Yarrow Pasche

Associate head coach for women's cross country and assistant distance track coach

First year coaching at Luther: 2005

On the record books: Named 2007 IIAC Conference and NCAA III Central Region cross-country coach of the year as the women's team advanced to place 10th in the nation.

Stepping up: Considered a sub-elite marathon runner, she logged more than 2,000 miles in 2007 while training to qualify for the 2008 Olympic trials.

January Term 2008: Team-taught "Fitness and Adventure in New Zealand"--involving sea kayaking, backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting--with her husband, fellow coach Steve Pasche.

For Yarrow, no job proposition is really too far afield. For example, as an international studies graduate, she was surveying public water use (and doing a lot of trekking) in Nepal, when the cross-country coach at Williams College emailed inquiring about her interest in an assistant coaching position with his team (he'd seen her run as a college All-American).

"At the time, Steve and I were living on about $7 a day, buying only our food and camping on back-to-back treks. We debated for a week about whether to spend the $20 to call Williams to discuss it."

But in the end, they moved to Massachusetts and steered the robust program through two years of national championship showings. By chance, they met then-Luther cross-country coach Betsy Emerson, who knew about their Midwestern roots (Yarrow is a Macalester grad) and encouraged them to consider succeeding her at Luther.

"'Iowa? I don't think so,'" they quickly decided, site unseen.

But again, fate went the distance. Betsy called them again, and while they were considering applying, Yarrow stumbled upon a Mother Earth News article about an organic farmer who had moved from San Juan Island (her birthplace) to Decorah.

"I thought, 'This place must really have something.' And when we came for interviews, the whole town was over-run by mountain bikers psyching up for a single-track time trial. The energy and the terrain made it obvious that this is a place where runners can flourish, too."

And so the story goes. In two years, she and Steve have encouraged the men's and women's teams to top-10 finishes in the nation, allowing group chemistry to develop without coercion.

"We combined the teams to have male and female personalities support each other," she says. "The guys run on humor and craziness--they come back from runs all scraped up and grinning--while the women will finish a breakthrough race and come to you crying tears of joy. When the men and women meet on middle ground, we all learn something."