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Run, Brianna, run

Brianna Shales believes in putting her best foot forward. The 25-year-old communications specialist at Stemilt Growers Inc. keeps her running shoes laced up, skillfully negotiating her way through any obstacle course she confronts. "I just love being busy," she told The Produce News.

She will have her mettle tested in 2011. “Next year, I want to do a half- triathlon,” she told The Produce News. The words fall as naturally from her lips as water slips down desert slickrock. Keep in mind that she has never done a triathlon before. She and co-worker Dana Hall have been mulling the idea over for a while, and Ms. Shales has been inspired to the challenge after watching her older sister participate in a triathlon.

“Am I adventurous? Yes and no,” she confided.

Ms. Shales laughed as she evaluated her various skills. “I am a below-average swimmer,” she snickered. Her critical self-evaluation moved along to her biking capabilities. Ms. Shales and her husband, Matt, tied the knot July 10, and the newlyweds decided to go mountain biking in Idaho's Sun Valley during their honeymoon. “I have gone road biking, but never mountain biking,” she said. “I rode the brakes the whole way down.” Portions of the biking expedition morphed into hiking. “I came up with some pretty banged- up legs,” she said about several memorable crashes.

And then there is the running component. As a child, Ms. Shales played a lot of soccer, and she said this was good preparation for a lifetime of healthy activities to stay in shape. As for the half-marathon and self-assessment of her running skills, another giggle escaped. “Running, yes. But running that far, no. I don’t necessarily like it while I’m running. But I just want to finish. Running is a very good feeling after it’s over.”

It’s all about the challenge and the ability to rise to the occasion. As a three- year-old, Ms. Shales battled leukemia. Her parents provided her with the kind of support that brought her out of the crisis. “I was lucky to have them as parents,” she told The Produce News. “They are the two people I admire the most in this world.”

Ms. Shales said that being able to count on family has been a hallmark of her life. She learned something valuable from mom and dad. “To always have faith in other people,” she said. “Not to put a guard up.”

She also thinks a little about her ordinal position within her family. She is the middle child and has two sisters. “My personality would be described as very forgiving and being a peacemaker,” she said.

These qualities are serving her well. Another giggle managed to squeeze its way out as she thought about married life. “Right now, Matt and I are just enjoying being newlyweds and raising our puppy, Ruby,” she said.