Meet Shoestring Warrior and Race Director and Owner Phil Oreste

If you enjoy hiking and you also enjoy running, then it only makes sense that you should try trail running since it’s essentially hiking but faster! For some reason, trail running doesn’t usually come naturally to people and it seems to be a sport that someone introduces you to. This week’s Shoestring Warrior was introduced to trail running by a friend and after his first run on Northern California’s Angel Island, he was hooked. So hooked, that he ended up starting a trail running race company! Meet Shoestring Warrior and Owner/Director of Urban Coyote Racing Phil Oreste.

After participating in many trail races, there were a number of parks and wilderness areas that I wished had events.

Rather than waiting for someone else to create a race in those places, Phil created his own company and now you can race on those trails. If you’ve never tried trail racing, Phil has some simple tips to make your first time unforgettable. He also shared with us some advice for people who are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur in the outdoor realm. Keep reading to learn all this and more from a successful race director! Check Urban Coyote Racing for upcoming events and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Shoestring Warrior: Phil Oreste


Mill Valley, CA

Current location:

Mill Valley, CA


Owner/Director, Urban Coyote Racing

What are your passions outside of work?

I enjoy almost any outdoor activity: running, hiking, golfing, skiing, bicycling.

Tell us about yourself!

I was born in Michigan but came to San Francisco in the mid-80s for college and have been in the SF Bay Area for more than 30 years now. I spent most of my career as a finance executive for start-up software companies before starting my own trail racing business.


How would you describe your level of camping experience?

Fairly limited. I tend to do a lot of extended day trips but usually end up back at home or at a relative’s home for the night.

When did you discover your love for the outdoors and specifically trail running?

Growing up, my family spent many summer vacations in the mountains or near lakes and that was always a highlight of my childhood. A friend of mine introduced me to running and after our first trail run together on beautiful Angel Island, I was hooked on trail running!

The locations, the views, the requirement to focus on every step all allowed me a bit of escapism from whatever everyday concerns might be floating around in my head.

What led you to start Urban Coyote Racing?

After participating in many trail races, there were a number of parks and wilderness areas that I wished had events. I had a number of ideas and given my corporate planning experience, I thought I would mix my professional and personal passions by starting Urban Coyote Racing.

What advice do you have for people thinking about becoming an entrepreneur in the outdoor realm?

It sounds cliche, but being passionate about whatever you do as an entrepreneur is most important.

You have the ability to do things the way you want to and being successful or unsuccessful will never take that away.

There’s a section on the Urban Coyote Racing website dedicated to “Park Stewardship”. What can we do as outdoor enthusiasts to help protect public lands?

From a hands on perspective, volunteer for a park clean up day or trail improvement day. It is one of the most rewarding ways to give back to the parks. On a bigger scale, continue to voice your opinions through voting and letters to your congressmen and women.

Which adventurers, entrepreneurs, or athletes inspire you the most?  

As a trail runner, Kílian Jornet has always been inspirational. Not only has he accomplished amazing trail running feats, but he is an incredible ambassador for the sport of running through his character and efforts to bring awareness to various worthy causes.

Richard Branson is another “entrepreneur” who I admire due to his business acumen as well as his use of his success to help others in need around the world.

What tips do you have for someone who is preparing for their first trail race?

Forget about the watch, headphones and how fast or slow you are going and just soak in the sights, sounds and smells of the moment.

Let your senses lead you!

Funniest outdoor experience/mishap?

Not that funny at the time, but funny looking back on it. I was running through Muir Woods on a very busy day in the park and I didn’t time a jump over a tree root very well and broke a fall with my face. Now I could not see the damage, but the blood and mud caked on one side of my face made me look like the Terminator or Two Face from Batman. As I ran the final mile out of the park entrance, the wide eyed frightened looks from all of the tourists were hilarious. Perhaps they thought I had been attacked by a bear?

Where’s your next adventure?

We are putting on 6 races between now and November and then I am heading to New Zealand for a few weeks to hike, run and kayak.

The perfect s’more? (if you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)

A s’more will do just fine!

Photos © 2018 Phil Oreste

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