Q&A with Ultra Runner Kris Whorton

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Ultra runner Kris Whorton shares her thoughts on her favorite events, training and what keeps her moving. You can read her RootsRated profile here.

Do you belong to any running groups? Formal or informal?
Informally, Chattanooga Trail Runners on Meetup.com. I've been a member of the Rock Creek Race Team for years and I love seeing teammates at races when I'm running or volunteering. I typically run with a friend or two, or my husband, and almost always my Aussies.

Favorite trails?
Locally, Jura and Skyuka Springs and the one out my front door that leads to Glen Falls and the trails in Lookout Mountain National Park if I keep going. Also, Mullins Cove Loop and Signal Point to Edwards Point in Prentice Cooper. Back home in Boulder, I love several trails in the Indian Peaks, the Mesa Trail, and Doudy Draw south of town. In the world...the Slickrock trail of 20 years ago in Moab, Utah, the Jura trail in northwestern Switzerland, some really out of the way trails out by The End of the World bar near Georgetown, Malaysia and a trail, whose name I've forgotten on Lantao Island near Hong Kong.

Morning runner or after work?
Either, both. I don't have a preference. Morning is great because I've gotten to run and nothing can get in the way. Afternoon or evening can be great because I love running at dusk and watching the sun set.

Treadmill Yes or No?
I treadmill only if I don't have any other option--the lack of another option would be due to a monsoon blowing into town or I me being trapped in a hotel while on business.

Do you run year round? Winter-outside or in?
I do run year round, always have. Growing up in Boulder, CO, I set a limit of 20 below as too cold for running. I have gotten a little wimpier as I've gotten older and sometimes the cold winter rains in Chattanooga give me pause, but I always feel better after I've spent time outside moving and reminding myself of this usually gets me out the door.

Go to or favorite pieces of gear?
I have a two bottle pack from 16 years ago, literally; I love it and am loathe to let it wear out. I love the Salomon XA Pro Ultra trail shoe, a Smartwool 1/4 zip shirt and some glove liners that somehow keep my hands warm even if they're wet, and sunglasses.

What's your routine? Describe. Coffee first? Out the door fast or slow transition?
If I'm going in the morning I have coffee or tea before I head out (unless it is really too early to even be up yet). I've had to start by walking a little to get my Achilles warmed up, but within a 1/4 to a 1/2 mile I start running. If I run later in the day, I don't have a routine. Aside from the whole joy of movement, being in nature, feeling free thing that running gives me, what I most enjoy about it is how easy it is to get out. All I need is shoes and I can go anytime, anywhere. It is such a liberating and to me, necessary, sport.

Do you listen to music? Favorites?
Sort of and only once. I bought an iPod for a 100 miler I was doing by myself in 2009. I listened to an audiobook for an hour but kept getting distracted by my thoughts. It reminded me that running is my time in nature and I really want to be immersed in it, listening to it and not something man-made.

In the middle of a hard race and devil on your shoulder telling you time to quit, how do you keep going?
It depends. Sometimes I disassociate and just let my mind wander. I take in the beauty around me and let myself feel invigorated, appreciative and reinspired by it. Sometimes I focus more on where I am on a course and how I'm feeling and I work to convince myself that all is well, I'm feeling great and running an excellent race. I can usually bring myself around to the point that I actually believe what I am telling myself. I've learned over the years of running and racing that sometimes I just have to be in my suffering and accept that it might pass or it might not--fighting it is a waste of precious energy and a wasted opportunity to learn something about myself, the sport, etc.

Favorite post race / long run activity/approach to recover?
I'm boring. I'm not very ritualistic or habitual, but I do like a shower, preferably a warm one. Getting clean after a sweat fest or warm after a cold wet day outside is lovely. The feeling of clean, dry clothes is amazing and fresh salmon on a salad or a juicy burger or pizza and a cold beer is great too.

Bucket list races?
I'd like to get back to Pinhoti 100 and Vermont 100 and run them with my husband. I've been looking at some European Stage Races, but have narrowed it down to 10 (one in Turkey, one in Spain, one in England, one in France...you get the picture). I'd love to get back to Umstead 100 and run a sub 16 hour. I'm collecting suggestions for races (probably 50k) in the Pacific Northwest and New England. A race in Hawaii--any ultra will do.


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