Name: Malory Peterson
Location: Kailua, Hawaii
Q. Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up in that area and specifically how did it influence your running?
A. I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, a beautiful town in the Willamette Valley. It’s hard to find an Oregonian that doesn’t love the woods, and I spent ample time in the backcountry with my family, looking for wildlife. I began running Cross Country my sophomore year of high school, and my coaches regularly incorporated trails into our workouts. My high school coach and mentor, Meghan Arbogast, really inspired me to begin running longer distances on the trails. Meghan is a highly decorated ultra-trail athlete, and training with her on the weekends and off-seasons exposed me to the world of ultramarathons. The trails of the Pacific Northwest provided solace and clarity for me as a teen. They’re my first love!
Q. Did you play any sports in high school/college?
A. I ran Cross Country, Track, and participated in Nordic Ski Team in high school. Cross Country was my primary sport. I set my school record for the 5K in 19:09, and was invited to the Nike Borderclash race on Nike Campus, a competitive 4K race between top high school athletes from Oregon and Washington. I ran the 1500 m and 3000 m in track, though my times were never that impressive! I ran a 5:14 in the 1500 m, and 11:28 in the 3000 m. I just enjoyed being in motion!
Q. We heard about you last year when you were running with the Rocky Mountain Runners. What was it like running with that group and now fellow Ultra Racing Team members Silke Koester and Ryan Smith?
A. Running with RMR profoundly influenced my life. I met Ryan Smith, Silke Koester and the other founding members of the RMR crew after my first marathon in 2013, when a new friend invited me to a weekend of camping and running through the mountains of Leadville, Colorado. These people were nuts! They were so fast, so strong, and really believed it was entirely appropriate to run 100 miles. I was hooked, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of the Green Gang and miss training with them. They’re an amazing little pocket of talented, intelligent, determined, high caliber individuals. Ryan and Silke are not only great training partners, but they’ve really modeled a way to build strong community, and promote the bliss (and chaos) of ultra-life.
Q. What was your first ultra race and what prompted you to make that leap and run farther than a marathon?
A. My first ultra was the 2014 Golden Gate Dirty 30 – a mountainous 50K course in Golden Gate State Park, Colorado. After training with a bunch of nutso RMR ultra-freaks I really couldn’t turn down the opportunity to suffer the same course with them! The feeling of crossing the finish line on that day was one of the biggest highs I’ve ever experienced. I finished in 8th place, and two years later I still can’t wipe the smile off my face. Mountains that beautiful don’t let you forget.
Q. You now live in Kailua, Hawaii. Why did you move to this great area?
A. Short answer – chasing love! I spent 2015 dreaming and breathing mountain running as I trained for the Leadville 100. I felt fulfilled by a life on the trails and above treeline, but my DNF at Leadville was a powerful experience. I was reminded that I still have a lifetime of personal growth ahead. Failing hurts, but I realized that if I didn’t give big dreams a try, I would live my life always wondering what could have been. I applied that to my personal relationships, and with the blow of the race drop still rattling, I reconnected with a former adventure buddy and we decided to embark on one crazy journey together! We fell in love, moved to Oahu, and are excited to learn and explore the island.
Q. What is the Hawaii running group you train with and can you compare it to the Rocky Mountain Runners?
A. I run with an awesome group called Aloha Run’n’Chug in Kailua. It is a social run club open to all ability levels, and they’ve created a really awesome community. We recently ran a relay circumnavigating O’ahu, and once a month we have post-run beach grill outs. Aloha Run’n’Chug focuses on short-distance road and beach runs, quite different from the weekly madness of RMR’s mountain-slaying Monday run! I love both groups in their own right, but at the end of the day finding a running group is hardly about the run for me. It’s about the people. I’ve met the most dynamic, inspiring people through these groups. I look forward to every Monday run, whether I’m huffing up Green Mountain with RMR, or busting out 6-minute street miles with Run’n’Chug!
Q. You’ve won the Aiea Loop Express in March and most recently the Mango Madness Race on June 11, 2016. Did you expect to win those races? How did they play out?
A. I never expect to win any race, but I went into both races thirsty for a solid performance. I was a bit apprehensive about the competition, as Hawaii is a notorious strong hub of triathletes and road runners. The Aiea Loop Express is a 7-mile, mostly smooth course, with only a couple miles of jungle-navigating. Mentally, I kept telling myself that the race was a 5K! I knew that the course would allow for a lot of control, and would probably end on a downhill, so I had to push the pace like it’s a road race. On a course that short, there is no excuse for hiking!
Mango Madness is a different beast. It takes place on the same course as the brutal HURT 100 race, and was directed by Melanie Koehl and Jacque Tellei. In true HURT fashion, they don’t tell you the distance of the race, or the actual course it will follow. For 1-2 miles of the course we essentially ran repeats up a steep, slippery concrete hill. The worst part? I kept believing the hill climbs were over, and then I would see the lead pack of men running towards me again! To top it off, at the end of a several mile technical descent to the finish line, they intercepted the racers and made us repeat the steepest, most rooted-out section of the course! Criminals. This out-and-back allowed for visibility, and I was able to see how close I was to the lead men. Difficult downhill is where I perform the strongest, so gauging the technical running and the proximity of other competitors gave me the confidence to tear down the steep sections and pass a couple more racers before the finish. I was just so happy they didn’t make us do push-ups at the finish line!
Q. What has been your favorite race and why?
A. My favorite race, without a doubt, is the Golden Gate Dirty 30. It feels like it’s in my backyard! The course is beautiful and just the right amount of grueling. A ton of Rocky Mountain Runners and Golden Mountain Runners participate in the race, so crossing the finish line is like stage diving into a crowd of all my favorite people!
Photo: Eric Lee
Q. Tell us about your experience with competitive ultra running? What about it do you love?
A. My passion for ultra-running comes down to a connection with our earth. I am spiritually driven to run further, to see more, to experience nature through an animal lens. Ultra running frees me from the burden of modernity. When I’m competing and training, I am allowed to let go of my identity, and only focus on the present. On the trail, it doesn’t matter how I look. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend volunteering, or networking, or posting to social media. It doesn’t matter how much money I make, or how many people I please. The farther I run, the closer I am to my natural self. Competition enhances this experience. Through racing, we are able to tap into the collective energy of the runners. We are each motivated to push into a higher state of living, and competing together is a way to drive each other towards fulfillment. The longer we run, the deeper we travel into the maze of self-doubt and insecurities, armed with only our determination to move forward.
Q. What are your personal bests at various distances and also please list top race performances with place?
A. 2015 Dirty 30 50K – 4th place – 5:58:17
2014 Leadville Marathon – 4th place – 5:08:37
2016 Xterra Freedom Fest 30 K – 1st place – 2:39
2014 Greenland Trail 25 K – 3rd place – 1:59:30
2016 Mango Madness 10 mile – 1st place – 1:56:53
2016 Aiea Loop Express 7 mile – 1st place – 1:10:34
I also ran one road marathon! (My first one)
2013 Steamboat Marathon – 6th place – 3:33:07
Q. Do you have a coach or follow a specific training program?
A. I do not have a coach, but I try to run with fellow competitors as often as possible. Other racers have a lot of knowledge about best practices in training, so I’m lucky to bump elbows with some of the studs. My training program changes depending a) the distance of race coming up, and b) mind-body balance in my life. In training, I try to run trails for most of my workouts. I usually incorporate two days a week of long runs based on effort (1.5-3 hours of sustained effort), and two days of shorter, quicker workouts. I love Koko Head repeats in Hawaii. I aim to run the stairs there 2-4 times at a 14:00 minute pace. For faster workouts, it’s imperative to run with a group. I try to push a sub-7 or low-six pace for about 3 miles. Burning my lungs and quads in a 5K-style workout really aids in mental preparedness for longer races. It reminds me that the faster I run, the faster the pain is over!
12. Who in running inspires you?
A. I am inspired by so many women that I run with, but in particular my friends Silke Koester and Julia German. Both these women have an incredible knack for suffering with a positive attitude. It’s uncanny! They have the remarkable ability to appear out of the night, beaten and worn by the trail, and still report on a beautiful section of wildflowers that they passed. Positively mountain babes.
Q. Is there any race/event or adventure that you would like to do one day?
A. I really look forward to running the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast on Kauai Island. The trail is as treacherous as she is beautiful. Between exposed cliff traverses and rising stream waters, Kalalau has claimed many lives. The run is 22 miles total, and while I am training towards a fast-paced attempt, I recognize that respecting the land and honoring her beauty should be my first priority.
Q. What is a typical week of training in your life right now?
A. For the last eight months I’ve been ‘funemployed,’ traveling the Western US and Hawaiian Islands, exploring, viewing wildlife, and trail running. I’ve spent time running in Wyoming, Yellowstone, Bozeman, Arches, Canyonlands, Maui, Big Island, Oregon, and the Grand Canyon. Not much of a consistent schedule! Just the drive to adventure on foot. Since moving to Oahu, my training goal is to find new trails on the island every week. Generally, the Oahu trails are more elusive and overgrown than the Colorado trails. I almost always plan to spend at least a third of the trail climbing, as the ridges in Oahu can be very steep and slippery. When training, I shoot for sustained effort rather than specific times. Since recovering from a hip injury this winter, I’ve also tried to incorporate yoga, strength, and mobility work into my week.
Q. What prompted you to use the Simple Hydration Bottle?
A. Several Rocky Mountain Runner friends began using the bottles during training runs. Living on a tight budget, I consistently invested in sub-par hydration systems, so after borrowing bottles from Silke for a run I knew that I needed to get one of my own.
Q. What was your reaction to the Simple Hydration Bottle after using it? What role does the Simple Hydration Bottle play in your training/racing?
A. I dislike running with weight in my hand, and find that vest-style hydration packs place the bottles at odd angles across my chest. The Simple Hydration Bottle was a perfect solution. It gave me more ounces than a belt flask, as well as a lot of diversity in the ways I can carry it. I carry the simple bottles in the back of my shorts, the back of my sports bra, through a waist belt if I’m carrying calories, or on both sides of my shorts by my hips. When racing, I’ve used two Simple Bottles at a time – one for Tailwind, and one for water. That has proven to be enough to get to most aid stations. I recommend them to everybody! They’re the perfect size, especially in Hawaii where it is always hot and humid!
Q. What races do you have planned for the remainder of 2016?
A. Maunawili Out and Back, 22 mile, August 6th, Oahu
Volcano Rain Forest Run, 13.1 miles, August 20th, Big Island
Tantalus Triple Trek, 30 miles, September 3rd, Oahu
Q. Anything else you would like to add about yourself?
A. Reach out to me! If you live in Hawaii or are traveling to the islands, connect with me for a run! I love building the trail community and sharing special places on Oahu.
Follow Malory on Instagram.