Tinman Elite started like most things do in the digital age: as a hashtag. Not a serious one by any means, but for Drew Hunter and Morgan Pearson, it meant something. They took pride in running under the guidance and title of our coach’s nickname Tom “Tinman” Schwartz. I had previously met and spent time with both Drew and Morgan and I followed them on Instagram. I remember seeing #tinmanelite but I had no idea who or what it was. I wasn’t sure if it was actually a training group or just some inside joke. What I did know was that I looked up to them both from afar because of their commitment to fearless racing. Little did I know that a year later I would join them in Boulder and be able to play a part in giving this hashtag life.
“They took so much pride running under the guidance and title of our coach Tom “Tinman” Schwartz.”
I majored in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from NC State. I switched majors from supply chain after a sports marketing internship opportunity with adidas. Thanks to my time at NC State and adidas, I had a basic understanding and passion for branding, storytelling, and any sort of creative expression. After a conversation with Drew about potentially training together and talking on the phone a few times with the Tinman, I was sold. They believed in me, and I promised them I would give everything I had. I was excited and packed my bags to Colorado. Once I arrived, I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only one with the bright idea to train with these two Tinmen who had already seen great success under Tom’s coaching tutelage. I met Tyler Mueller and Reed Fischer in my first few days in Boulder and we all quickly formed strong friendships. We spent countless time just hanging out and training hard. We all were just so determined to prove ourselves as Tinmen and race competitively at the professional level. We trained hard and didn’t focus on any sort of outside distractions.
“We all were just so determined to prove ourselves as Tinmen and race competitively at the professional level. We trained hard and didn’t focus on any sort of outside distractions.”
As our bonds strengthened, we formed a daily routine of sitting down after dinner to talk for hours about the people we were, the people we wanted to be, the sport, and what aspirations we had in it. We realized that we all wanted to do more than just run fast and hide away at altitude. We all wanted to be a part of something. We wanted to create a team that was more than just a bunch of individuals brought together by a sponsor, where everyone had more important individual agendas at the end of the day. We wanted to make a team that could potentially make a difference. Above all else, we wanted to form a team that was focused on making a positive impact in the sport for anyone and everyone that wanted to be a part of our journey.
“Above all else, we wanted to form a team that was focused on making a positive impact in the sport for everyone and anyone that wanted to be a part of our journey.”
We came up this sentence during one of our after dinner discussions, and since then it has become our mission statement, our guide, and the words that ground us with every decision we make as a team. This one sentence gave life and direction to a seemingly pieced-together, overlooked group of athletes.
This sentence would also shape the design process for the Tinman Elite logo. The logo had to be a symbol that stood for everything we wanted to represent as runners, people, and as a collective team. After weeks of brainstorming, we finally decided that an axe was a perfect embodiment of the do-it-yourself, hardworking mentality that we strive for as members of Tinman Elite. An axe is one of the most reliable working tools. It is an instrument that is used by hand and is only effective when full physical and precise mental focus are utilized. It is essential for us as professional athletes and as a team to collectively be reliable, hardworking, and precise when it comes to practice and racing in order to reach the highest levels in this sport. The axe was the perfect object to finally start the conceptual design process. After searching through Google Images and Reed playing around on Photoshop and illustration software, we came up with a few early designs—but none that felt quite right. We realized that it just wasn’t authentic, it wasn’t REAL and that is exactly the type of team we wanted to be.
Bobby Peavey changed all of that.
Bobby and I have a lot of mutual friends within the running world, and I had been a fan of his obscure and unique hand drawn artwork he frequently posts on his Instagram feed. I knew right away Bobby’s gritty, hard line work was exactly the type of aesthetic we were looking for and that no computer illustrator could produce.
Bobby lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado as a trail runner and has been a friend of ours since day one. He understood our mission, who we were as people, and what our aspirations were. He started to sketch some ideas for us, and the logo was starting to breathe life.
“I knew right away Bobby’s gritty, hard line work was exactly the type of aesthetic we were looking for and that no computer illustrator could produce.”
At one point I remember getting frustrated with the designs Bobby was sending because they just didn’t evoke any real emotion I was hoping to elicit. Something was missing and after a good deal of reflection I realized it was missing the most important element of Tinman Elite. “We are not a group, social movement, or track club. We are a team that pushes and cares for each other.” Even though it evoked sharpness, reliability, and hard work—it didn’t have that “team” element incorporated in any way. So we decided to add another axe to symbolize that we have each other’s back through everything.
“So we decided to add another axe to symbolize that we have each other’s back through everything.”
Bobby added the banner to bind axes together and inscribed the team name within it.
The logo was finished, and we were all excited to start building Tinman Elite around it.
We printed the logo on a few t-shirts and created an Instagram account that debuted the logo in March 2018. A few months later, we launched our own website. We were able to create freely and remain authentic to who we wanted to be, and now to see the support we have after only one year means everything to us. We all take so much pride in being Tinmen and what it represents. Not just because we created it together, but because we now have this foundation to actually push the sport of running forward by bridging the gaps within this sport, spreading positivity, organizing camps/races, raising awareness, and bringing the community together any opportunity we can. We hope that anyone who ever wears a shirt for a workout or a hoodie pre-race has the same pride, toughness, and love we bring into training, life, and the sport of running.
Keep the ball rolling.