#JustAnOutdoorGal: Sheila Eagan

By: Anagha Bharadwaj

Female athletes get a lot of haterade thrown at them; just ask the Women’s National Soccer Team! Despite being projected to bring in more revenue and doing just as much–if not more–work than the men’s national team, the women on the national team are consistently paid less by a staggering margin. Female athletes are some of the most badass chicks around, and they more than deserve equal support!

As an ultra runner who has been outspoken about her personal fertility struggles, Sheila Eagan has faced her fair share of discouragement. But here at #JustAnOutdoorGal, we love ladies who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and kick some ass; this month we’re falling for Sheila.



Sheila started running in 2008 and began as a road runner. She and her husband started running trails together, and at first it was a bit discouraging; her mile times were nothing like she was used to, and even short distances were hard when she wasn’t used to it! Over time, with lots of hard work and commitment, Sheila fell in love with trail running and distance.

She loves when it’s just her and the trail. She also loves the community of trail runners. So often, with road races, it’s all about time; nobody is stopping to talk much because they’re racing to the finish. With trail ultras, people are usually willing to stop for a few minutes and pass on some encouragement. This feeling of community is something that Sheila has really embraced.


Trail running is both an athletic and social activity to Sheila, and she’s had a lot of success in the field. In fact, when I spoke with her, she had just finished a 50K where she was the first female finisher! Sheila’s also interested in other sports: she snowshoes, hikes, and recently started mountain biking.

Quite simply, there has never been a better time for women to start running distance. Click To Tweet

Sheila is also a huge advocate for people simply getting involved in trail running. She and her husband lead free weekly trail runs, and will also be directing their own ultra trail race next summer in Letchworth State Park {which was recently voted USA Today’s Best State Park!}


While ultras are still a male dominated race–especially the 50 and 100 milers–there are more and more women getting involved in these races. There seems to be new evidence every day that women excel in endurance events! Quite simply, there has never been a better time for women to start running distance.

For new runners, Sheila has a few simple bits of advice: be flexible, and commit to what you’re doing. Weather can change, all of your clothes may be in the laundry, and everything may suck; but if it’s within your capability, run anyway. Give yourself time to get stronger, because everything about running is a process. No one ever ran a marathon during their first day out. Runners are built with time and lots of lo-o-ong training runs!



If you’re interested in staying updated on Sheila’s activities, you can find her over at her blog. Or, if you’d like to check out the trail running world a bit further, hop over and visit Trail Roc. Sheila and her husband lead weekly trail runs {free!}, direct trail races, and built and maintain trails in their area of Rochester, New York. {And if you want to run 40 miles with them next year, you should probably investigate Many on the Genny….thank us later.}

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  • Reply Kristen at

    Nice read! I love trail running too and know a lot of awesome female trail ultra runners. I too feel like I’ve met so many more people through trail running than I do when I was only road running.

  • Reply Julie at

    Love trail running with my favorite girlfriends!
    Thanks for sharing.


  • Reply Cathryn at

    Where is Sheila in the first photo? It looks amazing.

  • Reply Amiee at

    There are so many amazing women trail runners and that is one of the main reasons I was drawn to the sport!

    This is a pretty neat read by iRunFar last Spring talking about the difference in participation between men and women…


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