Friday, September 29, 2006

Krissy Moehl Rocks the Ultra World (An Interview)

At the ripe young age of 28, Krissy Moehl has already shown to be one of the best ultrarunners racing today. If 2006 is any sign of what's to come, she has only begun. Coming off of a successful 2005 season where she became the youngest finisher/winner of the Ultra Grand Slam (20:53 at Western States, 18:41 at Vermont 100, 22:03 at Leadville, and 26:34 at Wasatch), this Washington native has been demolishing course records and clocking top finishes all over the world. In 2006, she crushed the course record at the Leone Divide 50m (7:42, 9th overall), finished 2nd female at the Miwok 100k, and trounced all the men and women at the Where's Waldo 100k with an overall win (11:18, besting the previous record by Kami Semick by 45 minutes, and only 9 minutes off the overall course record set by Andy Jones-Wilkins; read Krissy's race write up here).

(Krissy Moehl has fun in Seattle; photo courtesy of Outside Magazine and Brian Smale)

I caught up with Krissy over e-mail to see how her recovery is coming.

First, let me say congratulations on your finish at Where's Waldo! It sounds like you had a great race. Were you expecting to do so well?

Leading up to and starting the race I really didn’t know what to expect. A week and a half before race day I finished thru-hiking the Colorado Trail with Andrew Skurka, and I didn’t know how all of those long slow miles would factor in.

Where's Waldo has capped a fantastic two year run for you. What do you attribute your success to?

I’m doing what I love to do. It seems like a simple answer I guess, but trail running is me, it is a part of how I identify myself, a runner. Because of this all of the time and miles that go into training are a way of life and fun – training is never work. If it becomes a chore and not fun then it is time to take a break. I guess that is another thing that helps, I really try to listen to my mind and body and take time off when necessary rather than being forced to take time off from an injury.

(Krissy resting after her record-breaking overall win at the 2006 Where's Waldo)

Have you always been a trail runner? How did you get into it? When did you start ultras?

Nope. I started running track in grade school and continued with track and cross country till my junior year of college. I was a team runner and needed a coach to motivate me to run.

When did you start ultras?

My first ultra was the Chuckanut 50k, March 2000. Scott McCoubrey and Uli Steidl ran the whole way with me. In that run Scott made sure I was well hydrated and talked to me a lot about fueling early.

Since then you've raced all over the world. What are some of the highlights of your career so far?

Working at Montrail for five years afforded me the opportunity to experience trail running all over the nation and the world. My favorite part about traveling in the US to ultra trail events is no matter where I’ve been my experiences always proved that you easily slip into the ultra community. It is one big family, worldwide really. Especially in the US, traveling to various states each community is unique but belong to the same family and therefore accept you in as one of their own.

Competing in the Grand Slam last year allowed me to run in and see four 100 milers that I may never have experienced. The diversity of terrain was complimented by the uniqueness that each race organization brought to their event. Prior to that I’ve traveled to Virginia, Texas, California, Oregon, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Vermont, Utah always to see and share in peoples’ favorite trails; it is a wonderful way to learn a bit about another part of the country.

Traveling and racing internationally brings such great experiences in learning different cultures, hearing languages and enjoying the variety of foods. In all of my travels I have had the most amazing hosts, people that go over the top to share their home country. Highlights include running with a Montrail sponsored team of women (Stephanie Ehret, Janice Anderson & Francesca Conte) at the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km in Hong Kong 2002. This was the longest distance I’d run up to that point. To have the opportunity to run with such experienced and talented women was an inspiring way to do it. In 2003, partially through work, I traveled to France to compete in the Tour du Mont Blanc 150km. This is probably the most memorable and challenging race I have ever competed in and therefore also the most rewarding. The weather took a turn for the worst and in minimal clothing and a super tight IT Band I walked the last 30 miles to the finish. In the fall of 2003 a group of us traveled to Japan for the Hasegawa Cup, a 70 mile race on some of the most technical trails I have ever run. April of 2005 I had the incredible opportunity to travel to South Africa and compete in the Addo 100 mile. Only 11 people started, myself the only female, on the relatively flat and fast point to point course. We included some vacation time and in a month saw some spectacular sites including the Otter Trail, Kruegar Park, Cape Town, Johannasburg and Addo Elephant Park, where the race was held.

(Krissy on her way to to a 2032 finish at the 2005 Western States; photo courtesy of Doug Malewicki)

What is it that motivates you to stay at it?

I am constantly inspired by people around me. Those that set goals, put in the time and achieve them keep me motivated to do the same. I love hearing trail and race stories. I also love introducing new people to the trails. Seeing their faces light up after their longest run ever, or finishing a race are definitely motivators.

I would like to ask a few training questions. What does a typical training week look like for you (miles, types of runs, etc.)?

There is nothing typical about my training, every week varies and really depends on what is on the horizon for racing. I try to get in a couple (2-3) 2+ hour runs a week, preferably on trail, I like to cross train, so (even though I’m a fair-weather rider) I ride my bike, use the elliptical machine, attend yoga classes and lift weights. If the opportunity arises I love to paddle, I’m trying to surf, I’d love to have a better appreciation for skiing/snow sports and am game to give almost anything a try. When feeling good and gearing up for a race I usually run every day, or at least do something every day. I think consistency is the most important aspect to training; keeping the body prepared for and used to running.

Do you train with a club, friends, or go solo?

Mostly solo, purely out of timing reasons, but I in my travels I am meeting up with people for some great runs. In Seattle I do try to get out with friends. There is a group of girls that met Wednesday mornings for an hour or so and another group that has weekly training that I’ve yet to make. For all of the long runs (4+ hours) it is much more enjoyable to train with friends; we have such a great ultra crowd in the Northwest.

Where do you do most of your training?

I like to keep it varied and train in as many new places as I can.

Do you target a few races a year, or race as much as you can?

I like to race as much as I can, that said I make a point of not over racing and taking down time to recover.

What do you like to eat before, during, and after a race?

I’m a whole foods type of girl, lots of fruits and veggies, tofu, beans, fish and chicken once in a while. Those that know me well also know that I don’t skimp on the sweets, I do love ice cream and hot chocolate is a staple.

What races are you tackling in the second half of '06? Any big goals beyond that?

I’m looking forward to the Durango 50k, Santa Barbara 9 trails 35 miler and Hellgate to finish off the year. Next year I hope to run HURT 100miler, Hardrock 100 miler and the Tour du Mont Blanc 150km.

(Tracy Bahr and Krissy Moehl at the end of the 2006 Where's Waldo)

Can you tell us a bit about your sponsors?

I feel fortunate to have built some great relationships with my sponsors. For the past 5 years Montrail (shoes), Clif Bar (nutrition), Smartwool (socks), Petzl (hands free lighting) and Patagonia (clothing) have made up the sponsorship of our ultrarunning team, provided all athletes with incredible products and most importantly supported the sport of ultrarunning. In 2005 First Endurance and Nathan joined the team of sponsors and in 2006 Nathan became the co-sponsor of the team. First Endurance is hydration and recovery for me and was definitely the products that helped me in-between each of the Grand Slam races. Nathan knows how to take feedback from users and apply it to make functional hydration systems and have a line for women that really considers what women need. I have only ever run in Montrail shoes and am thankful that I still have all of my toenails. Clif bars, gels and bloks not only feed me on the race course but sustain me daily. Smartwool is part of the foot system that keeps me blister free, and keep me warm even while wet. 100 milers wouldn’t be possible without the night vision of the Tikka plus and Myo5. And head to toe, underwear to jackets I am a Patagonia girl, on and off the course.

I love your new blog. What have you enjoyed about blogging so far?

Thanks! It is a great to have a place to keep a record of adventures and experiences for reference for myself and have them all in one place to share with family and friends. My Mom likes it so she can keep track of me too.

Thanks for a great interview, and best of luck this season!

- SD


  1. Excellent piece, Scott. Oh, I thought I'd mention we featured you today at CRN:

  2. Krissy is very friendly too. We loved having her at WW!!!

  3. Thank you, blogfather!!! Ladies and gentleman, a link from the greatest man in run blogging (blog running?).


  4. Ultrarunning provides some of the strongest women role models I have seen in any sport. Krissy is perfect example!


  5. Way to go, Krissy! She is an awesome runner and has a great personality. Can't wait to see how her running will develop further.

  6. great interview. she is very inspirational, to say the least. i like how she logs mucho training miles but also cross trains in a variety of sports...probably helps keep her fresh and limber.

    wasn't she married to brandon symbrowsky(sp?)....i am assuming they are no longer married as she used to hyphenate her he still around and racing ultras?

  7. You are right, Krissy used to be married to Brandon Sybrowsky. They are both still very active ultrarunners.



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