Imagine this scenario. You're running alone on a country road at a brisk eight-minute-per-mile pace. It's 3 a.m., a pitch black summer night; only your head lantern lights the path ahead. You're tired because you completed a five-mile run the afternoon before, and you've had only two hours of sleep on a hard gym floor. You'll have to do yet a third run later in the day after a short break. You have every reason to feel miserable but, in truth, you've never felt better in your life.
Annika Svore '04 has a gleam in her eye as she sits at a Starbucks in Seattle, recounting stories about her participation in the Ragnar Northwest Passage run, a 12-person relay race that begins in Blaine, Washington, on the Canadian border, and ends 189 miles later on the southern tip of Whidbey Island. Like her teammates, Svore had to run three different legs, but she alone experienced the joy of running the last leg.
Svore's team, composed of friends, friends-of-friends, and a last minute fill-in from Craig's List, had a distinct Colby flavor. Chris Castle '02 was a fellow runner, as were the husband, sister, and brother-in-law of Natalie Keilholz '02, who served as a volunteer for the race.
"Running is an individual sport," Svore said, "and a relay race offers a whole new experience. We were traveling along in two vans, six people huddled in each van—eating [Power Bars, fruit, nuts], listening to music, laughing, and waiting for our next turn to run. It was like a slumber party without sleep."
Her team, the Muffin Tops, finished 23rd out of 58 teams, with a time of 26 hours, 41 minutes, 27 seconds, slightly under an average nine minute-per-mile pace.
This native Washingtonian thrives on challenge. "Before I came to Colby, I deliberately chose the toughest COOT option: a three-day, twelve-mile trek over the Mahoosic Notch on the Maine-New Hampshire border, one of the most challenging stretches along the entire Appalachian Trail."
A lifelong outdoorswomen, Svore loved the chance to go hiking and skiing in college, as well as developing close friendships with other runners on the cross-country team.
On the academic front, she began as a pre-med major, but switched to math sciences (from the frying pan into the frying pan) her sophomore year. For good measure, she added an art major. "I wanted to balance the problem solving of math with the creative freedom of art."
After Colby, Svore took a summer career discovery course in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. From there, she returned to the northwest to take a job as a design manager for Greenpoint Technologies in Seattle. She now works with five other designers, designing the interiors of top-of-the-line private planes for elite clients, such as the Saudi royal family and other heads of state, sports teams, and successful business leaders. "Because I knew nothing about airplanes before coming to Greenpoint," she said, "I'm able to think outside the box."
Creative problem solving is a must for this job because, with this clientele, no request is considered unusual: a garage to hold a Mercedes, say, or a medical room equipped for surgical procedures, or several tubs equipped with
Besides meeting a range of requests and dealing with clients used to getting what they want, Svore and other designers must address significant aircraft safety certification challenges. "All materials must be treated and burn tested," she noted, "and the furniture must be structurally secured."
In addition to meeting the demands of her job and her clients, Svore stays sharp by running three or four days a week and practicing "hot yoga" (in 105 degrees).
Will she experience another slumber-party-without-sleep in the future? Well, her faraway expression when she mentions the popular relay race from the top of Mt. Hood to the Oregon seaside gives a pretty good indication.