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Introducing Dark Sky Distance, Under Armour's New Elite Pro Run Team


Introducing Dark Sky Distance, Under Armour's New Elite Pro Run Team

The Dark Sky Distance team, with coaches Shayla Houlihan and Stephen Haas (center).
The Dark Sky Distance team, with coaches Shayla Houlihan and Stephen Haas (center).

Under Armour is proud to introduce our brand new professional running team, Dark Sky Distance, based in Flagstaff, Arizona. This group of best-in-class athletes consists of middle and long distance runners pursuing Championship aspirations in Tokyo and beyond.

Why a professional running group and why now? The formation of the group was inspired by the insight that the vast majority of distance runners who qualified for Olympic and World Championship teams trained with a team. Many attributed their success to the group dynamic in their workouts and having teammates to hold them accountable. 

Say no more. Under Armour’s mission is to make athletes better, and the proven success of these groups pointed us toward one more way we could advance that mission and support our athletes.

So Dark Sky Distance was created, based in the distance running hub of Flagstaff, Arizona. At 7,000 feet altitude with extensive trail networks in town, Flagstaff is an ideal training location and has been home to countless National Champions, World Champions, Olympic Medalists in the middle and long distance track events and half marathon and marathon distances over the years. The name “Dark Sky” pays homage to the city’s commitment to reducing light pollution and the preservation of the night sky. Flagstaff is considered a leader in outdoor lighting policy, having enacted the world’s first outdoor lighting ordinance in 1958, and is the first IDA International Dark Sky Community. To the team, the stars of the night sky symbolize their potential: consistent, limitless, and more than the sums of its parts. 

The team is led by coaches Shayla Houlihan and Stephen Haas. Shayla has spent the past 15 years in the sport at the highest levels. From the NCAA to her professional career, she qualified for numerous national championships and Olympic Trials. As a collegiate coach, several teams and individuals qualified for NCAA Championships, and her successes promoted Team USA to select her to coach the national team at the NACAC Championships. Stephen has been an agent for professional track athletes for over ten years. He brings unique perspectives from working with coaches and athletes from every professional training group in the United States. Stephen previously launched a developmental training group in Bloomington, IN, and is excited to launch Dark Sky Distance in Flagstaff, AZ.

Dark Sky Distance currently has ten middle and long-distance runners on the roster.

The Dark Sky Distance Athlete Roster:

The Dark Sky Distance group has been training for the past several months, working together to adapt to challenging times and an unusual track season due to COVID-19.

At the recent UA Sunset Tour track series, UA athletes raced in Under Armour’s new line of track spikes, which are set to launch in October 2020. The collection includes spikes for all track and field events including sprints, distances, jumps and throws, as well as two cross country racing spikes and a road racing flat. The members of Dark Sky Distance have been involved in the development of this collection for the past two years, from the design and development to wear testing during workouts in Flagstaff.

“I am always amazed by how Under Armour involves their athletes in creating, testing and asking for feedback. I am honored to be among this group as I have seen the innovation they’re continuing to create.”
- Dark Sky Distance athlete Sharon Lokedi

Emily Durgin’s racing spike of choice is also the UA HOVR Shakedown. She says, “As a 10K focused athlete, finding a racing spike that is very light but has enough support to run 6.2 miles is very tricky! Under Armour has been working on creating exactly that, which is the UA HOVR Shakedown spike. I absolutely love racing in it, and know I’m getting the arch and heel support I need in a longer track race, but I can easily get up on my toes for the final kick!”

Be sure to follow @dark_sky_distance on Instagram to learn about each team member and stay in the know on future race results and team events.