Going the Distance – Flagstaff Business News

Going the Distance  Flagstaff Business News

Marathoner Stephanie Rothstein Bruce stays fueled by her Picky Bars.

The time it takes most of us to get ready in the morning is just about the time Flagstaff professional runner Stephanie “Steph” Rothstein Bruce ran this year’s Boston Marathon.

At 2:28:2, Stephanie placed 12th overall and was the 2nd American at the Boston Marathon 2022. In the last eight years, she has been ranked among the top 10 runners in the United States and sixth at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“Impressive” just doesn’t seem to describe Stephanie, who trained hard but also had a positive pre-race attitude. “If I have a bad day in Boston, which I’m hoping not, the world goes on and when I come home my two kids don’t really care what place I got and they love me no matter what.”

Stephanie’s husband, Ben, ran collegiately at his home state college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and was the two-time steeplechase champion for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All American. He continues to hold the 5,000-meter record at the school. He also is the assistant coach and pacer for Hoka Northern Arizona Elite.

Hoka NAZ Elite is a community of athletes that entertains, inspires, motivates, and brings joy to runners and non-runners alike. Utilizing personal assessments to determine strengths and weaknesses and developing individualized programs to help athletes stay injury-free and set personal bests.

“Ben is also the glue that keeps our family together. He wears so many hats,” said Stephanie.

Along with Ben’s support, Stephanie says she is intrinsically motivated.  “I can’t explain where it comes from. I started jogging with my dad when I was five or six years old. When I entered high school, the coach wanted me to try out and it sounded like a terrible sport, especially since we were living in Phoenix at the time and it was really hot.  But over time, things shifted for me.”

“Running was something I actually hated and I felt awkward. I couldn’t understand why people did this, but eventually running transformed into a meaningful tool and avenue in life. It brought me confidence in my body, confidence as a woman athlete. I felt part of something and I became part of a community. It’s where I met my husband and I was able to do this professionally for the past 10-plus years.”

“I lost my father during my senior year of high school and that also changed my perspective of running.  It was no longer something I have to do; it was something I get to do. My father was an athletic and his presence inspired me to realize, ‘Hey this is a gift I have. Let’s see how far I can take it.’ Stephanie lost her mom less than a year ago.

Born in New York, Stephanie moved to Greensboro, North Carolina for six years then her family moved to Phoenix for four years and back to New York for a year, then to Phoenix for the better part of grade and high school.

When asked if having children enhanced her running, Stephanie said, “After having my two boys, I think I did become a better runner.  Maybe it has something to do with the pain tolerance but there’s also less time to worry about your workouts because you think about your children. It helps to balance your time, energy, goals and gives you perspective.” On average, Stephanie runs bout 90-100 miles a week.

Also on the sidelines for Stephanie is Picky Bars, a real food energy bar that is balanced for sports. Co-founded 10 years ago by Stephanie and professional triathlete’s Lauren Fleshman and her husband, Jesse Thomas, the company has recently partnered with Laird Super Food Company. “That was a dream come true,” said Stephanie.

“We developed a lot of other products such as performance pancake mixes, granola and oatmeal and Picky Drizzle, an organic spread of almonds, cinnamon and maca. We hope to develop more products.”

“I think Ben and Stephanie are a staple in the Flagstaff community,” said Run Flagstaff and Run Sedona owner Vince Sherry. “There are a lot of athletes that have come and gone, but Ben and Stephanie have been here a lot of years. Stephanie is not only a professional runner, but also a resident mom and she is well loved and well known. It’s so cool when she performs so well.”

Her advice to female athletes would be having a balanced diet and a whole nutritional profile, something that is sustainable for your whole life.

“Anytime you think about just eating certain foods or taking things out, it’s hard. Find 80% of foods that are really good for you and 20% can be naughty, but stick with a plan for your whole life. I think that’s how you maintain a healthy weight, a healthy body image by realizing food is fuel and you want to fuel your body.”

Stephanie has won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half marathon a few times and in 2018, was featured in Flagstaff Business News. She was 10th at the 2017 NYC Marathon, 10th at the 2018 London Marathon and won her first national title at the 2018 Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.

Because of a congenital heart condition called Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease (BAVD), Stephanie’s last season will be 2022.


French Fries and fountain Coca-Cola.




I pick my children, Riley and Hudson. I feel like they are taking parts of what we give them and their surroundings, and they’re making their own opinions on life. They pick up trash when they’re not asked and reach out to classmates on their own initiative.


Lady GaGa, because her real name is Stephanie, so I love that. And she has the most beautiful voice. If I couldn’t be a runner, I’d wish I had the talent to sing.


I’d love to go to New Zealand or Banff in Canada. I don’t like heights, so bungee jumping and hot air balloons are out. FBN

By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN