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Episode 19 - Meredith Johnson - Women of The Wasatch Founder, Ultra-runner, Thru-Hiker

Meredith Johnson is a thru hiker and an ultra runner. In 2020, she started training for a 100 mile run. To combat the long and sometimes lonely training, she started a run club. Women of the Wasatch started as a small group chat, and has since turned into a discord channel with over 1500 members. Meredith's thoughts on running and community are inspiring !!

Meredith's Personal Instagram:

WOW Discord Link :

Below is our podcast with Meredith transcribed by AI. We apologize for any errors and encourage you to visit us on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts to watch or listen to the full episode.


[Music] okay Meredith welcome hello welcome to


the a lane podcast thank you so much for having me yes I'm so excited so Meredith is the founder of women of the wasach


why don't you give yourself a give a brief introduction about yourself to our listeners yeah absolutely so I am from


originally the Orlando Florida area um grew up there went to school in Virginia


got into like back and such growing up um and then I moved to Salt Lake City


about 5 years ago um that's when I really got into running and then I now


currently live in blackburg Virginia for my partner's medical residency but I feel like there's a reason my Instagram


tag is where's May because I never really know where I am these days I'm just like bouncing around everywhere and


then the reason that this worked out was cuz you're on like a cross road trip right now yes you messaged me right when I was like D I think I was like Durango


Colorado and you're like can you go to Orum and I was like I'll be there in like 2 days that's so crazy that's so


weird so what is this road trip for is it just for fun does your partner have a break so um we are actually getting


married in like a couple of months and uh thank you and then on like a kind of sad note but also happy um I got let go


for my company there was a bunch of our department dissolved and so I was a bell


to leave because I wanted another break and I was like perfect I can just take the summer off and I'm


cross country road tripping out here to work on our Utah house and then my partner will be joining me in July and


then we'll get married and we're just I don't really know what we're doing we're just bouncing around camping living dirt


bag life right now the outdoor summer I love it yes adult summer make it happen


so you kind of have a background you said you started with through hiking and then that kind of you did the PCT did


you say I did the appalachi and Trail in 2018 and then the PCT uh right after I like got the itch and wanted to go right


back into it and did the PCT so what was your push to do your first through hike yeah yeah so I grew up in Florida and


never really knew the mountains uh but I was a cross country and track athlete


since I was 11 so I've been running now for like 20 years and um I was always into running but never really the


outdoors and my parents would always like love to go to the beach and I never really like the beach I was like maybe


I'm not Outdoors cuz like I don't like the beach and then um I had a friend um Aubrey shanoff one of my like childhood


best friends and she was going to the summer camp in Asheville North Carolina and I convinced my parents let me go and


that's when I got the itch for backpacking and through one of their programs you got to go on a two-e


backpacking trip on the appalachin trail and I did that when I was 15 years old and so I just loved the at and it always


had been a dream of mine to through hike it but I always thought like the Practical thing to do would be to go


when I retire and then I had like a rude awakening going into the the Working


World and realizing Corporate America sometimes is for me sometimes isn't and


I wanted to break um after working for like four years and I was like you know what Now's the Time and um luckily I had


a friend uh who was also working for the same company who had taken uh a


sabatical so I asked my company if I could take a leave of absence to do it and uh took 6 months off and started the


hike I broke my elbow got no that's so annoying so sad that sucks yeah in


Virginia and I like didn't think it was broken I was like hiking and I was with my what you call like a trail family and


I was like I'll see you guys tonight like just going to go to the hospital real quick and then I'll come back and


like while we were on the way to the hospital I was like in my head being like maybe it's not that bad and the people who brought us to the hospital um


while we were hitchhiking uh we were like can we actually stop a Dairy Queen first like we went to Dairy Queen then


the hospital um what So Random and then they were like yeah like you need surgery and then my parents were like


come back to Florida and um had that and then six weeks later I got back on the


at where I left off and when I got back on in Virginia my trail family was already in New Hampshire um so once I


got back it became like a solo venture um which honestly at the time was really what I needed um so your Trail family


were these you usually they're people you meet there yes yes okay yeah so I started solo um and then my the friend


that I had mentioned before Aubrey she started the first 100 miles with me to like send me off um because it felt very


overwhelming when you're first starting out like I needed some support um but then you meet a bunch of people as you


go along the trail and then they become your Trail family and um there was about like five of us in that group


and then yeah once I got injured I came back and then since I was like catching up to everyone um it was mainly just me


and I'd meet people for like a night camping and then say bye and Crush miles and make my way to Maine so what I guess


what was that transition like from being with people and like having a very


social collaborative experience on the trail to like w like you're alone yeah


you're doing this alone like what was that like um honestly for that drill I


was really empowering um because when I first started out I didn't like if I'm


being honest I didn't really believe in myself that I could do it and then already getting to Virginia and being


with a group they got me to Virginia like I could not have gotten to Virginia without them um and then coming back I


was realizing like okay like my confidence was higher um I knew I was


going to to do it like I remember recovering from surgery and like uh like


a little loopy and like my dad gave me my the iPad to like watch Harry Potter but it was still connected to his text


messages and one of his friends like texted him and was like that's wild that she still thinks she's going back out on


the trail and like he's like yeah there's no way and I was like so stubborn so I was I'm going to prove


everyone wrong I'm going to go back I'm going to crush it and so I feel like going back was a really big confidence


boost for just doing it on my own but it's kind of funny cuz the PCT was a


totally different experience I was like I don't want I have nothing to prove to myself anymore and so there I hiked like


the whole entire thing with 11 people that's so cool that is very cool yeah so


what did you get out of the PCT then because it sounds like you came out with like more of a sense of self and like


self-belief I guess from your first one but then the PCT what what you come out with um so the PCT when I first started


I was kind of chasing that same feeling that I had on the at of like wanting to feel like I can do anything but then I


realized after cu the first day on the PCT I was doing like 32 miles and at


that time when you're hiking you don't have what you call like your Trail legs and so people when they're starting out


are doing like 10 miles and so when I was starting out doing like 32 miles every day I was wasn't making friends


and I was like what am I even doing like that's not the experience I want and so I slowed down a lot um and I was really


just looking for Community there and um it actually kind I kind of got pushed


into finding Community because of the sieras um because the sieras that year was 2019 it was 200% snow pack I was


really wanted to go through um like it it really doesn't matter these days but


it back of the day I was like I really want to go point to point like I don't want to have to come back down and rehke


it um and so I wanted to still go through the sieras but you had to go like with buddies and with partners and


so um right before we went in I like found a group and um we were just going to go in as like some girls um and then


we were like we don't need those guys and then um we ended up like all going in together and I was like okay like I


need you guys like I like I need you for my safety like pull me cross the stream


Crossings cuz like I physically can't do it um that's so scary I hate gnarly


stream Crossing it was wild um and one of the people who was in our Trail family he had hiked in


2017 um and unfortunately uh one of his friends actually passed away in a stream Crossing that year because it was also a


high percentage or a high snow pack and so he was with our group so he was like


super on it and like safy yeah and one of our friends got swep Ste away in that


same stream um yeah it was that was probably horrible for him to like see that he caught her like he he was the


one who like it was what it was right before Ma's past so uh sometimes I like look back at the sieras now that I'm


like more into snow Sports and have a bunch more Avalanche training and I'm like huh what were we doing like I'm


stressed thinking about that I'm like thankfully everything went well but there were a lot of things that could


have gone wrong um and I think just having that group really helped um and


going through something so hard together bonds you and so then once we got out of


the sieras you still have like, 1500 miles to go and we didn't want to leave


each other so we all stayed together and made ourselves even bigger and we got the the name of the blob The Blob like


you would just meet us and you join us absorb whatever you like come across that's awesome do you mind sharing like


what your Trail name was yes yes it was 11 11 yes so um I like to think it's


because of stranger things but it's actually because of something weird um I was born with 11 toes and it's an extra


big toe and so that's crazy that's awesome yeah and I used to be really


pigeon to it on my right foot and like trip all the time I not on W um I'm getting better at like over the years of


like correcting it um but when I first started the at I was falling all the time mhm and um my friend was like it's


probably cuz you're tripping over the 11th toe and like it was when stranger things was super big as well and so I I


was like okay you can call me 11 let's take this I love it that's awesome that's so cool M so you finished both of


your through hikes um and I think


through-hikers in general because Mountain Sports are about experience in


the mountains like that's really what it is is just like time in the mountains so


to like be able to log all that time kind of at the beginning of your career


I guess if you want to call it that is really cool so you came to Utah and


started trail running or where did that yeah so well right when I finished the at like the day I finished the


appalachin trail I signed up for my first ultra um so my friend will Chong and danne Harrington were like sign up


for this race like you need your next new goal and so I did um a race in um


Arizona one of the Ripa races um so a 50k and kind of got hooked from there


and did some Adventure running between the at and PCT um but after finishing the PCT I was like I'm not going back to


Washington DC because that's where I was living at the time and so I went on this cross country road trip to figure out


where I wanted to live um and I had a friend who had done van life and was like Salt Lakes where it's at like this


is where you would belong and he was like if you come here you probably won't have to leave and take huge breaks from


work anymore and he's like you'll scratch your itch if you just live here and so um I moved to Salt Lake City


right after finishing the PCT and oh my gosh there's just so there's too many sports here like I wanted to do


everything yeah that's crazy that like your soul like almost needed Salt Lake


in like the outdoor sport area also the community here is just like oh so cool


rare it's unmatched and you're a huge part of that Community now like a huge part of it I want to get into like how


women of the wasach started why it was born give me the story oh you're stting


up perfectly cuz this is like timeline order now so um when I got to Salt Lake I was like okay I finished another


through hike I want to set some goals for myself again and so I said like eight different goals for myself uh when


I finished the PCT and one of them was to run 100 miles and so I had signed up


for the lottery for the wasach 100 and I got in and so um I moved to Salt Lake in


2019 got into the lottery 2020 it's January time frame now and so I'm


training for the was 100 and alone and oh wow yeah it was just like very sad


and lonely and I use exercise as a way of socializing and I had a bunch of


friends who were into like mountain biking or climbing and I would do my


long runs alone on like a Saturday while my friends were out at the crack


climbing or out on the wasach crust mountain biking and it just felt very


isolating and um I had met a friend uh Jimmy elom he's a professional Runner as


well and not as well I'm not a professional Runner definitely not yes you are thank you thank you I'm Venture


Runner and so uh he just knew that Salt Lake also was needing this and he was


such an advocate for like me being one of the people to help bring that to Salt


Lake City and so um he had introduced me to a bunch of different people and I was


sliding into people's DMS being like hey do you want to be my friend and um just


trying to meet more women so I could reach some of these big goals that I was setting for myself cuz I knew I couldn't do it alone like similar to the PCT


couldn't get through the sieras alone I knew I wouldn't be able to do 100 mile without that community and the


accountability and so um it had been about a year and then one of my


childhood best friends Elsa jorski moved to Salt Lake City and we were on a cross


country team together um so when I was a senior she was in eighth grade and um I actually had run with her brother um for


sixth grade to 12th grade but then when I got to run with her his sister I was like oh she's so cool like I would to be


friends with the eighth grader as like a senior and so um she had messaged me


like um the summer of 2020 being like hey I'm thinking about moving to Salt Lake should I do it and I was like do it


like I will be your friend I will find you friends like come here um and so having her and knowing that there was


this community that we had through cross country and track um I really wanted to


like bring that back back to here in Sal Lake and so I had like a bunch of like


mixmash friends and um October of


2020 um since we couldn't really see or hang out with people inside I was like


what if we go for a run and so um about 10 people showed up to that first run um


including my friend Liam uh shout out to Liam I was super excited because woman of the waset is supposed to be a space


for people who just comfortable in uh running that's centered around women and


he was one of those people and so um once we had that meet up like everyone was saying like this is what I needed


and what I wanted to do um and so I started like a a group message with


folks and then uh we would meet every Tuesday and that just kept growing and growing and growing and more people


wanted to be added to it and then come March of 2021 like once vaccines were


out uh we be became more present on Instagram to open it up to more people


so it's not just you have to know about it and be in the know now it was more of a time that it was safe to open it up to


anyone who wanted to come yeah that is so cool yeah I know it's so it makes me


so happy to see how like big it's become and like how it's so much bigger than me or Elsa could have ever imagined and um


it definitely was like over the Evolution there's been a lot of learning


from it and a lot of like feeling overwhelmed why there's so much to do with it but there's been so many people


who have stepped up and helped out and made it better and better and better


yeah it's such an amazing group why so initially like in the sieras you had


said that you thought you were going to move through the sieras with only women but then ended up like inviting boys too


yeah why do you think it's so magic that women of the wasach is like really women


Centric yeah um I there's so many different reasons but I think um a lot


of it is feeling like you belong and are comfortable to quote unquote fail you're


never actually like failing but there's that fear um that I think a lot of women


have like impostor syndrome I struggle with impostor syndrome and like everything that I do um but I get past


it I always am like I feel it and that's not true and we're going to get past it and I want more women to feel that way


and I think women of the wasach is a wonderful place to come to feel that way


where um like on Tuesdays no matter what pace you're going like we will not drop you um we


that is something that's been so important to me is like making sure that folks can come and quote unquote fail


even though we will then reframe that as nope like hiking running like power


hiking that's trail running um turning around before you get to the top thank you for showing up um so letting people


know that just showing up you'll be welcomed we want you there um and I feel


like a lot of other groups that I've joined I've I've gotten dropped I


haven't met new people I don't know like what the route is and I don't like that


feeling I don't think that's a safe place to try or like show up and making friends as an adult is hard and if you


don't have like a buddy to show up with it can be really intimidating and so those women specific communities are


crucial like absolutely needed and now being on the other side where um I just


like moved across the country to Virginia when I first mov there I didn't


have that and it was really sad like it was really hard for me to find friends and meet people and feel safe and um now


I'm really into mountain biking because I found a woman's mountain biking group and I'm like sign me up like


I yes this is what I do down I was like because of those community and because of those women who make me feel like I


belong and like I'm not going to slow them down and if there's like a specific


um like feature I want to try again they're like yeah let's session it like we'll stop and wait for you or I feel


like other times it's been like go go go we're not going to stop yeah I really appreciate that


sentiment as well I think that women can be like simultaneously like the most


hard on themselves and the most I don't want to use the word insecure but like


insecure and the most supportive of other people as well so it's like such a


cool environment to be able to like show up despite your insecurities or despite


the things that you're like scar to show other people and then be met with like


acceptance and like you belong you have a space here I think is super magic yes


it really is it really is yeah so you said I just want to touch on the


impostor syndrome thing um in what ways do you feel that women of the wasach has


helped you almost overcome that mindset that you have about yourself with oh Foster syndrome so um as I mentioned


previously I was training for hunder and when I was training for that 100 mile I


got so in my head I was like why did I think that I could do this and why did I


set this school for myself and that year like I was about to um like quit and


then the race got canceled and I was like yes and then um two years later so


then 20 20 no one year later I don't know uh 2022 I think it was um I did the


the bare 100 and that was something that I was like check like I 100% could not


have done it without woman of the wasach I that is 100% true and the reason that


I could is because I had these women around me who were supporting me and all of our different achievements weren't


taking away from each other they were just building us up even more where I would see someone else like me do


something and I'd be like wait if they ran it maybe I can try too and so that gave me the confidence to go after


something at the time as big as 100 mile to me and uh crush it and have fun with it and


like eventually I want to do plenty more of those but not right now not this summer I love that sentiment that like


the people around you and the people closest to you like when they achieve something it doesn't diminish you at all


it almost like raises you up as well that's like it does the coolest thing I've ever heard that's a really good way


of putting it I cried when like Jasmine Paris finished bark the marathon I was just oh my gosh that was so inspiring so


seeing other people do other women in particular just raise the bar makes me


think that I can do incredible things as well yeah um I do also want to touch too


I think so if women of the wasach like technically started in 2020 yeah so I


think honestly four years ago I probably would not have had the confidence to go to woman of the was and like variety of


reasons right but if there is someone listening to the podcast right now who


maybe wants to go to the women of women of the wasach but doesn't quite yet have the courage or isn't sure if they'll


like it what would you say to them to convince them to come yeah absolutely so


I know everyone's different so we all have our own strategies for how we get


through that um I know a lot of friends have had uh success with showing up with a buddy and


being like if I like you're not going to get dropped you're going to have people who new people who are going to want to


run with you but if I know my mind still works this way in my mind I'm still like I don't want to hold other people back


like I don't know if I want to show up like you can find a buddy on our Discord so there's um different channels where


you can introduce yourself or looking for running Partners um so that would be a great place to go and say hey


um I'm new I would love to just like have a buddy or like know someone ahead of time before I get there so then


you're showing up and someone can be like hey are you Meredith I saw that you're new I would love to run with you


today um that's a great way to like in your brain talk talk yourself down um


and have that support system um but if you do just want to show up alone like


I'm someone who will show up alone to like random things um um there are


introductions so you'll get to meet people ahead of time um the Tuesday run in Salt Lake City um is a no drop run


and on our Instagram we show um like if it's a workout or if it's welcome to all


different Paces um but I would definitely recommend coming to that Tuesday run um because a run or hike


whatever you want to do um you will 100% find some new friends and people to to


walk with run with turn around early whatever you want to do yeah and I mean every person that


I've ever seen go loves it that makes me so happy yeah I I have not heard a bad


experience from women of the wasach yet yeah well my one of my close friends Justine uh so this is one of the things


that um we're trying to get better at is making sure people have that consistent experience um cuz when we first started


out not going to lie like uh we did not have it set up to to be no drop um when


it's such a small group you are just running with your folks and I remember I


was like hitting like PRS on like that first like route that we were doing and


um it took some time to be like this isn't going to work long term and like getting feedback and just being like


wait oh no duh I want those people to have folks to run with and um I think as


like a leader of the group as well um being like I will be the one to make sure that those folks don't get left


behind and um throughout the years it shifted around a bit and um we're always


open to feedback and I know um even in the last year when I haven't even been


there when the new board has been implementing new ideas it's been so fun to watch and see how they're trying to


make it even more inclusive and even more accessible and no drop and making


sure that it's not only like you're with someone and like feeling like you're holding them back it's like a whole huge


group is going to be going your pace not just one person um because I know it can feel intimidating like you're holding


that one person back and we never want you to feel that way we want you to feel like like everyone wants to go that pace


everyone's signing up to go that pace today um and so you should never feel bad about about coming to it so trying


to make that experience consistent um cuz yeah my friend Justine when she had first come she was like these girls are


way too fast and we're trying to get away from that where it's like the Wednesday group can be a Wednesday


workout and then if you're new um or if you're like coming back from an injury


um the Tuesday run is like a great place to start and speaking to that though like


Justine maybe she said that the girls were too fast but now she she won yeah she wins races she's really Speedy now


so stick with it the sticking with it that's been okay that's my favorite part


of talking to folks who join like woman of the wasach or one of my favorite Parts um is them saying like the M like


that's the farthest I've ever gone so there's been a number of times that I've been on like an adventure run or like at


a race or on a long run and someone's like that's the farthest I've ever run like I never thought I would be able to do that and I'm like this is wild like


there's now all of these women like Crossing 50 miles 100 miles 250 miles and they never would have


thought that they could do that and one of the was has given them that I think this is a good place too to


speak to like how you guys are purposefully inclusive and how like it's


important to be purposeful about inclusivity because not being purposeful


is exclusive in its own right yes yes yes exactly hitting on that so um I


think when you're setting up one of these organizations or if you're a member who


shows up consistently ly um making sure that you are going out of your way to


introduce yourself to someone new so um some feedback that I received over time is when people get kind of comfortable


of they've come to women of the was such plenty of times they have their friend group um if you already have your friend


group we so happy woman of the wasach gave that to you and you were able to find those people here um but just be


reminded of when you were here a year ago and were brand new and how you felt and and how there's always going to be


new people here and so making sure that you're going out of your way to introduce yourself to those people who


are new and getting to know them as well um so something that I would do is if um


like a friend would want to like catch up with me or want to have some one-on-one time like the woman of the


wasach run for me as like a leader of it wasn't the time to run with them I would


schedule some other time to catch up with them because I really wanted to make sure that when I showed up to those


runs I was able to meet new faces and like welcome them in um but I'm only one


person and the woman of the was board only consists of 10 people right now and


so in order to make that consistent experience and making sure people feel


inclusive every included every time that they show up um it's more than just the


board members or myself who need to do that it's also the folks who show up every week like the biggest favor they


could do for me and the thing that would make me so happy and I know a bunch of women already do this today is just


making sure that when those folks show up you are including them and if you


really want to have that oneon-one time with a friend like maybe go on another run outside of one with the was with


them um just so it's not feeling clicky yeah I think that's really cool I


remember in high school I went on like some Orchestra like trip it was like


almost 2 weeks long or something I don't really remember but I remember being really nervous to go because I was like I don't know anyone that's going and I


hate talking to people so I'm going to be alone the whole time and so I just like made a goal to like not let anyone


else feel left out and that just like by the end of the week I had like 20 new


best friends oh that's so sweet that makes me happy yeah and I think that's kind of the same idea that you guys


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end of the week I had like 20 new best friends oh that's so sweet that makes me happy yeah and I think that's kind of


the same idea that you guys practice in women of the wasach like when you first


get there maybe you don't know anyone but eventually you have all these best


friends and it will become easy to just like kind of hang out with the people that you know but remembering that like


the experience of helping someone else not feel left out also brings you this


like really joyful experience of making a new friend exactly I know I feel like


the thing that makes me happiest is like making someone stay and like making them feel like they like really along


somewhere and like really bring up the energy and like the fact that they


showed up makes me feel so happy and like letting them know that letting them know meeting them that day or seeing


them that day um really was a highlight yeah so in kind of the progression of


women of the wasat now there's like a board you guys are a nonprofit tell me


how that went how all of that came oh my gosh so okay so I feel like I'm a big


ideal gal and whenever it comes to like administrative stuff and paperwork like


I would dread over it and so um being the executive director for three years


was so hard like it takes a lot of energy how time was that it felt like a


second job at first like when it was first starting out um but it was so fun


like like it was my passion project so I was like I really want to do this but whenever it was something around like


taxes or managing the books I'm like I'm not the best person to be doing this and


so that's why you find the people who are the best people of doing this and so U my friend Jules and Justine who I've


mentioned like three times uh she they they both are very organized and um a


pipe dream and like goal that I had like shared with them is like I really want to become a nonprofit but like I don't


want to do the paperwork and um Justine actually like


did all of our paperwork for us and like jewes has help like manage the books and everything and like that's not one of my


strengths and being able to see who can do that well and leaning on them and


building them up to like give them the recognition of like you guys made us a nonprofit um just makes me so happy and


um we I would have never done the paperwork never I just wanted it done


but I wasn't going to do it you're like I don't even I don't understand stuff like this like at all either this is not


my strong but so what advantages are there now for women of the wasach by becoming a


nonprofit um so it got really hard whenever someone wanted to donate to us because when they would donate to us um


we were actually in llc at the time so then you'd have to pay taxes on that or uh you got charged um by different


organizations or if you wanted to use like venmo or PayPal or um different


like int tools like you can get them for free if you're a nonprofit and we're um


we also have a bunch of different ways that we want folks to donate to us um I don't want to speak to like all of the


different things that they want to do with those donations but one of those and one of those that I think I want to


they know I want to continue on is our Trail Runing scholarship um so getting folks into the sport and being able to


support them through getting into races um getting new shoes getting new vest


because you think of running as being cheap and then you like add it up and you're like wait why this is not a Rich


Man sport yeah and um that's one of the ways that


we want to use that money and um just now being able to get donations not only


from individuals but also through companies who will uh like match


donations a lot of times they'll only do those for 501 c3s and so now that um


that been filed and we are officially a 501c3 we no longer have that stage gate


and um can do a lot more with it that's amazing yeah yeah I feel like especially


here in Utah like people become mothers really quickly as well and so like that


almost immediately puts you in a situation where like you have all this time that you spend with a child and


then like not a financial burden but there's like extra Financial pressure on you so getting into something that you


love and something that like honestly you kind of need to do to like stay


yourself and stay a person is probably really difficult so like if any one is listening and you're a new mother I like


specifically want to call you out to like visit women of the wasach and


participate yes we even have um specific runs and like groups on Discord for


mother runners or like postpartum where folks will talk about postpartum depression or um talk about how they're


trying to get back into the sport and um one of our co-executive directors right now Jules Campanelli she's actually


pregnant so cool um she'll be one of those folks as well soon one of those new mothers yeah I've seen on the


Discord page I've seen uh like the mother's chat and like they're running


with their strollers so cool so cute yeah my like


one of my friends like ran a marathon with her stroller and with our baby and


I was like that's so badass like that sounds very very hard just crushing crushing yeah no like swing momentum


yeah it's crazy so what is your position now are you on the board for women of the was you moved yes so um when I moved


this summer um I stayed on as like executive director sort of for like to


transition um so there was about three months and then um uh my friends uh Brie


svin and Jules Campanelli stepped up to both co-chair and one of the things that


they were really worried about um going now into that position was like well how


do we replace you or I'm like I do not want that like we want new ideas we want new energy and it doesn't have to be


exactly how it was I want the mission to stay the same of elevating women and


giving them a space that they feel comfortable in and then also finding ways that were um not only elevating


women but also young girls so they have us as Role Models um I was like I don't


care how you execute it and I want those new ideas and I think it's so important because you could have like your like


baby of woman of the wasach and like feel overprotective and like want to


like micromanage them and I think it's so important to like let those new voices in and um we actually are


starting to put in place like caps on how long you can be a board member um


just so we're getting new ideas in new folks in um especially since there's a


bunch of younger people who will come to wom of the waset now these days yeah totally um so now I still so as of last


week I actually just left like their group Jack so I was like I don't want to feel like big brother like like you can


do whatever you want like I don't want you to feel like I'm watching you um but


uh I will still St like they were some of my best friends for being honest so


I'm still like always chatting with them about different things um and then if there's like an idea that I have I'll


share it with them and um but I don't want to micromanage how they're executing because it's just so great to


see things change and to like not take offense like if there's feedback on how


we can become more inclusive or how we can change something like I love that and I want them to go after it and I'm


not going to be like a like you said something constructive criticism about woman of the wasach like no please bring


it to us I may not be the person who has the BAM withth to do it and towards the


end of uh last year when I was getting ready to move there was so much going on


where I was like man like there's so many things that I want to do but I'm not the right person to execute on this


right now and having that self-awareness to then pass on the torch it's just been


so great to see them Thrive and that's the whole point is we want this group to thrive forever and ever and not just be


like Meredith and Elsa that's so cool yeah you seem like a person that is happy for the successes


of the people around you so how does it feel to like see women of the wasach


grow like it's growing cuz it's it's growing really quickly I feel like I'm so I think my favorite thing that I


liked watching was like the ready series and um so for those of you listening


it's um a series that we did with girl in her backpack and Girls on the Run and we would bring in um speakers like


Hillary Allen or Jennifer far Davis and Leah Yingling etc etc and like all these


people who are like a fan girl over Jennifer Davis in particular cuz aiker I was like i w a book right before iiked


and I was like you came to wom the wuch um and so getting to see how we've


gotten that recognition of some of these athletes that I've had as Role Models


come and then get to speak to young women about how they can Crush I feel


like there's going to be such a lovely group


of women who are growing up and going to disperse the energy of like we're not


competing we're here to elevate each other and sometimes when I'm not around


like woman of the waset or like I'm in a situation where I'm like oh wait why are you trying to compete with me like it


makes me so sad and so the more that we can get folks um like younger or just


here woman of the waset or please more groups everywhere um into that mindset


of not being competitors and being there to support each other then I'm just so


happy yeah but I love the ready Series yeah I love the sentiment too like you think to all like the best runners in


the world and they run in groups like everyone like to be good you have to be


surrounded by other people so oh yeah yeah I think that's awesome um in kind


of the same vein of like not competing type of thing like there's a lot of run clubs popping up um you had mentioned to


me before that it's important that they don't feel like they're like copycatting you guys and that they should take things that they like and Implement them


do you want to talk a little bit about that absolutely absolutely so um when I first started women of the wasach um I


actually didn't even know like that what trail sisters was or that trail sisters existed and so um now getting to have


like Trail sisters in Salt Lake City and then there's like a group called women on the ascent like seeing all of them uh


um just Thrive and like new organizations are like popping up every day um I absolutely love it I'm like


there's space there especially in Salt Lake City it's like there's so many


women here who want to go outside um and so if there's like a speaker series or


um like a Instagram marketing post that you like or how we're like trying to message something like I think it should


be a compliment to us or like a compliment to the other group if we are


kind of borrowing those ideas um especially since we're not we're literally not for profit um so it's not


like we're competing to like make sales and so it's a space where we want more


of that like and so when um the group leader of like women on the ascent was


starting her group she called me up and we were chatting about like how I started women of the waset and she asked me about paperwork and then I was like I


don't know um and like talk to Justine don't talk to me about paperwork um and it was just


so great getting to chat with her about like how she was going to be starting this group and I'm just so like all for


it like yes please more and so I think it's really important for like people in


your love it I know my mic's like dying just in this community in particular


where we are lucky enough to have so many groups to not feel like you can't show up for one or the other or if


there's something that we see and you want to share it with us we'd love to hear about it or partner on something um


we already partner a bunch and collaborate a bunch with the different groups here but um if there's an idea


that you all want to own please do it and if you want to share it with us awesome and if you want to honorably


honorably adopt something from us we'll be we'll probably be um what's the word flattered flattered like sorry yeah like


that's just I think in my opinion really flattering and I think sometimes people are like oh they're coping us and I'm


like no no we like that like that's something I want to see more of because if it's something we're doing well I


want other groups to do it well also and I think that's one of the reasons people stay in like ultr running trail sports


is that it's not I mean sometimes it is a competition but it's not a competition between


everyone it's like a competition against yourself and like how you can do mhm um yeah and when you go to races


even it's like everyone's rooting for you like if you have a low Point I've never like stopped I cry a lot to be


honest like I've said that multiple times on this podcast but I cry a lot so I've never like stopped and cried on the


side of a trail and not had someone come and be like what's up what's going on


and then like it just makes the race better for everyone involved I guess that's my favorite part about and and


they probably feel so like good about like being able to be like oh like I helped her and like she continued on


yeah yeah and like they're forever like part of whatever that race was to me you know what I mean yeah I do it's very


cool that's special um you had mentioned before to me too that you now identify


more as like an adventure Runner rather than a racer um talk to me about how


that kind of plays in with women of the wasach yeah so I think honestly I've always been an adventure Runner um so so


the whole reason I run is one to be social CU that's like my my social


outlet two to just like stay healthy and then um three I just want to like see


everything and explore everything um I just love seeing new places experiencing


new places and I always want to make sure that my like body can do that so um we did with women of the wasach um a


bunch of like National Park traverses and so with them I've done like rim to rim um the Zion Traverse the Teton crust


Trail um I think there's a bunch of different other ones and this past weekend I did um with some girlfriends


um but buck skin Canyon oh buckin G thank you that one the Slot Canyon and


so I always want to be able and um like physically able to do those types of


runs um so even if I'm not trail running and I'm like mountain biking or I'm back catch skiing I like want to make sure


that like my Base fitness is good enough to be able to explore whether it's on bike on skis on foot um and so I just


run because it's fun and I don't really do it to I mean I like to have certain


goals but like right now a goal of mine is like I'm getting married this Summer which is awesome and I'm excited and


we're trying to figure out like what we're doing with our Utah house and like how we're splitting time there and I'm like that's my goal right now and my


priority and so I'll mix in like Adventure runs and it's a lot easier cuz I can be


spontaneous about it there a lot of things in my life right now that are very spontaneous and so I don't feel


like I'm like letting myself down if I'm not hitting my training goals for this


big race that's in like four months yeah so when the time comes I definitely will sign up for more races but my life is


like so chaotic right now I'm like like I I'm getting married so that's well I'm like it's it's not even that it's like I


my partners in residency and we're like are we living in Virginia right now are we living in Utah right now like what


are we doing with the dogs and so it's a lot of other stuff that I'm like that that deserves my time right now and um


I'm happy to give my time to it yeah I'd first heard of the concept of Adventure runs from a physical


therapist that I went two years ago and I was talking about ultr running and she was talking about it and then she had


said like yeah I kind of just stopped running races because I run because I


think it's fun and I want to do it on my own time that was the first time I'd heard of like kind of the concept of


Adventure runs and I think it's important to like speak about them because a lot of people who are new to


this sport like maybe have run a couple of Ultras and they're like I don't know what's next and like life is next like


fun is next and this is just like something you can do forever yeah it is


it is and I think um growing up when I ran cross country and track um I would


always like in our cross country races try to be the sixth or seventh Runner like I didn't want to for those of you


who don't know the runners one through five count um towards like your ranking and scoring and then six and seven are


like just there for buffer and whenever I was like Runner number six and like I passed Runner number five this like


anxiety would just come over me of like oh no now the team counting on me and um


I think I just have some like Trauma from that where I'm like I don't want to be counted on like I just want to do it to do it and yeah I think with Adventure


running like your the group you're going with too will be like no we're going


like whatever pace of like the slowest runner so you can do it all together whereas a race you're alone I mean I


make a bunch of friends while I EMB ring um but it's fun when you can stay with those friends um instead of having to


like be like see you got the Finish Line yeah yeah totally yeah that is so


funny I agree though I do think it is like a lot less pressure to just be able to like hang out and chill


with what whoever you're running with but it is fun sometimes too to like set a performance goal and say okay like I I


want to break 24 hours on my 100 or whatever that also can be fun but there's a place for everything yeah like


when when I did do the be 100 oh it brought me so much joy cuz I was like I I really wanted to do this and like I


did it and um I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I've run adventure runs like I don't think I've gotten that


same like sense of accomplishment but I've still been like super stoked being like this is fun like time to like order


a huge pizza from the pie yeah exactly I love that um okay so I want to be


respectful of your time but lastly I do want to say like I really admire you and


I really admire what you've built and I mean I didn't know this about you before but I really admire the attitude you


have toward the people around you like it's very cool that you're so uplifting


and like celebratory of people's accomplishments um for anyone out there


who's listening right now who maybe has like Ambitions similar to yours where they like want to start a nonprofit or


where they want to hike a PCT right the PCT what


actionable advice would you give to them yeah so I think one of the biggest things is having those people around you


who believe in you um so having Elsa having Jimmy Elon like be like you can


be the one to help start this um like finding those telling people what you


want to achieve and planting the seed and then having those people around you who can be your cheerleader they can help you accomplish


anything having that support system and then um if for example you want to start


a running group um or a nonprofit I we I mean for the paperwork of the nonprofit


probably shouldn't reach out to me but I can get you the right person but if you're starting a running group um I


would love to chat with you about it I would would encourage you even if it's in Salt Lake I know there's a bunch in Salt Lake do it why not um I would love


to kind of share what that experience was like the different steps that I took to to um connect folks and um some


lessons learned along the way of and just like boring logistic stuff H I'd be


happy to chat with you about it and just yeah getting past the impostor syndrome


is so important because if you don't things like women of the wasach wouldn't exist and so just know that there's


people who have felt that in the past and kind of spoke down to that little


voice in your head and said no I'm not going to believe you I'm going to push through it you're saying I can't do it


I'm going to prove you wrong just be stubborn and go after it I love it yeah if someone wants to


reach out to you where should they do that at like what's your Instagram handle yeah Instagram where where.


is. um I don't really answer emails or texts that much okay we'll put your


Instagram in the description then perfect and then for anyone who has heard the podcast is interested in women


at the was what are good ways to get invol involved how can they get in touch with the community so if you go to our


Instagram umom ofthe wasach there is a link tree so there's a link in our bio


that we'll send you to our Discord to our website um so you can go on our website learn more about the group and


Discord would be the best place to join the community and then see when our runs are um and then also Instagram we're


posting when our runs are as well perfect yeah thank you so much thank you so nice to get to meet you in person I


know I'm so exced ex about this it's crazy that it worked out like it did it's nuts I was like I will be in Utah


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