Getting to Know the Roost: Boulder Staff Member Ryan Haylett

Getting to Know the Roost: Boulder Staff Member Ryan Haylett

Runners Roost has been a locally owned business since 1977. One of the many ways we have realized our longevity is through community. At Runners Roost we feel it is important for us to understand our community as well as for our community to know who we are. With that we will be featuring some of our staff in our regular blog content so you can meet us and our friendship with our Colorado community can rise to new elevations.

Who is Ryan Haylett:

If I could pick one word to summarize my life, it would be “Journey”. My life thus far has been one of many twists and turns. Each, however, was fueled by the previous single-track, and led into the next transition. I have always struggled with the thought that others view where I have been and what I have done as the actions of an unrooted and erratic individual.

When one is growing up, through the pressures of current society, they try to plan out the next 50 years. The same was true of me. I grew up in small town Pennsylvania (really… one red light). I developed the desire to help people and thus, I wanted to become a Pennsylvania State Trooper and serve in the Marine Corps. That remained my goal all the way through jr high and high school.

Family and friends were always of the utmost importance to me. It was with this motivation that I decided to do cross country my seventh grade year. My two cousins, whom I greatly looked up to, were doing it. It would be a decision that would alter the rest of my life. I fell in love with putting one foot in front of the other at the fastest rate possible and trying to do it more quickly than everyone else. I loved the competition. I adored the way it made me feel “alive” and “on the edge”. I developed some amazing friendships, many of which I still have today. But the main reason I ran all the way from seventh grade through twelfth grade was because of one man, my coach. This man, Mark Roche, had an aura about him. A lot of that originated from his peak years in the “golden years of running”. You know, the time of Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, Lasse Verin, etc. He taught you that running was a lifestyle, a passion, and more than just a hobby. He taught you to run with your heart. I could go on reminiscing, but these foundational years have not only shaped me into the runner I am today, but also the person that I am.

I had a successful career in high school running both cross country and track. Through that career, I have some fantastic memories. Like hearing the crowd roar as I poured everything I had into the final 200 meters of the Cross Country Regional Championships my sophomore year, shoulder to shoulder with another runner. The purity of this moment is unparalleled. Two competitors giving 120%, side by side, their hearts on their sleeves, on a huge stage. I endured the pain a bit longer than he did, beating him out for the win. The sound of the crowd is unforgettable. I can still hear it to this day. It was just like in the movies, or like the following two years, being out kicked at the end for a runner up position, our team going undefeated one year, and many more.

From there, it was on to college, because that’s what everyone does, right? My parents and I had agreed that I not join the Marine Corps and go to college instead. I was pursuing a bachelors degree in criminal justice so I could achieve my goal. I was also running cross country for the college. After talking to several police officer friends of mine, they advised me that my current path was not the path that would get me to my goal. Through a bit of research I determined that they were right. Post freshman year, I transferred to my college’s sister school. They offered a program which allowed me to achieve an associates in criminal justice while also completing the Municipal Police Academy. I completed both, gaining valuable skills, and was now ready to apply to police departments. I wanted to be even more marketable though. Again through research, I concluded that enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve allowed me to gain valuable skills. This would allow me to achieve veterans preference by departments, and fulfill a dream of mine. I would serve in the Marine Corps Reserve for six years, developing leadership, mental fortitude, brotherhood, and so much more. I was away for training for a year and returned to get hired on by two departments part time. My time as a police officer was extremely rewarding because I served people in so many capacities. Again, I developed many great friendships and memories.

During this time, I also worked as I professional photographer. I taught myself everything and then was hired on by a studio. We did everything: weddings, Sr. portraits, sports, school photos, etc. I loved the creativity side of it. It was a way to capture moments and share them with others. About two years into it, my wife and I felt called to ministry. We obeyed and went. We left our jobs, and our families. We moved to South Central PA where an opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately, that did not end up working out. We loved our new area though. The terrain was entirely different than where we had both grown up. There were mountains!

I started coaching at a local high school, both for cross country and track. A friend of mine approached me about working at our new running store, Appalachian Running Company. It was a great fit! This decision would help me grow me as a runner substantially. I learned all about the different kinds of shoes and how there are different types of feet. I learned to fit the shoe to the foot and not the other way around. We were problem solvers! It was amazing. We were making a difference in peoples lives by placing them in the proper shoe for their function and foot!

Coaching became a pillar in my life. I used the model Coach Roche instilled in me and for the next three seasons, built up not only quality athletes, but quality individuals. They all left a great impression on me and I miss speaking into their lives. It was great to watch them grow as runners and people.

When it came to my running, I had just discovered the trails. I fell in love the first time I ran on them. It was a run with some local runners I had became friends with. We ran for two hours on the Appalachian Trail and surrounding trails. I was hooked. This was running like I had not experienced before. The trail offered a stillness, a silence, a refuge. Exploring our local trails and all of the views they had to offer was amazing. But then I started to feel that competitive itch. I had not raced competitively since college. I wanted to race on the trails though, that much I knew. I researched “trail races”. I was then introduced to a word I had never heard of before: Ultra-marathon. It appeared that every trail race I found was an ultra. I shrugged my shoulders. Ok, I thought. Still having never raced further than a half marathon, I ran my first ultra, a local 50K. It was an experience unlike anything I’d ever known. It was gritty. It was exhilarating. I had some high highs and some low lows. I placed really well and thought, “I want to do that again!”. I started to actually train and focus on trail running. I did another local 50K and placed runner up. The experience each time though was amazing. It wasn’t just you against the other runners, but it had a much higher level of “you vs you”. These distances were farther than I’d ever gone before and involved things I’d never had to deal with before such as nutrition, strategies, “bonks” etc. Having only been doing ultras for 8 months, I ran my first 50 miler in November, the JFK 50. I did not do as well as I had wanted; I had high expectations, but my biggest impression from that race was the sense of community with the other runners, the spectators, and your crew. I had never had a crew before. It was so amazing sharing the experience with my crew that day. I have used the same crew ever since. I truly love the “team” sense you get and your finish is their finish.

That was my final race of the year. The next year I set my sights big. I mean REALLY big and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My main focus for 2017 was the PA Triple Crown. This consisted of the Hyner 50K (8,000′ of gnarly and technical climbing), two months later it would be followed by the World’s End 100K (12,000′ of gnarly and technical climbing), and finally two months later it would be capped off by the Eastern States 100 miler (20,000′ of gnarly and technical climbing). Each race your finishing place would be how many points you would accumulate. This new adventure contained two BIG obstacles, my first 100K and my first 100 miler. I am a very goal oriented person. This new escapade fueled that beyond measure. I have also come to discover that there is a purity found on the starting line of an ultra-marathon. There is a great distance between that starting line and the finish line where any number of things can happen. The reward is found in that journey. You will find yourself in that journey. I completed the PA Triple Crown finishing well in each race, finishing seventh in the standings for the Triple Crown after the points were accumulated. This journey taught me the power of human will and that one is capable of anything they set their mind to. Each race is an epic in itself. They were all phenomenal lifetime experiences.

As both my wife and I became more and more infatuated with the world and culture of trail running, we developed a theme for our lives. We wanted to live and not just exist. Looking back on the lives of those around us when we were growing up, it seemed to be domineered by work. That was the nucleus of life it seemed. Get up, go to work, come home, sit on the couch, go to bed: rinse, wash, and repeat. We wanted so much more than that. It was with this mantra at our backs, partnered with an evergrowing sense of the outdoors, adventures, and exploration, that we proposed the idea of a monumental move. This move would take us further away from our familes, our comforts, and the “common lifestyle”. We flew out to Colorado to scope it out. Our experiences in the week we were here, the people we met, and the things we saw, captivated us. Parts of us were left in Colorado while we returned home. We were moving to Colorado.

It has been everything that we could have hoped for. It fuels our adventurous spirits. It gives us endless opportunities to be outdoors and do the things we are passionate about. The community here has embraced us so wonderfully.

Upon our move out here, I wanted to continue to have an impact in people’s lives. I contacted Runners Roost and got an interview. I loved the family-feel and environment it had to offer. Most importantly though, I loved how their main focus was on getting the customer into the right footwear for their purpose and foot even when that required above and beyond service. This was the perfect fit for where I had come from and what I wanted to still do. It’s amazing being a part of the Runners Roost family. We are a service first, and a business second. You can come say HI to me at our Boulder location and run with us Wednesdays at 5:30 pm!

And that’s where we are now. Every transition has led into the next. Each transition has been fueled by passion. This has not been the life of an erratic or unrooted person. It has been the life of someone who seeks challenges and has a zeal for life. Each chapter has created a well rounded individual. I am eagerly looking forward to the chapters to come.

Be you. Run and Live Epic.


Related Article