Saturday, February 8, 2014

Team Seven Hills: Promoting An Unprecedented Performance Paradigm

Team Seven Hills:
Promoting An Unprecedented Performance Paradigm
Part 1 Of 2

copyright Tim Mathisby Tim Mathis
with photos by Glenn Tachiyama

Team Seven Hills: Where Cool is at Least as Important as Fast

     On the face of things, Phil Kochik seems like an unlikely leader in the trail running community. An unassuming guy with a goofy sense of humor, in person he presents as reserved and quirky. He doesn’t have a personal Facebook profile, but his dog does, and he operates on social media under the persona of Louie TrailPug – an animal whose tongue is much too big for its head. But since opening Seven Hills Running Shop in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle at the end of 2012, his brand’s been visible seemingly everywhere in the Washington trail scene, and through a series of events and promotions, he’s already turned his shop into one of the key gathering places for trail runners in Washington.

     Phil has old-school ultra chops – he finished in 2nd place at a very competitive White River 50 in 2004 (beating the likes of Hal Koerner, Karl Meltzer, and William Emerson), won the American River 50 in 2005, and finished fifth at the Western States 100 in 2007 – and he spent years honing his business acumen working at the Seattle Running Company and the Fleet Feet that replaced it. And, he’s an undeniably likeable guy who seems genuinely committed to the promotion of trail and ultra running. He believes that his store is the first running shop in the country to carry more trail focused product than road, and he’s already sponsored countless giveaways and promotions at trail events across the state. He’s helping bolster the community and has added some excitement to a scene that’s already expanding.

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Adam Hewey. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

     From the beginning, Seven Hills has been committed to supporting notable local runners on the trails, and the store provided Adam Hewey with a sponsorship in 2013, which he promptly used to invest in a dramatic top 10 finish at Hard Rock – arguably the toughest 100 miler in the world. But at the end of 2013, Phil took this support to the next level and announced the roll out of an entire team of supported Seven Hills runners. While sponsored racing teams are nothing new, the makeup of the team is something worth drawing attention to. In this post and the next, I’ll highlight the team by introducing some of its members, and ask Phil some questions about just what he’s trying to accomplish by assembling this ragtag group of misfits.

Fast Runners, Fast Packers, and Innovators

     The team members in 2014 are: Adam Hewey, Jodee Adams-Moore, Heather Anderson, Chris Barry, Stacey Nievweija, Matt Urbanski, Brandon Sullivan, Jon Robinson, and our own Ras. (I should probably insert a mid-article disclaimer here. Ras didn’t ask me to write this piece – I approached him about it because it fits the UltraPedestrian ethos.)

     Teams of sponsored runners usually include, pretty much exclusively, fast runners that finish at the front of races. What makes Team 7 Hills interesting is that they have at least partially eschewed that criteria to support runners who finish throughout the pack, at least one who almost never races, and one who is more known as a fastpacker than a runner. Like, the team represents “Trail running - Ultrarunning - Backpacking - Fastpacking – Thruhiking - Supported - Unsupported - Self-supported - All of the Above”.

Glenn Tachiyama/Rainshadow Running, Angel's Staircase 60k/35k 2013
Jodee Adams-Moore. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama/Rainshadow Running, Angel's Staircase 60k/35k 2013

     The core of the team is represented by fast trail runners. Jodee Adams-Moore is probably the best runner in the state, is in her prime routinely breaking course records, and is nationally competitive – narrowly missing out on a win at the 2013 Speedgoat 50k and setting a course record at Chuckanut in 2013. Adam Hewey is one of the best Masters runners in the country. And Chris, Matt, Brandon and Jon all finish on or near the podium when they race locally.

     But Heather, Stacey and Ras are interesting for reasons other than winning races. If you are reading this site, there’s a fair chance that you know something about Ras’ adventures covering insane distances in unsupported fashion, his podcast and blog. And if you follow outdoor sports news at all, you have probably heard of Heather Anderson – undoubtedly the most famous team member who set the Fastest Known Time (male or female) for a self-supported trip up the PCT last year, averaging 44 miles a day to cover the 2663 mile trail in 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes. Stacey, who is a visible member of the local community who rarely races, has her own set of amazing accomplishments, including a self-organized road 100 miler last January and a self-organized 170 mile run from Vancouver to Seattle.

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Heather 'Anish' Anderson pacing Ras at the 2013 Cascade Crest 100. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

     And the team as a whole is made up of innovators and interesting people. (Part of me suspects, in fact, that the team was comprised primarily with an end of year party in mind.) Jodee Adams-Moore was a high school phenom who took 7 years off after college to live in the woods making pottery before returning to racing and promptly winning every race she entered. If all goes as planned, Adam Hewey in 2014 will become the first person to complete what he calls the “Mondo Slam” – the Western States 100, the Hard Rock 100, and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – in one year (a feat almost as impressive for the lottery luck required as for the toughness involved). Ras basically created a whole new type of running achievement – doubling or tripling traditional routes in order to establish “Only Known Times” (OKTs). And Matt Urbanski spent the last three years traveling the world with his wife, running marathons and ultras, completing through hikes (including the triple crown AT, PCT and CDT), and chronicling their adventures on their blog and in his wife’s books.

In Part Two I’ll talk to Phil about how he put the team together, and what his vision is for the team in 2014 and beyond.   

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Matt Urbanski. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Tim Mathis lives in Seattle and is a regular contributor to He has been running trails with his wife Angel for a couple of years.  One time they ran across Spain fueled mostly on pastries and espresso.  He blogs occasionally at and has contributed to and Trailrunner Magazine.


  1. Nice job Tim! I saw Jon wearing a Seven Hills shirt at the Orcas 50k and after reading this it all makes sense.

    1. Martin, we like to think that everyone who wears our stuff is on the team! there's only a few sponsored runners like Jon and Ras, but everyone can take part!

  2. Great write up Tim! Rose Wetzel is a new addition to the team. She's fast and likes to get muddy at Spartan Races! She's also on the Atlas Pro Team; check those studs out! And...Can't forget our main sponsors: Scott Sports and Pearl Izumi!