If you frequent the local race scene, then you have undoubtedly seen the happy face of Sparkle Bergin-Childers. Since she seems so outgoing, it will surely come as a surprise to many that she describes herself as an "extreme introvert and happy loner; although definitely not shy.” In fact, Sparkle feels the need to regularly spend hours alone in silent solitude - and that is how her ultrarunning career began...and why it continues. All of her running is not solo, however. Says Sparkle “My favorite races are ones I get to share with my hubby, who I met at a race, who proposed at a race on Valentine's Day, and who I married in Vegas in December 2010 at the only run-through wedding chapel in the world.” That chapel was in the middle of the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon, of course.
Sparkle ran her first race in 2003. Before that, she did some sprinting from ages 7 to 17 as part of her gymnastics training. She joined the FLEET FEET Racing Team in 2003 after running the Chevy's Cinco de Mayo 5K and missing an award because she was passed “by a fast lady in a FLEET FEET singlet.” She enjoys being part of the Racing Team because “FLEET FEET rewards me for doing something I enjoy.”
Sparkle provided us with the attached photo for use in this article - and I just had to ask her to describe the scene to me: “This is from the February 9th Psycho WyCo trail race in Kansas. I love trails and really love ultras on trails. When I saw this race and realized it was close to my in-laws, I got the bug to do it. This race was like the massively muddy 2010 Quivering Quads on steroids. The mud was over 4 inches deep. The grades of the muddy hills were so intense that climbing ropes were necessary to go forward. The entire course could have been roped it was so muddy. In some spots, you had to sort of speed skate down ruts two feet deep. At other spots, you slid down hills grabbing onto tree limbs and roots as you descended. It was awesome! I was happier than a pig in slop. The volunteers and fellow runners rocked! Kindly runners helped each other with outstretched hands to pull each other out of the muck."
In 2013, Sparkle has her goals set on exchanging quality for quantity in her races. Even though she has won the FLEET FEET Racing Team's “Race Rat Award” in the past, she's planning on running fewer - but longer - races. While she doesn't know how she went from 5ks to ultras, that's what happened. She never thought she'd run a marathon, but when asked her if a 50-miler was in her future, the reply was, "Maybe in 2014. My main goal always is to have fun! I love to run. It relaxes me and gives me hours of blissful silent solitude. I want to run long and strong and injury free.”