Runner Files: Ramon Hernandez

Runner Files: Ramon Hernandez

Age: 42

Home location: Okemos, Michigan

Sport: Running

Profession and educational background: I've been working at General Motors for 21 years. I recently switched to a quality launch position. After graduating high school I spent a couple of years at Lansing Community collage.

Years in sport of any kind: I've been running since I was 15 years old and recently discovered ultra running. So I've been running for about 27 years.

Sports participated in: I ran cross country and track growing up.

Years in current sport: 4 years in ultra running

What got you started: Failure. I failed miserably at being physically fit at a young age and was always out of breath. I learned early that if I wanted something I had to work hard and go after it.

Other personal information you would like to share: I flew for the first time at age 41. I love chocolate ice cream.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport? My biggest accomplishment to date is my 148 mile run across Michigan to raise awareness and funds for Team Keegan. A local 501 (C) that helps kids with cancer.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? I have found that cross training helps keep me on my game. Over the years I have been one dimensional from a sport and training perspective. Once I crossed over to ultra running it was clear I had many weaknesses and imbalances. Focusing on my lower body and strengthening my core along with an overall body maintenance has kept me on track.

What would be your ultimate achievement? If you'd ask me this when I first started running I'd tell you that I would want to be fast. Now my ultimate achievement is to enjoy the run, give back and make some good friends along the way.

How do you set your goals? I'm always looking to be challenged mentally and physically. I just take each run like its my last and make the best out of it. I'm always looking to conquer new experiences.

What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge? Finding balance in what I love to do is my biggest challenge. From work, family and more work it can and has been challenging to balance my passion for running with everything else. I just take it one day at a time and make the best of every moment.

What is your diet like? I've struggled in this area over the years trying everything. I've learned what works best for me is eating sensibly. A mix of whole foods to vegan snacks. I enjoy a good pizza every once and a while. You know, living on the wild side. 

How did you find Orange Mud? Favorite Product? I was in search of something better from the packs I was purchasing and I stumbled on Orange Mud. I really like the VP1 and HydraQuiver single barrel.

Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)? I really recommend the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. If you read it it will put an interesting spin on what you think you know about running.

Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it? My breakthrough came soon after I started ultra running. Over the years I've progressed to a minimalist when it comes wearing shoes. Years of injuries and improper running form was taking its toll on me mentally and physically. Once I switched to running in LUNA sandals everything I thought I knew about running changed. I run more naturally now, free of pain and injury. It's the closest thing to running bare foot.

What was the best advice you were ever given? The best advise I was ever given was to just have fun with it and enjoy the run. I take this advice on every run and for me it has made all the difference.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by? I am the me I choose to be. ~Sidney Poitier

Where do you draw your inspiration from? I draw my inspiration from the simple things in life. There is beauty in simplicity and when you strip back all of today's noise you can't help but be inspired to live.

Have you struggled with any injuries? How do you manage them? I have struggled with hip problems, IT issues, feet problems, knee problems, hernias and just about anything you could think of from running related injuries. I've been able to stay on top of things by strengthen my weaknesses, switching to running in LUNA sandals and finding the right gear that best fits me( hint hint Orange Mud Gear)

Anything else you’d like to share? I'm a Gemini, my favorite color is green and I'm a proud grandpa.

June 30, 2016 — Josh Sprague
Runner Files: Deo Jaravata - A running legend in our books!

Runner Files: Deo Jaravata - A running legend in our books!

“I’m not a fast runner. But I know how to finish and how to enjoy any race” – Deo Jaravata

Runner Files: Deo Jaravata - A Running Legend In Our Books!

When Deo turned thirty years old he felt as if something in his life was missing. He was easily depressed and just not feeling fulfilled. A friend recommended that he try running so, in 1997, Deo joined a running club. Shortly thereafter, he began training for the Los Angeles Marathon. Flash forward 20 years… and Deo, now fifty years old, is one marathon away from having run 400 marathon or greater distance events. We’ll give you a second to re-read that in case you’re still in disbelief…

Deo is a high school math teacher who runs for physical and mental health. He comes from a family of runners. His father coached track and field when Deo and his sister is also a marathon runner, so it’s no surprise that Deo turned out to be such a prolific runner. In 2011 alone, he ran fifty-two marathon or greater distance races. That’s a marathon or ultra every weekend! Almost equally as impressive, he scheduled out each race and travel logistics for all of 2011 in the last few weeks of 2010.

In order to be able to run so many long distance events, Deo has to be careful not to over train. It’s a delicate balance. On one hand his body needs to be kept up so that it can handle the rigor of so many miles and on the other he needs to be sure he’s ready for each event by not over doing it in between. It is for these reasons that Deo’s training is always in flux. Deo sets a plan for himself determined by the frequency of his events and sticks to it. He’s found that running two to five times a week 3 to 6 miles a run and then racing on the weekends works for him. It also doesn’t hurt that he gets massages regularly! Deo’s ultimate goal is to run a marathon or ultra in every state and on every continent. With his running prowess, we think he can surely accomplish this goal.

You’re probably wondering how Deo fuels himself for his epic lifestyle. In his own words he “pretty much eats everything in sight.” He’s always careful not to eat anything crazy the night or two before a race and uses Carbopro to fuel during his races.

Deo stumbled upon Orange Mud after years of being frustrated with bladder style hydration packs. He loves the Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2 because it’s so easy to refill during races. Over the last couple of years Deo’s trademark has been the Elsa doll (from the Disney movie Frozen) that he straps to the back of his VP2. He can also be heard singing the hit song, “Let it Go” from the previously mentioned movie. As you can tell, Deo is a fun guy to be around out on the trail.

If you want to follow along as Deo pushes past the 400 marathon mark check him out on Instagram @deojerome

March 17, 2016 — Beth Sprague
Runner File: Kevin Bartow

Runner File: Kevin Bartow

“When I finished my first 50 miler, which was my first ultra, I cried like a baby. It was like a religious experience.” –Kevin Bartow

If we had to describe Orange Mud Ambassador Kevin Bartow in one word we’d probably use “passionate.” Kevin is extremely passionate about being the best version of himself he can be. As a dedicated husband, father and personal trainer, it’s safe to say that by living his own life to the fullest he is helping to make the lives of the people around him better every day.

In high school Kevin was a self-described “orchestra dweeb.” As one of the smaller kids he often felt overlooked in team sports. One day his buddy Jeff suggested he join the cross country team. For Jeff, running made him feel like he could do anything. That stuck with Kevin and he decided to join the team! Today, Kevin refers to his participation in the sport of running as his “therapy” and he’s been taking it more seriously lately.

In 2014 Kevin conquered the Can Lake 50 mile endurance run, his first 50-miler! Most people would probably say that running their first 50 mile race is their greatest running achievement to date. But, Kevin isn’t most people. Kevin really loves helping other people achieve their goals; he makes his living doing just that. In fact, one of Kevin’s proudest moments in running was when he helped his wife, Gia, complete her first half marathon.

Kevin credits his success in running to his alternative training style. As a personal trainer he strength trains “like an animal.” Kevin finds solace in his unconventional training; he trains using kettle bells, slosh pipes, sledgehammers and huge tires. While training for ultra-marathons certainly requires logging lots of miles, Kevin believes that “turning your body into a tank” can’t hurt.

Kevin is an athlete through and through, but his greatest accomplishments have nothing to do with running. Kevin’s number one passion is his family. Being a husband and father drives him to be a better person. Living a healthy lifestyle is a tool he uses to set a great example for his kids!

The way Kevin found out about Orange Mud is actually a very cool story. His friend (also an Orange Mud ambassador) Ray gave Kevin his first Hydraquiver vest and it was love at first wear. The cool part is that Kevin has since gifted that same Hydraquiver to another runner in need! Kevin also loves the Orange Mud super soft everyday shirt; “it’s like being hugged by puppies.” Sounds pretty amazing to us!

Kevin has been running more relaxed recently since switching to running by feel and ditching his Garmin. He’s got some big goals on the horizon in 2016 including the C&O Canal 100 mile race in Maryland.

If you’re looking for some fitness inspiration follow Kevin on Instagram at @exuberantrunning and on Facebook at “Salty Anchor Fitness.”

February 29, 2016 — Josh Sprague
Runner File: Rachel Ragona

Runner File: Rachel Ragona

“The desire to fulfill my potential is what keeps me going” – Rachel Ragona

When Rachel was in her teens she started running to school a few days a week to save her bus money so that she could use it to go out with friends. Much to her surprise, Rachel soon discovered that she actually enjoyed running!

Rachel was inspired after seeing Paula Radcliffe set the world record at the London Marathon in 2003. While this sparked her curiosity it was a while before Rachel worked up the courage to start racing. About seven years ago Rachel started her racing career with some 5ks, 10ks and sprint triathlons. Flash forward to 2015 and Rachel’s running prowess has grown exponentially. In 2015 Rachel knocked out four challenging 100-mile trail races, while also setting a sub-3:15 road marathon PR. While she is (rightfully so) super proud of these accomplishments her greatest accomplishment is that she is still able to run. While Rachel truly loves running to its core, running does not and has never come easily to her.

Injury has definitely been Rachel’s greatest obstacle to achieving her athletic pursuits. Even in her early days of running to school Rachel struggled with biomechanical issues which led to constantly being injured. Rachel has found creative ways to diversify her training so that she can continue racing and checking goals off her bucket list. First and foremost Rachel factors in a few off months each year which allows her to focus on racing and training for 8-9 months of the year. Rachel practices banded exercises, strength and balance work weekly in an effort to stave off injury before it happens. Rachel’s ultimate goal for 2016 (and hopefully every year thereafter!) is to have a full year uninterrupted by injuries.

Rachel’s favorite Orange Mud product is her “Jet-Pack,” also known as her Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2. She is also never far from her Transition Towel which is now a permanent fixture on her car seat. Believe it or not, Rachel discovered Orange Mud from a pop-up ad online! She is now admittedly is addicted to her Orange mud gear! When racing and training Rachel fills her Orange Mud bottles with Proven Nutrition to stay hydrated and relies on Hammer Nutrition for fuel.

The best advice Rachel ever received wasn’t advice meant for her at all! While watching the Tour de France, commentator, Phil Liggett once said “that it comes down to who is able to suffer the most and still come through at the end.” This really stuck with Rachel. Rachel says that while she may not be the most naturally talented, or fastest out there, she is really good at suffering hard and not giving up! This is evident by the adversity she has already overcome. Growing up in foster care in Northern England Rachel has never given less than 110%. She now lives in Los Angeles, has a happy and healthy family, a degree in exercise physiology and a kick ass running resume. We here at Orange Mud are pumped and honored to have her on our team!

Rachel has some epic goals on the calendar for 2016. She’s vying the California Triple Crown of Ultrarunning. This is three 100-milers, each just one month apart: San Diego 100, Santa Barbara 100, and Angeles Crest 100. Hashtag impressive.

Follow Rachel on Instagram @rachel_ragona and cheer her on!

February 18, 2016 — Josh Sprague
Runner Files: Richard Rivera

Runner Files: Richard Rivera

Athlete Spotlight: Richard Rivera, how he found the fun in sport and lost 75 pounds!

Richard is one of those guys you just love to be around. He is enthusiastic, inspiring, and always on the move! He will admit to you that he was not always this way. "The way I was living was neither productive nor healthy for my family or myself. What led to my break through was having kids and not being able to play with them like I wanted to as well as not being able to do simple things like tying my shoelaces."

Two years ago he discovered Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). He thought, "Looks fun, I want to try it!" Little did he know OCR would change his life.

What started as "just something to try", his biggest accomplishment to date is the ability to complete the Double Trifecta in Spartan Races. There are three race distances towards reaching a trifecta 1) Sprint (approx. 4 miles and 15+ obstacles) 2) Super (approx. 9 miles and 20+ obstacles) 3) Beast (approx. 13 miles and 25+ obstacles). In order to get a trifecta, a person must complete all three races in 1 single year (Jan. - Dec.). A double trifecta means he did that twice in one year!

Being an obstacle course racer requires speed, upper and lower body strength. Running and full body strength workouts are all equally important. When it comes to the more challenging obstacles, his trainer creates workouts that will help him improve in those areas, whether it be grip strength or rope climb technique for example. "I keep a log of all my training, this allows me to have a reference point for measuring my improvements. I believe these things have and will continue to be the keys to my success both now and in the future."

Richard Rivera, Spartan Racer

His goals include being ranked in the top 25 for his age group as well as to get 'The Coin'. In Spartan races, to get one means you are officially invited to compete in the world championships.

Richard's biggest challenge is managing family, work and training/competitions. (He likes to think of it as a 'blessing.') "The ability to make sure I’m relevant in each of these areas is very important. For example with training sessions, I have to train in the morning and be done by 7:30am or wait until 8pm after the kids have gone to sleep. Being a husband and a father is my greatest joy."

You will recognize Richard at the Spartan races and other OCR courses by his 'jet pack.'
This one is race legal and holds his hydration/nutrition, it's the Orange Mud HydraQuiver.

"I found Orange Mud when I started doing research on the various hydration packs that were on the market. At the time I was using a bladder pack but I felt it was just too bulky so I set out to find something that would better fit me. I came across the HydraQuiver Double Barrel, I did some research on it, and the rest is history!

"I LOVE HELPING OTHERS!", says Richard. He is a certified personal trainer with ISSA, Chaplain for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept., he has 4 kids from the ages of 5 years down to 10 months, he's been married for 10 years and has been with his wife for approx. 20 years.

His favorite quote, “There’s people who are going to participate and there’s people who are going to win.” Dave Castro.


Richard is an awesome ambassador for Orange Mud. We appreciate what he has done for us and look forward to watching him continue to grow as an athlete. Keep up the good work Richard!

-Josh and the Orange Mud Crew. 

December 24, 2015 — Josh Sprague
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