Palm Beach Atlantic to Hire Sonja Friend-Uhl as New Cross Country Coach

Written By: Michael Brown, PBA Sports Information Director

Sonja Friend-Uhl (Pictured) Competing at the USA 20K Championships in New Haven, CT. Photo Courtesy of: Alison Wade. Sonja Friend-Uhl (Pictured) Competing at the USA 20K Championships in New Haven, CT. Photo Courtesy of: Alison Wade.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- A former two-time world champion distance runner, Sonja Friend-Uhl has been announced today as the new men’s and women’s cross country coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University by Athletic Director Bob White. A mother of two who also owns her own personal training business, Friend-Uhl will officially lead the Sailfish cross country teams beginning February 1st.

Having taken the coaching reigns of the Sailfish cross country teams this past season as interim head coach, White knew exactly the type of training his student-athletes would need and feels he has found an experienced and world-class coach in Friend-Uhl.

“Bringing on Sonja to coach our team will help take PBA cross country to a level they’ve never experienced,” said White.

“Her reputation and experience as a world class runner will bring great exposure to the program and we are thrilled to have her as part of our team,” continued White.

A competitive runner nearly her entire life, Friend-Uhl has most recently won races in 2009 at the Disney Cross-Country Jamboree with a time of 17:32 while also winning such races as the Disney Race for the Taste 10K (36:33), the Girls Wanna Run Road Mile (4:51), the Wellington Community 5K (17:01), and finishing second at the Half-Marathon of the Palm Beaches (1:19:47) which came just eight months after  having her second child.

A two-time world champion of the World Lifesaving Federation Championship Women’s 2K Beach Run in 1992 (Shimoda, Japan) and 1997 (Auckland, New Zealand), Friend-Uhl began her career as the 1989 Delaware State Champion for the 800 meters while a high school runner. Competing collegiately at the NCAA Division I level for William and Mary, Friend-Uhl earned a 16th place finish at the 1993 NCAA Championships.

As recently as 2007, Friend-Uhl was ranked 4th in the world for women age 35-39 in the 1500 meters and 6th in the world for her age bracket in the 800 meters. 2007 saw Friend-Uhl win nine different races including her marathon debut as she finished the Palm Beaches Marathon in an incredible time of 2:59:22.

Not simply a gifted runner, Friend-Uhl has always had a passion to teach and mentor young runners which makes the opportunity at Palm Beach Atlantic a great match for both.

"I am both elated and honored to accept the position of Head Cross Country Coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University,” said Friend-Uhl.

“Cross Country is an incredible sport of running, fitness and strength combined with strategy and tenacity. By applying proven physiological principles and my own experiences as a competitive runner, I hope to motivate and educate my runners at PBA to reach their dream goals and beyond in the years to come. I am equally inspired by the fact that PBA is a premier Christian-based university which shares my faith in God and like values. I sincerely believe this is an opportunity that was meant to be and look forward to making a positive impact on the program's future," continued Friend-Uhl.   

When not competing in races herself, Friend-Uhl is the President and Founder of RunFast Promotions, Inc. where she focuses on everyone from beginners to advanced runners while working with fitness enthusiasts of all ages. Her services include coaching, consulting, sports nutrition counseling, expos, and camps.

Beyond her own personal coaching, Friend-Uhl has also had the opportunity to work with some of the best young runners in the world by being awarded an assistant coaching position with the United States Youth Team in 2005 for the IAAF World Youth Track and Field Championships in Morocco. Additionally she has worked locally with organizations such as the Wellington Runners and the Palm Beach Jr. Striders.

Her coaching career began as an assistant cross country and track and field coach for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1996-1998) before taking on the head coaching position at Western High School in Davie, Florida.

Sonja is married to Brad Uhl with the couple having two children, eight year old Brianna and 10 month old Alexa.

Having traveled the world and competed against some of the best competition as a runner herself, the PBA family is thrilled to announce that Sonja Friend-Uhl will now have the opportunity to lead PBA runners to new and unseen heights.

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