Name: Don Freeman
Hometown: Rohnert Park CA
First Trail: American River 50 Sacramento, California
Worst Bonk Ever: Mile 160 at Moab 200 mile trail race. I suffered from a “Broken will to run.”
If I could run with anybody: Jeff Abel, who introduced me and many others to the sport.
I would call the run if I didn’t have this gear: Earbuds!
Bucket List Run: HURT 100, the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team’s Trail 100-Mile Endurance Run.
Shameless Website Promotion: I am boycotting this answer. Do you really need to spend more time in front of your computer? Don’t click on another link– go out for a trail run, instead!
Name: Scott Warr
Hometown: Sacramento, CA, but proud Wyoming Native
Contribution: Hand model and ski commentator
First Trail: Section of the Western States Trail near Auburn Lakes Trail in 2006. I quickly found out that Jeff didn’t tell me to bring anything, and I didn’t. I quickly got nervous and wondered how I would survive. My nervousness turned to fear as he started out on a 1000’ steep hill that he bombed down and I quickly lost site or hearing of him. The only thing that kept me from turning tail was the magnificent view and the sound of the nearby creek. I knew I was in my happy place.
Worst Bonk Ever: In my fourth race, a mountain 50K, I was beat with a 25K return climb from the river turn around. I was not running well and had used all my water to drink and cool my head coming into the last aid station that happened to be un-manned, just a bunch of gallon jugs of water. I was seeing stars and felt like I was going to pass out. It was so late in the race that all the water was taken and my bottles were empty. I had another 8 miles of steep climbing and wondered how the search and rescue would get me out: horse or helicopter. As I sat on a very soft rock to contemplate if a horse or helicopter was going to rescue me, I eventually gained my wits and had a very slow 3 hour walk to the finish line.
If I could run with anybody: I think my late-mother would have been a great trail runner. She was petite and loved an adventure and the outdoors. I would love to have a great conversation with her as we ran to nowhere in particular. I am also lucky that my friend, Don, still likes to run slow with me – he needs recovery runs sometimes.
I would call the run if I didn’t have this gear: I am a little embarrassed to say this, but I think it has to be my GPS watch. I like to know how far I have gone and how much further I have to go. I’d like to say that there are days that I just run without a goal, but I am type A and need to have a target…..although sometimes I pivot to shorter or longer routes as my body dictates.
Bucket List Run: Mixed with running…..but I would love to do some long trails like the Pacific Crest Trail or Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. Although now that our Producer Doug Mayer has been telling us about it, I think I would like to tour the Alps with him….hint hint 🙂
Shameless Website Promotion: Why, this site of course!
Name: Doug Mayer
Hometown: Chamonix, France
Contribution: Producer, Looking Busy
First Trail: Red Hill, Sandwich, New Hampshire. I think I was about 12 years old. My brother Don led the way. He was on the Bates College cross country team. We’d run up to the fire tower on the summit, a climb of about 1,300 feet over 1.7 miles. It seemed nearly impossible at the time. Now, I have days that are ten times that— proof either that progress is possible, or stupidity knows no bounds. Or maybe both?
Worst Bonk Ever: Running the 330-km Tor des Géants in Italy, I was leaving Champoluc, Italy, after three days of near-continuous hiking and running, and I just spiraled out of control into a deep, dark hole, thinking the event was just plain too much for me. Why then? Why there? Beats me. I’m glad I was alone, because any friends with me at the time would have put me out of my misery with a large rock to the side of my head. And I would have been grateful!
If I could run with anybody: Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg’s dog, Maui. I love running with dogs. They remind us what’s important— to explore, be exuberant, and always say yes when someone is asking if you want to come along on an adventure. Maui is the ultimate trail running dog— a Labradoodle that routinely clocks 8,000 feet of vert a day.
I would call the run if I didn’t have this gear: Dessert. If it’s a long run, I need the prospect of at least a really good chocolate chip cookie waiting for me somewhere. Here in the Alps, it’s usually tarte myrtille, or blueberry pie. Shoes? Optional. Vest? No need. Shorts? Whatever. Pie? Absolutely required.
Bucket List Run: Hardrock. Just the course, not the race, and with friends, over a few days. It sounds dreamy. Who’s in?
Shameless Website Promotion: My trail running business here in Chamonix, Run the Alps. You should come. We have fun. And we eat blueberry pie.
Name: Jana Gibalova
Hometown: Chamonix, France– but born and bred in Bratislava, Slovakia, Warsaw and London
Contribution: Social Media Princess
First Trail: 30k in Transgrancanaria in 2014 where I finished in the top 20 and felt like a hero, for a whole three months. Then I got my ass (and morale) kicked at Cortina Trail, where I discovered what mountains and altitude mean. Been rather modest since.
Worst Bonk Ever: My first 100k in the Azores. I was cold, shivering, grumpy, delirious and hoping to get injured so I could stop. I had to dig so deep to keep going that, I think, I’m still brain damaged from that race. I also broke a pole out of pure frustration.
If I could run with anybody: If you would ask me this 5 years ago, I would come up with all sorts of running heroes. Nowadays, it is the pure simple joy of sharing trails with those I love and my friends. Living in the Alps you get to run in pretty amazing places, which can turn casual weekend runs into real adventures.
I would call the run if I didn’t have this gear: Except for the obvious trail running shoes, it is probably my running vest. I don’t like mucking around with stuff in pockets, plus it fits all the snackets!
Bucket List Run: The Grand Traverse of the Alps, called the “GR5” here, from Saint Gingolph, Switzerland to Nice, France. I did a reconnaissance on first 100k and loved every minute of it!
Shameless Website Promotion: My running group, Wild Trail Chamonix!
Name: Alyssa Walker
Hometown: White Mountains, New Hampshire
First Trail: I don’t know. Probably Sachuest Point in Middletown, Rhode Island. I’d get up early and ride my bike to the beach and run that loop. I’ve run it forever and it’s my favorite whenever I’m back home, so maybe it was my first trail run? Hard tellin.’
Worst Bonk Ever: Mile 0.5 up to Black Mountain Cabin, Jackson, NH, pregnant and ever-hungry. I had to pee and got cranky about it. I didn’t make it to the cabin that day, which pre-pregnancy was a near-daily jaunt up and back. I was furious.
If I could run with anybody: A good friend who’ll push me but also let me go at my own pace — kind of slow — without judgment. Someone who’ll tell me/listen to me tell a story completely unrelated to running while we’re running. And laugh.
I would call the run if I didn’t have this gear: Rubber-soled shoes. Mom says. Also cookies, but I don’t run with them. They crumble. I need the promise of cookies.
Bucket List Run: The Golden Gate Trail Classic. I’ve always wanted to run over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Shameless Website Promotion: I write other stuff, too! You can see some of it at www.alyssamwalker.com. Thanks for reading! Thanks for having me! So happy to be here!
Name: Alex Hutchinson
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Contribution: Depressingly skeptical voice reminding Don and Scott that nothing really works.
First Trail: Depends how you define “trail,” but the first place where I did a lot of running on crazily uneven trails with lots of downed trees and rocks and stuff was probably Greenbelt Park in Maryland.
Worst Bonk Ever: It’s a cliché, but it was my first marathon, Ottawa 2013. I started conservatively for the first half, then passed about a billion people between 20K and 30K. From 30K to 35K, I could feel that my quads were going to fail. At 35K, the wheels fell off, and the same billion people re-passed me in reverse order. My quads hurt so much that my running form was even funnier than usual, but I made it to the finish line.
If I could run with anybody: Roger Bannister.
Bucket List Run: I’d love to run the UTMB course… over the span of a week or two!
Name: Andy Johns-Wilkins
Hometown: Wilson, Arkansas
Contribution: Just a loud-voiced guy with lots of opinions.
First Trail: Wissahickon Creek Trails in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Still one of the best trail systems out there.
Worst Bonk Ever: My first Western States Endurance Run in 2001. I ended up taking 7 hours to get in from the river, which is about 22 miles. Four years later I got that same distance done in less than 4 hours. Sigh…
Bucket List Run: UTMB, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, France. I still have yet to run overseas.
Shameless Website Promotion: AJW’s Taproom on irunfar.com
Name: David Roche
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Contribution: Running Coach Panelist
First Trail: Eno River State Park in Durham, North Carolina. It was a first date with my now-wife Megan, and I spent the whole time desperately trying not to get dropped.
Worst Bonk Ever: At the World Trail Championships in 2017, I spent the second half of the race with progressively worse full-body cramps. At one point, I was on the side of the trail writhing in hilarious agony when Megan caught up to me. (She was also not having her best race) She walk/jogged to the finish with me the next 8 miles. We were nearly last– but it was one of my best race memories.
If I could run with anybody: Clare Gallagher, because every run with her makes you feel way better about yourself and life and the world.
Bucket List Run: We somehow have still never run the Lake Sonoma 50 course, so I will continue having that by my answer until we solve that problem.
Shameless Website Promotion: Our coaching web site, of course! It’s called Some Work All Play, and you can check it out here.
Name: Ian Sharman
Hometown: Bend, Oregon (originally Northampton, UK)
Contribution: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down podcasts plus providing a non-American accent and phrases to amuse people.
First Trail: The Grand Union Canal Trail between Birmingham and London. It’s very flat, muddy and often flooded early in the year– which is when I ran it, during a race. I didn’t run trails much while I lived in London , because I couldn’t get to them without getting on a train. What really got me interested in trails was racing alpine events in Switzerland. It was off-road running, only! There was no turning back after I saw those views!
Worst Bonk Ever: It was at the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run, at the end of running the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. It was 100 degrees F, I was tired, plus I had gotten lost and ran out of water. Then things went south due to being dizzy, overheated and generally exhausted. I had to spend a long time cooling myself with ice at an aid station, then I walked out of the aid station for about 20 minutes of lower intensity exercise. But, I did come around and moved well through much of the second half of the race– that, despite vomiting later (and twice, no less!) for the first time in any race.
If I could run with anybody: Haile Gebrselassie. I was at the Berlin Marathon twice when he set the world record. I’ve also read his book, The Greatest. He is such an amazing athlete and human being. It would be great to chat with him on a run– ideally in Ethiopia.
Bucket List Run: The John Muir Trail. It’s 213 miles in the most beautiful part of the High Sierra, which I’d love to do over about 4 days.
Shameless Website Promotion: Sharman Ultra Endurance Coaching or
@sharmanian on social media.
Name: Krissy Moehl
Hometown: Bellingham, Washington
Contribution: Monthly Coaches Roundup, All-Thumbs chatter. It’s the highlight gathering of my month!
First Trail: A trail run in Cougar Mountain State Park with the Scotts– McCoubrey and Jurek, 1999.
Worst Bonk Ever: The Ultra-Trail Mont-Blanc, 2011. I went into the race over-trained and under-rested. It was a great summer of training, capped with a three-day tour of the course that was just perfect… but then the Americans showed up, and we had SO much fun playing in the Chamonix Valley that I never rested. During the wet and cold race, I missed my crew at the aid station just after Courmayeur– and then the wheels fell off. I was weaving and seeing spots and had to walk the long descent from Grand Col Ferret. At the bottom, before the next climb, I sat next to two guys on a curb. They offered me a ride. I wish we’d all decided to walk to the next aid station, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Three days later, I climbed Mont Blanc. It wasn’t redemption, but it was an awesome consolation.
If I could run with anybody: I love running with my Trail Sisters!
I would call the run if I didn’t have this gear: It depends on what time of year. Right now, warm summer days it’s water. Rainy winter days its my Storm Racer jacket. Going forward, a buff or mask to wear as needed.
Bucket List Run: Run-hike the Pacific Northwest Trail in the next five years and the Pacific Crest Trail when I turn 50!
Shameless Website Promotion: www.krissymoehl.com