Phone it in

Sarah Ostaszewski

Satisfy pro athlete Sarah Ostaszewski grew up near the southern shores of Lake Michigan in the city of Crown Point, Indiana. The winter temperature in Crown Point can get as low as -9°C (15.8°F), so it’s no surprise that Sarah eventually made her way west and, after a seven-year stint in Portland, OR, settled in sun-drenched Flagstaff, Arizona, a place where no one knows what ‘chilblains’ are. ‘I’ve been here for about two years now,’ says Sarah, ‘and with the altitude and sunlight, it's been excellent for year-round trail running.’ 

Sarah got her start with the high school cross country team in the late 2000s and then graduated to ultra-distance running in 2014. In May this year, she became the women’s winner of the Cocodona 250, a grueling 402-kilometer trail race with more elevation gain than your average commercial flight. ‘That was extremely satisfying,’ she said. ‘I ran smart, raced it the way I wanted to, and pulled together an incredible crew who showed unconditional support.’ For this issue of POSSESSED, we asked Sarah to crack open her phone and give us a sneak-peek into the life of an ultra-trail champion.

Most Recent Photo On Your Phone

This is the most recent photo on my phone. My good friend Morgan and I set out on yet another early morning long run, and we did not bring enough water. It's starting to feel like the end of summer in Flagstaff, but the temperatures are still warm! Also, the sun feels hotter up high. Nevertheless, this was a mentally rejuvenating run. Possibly even cathartic! We've put in quite a few miles together over the past couple of years because we always seem to be training for 100-mile races!

Something That Shrieks ARIZONA!

They don't call it the ‘Grand Canyon State’ for nothing. Running in the canyon is downright transcendent, especially when you hit South Kaibab or Bright Angel at the right time of day. The landscape's color palette is at its finest in the early morning or in the evening when you're climbing out, surviving the home stretch of a long run. I tend to stick to the main corridor trails, but I'm hoping to explore more of the South Rim this fall when the temperatures start to drop a bit. You always know it's going to be a good day when you get out to the canyon.

Photo of You and Someone Who Just Happens to Look Like You

This is me and my twin, Melissa. We've actually never tried to trick anybody by switching places or acting like we're the other twin. Some folks instantly pick up on small differences, but others may never be able to tell us apart. We don't think we look alike, but we'll admit that we do sound very similar over the phone. Luckily, we enjoy doing the same things, like running, so we each have a spontaneous training partner at all times! We snapped this photo in Leadville, Colorado, during a six-day stage race in August. We clearly soaked up some sun that day!

The Best Place in Flagstaff, AZ

I'd say that the best place in Flagstaff is the summit of Mount Elden. It’s a classic, no matter which route you take to reach the top. You can choose how steep you'd like to climb, too. We like to run the Giro d'Elden every spring, which is when locals can earn a free pizza by summiting at the exact right time. If you know, you know.

The Place You Keep Your Running Gear

Just one corner of my closet. I've collected a lot of running shoes, and they're either in rotation or waiting to be pulled into the mix. I'm a total sucker for high-quality sportswear and running apparel.

The Inside of Your Fridge

All the basics. We've got plenty of vegetables, some fruit, eggs, yogurt, and a variety of drinks. Somehow, I still have a couple of bottles of wine from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

An American Cat

This is Avalanche, our blue tabby cat. He hails from Idaho, and we were lucky enough to find him at the Oregon Humane Society about six or seven years ago. He's a pretty boy and a big troublemaker, but he's also a cuddly dude who gets extremely lonely when no one's home. He loves salmon treats and plays hard to get with some of his favorite guests.

A Photo From Your Favourite Trail

Bear Mountain in Sedona is a surprisingly good climb, and the views are simply gorgeous. I've been up there during each of the four seasons, but I think it's the best when there's a little snow. Snow on Sedona's many red rock formations is just incredible to see.

Something That Lives Under Your Bed

I try to be a minimalist and keep everything in its own correct place. Avalanche is the only thing that will ever be under the bed!

Something Truly Gross

Fast food itself is not all that bad, on rare occasions. But after a long road trip during which I've eaten only fast food or gas station snacks, I feel truly gross. My go-to meal—especially on a drive from Flagstaff through Nevada on my way to Northern California—is a McGriddle and hashbrown with black coffee.

Something You Wouldn’t Bother to Save in an Earthquake

This is no doubt the most unique award I've ever received from a race, but the Mogollon Monster just wouldn't have room in my Subaru during an evacuation. I would hope that he could survive an earthquake!

Your Proudest Moment

My proudest, most satisfying moment thus far is crossing the finish line of the Cocodona 250 for a third time—in the third year of the race's existence. Not only did it feel powerful to end this 250-mile journey in downtown Flagstaff, but I also felt immensely grateful for my crew and pacers, who helped me finally pull off the win. This team of dedicated, talented runners set aside an entire week to help me along the course, all the way from Black Canyon City, and I will never be able to thank them enough. Three years of hard work and focus paid off, but it was this crew that really made the big dream happen. I'll be forever thankful for their support and genuine enthusiasm through the days and nights.