Krissy Moehl grew up 14 miles from the trails and mountains in the state of Washington yet she never ventured out onto them. She was a ballerina, a basketball player, a bowler, and she even spent some time riding horses as a child. Throughout all of those activities though, she never hit the trails.
So how did she end up being one of the worlds best ultra distance runners? How did she end up winning her first ever Ultra Race,The Chuckanut 50k? How did she become a pro at tackling mountains, running technical single track, running hard through the night on races that would last upwards of 36 hours? It was simple as Krissy says; she “just ran”.
Running is my constant
The story of course is more detailed than that. It always is isn’t it?
When Krissy is running, you almost always see her smiling. This contagious smile goes back to her very first 50k and her mother, who was worried about the long distance effort – She told Krissy, “If you look bad at any of these aid stations I am pulling you right off of that course”. She made the choice right then and there to smile – to have fun – and to make sure she was running for the right reasons. She smiled and laughed at every aid station. Yes she was putting on a show for Mom, but she also loved being out “playing in the dirt” as she puts it.
TrailsRoc was excited this weekend thanks to Medved Running and Walking to have an opportunity to run, eat, and talk with Krissy. Check out our newest runner spotlight in a brief chat below, and when you run, as Krissy would say, do it because it is fun, and smile all the time!
Thank you for sitting down with us today, can you tell us a little about your background?
I was born in California, and when I was about a year old my family moved to Washington (state). I grew up there playing many different sports. My mom had me in everything from Ballet to Horseback riding, with only one rule, I was not allowed to ski. She had hurt her knees doing that and it was off limits for me. I recently moved to Boulder Colorado and my boyfriend is convinced he is going to teach me this winter, I just keep reminding him I am a runner, not an athlete.
So how about your running? How did it start, where did you really take off with it?
I ran Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor track in high school. I was decent but not great. I enrolled at The University of Washington, and made the track team as a walk on. I ran for 3 years, (editors note: Krissy was an 800 meter runner.. yes.. 2 laps, and now she runs 100 MILES), and then during my senior year I had to make a choice between track, and a job opportunity. I chose the job.
I was able to spend time living in Ecuador and that is where my true love for long runs came from. I was lucky that my coaches all the way back to high school had instilled in me a sense of loving the run. Of running for running and not for anything else. I found this in Ecuador. I would just lace up and head out. I loved it
I must have seemed crazy, this white girl in a sports bra, running in places I should not have been running at times I should not have been running, but I just loved it.
I took a job at The Seattle Running Company. Scott Jurek and Scott McCoubrey both worked there, they began pressuring me to run some trails with them. I ran with them, and slowly but surely added miles and then just a few months after my very first trail run I entered the Chuckanut 50k.
(We asked how she did, and humbly she smiled and said “I won it” Asked if she was happy with her time and the win.. again almost not wanting to admit it… “Well yes, I was thrilled because I even broke the course record”)
There is something about this sport that makes even it’s stars humble. Perhaps it is the simple fact that every race is new and nothing is promised?
In an effort to get Krissy to brag a little, we asked what her greatest RACE success was to date.
I would have to say Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in 2009 (in which she won). I had failed big time (in my eyes) at Western States and I learned form it. I am always learning from my runs, my training and my racing. The weather was perfect. I had a great day and everything worked in my favor. I was fortunate to pull off the victory and it is still the highlight or one of the highlights of my career!
What was running (and winning) Europe’s most prestigious ultra like?
The racing is so different in Europe, they love endurance events. They line up for them. I am sure you have seen the Tour De France, it is really like that over there. Towns and cities actually PAY the race directors to host events rather than having race directors fight for permits and pay huge fees to host events. It’s different, it’s energizing. I love it.
You have been in the sport for sometime now, you won your first event, and had success at the international level – So what is your future in the sport?
Longevity – It’s as simple as that. I am 35, a young 35 – I met a 70 year old out there running this morning. That is what I want. I love running for the highs the lows, and as I have said – Running is my constant. I just want to always be able to do it.
You have seen the changes in the sport from larger purses to more sponsors to younger runners – What do you think is the future of the sport?
I have seen 12 years of evolution in this sport. As you said, the money has really increased. While the money has increased the age of runners has gone down. When I started the average age of many Ultra Runners was almost 50 years old. Now its much younger. The younger runners are here to stay. They can recover faster and run more often. Last week at The North Face Endurance Championship I was 6-8 years older than most of the women I was racing. It’s a different sport – with a strong future and I am happy to be an ambassador of it.
But 100 miles, Krissy? Really? Where are the struggles out there – What do you do when the going gets tough?
Thats the thing – I really do love it. Running offers so many parallels to life. I am always learning while running and that helps me with the tough stretches. What can I learn from this, why is it happening? I mean I have to deal with the weather, or stomach issues, or fatigue just like everyone else, but for me, I love the unknown. It keeps me going.
When you toe the starting line, adventure is certain. Sure we are safe, but there is nothing predictable about these races. That gets me through. Adventure.
What about RACING 100 miles though – That is much different than simply going out and running/finishing 100 miles.
It’s not though. Your goal in an event like this should always be to finish. If you go in with other goals you are most often, especially if you are a beginner – setting yourself up for failure. In 2009 I wanted to win Western States 100 so bad. I even made a spot in my house for the trophy. I wanted it, I expected it, and I forgot my “finish” mentality. I went out way to hard. I was hurting at mile 30 – The next 70 miles I suffered.
I spent 6.5 hours in the medical tent after that race. I finished, I placed well. I did not win. I run because I love to run, I forgot that, and I felt like this was a stupid race strategy. The win or die trying attitude is not me. I just love to run. It works. I think more people would improve if they adopted this and forgot about place.
So why trails? What makes trail running so awesome? (We have a few ideas)
Like I said. I grew up about 14 miles from the trails and mountains. I would see mountains as a place you would take a car or bus over or around. I never dreamed of using my own two feet to go ON them.
I used to look at mountains at something that was cool off in the distance, now I look at them and wonder how can I get to them! It’s so liberating and freeing.
You have been at this for many years as you said and you have begun to make a bit of a name for yourself in the ultra world. So take a minute and tell us about your sponsors.
Patagonia means so much to me. I was working at the Conservation Alliance in Bend, Oregon and I was at the Outdoor Retailer Show and they approached me about joining their team as an Ambassador. I joined the Patagonia Montrail Race team and began to serve as an Ambassador 5 years ago. 3 years ago Patagonia got into the footwear arena and I decided to go head to toe in Patagonia gear. In actuality I am honored to be head to toe in their gear!
The company is so responsible. From the way they treat the environment to the way they treat their employees they show respect. I believe in the mission, I believe in the product. I would not be part of this if I did not believe in them. They believe in us as employees, and everyone as endurance athletes or outdoor lovers. We have a book called The Responsible Company -This company treats employees as family members – not as corporate entities.
I had a solid career with CA, but I knew the road I was on. Patagonia was offering me adventure. I told myself if I did not take this opportunity I would always wonder “what if”. If it ended up with me eating beans and rice and living in my car, that would not be so bad. People work themselves to death, they need to find something they are passionate about and make it that a career. I had 2 rules when I made this decision;
1. Have fun
2. If I had to incur debt to keep doing it I would stop.
I’m still here, still having fun. Who knew what this life would like?
I am also blessed to be working with Ultraspire – I get to work with amazing athletes and amazing products.Check out their line of products, try them on, try them out. I think you will love them.
Udos Oil is a company that Scott Jurek introduced me to. It has totally changed how I think about nutrition. It’s a great company. When I started following the plan my entire physique and recovery and running changed. I love it.
And finally First Endurance is another nutrition and recovery product that I just LOVE. I believe in all of the products they make and I stand behind them 100%.
I am fortunate to have these products in my corner and on my team while I am racing.
What else Krissy? What final advice do you have for aspiring runners? Where can we find you online? Any final thoughts?
Do this because you love it! Do not get caught up in time goals, or anything else – Run because you love to run. Ask tons of questions – listen to people who have been there before and most of all enjoy the journey.
I’d like to thank Medved for having me here today, the run this morning, and the entire day was wonderful. I think what TrailsRoc is doing for the running community in Rochester is awesome, keep it up guys!
You can find me online –
My Website – KrissyMoehl.com
Facebook – Krissy Moehl
I have also started to coach athletes. I LOVE working with beginners – I think anyone can come up with a plan, write it down, share it. Not everyone has the ability to motivate, to make you a better athlete, to relate to what you are going through, but I think I can. I know I can.
So there you have it everyone. We hope you enjoyed our chat with Krissy Moehl. Please check our her site, and her sponsors and keep checking back for more trail love and future spotlights!!
A special thanks to Medved for allowing us the time to meet with Krissy and setting up this wonderful event.