Karin Hand is a familiar sight at ultra and shorter distance races in the Kentuckiana area. With her tall stature, shining smile, and signature “power pony,” a braided pony tail with a Ponya Band, she visually stands out. Once you start talking to Karin, she stands out for another reason: her support and encouragement of all to set big goals and smash them, something she is familiar with herself as she just completed her first 100 mile race.
Karin didn’t start her fitness journey until she was 45 ½ and ran her first 5K in May 2015. Karin explained, “Each month I set a new goal of a 5k and continued setting small goals for myself with my workouts at Crossfit.” And, of course, it didn’t stop there!
“In 2016 I ran my first half, Urban Bourbon Half Marathon, and that was so hard,” Karin described. “I kept pushing those goals. In 2017 , a friend and I decided to sign up for our first 50K, Cloudsplitter. I consider that 50k the point at which I felt like a real runner. I signed up to do the Falls 50 miler in December 2018 since I was turning 50 in January 2019. This 50 mile race was the longest 20 hours in rain and mud. I was told at the finish by a very accomplished runner that if I could endure that muddy, cold, rainy race that I could do a 100 mile race.” And that’s where her goals just got even bigger.
In 2019, she decided that she would sign up for her first 100 mile race. “It did not go as expected, and I endured a lot of disappointment in myself,” reflected Karin. “I had 3 DNFs before getting my official finish at Crooked Creek 100 in December 2021. I am not a natural athlete. I have to fight for every mile and it’s not easy. There is so much I have learned in all my races, failed attempts but each lesson is applied to the next adventure. If it excites you, then you have to try no matter what you think the result will be.”
Karin first discovered Ponya Bands in 2017 at Louisville area group runs and on the Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town Gear/Swap page. She’ll bring several on long runs and to her ultra trail races to change them out every few hours in the summer heat.
“I really like that the company is local, owned by a woman, and run by women,” Karin said. “I sweat a ton while working out and running. The Ponya sweatband keeps the sweat out of my eyes. Plus there are so many different styles to meet all my needs.” She prefers wider 4 inch Bamboo Jersey Lined Sweatbands for winter to keep her ears warm and the Non-Slip Headbands for everyday wear to keep her hair out of her face.
For running, Karin prefers a 3 inch sweatband and loves both the Bamboo Terry and Bamboo Jersey Lined Sweatbands. She also appreciates the great customer service at Ponya. She emphasized, “Judy is just the best human and really takes pride in her company.” And we take pride in Karin as well!
Now that Karin has met her big goal, she continues to encourage people to keep trying for theirs. For herself, she’s going to continue enjoying the running and fitness activities she loves for as long as she can.