Behind The Scenes

ESPN teamwork: On short notice, Karlstrom goes the extra 13.1 miles

Kira Karlstrom (left) prepped ESPN colleague Sage Steele before their run.

SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele‘s conquest of the runDisney Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 26 has been well documented.

Congratulations again to Sage for a job well run, er, done.

One behind-the-scenes story emerged from Steele’s saga, however.

Kira Karlstrom, an ESPN associate producer, Creative Services, also participated in the event.

With a portable camera strapped to her, Karlstrom shot footage of Steele’s run that was used in the SportsCenter segment later that day (see video).

However, up until the night before the race through Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center, Karlstrom had no intention of running 13.1 miles.

She was in Orlando to work on an NBA All-Star Game assignment but happened to be available when the request to document Steele’s run from the pack was made.

But the 5-foot, 3-inch former Drexel University basketball star stepped into the fray. Karlstrom finished one second behind Steele.

A week later and amazingly no worse for wear — Karlstrom fully intended to play in two soccer matches days after the race only to have them cancelled by bad weather — she shared her story with Front Row.

FR: How did you become involved in chronicling Steele’s half marathon?
Late the night before, I was asked if I could help by running with the camera for a few miles. Naturally, the competitor in me was thinking, ‘I’m not going to run just a few miles. If I start this thing, I’m going to finish it.’ I was also desperate for a good workout, so I thought it would be a fun challenge.

FR: We understand that you’ve never run more than four miles at a time. How did you prepare yourself for a 13-mile run on short notice?
I was a little nervous, because 13 miles isn’t something you just get up and do — at least I didn’t think. But the atmosphere and the energy at 5 a.m. was incredible. I had such an adrenaline rush at the beginning of the race. Running a half marathon has been on my bucket list, I just originally thought when I wrote it down I would have the chance to prepare, but mentally maybe it was better I didn’t.

FR: How would you describe your ESPN job to the layperson?
Day to day, I’m responsible for animation packages from a producing and creative standpoint. I usually work with projects that require working with out-of-house animation companies. I also have a design background and have had opportunities to put those skills to use such as designing the ESPN Axis logo, The Scott Van Pelt Show logo, and our on-campus building signs. Aside from that, we are fortunate in our group to work on teases such as the B.O.B Play like a Champion tease and the College Gameday Open with Big and Rich, each in which I played a role in helping to produce.

FR: How did you feel after the run, and how did the video come out?
My legs were pretty beat considering I ran in shoes that were not made for running, but rather for lifting. But overall I felt accomplished. I’m constantly looking for ways to challenge myself, especially athletically since I don’t have many of those opportunities anymore. I’m the first to say I’m going to prove you wrong. As for the video, I think it turned out great and some of the clips were used in the SportsCenter highlights the day of the race.

FR: At Drexel, you earned acclaim for being one of the nation’s best rebounders among players 5 feet, 4 inches and shorter. How did you become such a good rebounder?
I believe rebounding is effort. I was never the tallest or the most talented player on the court, but I was successful in my career, especially in rebounding, because I knew I would outwork anyone. Rebounding was something I could control and a way I could consistently contribute to my team. I was always told, “If you want the ball, you have to go get it,” so I did.

Olympian Jeff Galloway, Karlstom, Steele and espnW's Josyln Dalton after the run.
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