Mike Sandrock
Mike Sandrock

Adam Goucher had a simple one-word explanation of what to expect when I walked out of the cold and into the Boulder offices of the virtual fitness company Run the Edge on Thursday afternoon.


That's because with the New Year upon us and resolutions multiplying like holiday cookies, thousands of runners around the nation will be signing up for The Run the Year 2,018 Miles in 2018 Challenge (runtheedge.com) in the next week to be part of the online community Goucher created with former University of Colorado teammate Tim Catalano in 2014.

For the 40,000-plus expected sign-ups, Run the Year is a way for runners to stick to their resolution in a supportive online environment, under the guidance of Goucher, a prep and NCAA collegiate cross country champion, 3:54 miler, 5,000-meter Olympian, and the center of Chris Lear's classic "Running with the Buffaloes," a chronicle of the 1998 CU cross country season.

"The 'Edge' means the edge in whatever we are doing in life," said Goucher, 42.

In addition to "Run the Year 2018" — run, walk or jog 2,018 miles solo or with teams up to four — there is also the Amerithon, in which participants run, swim, bike or walk 3,521 miles "across" the country.


Progress is monitored by the Edge's online tracker, synced to Fitbit or Garmin devices, or entered manually. Runners get a medal, training plans by Goucher and his wife, Kara, two of the best U.S. runners ever, the support of the online community, along with other goodies.

"Give the gift of fitness," is how Catalano, an 8 minute, 47 second steeplechaser and former educator who dropped out of a Ph.D. program to work with Goucher, put it. "We have two goals;" reaching your miles while helping others stay consistent.

Running the Edge, the name of the book Catalano and Goucher wrote in 2011, is now a brand, authentic as they come, we can say, underlaid by a sense of runners holding each other accountable while putting in the miles.

Employees bustle around the office, carrying boxes, working on the project. Taya the office dog wanders around. High up along one wall are boxes of bubble-wrap envelopes, to be used to mail out the motivation/finisher medals and T-shirts. Fruit sits on the breakroom table.

"It's crazy," Goucher said. "I never envisioned doing this in life. It's a lot of fun."

The fun comes from the playful friendship Goucher and Catalano have had since they met in 1994 at CU. Catalano was a fifth-year senior, Goucher the precocious newcomer. Goucher was the only freshman able to keep up with Catalano on those 20-mile Sunday runs up on Magnolia Road.

Run the Edge’s "2018 Miles" medals for participants who run that distance during 2018.
Run the Edge's "2018 Miles" medals for participants who run that distance during 2018. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

The pair stayed friends when Catalano moved to Honduras, Dubai, Egypt and Bahrain to coach. When he returned to write a book about education, Goucher convinced him to instead co-author "Running the Edge." The two traveled to race expos, giving motivational talks, until, as Catalano explains, "The book became a company."

The first virtual fitness challenges were successful one-day races. However, Catalano said, "That's one day. One day will not get you in shape. Why not make it a lifestyle, something that can motivate over time? Let's just go big time."

That they did, with huge signups the first year.

"We were caught off guard," said Catalano, explaining that the appeal comes from combining fitness with taking on a challenge. "You can see yourself transforming along the way."

A big transformation for the company came in February with the addition of another former Buff, Briana Boehmer, as chief operating officer. She brought business acumen to the company and helped plan for a big 2018.

Holding the medals and looking at the Mileage Tracker Poster, a mandala for runners, a way to center our lives around running, I felt the excitement of people sticking to their running plans and perhaps changing their lives.

"Yeah," I thought, "2018 miles in 2018. I can do it."

As I get ready to leave, I wonder if Goucher, now father to 7-year old Colt, has himself transformed. He is still a hero for many who admire the determined, honest, all-in approach to training and racing he was known for. His Steve Prefontaine-like brashness and effort brought him to world-class status, earned him contracts, medals, awards.

So I ask him a delicate question. With his talent and high mileage, he never had the chance to run a marathon; a knee injury forced him out of the 2012 Olympic Trials. Did he feel he did all he could in his running career?

Goucher pauses, slows. "I feel a lot left undone, I did not reach my potential. Not even close."

Then he looks at his watch; there are videos to make this afternoon, runners to motivate.

Contact Mike Sandrock at sandrockm@gmail.com.