Running Designs – Running Coach + Guided Running Adventure Trips

EPIC RUN TOURS: Running Designs LLC offers guided running adventure trips to some of the world’s most beautiful, majestic locations in the world. Join guide and avid masters runner Melissa Gacek on a tour where you will find a change of pace + a change of place = a new perspective. Registration will open June 1, 2021 and will be limited to 10 people!

RUN COACHING SERVICES: Thinking about running a marathon or a 5K or just curious about how to get started on your own running journey? To learn more about hiring Melissa Gacek for run coaching, email: or call 612-306-5405.

Melissa offers: 

  • Monthly run coaching
  • Special event/goal training plans


To challenge and empower athletes of all abilities to find joy in all levels of sport. To inspire and bring out the best in my athletes. To teach them to be great teammates and leaders in the world. To encourage setting and achieving goals that excite them. To help all athletes “win.” To role model sport should be a fun and rewarding way of life. To be my athlete’s accountability partner, cheerleader, champion, and advocate. To coach them in mind, body and spirit. To be their mentor, advisor and counselor. To see the joy when they reap the rewards of accountability, discipline, routine, rituals and hard work.

Professionally, I am a creative director/graphic designer/entrepreneur, but outside of that, my passion lies deep within my “sole”. Through running, I’ve seen incredible places, been in incredible races and have met wonderful lifelong friends through sport. I feel called to coach and share the gift of sport with others, to encourage them, and offer guidance as they go on their own running journey. My reward is in helping others find goals and turn each run into an adventure that excites them.


• World Champion, 2019 World’s 5000 Outdoor Championships Track and Field, Toronto, Canada
• National Champion, 2019 Masters 5000 USATF Outdoor National Championships Track and Field, Ames, IA
• National Champion, USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships 2018, Ann Arbor, MI
• National Champion, USATF Masters 15K Championships 2016, Runner-up 2017, 2018, Tulsa, OK
• National Champion, USATF River Bank Run 2016, Runner-up 2017, 2018, Grand Rapids, MI
• National Champion, Grandma’s Half Masters Champion 2017, Runner-up 2016, Duluth, MN
• 2nd Place, USATF Masters Mile Championships 2017, 2018, 3rd Place 2016, Flint, MI
• Champion, MN Mile Masters 2017, 2016, Minneapolis, MN
• Champion, Twin Cities Marathon 10 Mile Masters Title 2016, 2017, Runner-up 2018, Minneapolis, MN

Lifetime PRS:
Marathon 2:44:10
Half Marathon 1:18:58
15K 55:28
10K 36:36
Mile 5:11

Racing Highlights:
• Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier, 2008, 2004
• Grand Canyon Rim to Rim 50K Challenge Finisher, 2021
• Winner, Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2014, Milwaukee, WI
• Winner, Tampa Marathon, 2010, Tampa, FL
• 2nd Place, Tallahassee Marathon, 2014, Tallahassee, FL
• USATF Athlete of the Year – Minnesota (35-39) 2013, 2015, (40-44) 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, (Not contested in 2020)
• 5-Time Minnesota Distance Running Association Runner of the Year
• 4th Place, USATF 5K Championship Minnesota 2013, Minneapolis, MN
• Winner, Course Record, Midsummer Mile 2013
• 8th Place, Grandma’s Marathon 2007, Duluth, MN
• Winner, Wisconsin Marathon 2007, Kenosha, WI
• 5th Place, Houston Marathon 2004, Houston, TX
• 2nd Place, 10,000 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships 1998, St. Paul, MN
• 2nd Place, Regional NCAA DIII XC Championship, Decatur, IA
• 2nd Place, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship, 1996, St. Paul, MN
• All American, NCAA DIII XC, 1996, Team Runner-up, Rockford, IL
• Michigan Runner of the Year, 2018
• 7-Time Stair-Climbing Champion, IDS Tower Climb for CF, 2014-2020 (Event not held in 2021)
• Finisher, 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon, 2018

CERTIFICATIONS/Coaching Experience:
• Catholic Athletic Association, Co-Head Swim Coach, 2014-2021
• Certified USATF Track and Field Level 1 Coach
• Lifetime Fitness, Certified Swim Team Coach
• Director/Founder, Annual Frassati 5K and Family Fun Run Fundraiser Race, USATF Certified