Erin Clark’s Pug is Faster Than You

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Ellie Pell

By: Ellie Pell

Ellie is an equal opportunity DMer with no shame in a cold call. She ran fast once and will remind you that it was before supershoes. Recently she set the FKT from her kitchen table to the fridge. Record pending drug test results.

A note from Freetrail: You know Ellie Pell from the Rest Day Pod, but did you know she has an insatiable need to get to know you, and I mean REALLY get to know you? “You Made it Weird” is Ellie’s brainchild because while she loves that these athletes are mega-talented she also wants to know what ELSE IS THERE?! Look for You Made it Weird every Friday. 

You Made it Weird With Erin Clark

I first started following Erin Clark when she decided not to continue to run professionally with the NAZ Elite team after college. A new runner myself, I thought that was the DREAM, and on the surface it seemed crazy that someone with so much talent would decide not to pursue an athletic dream. Side note…Erin has a WIKIPEDIA PAGE what?! Rabbit hole mode engaged. She’s been to the Olympic Trials in the steeplechase, the USA championships for both track and cross country. The more I learned about Erin the more I respected her decision, a decision I also made concerning continuing to play volleyball at a high level. Erin embraced trail and ultrarunning, a decision that led her to a Golden Ticket at Bandera in 2021 and a win at the Lake Sonoma 50 mile in 2022, earning her a spot on the USA 80km Team for the 2023 World Trail and Mountain Running Championships. Injuries have kept her from getting to races at times, but when she’s on the start line, she’s ready to go. Look for Erin’s smiling face at the Broken Arrow 46km this June.

Find Erin on Instagram, Strava, and Ultrasignup.

Erin Clark running in Missoula Montana

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Erin Clark and I am a professional trail runner for Nike. I live in Missoula, Montana, with my much more well-known partner, Adam Peterman. On the side, I work as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Montana Cross Country and Track team (Go Griz!), as well as coach a few athletes online via Alpine Running Guides, a local coaching and guiding company! I am also in the process of getting my Master’s + teaching cert in K-8 education, though that has been put on pause for a year or two, much to the chagrin of my parents and grandparents. 

I have a pug mix, who is adorable and also has a faster half marathon PB than I do… 1:18!

When I’m not running I love gravel and mountain biking with my much more technically proficient friends, who ride my back tire and yell at me to go faster. 

Do any of your group chats have names? If so, what are you willing to share? How did they get that name? What is a major topic of discussion in them?

Yes! I have a large group chat (that is honestly pretty annoying usually) with a group of friends in town called “The Arts”. I think this name originated from a bunch of us going to see the SpongeBob Musical and then talking about how much we now love “the arts”. We actually go to a lot of local theater productions now, which is kind of a surprising turn and also very fun!

The typical topic of discussion is either invites to grab food & drink or a bunch of people sending dumb photos of friends in the group back and forth and roasting each other. 

If you could change one thing about your favorite social media platform, what would it be?

Imagine if instagram and strava usage could connect to your favorite wearable like oura ring or whoop, and now you’re tracking your decline in mental health. 

What is a book of fiction that you really enjoyed, for no other reason than you liked it?

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami. He’s one of my all time favorite authors. His books are pretty hard to describe, but IQ84 in particular is very dystopian with elements of fantasy mixed in. 

What is one song you’ve been listening to on repeat recently?

Anything early 2000’s on Spotify.

What is one trend that started in 2020 that you love?

Bailing on plans and claiming you’re sick.

What is one trend that started in 2020 that you hate?

I don’t think anyone does this anymore, but just in case… people trying to use zoom as a fun hangout. Stop it. 

What are the last three emojis you used?

👍 (I do this instead of liking messages, not sure why)  😬 (by far my most used emoji, because I am nothing if not “cringe”)   🫶 (a new one I’ve been trying out, let me know what you think)

What is the last thing you bought online?

A dress for my friend’s wedding in June! 

Erin Clark and her incredibly fast Pug

What is your most controversial food opinion?

I really want to like squash, the flavor is good, but the texture is just SO BAD. Talking all varieties, but particularly winter squashes. 

What three videos are at the top of your YouTube recommended homepage?

Allie Ostrander, Chasing my Olympic Dream

J Perm, I Attempt to Solve the Biggest Rubix Cube in the World

Iowa National Championship Post Game Conference

Which Allie is your favorite?

Based on my above answer, I’m gonna have to go with Allie O. 

What argument in mass media do you not understand or think is a worthless issue?

Pass 🙂

When you go home for the holidays, what is the food or tradition that it wouldn’t be the holidays without?

We don’t actually have any traditions, but in recent years Adam and I have been spending Christmans at my parents place with my brother and his girlfriend as well. I’ve just really enjoyed getting out on runs and skis with the whole family! It feels so good to crush a bunch of miles and then come home and feast and lay around the fireplace. 

When I say in-seam you say…?

5-6 inch spandex forever!! Long enough to not chafe on a 20 miler, short enough to still be relatively good looking

When has your ego caused you to do something you sort of regret but also would describe as wild and worth it?

Signing up for Run Rabbit 100 mile after DNFing my first 100 mile attempt at Western States in 2021. I wasn’t willing to accept that all these other athletes were capable of finishing a 100 mile and I wasn’t! (Hello Ego!) I finished RRR but it took me almost 28 hours, many, many trips to the woods and walking the final 20 miles after destroying my achilles. Kind of cool that I did the damn thing, but also so unnecessary. I had been in the sport for about a year at that point. I just really needed to slow down and recognize that it’s okay for it to take a while to get good at this!

What was your worst running fuel decision? What was the surprising best?

A pear. Turns out these have 20% of your daily fiber recommendation… enough said. Can’t say that any “surprising” fuel choice has ever worked out well for me!

What is your death row meal?

Tacos and enough margaritas to make me forget I’m going to die. 

Out and back or looped course? Why?

I cannot understand how anyone would choose an out and back. A loop is clearly better. You get to run on a greater variety of trails, see more of the surrounding area, and you don’t have people going in two directions on a single track, trying to pass each other.  

Barkley or 24H track race? Why?

24H track race for sure. Barkley sounds like a nightmare to me. To be fair, the 24H track race doesn’t sound great either… but I really hate bushwacking. 

When I say PTRA you say?

I believe the correct answer is the pro trail runner’s association. 

What is one thing that absolutely scares you? Why?

Rattlesnakes. I don’t feel like I need to explain this one. 

Erin Clark running through Trient during CCC.

What is a time you felt you didn’t measure up? How did you get through that?

This occurs almost constantly, but you just keep moving forward, try to get better, and have a good time along the way. 

But if we’re being specific…My senior year of cross country in college my team was projected to win the NCAA cross country championships (University of Colorado, sko Buffs). I had led the team in every race that season and was expected to place top 10 in the country and lead the team to victory. I was at the freaking press conference. Long story, short, I couldn’t handle the pressure, totally cracked and finished outside the top 100. My team finished 4th. I quite literally lost NCAA’s for my team (read about it on Let’s Run too, just to make myself suffer a bit more). 

I don’t think there’s any magic for getting through this stuff. I eventually picked myself up, started seeing our school’s sports psych to work on how to deal with similar situations and worked by butt off in training more than ever. I had “retribution” written on a slip of paper that I kept in  my room, and I thought about that word with every training session I did, like I was going to be so good, so much better, and so unbeatable that I’d make up that mistake to all my teammates and coaches. (That last part is a bit psycho, and I wouldn’t recommend it, but hey, it worked for me at that time). 

Who is another runner that flies under the radar that we should all get to know?

Jen Lichter! A great friend and training partner and while she’s starting to get some more recognition, I don’t think people understand yet how good this gal is!

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