Boston University, and post collegiately in Boston, MA where I was able to represent the USA at 2 international cross country races.

Since moving to Denver, my focus has been on marathons, ultra-marathons (trail), and fast packing. My focus on running has become less about my own competitions and more about how to provide the best coaching I can for my athletes. As I learn more about longer-distance competitions and become a more well-rounded coach, I want to be a resource to others who are interested in reaching their potential in their events.

Connect with me on my website or on Instagram: @rosamoriello

Please support this scholarship

Our biggest issue with this application is that we’re worried that it will not be presented to the individuals who would most benefit from it, and they will not apply. For those of you reading this, we ask that you please support this scholarship by expanding the reach and network of this opportunity. Our success will likely depend on the recommendation of a friend of a friend to apply or by the goodwill of a stranger who shares this scholarship with their local trail running group.

If you would like to help this program succeed, we ask:

  • Share this scholarship with any local trail running organization via social media or word of mouth
  • Recommend the scholarship to an individual who you believe would be a good fit
  • Make an introduction. We’d love to make connections with individuals or organizations who might be able to help the mission of the scholarship
  • We will happily facilitate financial contributions to cover travel-related expenses or in-kind gifts for scholarship recipients, please get in touch with me on Instagram or in the comments below
  • Give us feedback: How can we increase the potential or value of this scholarship?

Reach Joe on Instagram or in the comments below.

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