Positive running story – Kriste Peoples

Our positive running story this time is on Kriste Peoples, a women’s trail running coach from the Front Range of Colorado. Kriste is a trail runner herself, outdoor enthusiast, founding and immediate past leader of Outdoor Afro, and founder of Black Women’s Alliance, which promotes sisterhood and wellness through outdoor activities, workshops, and retreats. She’s a brilliant mind, inspiring speaker, and passionate leader. I have recently had the honor to connect with Kriste on the 2019 US Trail Running Conference, and immediately asked if I could interview her for our positive running story series. Here is the result of our interview:

Can you share your brief running history up to the present day?
I’ve been a runner for as long as I can remember. I ran up and down my block with friends, on the track and field hockey teams in middle school, through college and beyond. I became more interested in longer distances over time, and ran my first marathon twenty years ago. I couldn’t have been more unprepared and interestingly enough, that’s what inspired me to keep running and learn how to do it the right way.

What are the top three things you like most about running, and why?
Community, mental health, and adventure.

You are a women’s coach with Lifes2shortFitness who are very active in the Colorado Front Range. How did you come to be in that role, and what are the things that you enjoy most about coaching other women?
I became a coach with L2S after having taking some of the clinics they offered. I moved to Colorado from Chicago ten years ago and fell in love with the Front Range. I took up hiking and realized I could see more if I went a little faster. Then I figured there was a lot to learn about how to do it right. Lauren Jones had just launched L2S around that time, and once I found the group, I stuck with it. She does an amazing job at cultivating a supportive community of women from different running backgrounds and that really appealed to me. I’m a natural cheerleader and what I enjoy most about coaching with L2S is that I get to support other women in their fitness journey while sharing information and growing friendships at the same time.

You have said that you believe there are barriers, either real or imagined, that result in so few women of color at trail races. Can you share more about the barriers that you have experienced, and what needs to happen to entice more women of color to participate?
One perceived barrier is that trail running might seem more niche or elite than it actually is. Road runners are everywhere, but trail runners are less visible because we’re in the mountains, out of range, and we don’t make a lot of noise about it. Add to that, there are so few women of color featured in the media and related advertising, it looks like we don’t engage in the sport. I think visibility is incredibly important. Doing trail races came as a logical next step for me because I’d been an active part of a thriving community that demystified the process and made it fun. I went to clinics, came out to cheer other runners, and got increasingly comfortable in the mountains over time. I think race directors might do well to get more creative by reaching out to different women’s running groups to extend an invitation–and incentive–to hit the trails.

You will be a participating speaker at the 2019 US Trail Running Conference that takes place in Estes Park, Colorado, October 9-12, 2019. What are you particularly looking forward to about the Conference, and why?
I’m looking forward to sharing my personal experience, learning about what’s going on in the industry, trying new gear, and expanding my community especially.

Can you share one thing that is uniquely Kriste, that no one would know by looking at you?
It might not be obvious, but I often burst into song when I’m in the mountains (“The hills are alive…” is one of my signatures), or that I live for photos. It’s hardly a secret to people I run with, but I always have an eye out for photo ops and “interludes” with my phone camera. I’m corny, frankly, but I try not to be obnoxious with it.

How would you like like to de-mystify the experience of running trails so that more women in general feel safe and encouraged to trail run?
At L2S we empower ourselves with information by inviting park rangers and industry experts to present talks and clinics on gear, safety, and trail etiquette for runners. This goes a long way in demystifying the experience of running trails.

If we could share one key message on your behalf to the World, what would it say?
Never suppress your inclination to be kind.

What are your running and life goals for 2019 and beyond?
As I offer my response to this question, my family and I are making arrangements for my mother’s burial next week. The waves of grief and unconditional love have been heavy and roll in on their own timeline. This impacts my goals for 2019 by reminding me that there’s not much I can control. It also reminds me to give myself permission to go easy on myself and to stay connected to what helps me heal. Running and hiking have been lifelines for me, friends and family have been incredibly supportive, and I don’t take them for granted. I plan to keep on prioritizing them.

Kriste, we hope that nature and the great outdoors will help you heal from the loss of your mother. We wish you every success with being easy on yourself, and with your goals for 2019 as your priorities change. Also looking forward to working with you on the US Trail Running Conference.

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