Big Bear Track Club

One of the many teams we support, Big Bear Track Club, has grown and achieved so much in the last year— especially the most recent few months. They had multiple athletes compete at USA Indoor Nationals and two, Brenda Martinez and Boris Berian, advance to the World Championships in Portland, OR just a week later.

Brenda placed 5th in the women's 1500m and Boris claimed the male's 800m world title! These performances are the result of hard work and a strict training system. Big Bear TC started with Brenda Martinez and her husband, Carlos Handler, hoping to provide post-collegiate athletes an opportunity to continue chasing their goals. Carlos coaches the group using the Joe Vigil training system while Brenda is coached directly by Joe Vigil. The two manage the team of 9 athletes living in the small mountain town of Big Bear, CA.

The group has grown even more in the last few weeks with athletes, Stephanie Brown and Christian Soratos jumping in. We spoke with Coach Handler, Brenda Martinez and Boris Berian about their experiences with the new group as well as their recent impressive performances indoors. They have big goals on the track this season and hope to send athletes to the Olympic Trials and Rio.


Coach Carlos Handler:

How many members does the group have now? 9 members

Brenda Martinez

Catrina McCalister

Boris Berian

Jake Shelley

Selasi Lumax

Patrick Peterson

Cristian Soratos

Stephanie Brown

Dusty Solis

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Do you have training and living philosophies that the group lives by? I just want all the athletes on my team to always continue to improve in all areas of their lives. Be better sons, brothers, friends, teammates....

How does living in Big Bear factor into the training of the group (living at altitude, training at sea level)? I think we have a very unique training situation. We live high and train low. I think this is the reason why the athletes are able to adapt to the training so quickly. I never have to adjust any times for workouts because they are done at sea level.
Do you expect the group to grow more or stay at about the same size as it is currently?

I can definitely see Big Bear Track Club/New Balance growing. I get emails all the time for new athletes but I want to make sure they are a good fit and bring in a positive attitude.

What's the mission of Big Bear TC?

To develop American Middle Distance runners into World Class athletes.

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Brenda Martinez:

Congrats on your 5th place 1500m finish at the World Championships! What are your feelings after the race?

My feelings after my 5th place finish at World Indoors are happy but not satisfied and definitely feeling more hungry for outdoors. I felt like I gave it my best on that day and I can't really be upset about the race. It's hard to be upset when your happy with what's been going on in your life, I have so many people in my corner and Boris is World Champ!

Do you expect to race more 1500m's this year?

I do plan on getting my feet wet more in the 1500m this year and trying to gain more experience. I'm working really hard so that I can dip under 4 minutes. As for my schedule for the 2016 outdoor season, I have an equal amount of 800s and 1500s lined up.

How has the growth and development of Big Bear TC helped or affected your training?

Big Bear TC is growing and its really fun. My husband enjoys developing athletes and seeing a good change in the individual. There is more energy at practice and we push each other so much. It feels like a family and we stick together. I have these sense of urgency to led the team, I have to push myself in training so others can follow.

Brenda Martinez for New Balance June 23, 2015 Image © Ross Dettman Brenda Martinez for New Balance June 23, 2015 Image © Ross Dettman

Are you ready to transition back into outdoor track? And are you excited for another chance to compete on the world stage this fall?

Our plan was do have a solid indoor season with minimal traveling, so it was nice having most of my races on the west coast. I feel it will be a smooth transition come outdoors. We have a plan and we are going to stick to it. We can accomplish our goals this year, it is about staying healthy and being happy!

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

My goal this season would be to better my times in the 800m and 1500m, even if it's microscopic. My main goal would be to make the team in the 800m and try to be a contender. I have to trust the process, train harder and smarter, adapt to faster paces and help others along the way. I cannot complete my goals without my team and supporters.

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Boris Berian:

Congrats on becoming a world champion! What are your current emotions??

I'm definitely excited that I won the indoor title! Still hard to believe, and weird, that I can call myself an indoor world Champion.

Did you expect this to happen this year? Didn't not expect this to happen. I actually didn't want to do indoors until January when Carlos (my coach) finally convinced me to do it. Going on, I just treated it as more experience.

How did you come to join Big Bear Track Club?

A former big bear athlete contacted me through Facebook. He asked if I was still running, and if I would like to join the team. Once I talked to Carlos about it, he sent me workouts for a month and flew out soon after.
What are you goals for the upcoming season?
Main goal is to stay healthy. Won't be able to do anything if I'm hurt! Hopefully I can get top three at the trials and make the Olympic team. I also have a time goal and that would be to get the American record in the 800m, and world record in the 600m.

Follow Big Bear Track Club's upcoming races on their social media @bigbeartc.