Junior Emily Sipp wins Fleet Feet Snowball Series

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Courtesy of Emily Sipp

Running down a path surrounding Creve Coeur Lake, junior Emily Sipp completes the third race of the Fleet Feet Snowball series. Sipp had to run through a variety of weather conditions, but still got first female in the race. “My feet were freezing, as I had just run through 6 inches of standing lake water,” Sipp said. “These race conditions were 45 degrees and 17 mph winds in my face, although I didn’t mind the freezing water too much–it made for a good story later.”

Running uphill as she nears the end of a five-mile race at Forest Park, junior Emily Sipp notices something bizarre: there are no other women on the pavement in front of her. Suddenly, yells from the crowd bring her back to the present. “You’re the first woman!” She understands now what they mean. In a race of 2,000, she was the first female to reach the finish line.

The Fleet Feet’s Snowball Series is a series of four races at four different St. Louis locations, all with varying running distances. After winning the second race Jan. 4, she went on to win the third race and finished first in the final race held Feb. 1.

“I was really surprised [to win] and really happy. I was mostly just surprised by how supportive people were,” Sipp said. “I wasn’t expecting people to be mean, but I wasn’t expecting everyone to be cheering for me, like strangers that I didn’t even know, to be yelling at me while they were running. I didn’t know if I would [win the series], but I felt that it was possible after that first win.”

Sipp has participated in many non-school-sponsored races prior to the Snowball Series, beginning with Halloween races for GO! St. Louis, and as she got older, charity races. 

“I started running when I was in second grade because my mom came into my room one day and was like, ‘we are going to track practice.’ She ran in high school,” Sipp said. “When I started in second grade, I wasn’t very good. I remember my first race was the 800 meter in track, and there were seven people [in the race]. I remember getting fourth and being so happy to beat three people. I just kept getting better.”

I remember my first race was the 800 meter in track, and there were seven people [in the race]. I remember getting fourth and being so happy to beat three people. I just kept getting better,”

— junior Emily Sipp

The first race of the Snowball Series was a three-mile run, and Sipp took fourth in the female division. This ended up being the only race that Sipp did not win. 

“I think that [the first] was the hardest of the four races because there was snow and ice on the course,” Sipp said. “There were [also] some other women running that weren’t enrolled in the series; they had just signed up for that race, and they were really good. That just made it way more challenging. It was mostly people who ran for fun, [and] there were some high school athletes there too.” 

Just two weeks after the first race, the second was held and the running distance increased from a three-mile race to a five-mile. 

“I didn’t see any other women up in front of me. I was surprised, but I just went with it,” Sipp said. “When I turned around, everybody was yelling at me that I was the first girl. The entire fourth mile everyone was just yelling at me and telling me ‘good job.’ I was the first woman. There were 40 guys and then there was me. It was just really special to see all these people cheering for me like I was running at state or something.”

Sipp experienced a win like this again at the third race, and once again at the fourth, culminating in her being the winning female of the Fleet Feet Snowball Series.

“I felt good when I got fourth, but it wasn’t quite the same as getting first, although I wasn’t expecting to take first in the future either,” Sipp said. “I think winning in a high school event gets less recognition. Winning JV and freshman [doesn’t get] that much recognition, whereas when you win the Snowball Series, they call your name and make a big deal out of it. That is just kind of fun.”

Courtesy of Fleet Feet
Junior Emily Sipp receives a plaque and flowers for her Fleet Feet Snowball Series win.

After high school, Sipp is interested in running in college but feels that what she gains from races like the Snowball Series is unparalleled.

“I hope to run in college, but if I don’t, I think I would be just as happy doing road races for Fleet Feet and things like that because that is something that I really enjoy,” Sipp said. “Racing for school is a lot more stressful, and you know your competition. There is also this pressure that you know you have got to finish in a certain spot for your team [to win]. But when you’re racing against two thousand people and don’t know any of them, it is a lot more relaxed, and there are random people cheering for you that you don’t know; it is just really great.”