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2014 Athletes of the Year









Collegiate Running Association announces 2014 Athletes of the Year


(Richmond, VA) - Megan (Deakins) Roche (Stanford University/Nike Elite Trail Team) and Tyler McCandless (Penn State University/Newton Running Elite) are the 2014 Collegiate Running Association Athletes of the Year.


“We are thrilled with the involvement of our membership during our first calendar year”, said Steve Taylor, Co-Founder of the Collegiate Running Association. “Both Megan and Tyler are amazing athletes and students who give back to our sport and make our society a better place. We simply could not ask for better representatives of what we strive for as an organization. They are great examples for other college students who struggle with balancing daily pressures faced in the classroom while working to maintain healthy lifestyles throughout college and beyond.”  


2014 Female Athlete of the Year - Megan (Deakins) Roche

Deakins Roche had an impressive and busy year, winning ten of the thirteen races she entered and setting course records in eight of those events. In the Collegiate Running Association and U.S Mountain Running National Championship (Post Race Video Interview), held concurrently with the Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire, Deakins Roche placed 2nd and 4th respectively and earned a spot on the U.S. Mountain Running Team for the 30th World Mountain Running Championships that were held in Italy. Deakins Roche joined the Nike Elite Trail Team in 2014 and went on to become a Bronze Medalist with Team USA at the World Mountain Running Championships in September and was later named the 2014 USATF Sub-Ultra Trail Runner of the Year after winning the 2014 USATF 10K Trail Championship and USATF 50K Trail Championship. 


Off the course Deakins Roche excelled as a Stanford University Medical School student in Palo Alto, CA. At Stanford, Deakins Roche was actively engaged in the Stanford Community Health Valley Fellowship where she worked at the Santa Clara Valley Indian Health Center and designed exercise prescriptions for chronic disease management. As if balancing a professional running career, community service works and medical school were not enough, in August she married David Roche, who also happens to be one of the top trail and mountain runners in the U.S.


Before enrolling in the Stanford University School of Medicine, Deakins Roche competed on the Duke University Field Hockey team for four (4) years (2008-2012) and Track & Field/Cross Country teams as a senior (2012-2013). Deakins Roche graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Neuroscience Major, Chemistry Minor) in 2012 and a Masters in Management Studies (MMS) from Duke’s Fuqua Business School in 2013.  


“I enjoy competing in trail races because I’ve found that you need athleticism in addition to running efficiency in order to be competitive” said Deakins Roche. “In college, I competed in field hockey and I’ve always enjoyed doing footwork drills and strength exercises that build general athleticism. Also, I love being out in nature and getting to explore beautiful areas through running. Finally, the trail running community is incredible. There is nothing I love more than running hard and then getting to share laughs, stories, and encouragements with every finisher.”


When asked how she finds balance with a professional running career and medical school, Deakins Roche explained: “I find that in order to travel extensively for competitions and complete all my medical schoolwork I have to work efficiently and stay on a schedule. For example, I wake up every morning at 4:30-4:45 AM and work diligently for 3 hours before training and before class. When I work, I try to eliminate external stimuli by avoiding using my phone or looking at unrelated Internet websites. Similarly, in training I have to prioritize activities in my warm-up and cool down and focus on particular aspects of the workout because I often have very limited time to train. Sometimes, during strength exercises or warm-ups and cool downs, I will listen to medical podcasts to refresh a particular concept. Finally, I have to have constant communication with my advisors and professors throughout the school year due to my busy travel schedule. I try to organize all of my work before I travel and I have found strategies to work efficiently on planes, at busy race venues, and in crowded airports.”


2014 Male Athlete of the Year - Tyler McCandless

In 2014, McCandless added new meaning to professional. The Penn State University student competed in twenty-six races, was involved in multiple community service works, and contributed to four academic presentations and publications presented during 2014, with another scheduled for this week at the 2015 American Meteorological Society Annual Conference in Phoenix, AZ.


After completing his Bachelor of Science (BS) and Master of Science (MS) in Meteorology from Penn State University in 2010, McCandless turned his attention to his professional running career while earning a PhD in Meteorology from his Alma Mater. As an American Meteorological Society Student Member, his expected defense date is July 2015.


McCandless’s 2014 running schedule was highlighted with his 2nd place finish in the Collegiate Running Association 10K Road Championship held within the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, VA, and his U.S. Olympic Team Trails qualifying performance of 1:03:25 at the 2014 USA Half-Marathon Championships held in Houston, TX, last January.


McCandless never passed a chance to be involved and give back to the running community. He founded The Kauai Marathon Youth Running Program and raised approximately $5,000 for the Youth Running Program. His 2014 community service involvement also included: The Kauai Marathon Youth Running Program (Founder and Ambassador); Healthy Learning Paths (HLP)-Volunteer and Official Spokesperson; Volunteer for Atlanta Track Club Kilometer Kids Pre-Peachtree Event; Kona Youth Running Program (Founder and Speaker); Mother Earth Trail Run and Lakota Native American Reservation Volunteer; Colfax Marathon Relay (Competitor and Fundraiser); Sanctuary on 8th Street Charity Event Volunteer and Virginia 529 Kids Run Volunteer (Guest Speaker).


McCandless has stated that one of his most memorable running experiences in 2014 was The Kauai Half-Marathon. “I was running with a goal of raising money for The Kauai Marathon Youth Running Program”, said McCandless. “At about mile 8 of the half-marathon, several kids were waiting in their driveway for me. They hopped on their bikes and pedaled as hard as they could to keep up. It was an incredible experience where in my mind I knew I was running so hard to earn money to give those same kids more opportunities to exercise. I ended up winning and running fast enough to raise approximately $5,000 for the Youth Running Program.”


McCandless is a proud Penn State University Alumni who takes pride in balancing his academic and athletic careers. “At the Collegiate Running Association 10K Road Championships, I wore a Penn State headband that I have worn in nearly every race in 2014. Unfortunately the NCAA only allows four years of competition in a college singlet. When I was wearing the Penn State headband in the CRA 10k National Championships, I felt like I was again truly representing that academic and athletic balance.”


The difficult balance is something any college student can relate to. The academic pressures mount and keeping perspective is an important part of daily planning. “Time management is the most important aspect to balancing academic work with elite level training and competition”, reflects McCandless. “I’m frequently writing computer programming code or reading journal articles before 6AM and starting my morning workout. When traveling, I rarely take anything other than academic papers and a computer to for work so that I can focus when I’m on the plane. It is the internal drive to be successful in both academics and athletics that gets you motivated to complete difficult academic assignments when you are traveling to and from athletic competitions.”


Collegiate Running Association Co-Founder Jon Molz had this to say about the 2014 Athletes of the Year: “Megan Deakins Roche and Tyler McCandless are both prime examples of true student-athletes. Their multiple accomplishments both in the classroom and in the sport of running are awe inspiring and perfectly represent the majority of our Collegiate Running Association membership. Our nearly 1,600 members are both lifelong learners and lifelong runners, and we are happy to be able to highlight some of our most outstanding members.”


The Collegiate Running Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded November, 2013 with a mission to promote healthy lifestyles among college students by providing and expanding opportunities in the sport of running.  Our vision is to offer national championship events in road racing, mountain running, and trail running with prize money specifically reserved for college students that will be open to all college students enrolled in at least one class.  Our national championships events will be held within pre-existing races in various parts of the country that can attract and handle large numbers of college students.  Follow us on TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, GOOGLE+, and RunnerSpace. Become a FREE member of the Collegiate Running Association today by clicking here: BECOME A MEMBER

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