Categories: Outdoors

Athlete Profile

Stephanie Howe

photo by Jeff Kennedy


SPORT

Ultra Running

HOMETOWN

Bend

AGE

30

TEAM

The North Face

Ultramarathon Team

Schedule

Chuckanut 50k, March 15

Lake Sonoma 50 miler, April 12

Western States 100, June 28

The North Face 50 mile Endurance Championship, December 6

Other possibilities (depending on how I recover from my 100 miler):

Squamish 50 mile August 15, and Run the Rut 50k September 13.

When did you start running ultramarathons?

In 2011, I signed up for the Flagline 50k in Bend on a whim the night before the race. I was illprepared, suffered greatly through the race, and finished as the USATF 50k national champion runner-up. I was hooked.

What is the most demanding aspect of running ultras?

The races are so long and really take a toll on the body. The recovery period following an ultra is much longer than a shorter race. I don’t race more than five or six times per year. It’s easy to get injured if you’re not mindful of your body and take proper rest.

The mental aspect of racing ultras can also be tough. Often a runner might be running alone for hours on end. On top of that, fatigue, discomfort, darkness, cold and even hallucinations can occur. I’ve found that the mantra “Just keep running … just keep running” (Dory, from Finding Nemo) and a lot of positive self-talk can get me through those challenging times.

Tell us a time when something didn’t go right.

One that sticks out in my mind was a 50- mile race in Ecuador. The race started in a rural village and didn’t really follow a trail. We were more or less just following flags up a mountain, which was great until the flags were missing. Apparently the villagers took some of the flags because they didn’t know what they were. I ended up getting lost for more than an hour, with no idea where I was and no way to communicate. I tried to play charades, but I’m not known for my acting skills. I ended up making my way to the finish line following an ‘alternative’ route. I crossed the finish line first, but received a three-hour time penalty for missing a checkpoint. It’s definitely a race I won’t ever forget.

What is your favorite run in Oregon?

I love the trails in the Cascade Lakes during summer. For the past few summers, I’ve explored trails near South Sister, Elk Lake, Green Lakes and the Pacific Crest Trail. There are so many miles of spectacular single-track. One of my favorite runs last summer was a thirty-mile loop around Broken Top. The views from the trail were spectacular, and I covered areas that I doubt many people have ever seen. It was epic!

What are your goals this season?

Run my first 100-mile race. I’m planning to race Western States 100 on June 28. This has been a goal of mine since I started ultra running. Western States was the inaugural 100-mile race, and continues to be one of the most iconic and prestigious 100-mile races in the world. Only a handful of runners get the opportunity to race each year, so I’m honored to have a place on the start line. I also want to stay healthy and injury-free this year. That’s probably my number-one goal. I’m trying to learn from past mistakes and train smarter.

Favorite recovery food?

Mexican. I love a huge burrito with chips and guacamole after a race.

Favorite recovery beer?

Right now I’m loving Double Cross from Crux. I think it would also pair well with my burrito.

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