Heather Stephens

In the small moment in time between the first command: “Runners take your mark!” and the sounding of the gun, I couldn’t help but smile. I smiled because I was healthy enough to stand on a starting line...because I was able to participate in something I started at age 10...because running has brought such meaning to my life and introduced me to some of the best people I know...because there may come a day when my body won’t allow me to run or race...but that on this day I had an opportunity to push myself alongside teammates who inspire me to do scary things...and because this race brought 26 Oiselle teammates together to do the thing we love to do most.



"What a difference a race makes. After a slogging fall season at O, meh training, intense mom-duty to two teenagers, I needed Club XC. And to simply feel the wind under my wings, the mud in my shoes, and friends at my side. That's what these women do for me - and I am forever grateful." – Sally Bergesen, Oiselle Washington Masters

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"Oiselle has created an amazing run family all over the country; many of whom we never get to meet. Having a large contingent of birds in one place, with the majority of ladies racing, was incredibly special. We rarely get to step to the start line of something as pure as a cross country race. Being able to share that with women from around the country, wearing the same singlet was deeply gratifying and incredibly memorable. These races do more than give us a race for our calendar; they deepen our love for the sport. Also- how often do you get to run with the CEO of your company? So badass."  – Mel Lawrence & Collier Lawrence, Oiselle Oregon

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"Running Club XC has given me the chance to get back to my roots with running and remember why I first fell in love with the sport.  XC is playful, "in the moment," and inherently connected to nature. Saturday's race was one of the best of my life: getting to lay it all out there, running free and strong against the terrain while surrounded by my teammates was a true runner's high!" – Emily Brain, Oiselle Washington

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“Racing club cross is out of my comfort zone in terms of distance and competition. It’s a chance to do something scary, run hard, line up with some of the country’s best runners, and yet feel completely supported by friends, teammates, and the running community.” – Cathleen Knutson, Oiselle Washington

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"After a season of racing XC last year with my local team, and the pain and suffering that I endured trying to run "fast" as a long distance runner, I questioned my sanity when signing on to do it to myself again for Nationals this year!  BUT, even though I'm still not very fast, the pain was well worth it this time! Meeting and running with so many incredible birds was so much fun! Every single one of the ladies I met, including the amazing Haute Volée birds who were out there to cheer, were incredibly welcoming, supportive and just plain awesome! Not much can beat the feeling of being part of a team, being part of a TRIBE, of incredible women runners! Go Oiselle!” – Maili Costa, Oiselle California


“I loved the energy of looking around and seeing lot's of Oiselle singlets and gear out there on the course and meeting new team members for the first time. The fact that we can come together from different parts of the country with a shared passion for this sport and our community of runners and step to the line genuinely hopeful that each of us has a kick ass race and effort. For the runner that has never tried cross-country it is something that each of you should try: you won't regret it!” – Kristin Metcalf, Oiselle Washington Masters

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“I got pretty emotional seeing all my Volée teammates racing cross country, the new and familiar faces. Team is something I need in my life! And seeing the athletes I coach run their hearts out was really fulfilling. When people have breakthroughs mentally and or physically and are PRESENT in them, I just want to grab them and jump up and down. We can't have these breakthroughs every time, but when an athlete stops to feel it, to appreciate their effort, they allow those moments to carve beautiful grooves.” – Lauren Fleshman, Haute Volée

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"It's always exciting (and a little scary) to try something new and a great team makes it amazing! I am so glad I gave cross country a try. Racing with Oiselle was so much fun, I can't wait to try more XC races next year!" – Jennifer Mathe, Oiselle California

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“Cross-country was my first love. In the 8th grade, I invited myself to my friends practice to see what it was about and ever since then I’ve been running. A year without cross-country wouldn’t be a complete year of running for me. Before this race, I said, I am never doing this again. I’m going to stick to the track. Then I got to California and I met up with the team and we jogged the course. We talked & shared a bit about ourselves. Race day, we did a warm up together. And then the gun went off and I don’t remember a thing until I crossed the finish line and celebrated with everyone. It is different from any other race. I can’t explain why. Next year you’ll have to come out and see why it changes you.” – Jennifer St Jean, Oiselle Connecticut Masters

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"Oiselle birds were the ones to encourage me to go fast & take chances at my first Club XC Nationals last year no matter my pace, and they were with me 110% as I raced through mud, grass, dirt & trails this year. If you were to tell my 16 year-old self that Lauren Fleshman would be the one to calm my pre-race nerves at the start of a cross country race, I would have said you're insane. But she was behind me, as was my whole team, near & far, the entire way. Never have I heard my name so often on a course, never have I found so many empowering females in sport, never before could I truly say I have women that are my teammates. Birds I've never met before this weekend were there to catch me as I came across the finish, because I left my heart on the course and gave it everything I had. One Love, Run Love. Head up, wings out. I flew this weekend, & Oiselle gave me my wings to soar. I cannot wait to see what my future holds. Club XC Nationals 2016, it's on." – Aysha Mirza, Oiselle New Jersey 

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“To meet the Oiselle fam was such a treat: I truly cherished spending time with you all; it felt as easy and fulfilling as being with old friends. It amazes me that women from such different places and times, with completely different life experiences, can have such a unified experience with Oiselle. I am so grateful to be part of that!” – Victoria Barnana, Oiselle California


"I always love events with our team, but I struggle with maintaining my own race focus vs. being focused on others and the team experience. Fleshman helped me come up with a mantra for this race: Nothing will sabotage my ability to express my fitness on this day, where I am right now. Engage, fight, race. And I did it. I am thankful and happy. I would never do any of this (running, racing, setting goals) without this team of ladies, you all inspire me so much! Head up, wings out." – Sarah Lesko, Oiselle Washington Masters

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“Cross Country RULES! Love lacing up and toeing the line with my Oiselle & Dukes Track Club sisters! Love the opportunity to test my fitness, work hard alongside so many crazy talented woman and cross the finish line with a smile & huge high five from KMet! This weekend totally rocked!” – Arlene Espinoza, Oiselle New Mexico

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"The Club XC race was my first time meeting everyone, I was pre-race nervous and pre-introductions nervous and all sorts of excited on top of that. Everyone I met was warm and kind but also so fierce and strong. I had forgotten the crazy energy and camaraderie of running and cheering in a cross country race but I sure am glad I can do that now with my fellow birds."  – Rebecca Murillo, Oiselle California

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"How do you describe how amazing it is to stand at the starting line ready to race with 350 strong women? The gun went off, and you could feel the ground rumble beneath us, striding out across the grass and beginning our journey. Everyone has a different running story, but now we all share this chapter from Club XC Nationals 2015. I am so happy and grateful to have this experience with great friends by my side!" – Jess Graham, Oiselle Washington

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"The upside of not being able to race was having the chance to watch the Oiselle singlet fly by, over and over again, in both the masters and open women's race. I couldn't stop smiling, or cheering, and consequently was left with sore cheeks, a hoarse voice and a full heart. Congratulations to all the birds who raced their hearts out; you all did the bird family proud!"  – Allie Bigelow, Oiselle North Carolina

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"I have always loved the team aspect of cross country. During the race Wendi from the Washington group came up cruising on a downhill and said "come on it's free speed" which was such a welcome encouragement and she pulled me along for a bit with her. That's the heart of xc and this group of ladies." – Ivy Pierce, Oiselle California

"Good friends, fast legs, fresh mud = Running Bliss! Add Lauren Fleshman cheering us on and it really doesn't get any better!" – Linn Tyhurst, Oiselle California

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Club Cross Country was an absolute blast. We hope to see more O birds racing in the years to come!


December 16, 2015 — jacquelyn scofield

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