HR Pod: Leah O’Connor, Professional Runner and Former Michigan State Standout

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Photo by James Rogers

Leah O’Connor.


Host James Rogers sits down with professional runner and former Michigan State standout Leah O’Connor for an expansive conversation. Now based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the 27-year-old discusses her hometown roots, decorated MSU career and pro running roller-coaster ride. Topics also include mental health, faith, writing, farm life, support systems and Harper (her dog).

At MSU, Leah captured multiple Big Ten titles—cross country, indoor track, outdoor track—and won a national title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (June 2014) and indoor mile (March 2015). She was a member of the undefeated 2014 MSU women’s cross-country team coached by Walt Drenth that won the national title in dominating fashion.

Leah’s 9:18.85 personal record in the 3K steeplechase set in May 2016 makes her the fifth-fastest American ever in the women’s steeple. Now sponsored by HOKA and coached by Dathan Ritzenhein, Leah is a member of the Gazelle Elite Racing Team.

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HR Pod: Amanda Loudin on HOKA NAZ Elite’s String of Successes

Scott Fauble crosses the finish line at the 2019 Boston Marathon, as sketched by Carly Peil.


Freelance writer Amanda Loudin joins host James Rogers to discuss her May feature entitled “HOKA NAZ Elite: Inside the Hottest Team Going” for PodiumRunner. Northern Arizona (NAZ) Elite—a professional running group based in Flagstaff, Arizona, and led by head coach Ben Rosario—partnered with HOKA in 2015 and had a breakthrough 2018 with multiple team members posting eye-catching results.

Now a 13-member team, NAZ Elite’s most notable performance came this year at the 2019 Boston Marathon, where 27-year-old Scott Fauble finished seventh in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 9 seconds (2:09:09) to become the 11th-fastest American ever for the 26.2-mile distance.

If you prefer to listen via SoundCloud:


Hooray Run Podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher, Overcast, many more platforms. Tell a friend, recommend, leave a review, SUBSCRIBE—thanks for listening!