Sunday, March 2, 2014

Team Seven Hills: Phil Kochik Q&A

Team Seven Hills:
Promoting An Unprecedented Performance Paradigm
Q&A With Team Seven Hills Founder Phil Kochik

Part 2 Of 2

copyright Tim Mathisby Tim Mathis
with photos by Glenn Tachiyama

An Interview with Team 7 Hills Founder Phil Kochik

     In a previous post, we introduced  Team 7 Hills, a new trail running team supported by Phil Kochik’s Seven Hills Running Shop. In this post, we talk to Phil about the team, his vision, and the way it fits into the local community.

Tim: This is a great idea – a team of Washington runners that’s store based rather than brand based. For those versed in the local scene, it is reminiscent of the old Seattle Running Company strategy, but are there other shops around the country that do this sort of thing?

Phil: Thanks, Tim! Yes, I certainly didn’t come up with this idea. I'm kind of trying to replicate the former ultra and trail dominance of the Seattle Running Club, and still maintain a sense of inclusion and community that a club would have.

I know the new Vertical Runner in Breckenridge, CO, put together a team; and San Francisco Running Co has a lot of runners that fly under their banner.

We might add a couple of runners in the summer based on how things are going; and I wouldn’t say we’ll only stick to WA runners. My goal is to have great and/or uniquely talented runners.

photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Phil Kochik at the 2013 Cougar Mountain 20 Miler. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.
T: It’s quite the eclectic group, and this isn’t just a cross-section of selections from race leader boards. How did you pick who you did?

P: Well, first was Adam Hewey. He was a no-brainer and our test subject as a sponsored team guy. He didn’t test me too much thou, because he never asked for anything! I said here, try these couple pair of shoes; and he was like, “okay.”

Expanding the team into 2014, I wanted to include our staff. Scott and Leslie at Seattle Running Co. spread the love financially to all of their employees, and I’ve always wanted to do the same. So that’s Chris BarryBrandon Sullivan, and Stacey Nievweija. Glenn is definitely the team photographer and by his own desire, has been left off the team page since he doesn’t compete anymore.

Beyond that, I wasn’t sure how to add people. Ras and Heather Anderson asked, and they seemed like great fits because of their beyond ultra experience. They both gave stellar presentations in the shop in 2013 so their accomplishments were in the forefront of my mind.

photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Ras demonstrates his technique for wooing sponsors on Phil Kochik, proprietor of Seven Hills Running Shop in Seattle, Washington, and founder of Team 7 Hills. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

I asked Jodee Adams-Moore because, even though she is a Scott Sports athlete now, I didn’t think Scott McCoubrey would mind. I even asked him about it, and he said it was up to her.

I asked Rose Wetzel-Sinnett because she came in the shop right before XTERRA World Championships last December…and I was like, “you have to be on the team!”

Same with Jon Robinson and Matt Urbanski. Jon came into the shop and we started to talk. We’ve known each other a couple years now, so that helped when deciding. Matt and I had an Ohio connection and I was impressed with both his speed and having thruhiked the “triple crown” of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.

One of our best customers residing in Magnolia, Michael Miller, is our unofficial team captain. He was the first and only person to come to our first group run and he’s been to just about every one since. He’s bought more shoes than I’ve tried in the past year! Now that’s team spirit!

T: What are the benefits for team members? For your store?

P: As I’ve told them several times in emails, it’s all a work in progress, but team members ideally get at least 3 pairs of Scott Shoes and 3 pairs of Pearl Izumi shoes this year. Those two brands are the main team sponsors. Thirty percent off at the shop for everything else. James at Rainshadow Running has agreed to allow our team members into each of his races—a pretty good perk because those races are hard to get into!

photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Rainshadow Running race director James Varner. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

We’re still waiting on our Pearl Izumi Team Jerseys. Hope they come by Chuckanut!!

Cash incentives: $100 for top 5 in any RainShadow event, short or long course. And there are winning, course record, Top 10 and Top 20 bonuses for any key event, “key” being defined mostly as any race for which provides coverage. Local key races include Chuckanut 50k, White River 50, and Cougar Mt. 50k.

Other than that, Altra and Hoka have been really nice and have said they will provide us with a few shoes for sponsored team runners that really want them. They are our secondary sponsors. Works out nice with Altra, since Heather and Ras are Altra Ambassadors anyways!

The shop gets exposure at races; a reason to post on facebook, to tweet and Instagram; and I get to fulfill one of my goals for starting this shop: putting Seattle back on the map of the national trail running scene.

T: Who do you think your team’s potential rivals are? Are you worried that Trey Bailey might start a team when he opens Uphill Running in Issaquah?

P: If Trey started a team, that could provide for some fun showdowns at local races. But really my sights are on getting people like Sage and Jodee Adams-Moore (check!) and the next Sage and Jodee to be on the team. For Team 7 Hills runners to win Western, Hardrock, UROC, and TNF San Fran.

T: Those Klicks road teams from Bellingham are always winning the Ragnar Relay. Do you think your team could take them out? Do you have any ideas for costumes?

P: Rose, can you handle this one? She is Wonder Woman after all.

T: Are you going to have team practice? I’m envisioning Glenn Tachiyama screaming and blowing whistles while everyone does wind sprints at Magnuson Park.

P: I hope to have team runs that anyone can attend! Our Wednesday night and Saturday morning runs are up and running! I do hope to have high quality long group trail runs eventually, but it’s hard getting people together with varying schedules.

T: Have you had to kick anyone off for doping yet?

P: Chris was getting close there for a bit. He would only eat the HoneyStinger products with Lance on the front. Luckily those were phased out.

T: What’s your vision for the team in 2014 and beyond?

P: Really the “team” is everyone who shops at Seven Hills, comes to the group runs, comes to our movie nights or presentations, or wears our gear out there on the trails. I want everyone to realize that. Tim, you’re on #team7hills just as much as Ras. Ras is being sponsored, but you’re both on the team.

In that vein, maybe Team 7 Hills will become more of an official club at some point, like Club Northwest. They have Joe Gray and others who are sponsored but anyone can be in the club.

T: What places will we see Team 7 Hills members this year?

P: Chuckanut 50k, White River 50, all Rainshadow races, and the new Crystal Mountain Marathon. Adam Hewey is going big at Western, UTMB, and Hardrock. Jodee is going big at Lake Sonoma 50 and White River 50. Heather and Ras have some top secret FKT attempts. And Rose will be kicking butt at Spartan races and XTERRA ½ marathon Trail Championships!

photo by Glenn Tachiyama
What happens at Seven Hills Running Shop doesn't necessarily STAY at Seven Hills Running Shop. 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.

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