Get to know Run Oregon: Founder Kelly Barten

Kelly Barten at the 2014 Twelve Bridges Relay.

One of our community bloggers, Annette Vaughan, had the idea to share a little more about ourselves through some interview questions she came up with. Take these questions and come up with more to interview your running buddies!

Since I’ve been pregnant with my 2nd child, my running (and therefore my blogging about running) has taken a sharp nosedive, but I actually used to run 20-30 miles a week and race nearly every weekend, including two marathons and countless other races. I started running in middle school but switched to rowing in college. (Returning to running after college and my rowing habit was no longer paid for!)

But the real reason I’m still so excited about running is the other runners in our community. I moved to Oregon to earn a MBA through the UO’s Warsaw Sports Marketing program because I always wanted to help others find a lifelong physical activity to keep them healthy and create connections with others. It’s also why I created Run Oregon in February of 2007, first at (where I was the marketing manager) and now at Thanks to other people who love our running community as much as I do, Run Oregon has continued to grow and introduce more local races to runners and support more runners and they find their stride.

So, here’s everything you could ever want to know about me – maybe more!

Age you started running: My first organized running was in 7th grade, when pretty much all the girls in my grade joined the track team. Fortunately for me, my friends enjoyed it as much as I did so I had plenty of encouragement and support to keep running. My “event” was the 400m, after failed attempts at hurdling made it clear hand-eye coordination was not my strong suit. In high school I switched to the 800m, but was average at best.

At the Stoller Vineyards 5k (2009, maybe) with Fidel Banuelos and Bhavana Reddy.

Favorite race and/or distance: My favorite race is the Stoller Vineyards 5k. It’s a hilly cross-country 5k in Oregon’s Wine Country at Stoller Vineyards, usually around Memorial Day weekend. The proceeds benefit Dayton High School wrestling, and the organizers and volunteers are great. I also really like the Backyard Half Marathon in White Salmon, usually run around Father’s Day Weekend. Technically free, most participants donate at least $20 to the high school XC program. I prefer the smaller races and any ORRC, CGRC, or McMinnville Striders run will also get my vote if I’m looking for something to do on a weekend, but my favorite distance is 8k.

Favorite running shoes: Brooks Adrenaline, hands down. I’m not sure if it’s because I weigh about 20 pounds more now than when in college (well, not right now, thanks to the baby) or what, but switching to support shoes has kept my knees happy.

What you carry with you on the run: Not much. I like to wear a hat in all weather (baseball cap or beanie) and load up on sunscreen when it’s sunny. Otherwise, if going more than three miles or if it’s warm out, a water bottle. And of course my phone, since I run before picking up at daycare, just in case my little one gets sick and I need to get her sooner than planned.

Go to pre-race food: Since I don’t really “race” … whatever. Cereal, bananas, apples and cheese. But if I am nervous about a race or it’s more than an a 10k, I rely on my husband’s oatmeal to give me the energy I need.

Post-race food/beverages: Water never tastes as good as when you’ve just crossed the finish line. Also good is a Twix bar and a Coke. But after a long run or race, I try to take Coach Jim’s advice and get some good protein, carbs, and a replenishment drink like Nuun.

Favorite. Rain or shine.

Favorite running destination: It’s a toss-up between Wildwood Trail, the Portland Waterfront Loop, and the Greenway Trail which is practically in my backyard. I like routes isolated from vehicular traffic; they’re usually quiet enough to enjoy chatting with running buddies.

First race: Aside from high school track meets, I didn’t do any races until I was about 25. I didn’t know that average “grown-ups” participated in races. All I’d seen up to that point was high school and collegiate competitions, and I didn’t think I was anywhere “good enough” to take part in a running race until my friend Azure invited me to run a 10k with her. My first race was the Drop Top 10k, a Run with Paula Event that was put on in conjunction with the Helvetia Half Marathon. I was the last finisher to come in under one hour, but most importantly, I learned that anyone can and should participate in a running race!

At one of the early Coach Jim runs … maybe 2009. Coach Jim is in the red jacket, front row on the right.

Group running or solo running? I enjoy both. Group runs make long runs more fun, and it can be really fun to mark each week with a regular group run like the Portland Running Company Monday Night Run from their Beaverton store. But running by myself is fun too. (So is pushing my daughter in our running stroller, breathlessly reading whatever book she’s holding up for me and instructing her when to turn the page.)

Music or no music? I like music when running solo, but I only use one of the earbuds so I can hear what’s going on around me. I also use the time to talk to my mom on the phone, from time to time! My favorite running songs are a mix of current popular music, but if I hear “Shake it Off” too many times, my fallback Pandora station is a mix of Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and classic country like Waylon Jennings.

Running pet peeve: When you have to pee and there’s nowhere to go. This is one of the main issues I’ve had with trying to run while pregnant. Every. Five. Minutes.

Favorite non-running outdoor activity: I really miss rowing, and would like to someday like to own a nice, wide (stable) single. Otherwise, walks with my daughter are nice, but pretending not to be creeped out by all the bugs can be hard.

Getting geared up to pace the 4:45 pace group at the Portland Marathon (2010?) with friend Marya Van Metre.

Funny, embarrassing, most memorable running experience: Pacing the Portland Marathon with Team Red Lizard has been both embarrassing and memorable. The embarrassing part was when I took the on-course drink (Ultima) and them promptly puked it back up. I had to step in between the support beams on the bridge, off to the side after the bridge, and find a garbage can at the finish to throw up. I was actually perfectly fine, but the runners I was pacing were so distracted by my gag reflex that at least they stopped worrying about whether or not they could finish! But pacing is also just an amazing experience. You pull people through the miles they doubt themselves and then push them to finish strong and realize the importance of what they’ve just accomplished.

What you do when you aren’t running or blogging: Well, most of my time is taken up by my little girl, and with baby #2 due in March I imagine it will just get worse. I’m also on the board for ORRC, a race director for the Hagg Lake Ultras, and the Managing Editor of the Oregon Distance Runner Magazine (sent to all ORRC members).

Something Run Oregon readers don’t know about me: I did a six-month internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee while in college. I worked in the Grants and Planning Division and saw firsthand how corporate sponsorship and community support creates opportunities for athletes. I also gained appreciation for the variety of sports – and realized that there is a sport for everyone. As a participant or a supporter, sports can and should be a part of everyone’s life – and I don’t mean the sports that earn television coverage. Community sports are an important part of every community!

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.