Scott Traer and Callie Vinson: On Using Creativity, Humor, and a Love of Trails to Connect Us

Body diversity and inclusivity, 200 milers, coaching, and creative sparks are among the talents of this desert-based trail running couple.

By on June 6, 2024 | Comments

If you don’t yet know of ultrarunners Scott Traer and Callie Vinson, you will soon. The duo debuted as emcees for the live stream of the Black Canyon 100k in February 2024 and will bring their creative spark to the Western States 100’s live stream on June 29, 2024. They’ll be commentating on the frontrunners at the Foresthill aid station at mile 62, and then they’ll head to the studio near the finish line at 10 p.m. to share the stories and welcome home the majority of the racers.

“We’re excited to be a part of it,” said Vinson. The couple will bring the playful, entertaining vibe they’ve become known for on their social media channels — here’s Vinson’s Instagram feed and this is Traer’s — like donning faux fur coats, sunglasses, and neon accents. Just like they did for their Black Canyon 100k live stream call-outs, they’ll put out a request to hear the personal stories of racers ahead of time.

Scott Traer and Callie Vinson

Scott Traer and Callie Vinson. Photo: Matt Shapiro

Vinson said, “We want to bring a different perspective while broadcasting the middle to the back of the packers, the last people who are finishing the race. We will bring in the last place person. So, tell us your running story. Why are you running the Western States 100? We can share those stories on the live stream and bring more visibility to those runners who don’t feel seen or don’t feel special, and to just celebrate them.”

The gig is right up the alley of Vinson and Traer’s longstanding talents, career paths, and their roles in the trail running world. Today, the two call Scottsdale, Arizona, home for most of the year, until high summer temperatures encourage a stint elsewhere for a few months, usually Colorado or California.

Home Roots

Traer grew up a few miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, where he played team sports and golf — he hated running at the time. “I didn’t really get into it until my late twenties when I started running to stay moderately in shape after college,” he said. He still goes back to visit family a couple of times a year or to help co-organize events with friends who are race directors. He has two brothers in Boston and a sister in Alaska.

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, Vinson’s dad worked for The Walt Disney Company for 20 years as a landscape architect, putting her in close proximity to Disney World. Growing up, she played goalie on the soccer team and rowed on a crew team. As soon as she graduated high school, she submitted a photography portfolio to an art school in Savannah, Georgia, and was accepted. Afterward, she landed an internship in Chicago, Illinois, where she took two suitcases and entered a career in advertising for a decade before venturing west.

Scott Traer on a mountain

In his early running days, Scott Traer mostly ran to stay in shape. Photo courtesy of Scott Traer.

Getting Hooked on Running and Sharing Body Positivity

Traer lived out of a backpack all over the world for a decade after college, running a few hours a week to stay in shape. After growing up playing sports, he knew he wanted to eventually work in the arena of professional sports. In 2009, he was in South America climbing and cycling, doing 4,000-mile tours. As he got more into running, he’d create “overly ambitious” running routes with few details about the area, go explore, and realize after five hours that he was out of food and fuel but would need to get back to where he’d started. After seven months of high-volume running, he returned to Boston, where he continued to log 150-mile weeks on foot. He had instant success at his first race, and 15 years later is still competitively racing today.

Vinson moved to Chicago with a dream of being a city girl working at an ad agency, which she did. But she also discovered trail running and ultrarunning and fell in love with it. “I got into trail running, because I knew I loved running. As a kid, I was always in the dirt. All of my extended family lives in the U.S. Southeast, in rural wooded areas, so I was always outside playing. We had a horse growing up in my grandparents’ house. In Chicago, when I learned about trail running and ultramarathons, I was like, oh my God, I feel like I can continue to explore on my own,” said Vinson, who also picked up running as a way to lose weight and get healthy.

After starting to run in 2013, she lost 200 pounds over the course of two years. In 2016, she registered for her first race, the Chicago Marathon. In addition to her run routine, she had phased out eating fast food and take-out and stopped depending on the catered food that her office provided. Instead, she packed a healthy lunch each day. She added cooking healthy breakfasts at home, followed by cooking well-rounded dinners. Eventually, she added a gym routine.

Callie Vinson and her mom

Callie Vinson and her mom getting ready to run together. Photo courtesy of Callie Vinson.

While her initial vision wasn’t to become an advocate for body positivity and inclusivity, the more she shared her journey, the more people would reach out, saying how seen and validated they felt. “It’s something that happened organically that I wasn’t expecting, but I think it’s so important to not just the sport but society in general, and for women and men. I’m happy to be in this space, and be a voice in it, and to hopefully make a change,” she said.

It wasn’t long before Vinson wanted to go deeper down the rabbit hole of trail running. With an eye on the U.S. Southwest and the metropolitan coexistence with trails that Phoenix, Arizona, provides, she knew she had to go.

In 2021, post-COVID-19 pandemic, her work team was all working remotely, so she asked her creative director if she could relocate. After doing a virtual tour of an apartment and signing a lease, she made the leap. She recently celebrated five years at the same ad agency, where she works full time as a creative copywriter. She also trains 15 hours a week as a professional athlete. “When I was very new to the Southwest, I had this insatiable curiosity to keep exploring and seeing things that not a lot of people could see. That’s been my motivation to keep trail running,” she explained.

Favorite Race Events

Looking back on races, one of Vinson’s highlights is California’s Catalina Island Avalon Benefit 50 Mile/50k. After taking a 45-minute ferry, you’re on the island for the small race, which follows the coastline with ocean views and roaming buffalo. “Everyone stays on the island and goes to breakfast at one of two breakfast spots, plus the island has zero cars. Everyone gets around on golf carts,” she says.

For Traer, fat-ass races stand out in memory, with a few that rise to the top. He likes events where 15 to 20 friends camp beforehand, then wake up at 6 a.m. to run 50 miles with no aid stations.

“It goes back to that community. Racing [something like] the Western States 100 has a business objective and I’m going there to perform, period. My favorite part of the sport that I really enjoy is getting that small group of friends together to go for a very non-competitive race. Then we have an excuse to hang out for 24 hours at this campsite. I would choose those over a high-profile event,” said Traer.

Career Growth

While working to become a more competitive runner, Traer dove into research, articles, conferences, and podcasts about all the latest information for training. “I started doing that before opening my own coaching practice in 2016, mainly because I wanted to get better. At that point, in 2010, outside of CTS, there really was no remote and running coaching going on. The market was very small, whereas now it’s very saturated,” said Traer. “I feel so happy and grateful to be working in the sports arena, being successful, and able to carve out a living. It’s literally a dream come true,” he added.

One of the most rewarding pieces of coaching for Traer is long-term athlete development, seeing someone improve over the course of eight to 10 years. “You overestimate what you can do in a year and underestimate what you can do in three or five years. To see the progress on some of the athletes is absolutely amazing,” said Traer.

He’d invested in a house in Lyons, Colorado, where he stayed for a few years and then sold the house at the start of the pandemic. Today, his coaching business is nearly a decade old, and his roster remains full with 45 athletes. He devotes 40 to 50 hours a week to coaching and, as a professional athlete, trains up to 20 hours per week.

Scott Traer

Scott Traer. Photo courtesy of Scott Traer.

How The Duo Met

Gold pants may have been the silver bullet when Vinson first saw Traer at the December 2021 Desert Solstice Track Invitational in Phoenix. Vinson was crewing Pete Kostelnick during her first year living in Arizona. It was 6 a.m.

“I’m getting everything ready to crew Pete for the day, and I see this guy walk onto the track in these gold chain sweatpants. He doesn’t have a crew. He just has a grocery bag with all his stuff in it. I’m just like, ‘Who on earth is this person, and who has the audacity to wear those gold chain sweatpants?’”

For Traer, this was the norm. He didn’t typically go to races with a crew and didn’t have a huge goal at the time. He was just traveling and floating around and thought he might as well race and try to qualify for the USATF national team, and as a stepping stone before racing the Black Canyon 100k to try to get a Golden Ticket to the Western States 100.

Traer was friends with Kostelnick, and the trio made plans to do a recovery hike after the race, but Kostelnick had to bail, leaving Traer and Vinson to hike together. “We went on a couple more hikes together and eventually realized that we both liked each other when we went to a music festival together,” said Vinson.

It all started with running. Of the meeting, Traer said, “Always have some sparkle or flavor at races. You never know who’s watching.”

Running Really Far

Ahead of running the 2024 Cocodona 250 Mile, Vinson set a fastest known time (FKT) on the Maricopa Loop in November 2023. The Maricopa Trail circumnavigates Phoenix in about 240 miles. While it was Vinson’s first-ever FKT attempt, she shaved six hours off the previous record.

She was supported by a 26-person team that crewed and accompanied her throughout the four or so days of the effort. About 40 miles from the finish, she reached a closed path due to construction — and even the security guard made an exception to let her through to complete the circuit. “It was the essence of the trail community, all coming together for this one goal,” she said.

Callie Vinson with her race gear

After setting an FKT on Phoenix, Arizona’s Maricopa Trail, Callie Vinson was ready for the Cocodona 250 Mile. Photo courtesy of Callie Vinson.

Vinson also says that effort helped to prepare her for success at the Cocodona 250 Mile. She finished the 2024 edition in four days, 17 hours, 51 minutes, and 11 seconds.

In addition to being Vinson’s partner, Traer is her coach and crew leader. Before the start of Cocodona, he said, “It’ll be a fun week outside. I feel like any time you spend a week outside, it’s a win.” He also had a couple of other athletes running the 200 miler.

Creative and Recovery Time

When the two aren’t training, which they do each morning, they live with Cloudy, their very-white-faced, mostly brown senior dog that they take on long evening walks. He also has a white-dusted belly and paws. Vinson got the lab-boxer-pit mix, who is now 15 years old, in her twenties. She picked him up from a dog rescue in Savannah, Georgia. Traer recently picked back up swinging a golf club, which has been therapeutic instead of having a performance-based focus.

They also both love live electronic music, festivals, and standup comedy shows. It shows in their collaboration on social media, which has become a creative outlet for organic jokes that pop up during a run and when they’re spending time together.

“It’s fun to film and edit clips, because it’s very much stuff that we relate to as runners who go through the runner journey and have those runner struggles. I’m a creative in my career, so it’s also something that I do on a day-to-day basis,” said Vinson.

Traer said, “I sometimes chime in with fun ideas, but Callie is definitely the driving force on why the videos look good. I get lessons on filming, photography, social media — everything. It’s great to learn from her.”

In her daily life, Vinson is surrounded by art directors, photographers, and videographers. “I hear their thoughts and creative processes, and I try to adapt that into whatever I do at work or in my free time with social media content. With all the new tools coming out, it’s fun for me to learn them and try and put them into practice, or see what everybody else is doing, or trying to come up with something new that hasn’t been done before. All that creative stuff is something I’ve always loved to do,” she explained.

Scott Traer and Callie Vinson running

Scott Traer and Callie Vinson train together and have ambitious future goals. Photo: Matt Shapiro

When they see cool film and editing techniques, Traer said, “She’ll try to figure out, how did they get this shot? How can we get a camera angle like this? How could we do this? Or, how do we edit like this? It might take her down a rabbit hole for two to three hours trying to figure it out.”

He added, “She works hard, spending a lot of time to learn and refine new skills. That is why she’s exceptional at what she does, and it’s the same in the coaching industry.” For Traer, that continued education looks like reading research and articles, going to conferences, talking with other coaches, staying up to date on technology and tools and nutrition, and experimenting with the wearables market.

Goals Up Ahead

Aside from being emcees for the 2024 Western States 100 live stream, the two have a few other goals in the pipeline.

Traer aims to set the 24-hour American record, currently held by Nick Coury, at the 2024 Desert Solstice Track Invitational in December. That means running more than 173 miles.

The couple recently launched a monthly Mug Club group run in Arizona, which is gaining a lot of traction. During their meet-ups, they run on a new trail every time. The mileage of the run is on the lower side, around four miles, and Vinson is always the last runner, so there’s no one left behind. At the trailhead, they post up in chairs, serve hot coffee, cold brew, and doughnuts. They also host raffles.

“It’s amazing because we get people who are very new to running, or they’re older and might feel intimidated, but they get to experience this. Or, Abby Hall, who is a professional runner, and her husband, Cordis [Hall], who is also professional, come out and join,” said Vinson.

In July, the duo will crew a friend at the 2024 Badwater 135 Mile. Vinson is signed up for the 2024 Javelina 100 Mile this fall, which she aims to finish in under 24 hours, a new goal. “I volunteered the last few years at that race, and it’ll be my first time running the race,” she said.

In 2016, Traer had a mind shift regarding racing where he wanted it to be more fun than pressure-inducing. Today, he still maintains that mindset, enjoys his creative expression with Vinson, and really appreciates how tight-knit and inclusive the community is. For Vinson, she loves that the trail running community can experience such a range of emotions together — the highest highs and the lowest lows — while also sharing stories.

Alongside their race goals, be sure to catch the duo during the 2024 Western States 100 live stream this month. You’re guaranteed to have a few laughs.

Call for Comments

  • Have you experienced the digital and in-person communities that Callie Vinson and Scott Traer are facilitating?
  • Leave your stories in the comments section.
Morgan Tilton

Morgan Tilton is the WeRunFar columnist of iRunFar and a Staff Writer for GearJunkie and AllGear Digital. Morgan has covered outdoor industry news, adventure travel, and human endurance for nearly a decade. Aside from iRunFar, Morgan has written for more than 70 publications, including recent contributions to Outside, Forbes, Trail Runner, Runner’s World, Bicycling, and NewsBreak. She’s a recipient of more than a dozen accolades for her travel writing from the North American Travel Journalists Association. Based in Crested Butte, Colorado, Morgan enjoys mountain running and exploring the high alpine in the summer when she’s not splitboarding or mountain biking.