Clare Gallagher is a pro trail runner from Boulder, CO. She’s one of the most decorated runners of the current era but always marches to the beat of her own drum and is widely admired as a result. In this conversation we talk about Clare’s love affair with diving, going to grad school, ditching social media, low volume training, why she doesn’t feel like she’ll make her living as a pro athlete much longer, the Black Canyon victory and much more.
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Dylan Bowman: Hello world. How is it going? I am soaking in the last few days here in California, before heading back home to Portland, it has been so nice to get a little sunshine heading home, a tiny bit fitter than I was when I arrived a couple weeks ago, which is a small victory. Something I hope to build on when I get home, but I hope you all are doing great wherever you are in the world. Welcome back to the free trail podcast. Of course, my name is Dylan Bowman, and today we are sharing an interview. I recorded last week with the great Claire Gallagher, the champion trail runner from Boulder, Colorado, who is just coming off another awesome victory in her career. That being a first place finish at the black canyon hundred K just a couple weeks ago in the desert in Arizona. Claire should need no introduction to this crowd.
Dylan Bowman: She is only 30 years old, but she really is already one of the most decorated ultra runners in the world. At least over the past six or seven years, she's a Leadville champion, a Western states champion, a CCC champion among many other things. Um, but I think what I, and what most of us love most about Claire is that in addition to being a great champion, she's also wise and hilarious. And generally just a good example for us to follow as to how to use your platform to do good in your community and in the world. This honestly is one of my favorite episodes ever. I have to say we cover a lot of stuff from her recent love affair with diving to her abandonment of social media, her low volume training, why she doesn't feel like she'll make a living as a pro athlete, much longer.
Dylan Bowman: Of course, we talk about the black canyon race, why she didn't take the golden ticket and a lot more. This was really a fun conversation. I hope you guys enjoy it as always. The free trail podcast is made possible with the support of our presenting sponsor, that being speed land, the small boutique trail footwear startup from Portland, Oregon, and the best trail running shoe ever produced. The SL PX. My shoe of choice produced by this great tiny independently owned company. The speed land guys are running an awesome giveaway right now for a trip to Oregon to run the Gorge waterfalls race that's put on by us at free trail. Along with our partners at daybreak racing, it is perhaps the most generous giveaway you will ever encounter. It includes a flight to Portland, a race entry, a pair of the SL PX, a race kit dinner with the founders and myself, food and lodging for the entire weekend.
Dylan Bowman: And much more. You can check out the giveaway. If you're interested in coming to the firstname.lastname@example.org speed, land.com. The entry period ends next Monday. That's February 28th with the winner being announced the following day March 1st. And if you are in need of a pair of shoes, go to run speed, land.com put in code free trail, 15 capital F free trail, one five for 15% off your purchases of the SL PX. Thank you so much to speed land for their support of the show on with the program. I hope you'll enjoy catching up with the great Claire Gallagher. We'll catch you in the outro. Well, Claire Gallagher. Hello. Welcome to the podcast. How are you?
Clare Gallagher: Hey, Debe thanks so much for having me
Dylan Bowman: What's off, dude. Are you back in Boulder, Colorado, it looks like, uh, your, uh, broadcasting from your, uh, your apartment there or something.
Clare Gallagher: Yep. I am. I don't know if you can see my cat mermaid.
Dylan Bowman: Hey, mermaid
Clare Gallagher: Sweep on the bed. Yeah, she's happy. Mommy's home. Yeah. Yeah. I'm in Boulder.
Clare Gallagher: Uh, yeah. Uh, it was, it was a fantastic nine hours in the desert.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well, congratulations. And you know, we'll go into the whole race experience. I want to get the full blow by blow, but I wanna start on sort of the, the personal and professional front last time you and I talked, you were sort of like doing some work for Patagonia. You were thinking about going to law school. What's happening in the life of Clara Gallagher before we get into the running stuff.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah,
Dylan Bowman: Awesome. And Marine conservation has always been somewhat of a passion of yours. Is that how mermaid got her name also?
Dylan Bowman: Is that really?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: So what about, what about the Marine stuff, uh, inspires you rather than other types of conservation work?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah, it's, it's it, it's not the first thing that comes to mind when, you know, most people talk to me cause it's like, yeah, I'm a professional runner. I, I run long races in the mountains. Uh, but for four years when I was, uh, in undergrad, out of New Jersey, I was studying coral, not in New Jersey, not to get confusing.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. There's there's, there's diving out there. Yeah. But, um, I was studying in the Tropic, so I would, I spent a whole summer in Bermuda, summer in Pau and I mean, Dylan, have you, have you been snorkeling? Tell me, tell me your experience.
Dylan Bowman: I'm an amateur snorkeler. I've done it. Uh, it's actually probably been about five years since the last time I snorkeled in Mexico actually. And it was a fantastic experience. We saw whale, we saw all sorts of oh, awesome Marine life. Uh, I've never done scuba, but um, I know, you know, you've been sort of active in the diving world yourself. So I don't know, give me the sales pitch about why I need to take my Marine recreation more seriously.
Clare Gallagher: Well, that's sweet. You've you saw whales, uh, you know, talk about,
Dylan Bowman: I lost it too. Spiritual experience, spiritual experience.
Clare Gallagher: Oh man. I'm totally Stok I've never seen whales in the water. I'm like I'm living through this right now. Um, yeah. So, well, one, I think you have free diving in your future because free diving is like the more physical, mental version of scuba diving. You can't do the exact same stuff cuz it's on one breath. Yeah. You know, you're not chilling at 40 feet for an hour. Yeah. Like you are on scuba, but uh, it's, it's been my total. It's been my vice the last few years. Like I got certified in yeah. In Boulder at this dive shop called ocean first. And of course there's like this sweet instructor from Florida who totally knows his shit and he dives really deep and it's, it's a, it's a meditation, it's a spiritual experience. And then, you know, then I can, so being in a kinda loosey goosey situation right now, I've been able to spend time in Hawaii. The last two winters. Yeah. So, so that's been just like pure, Ugh, just such a gift.
Dylan Bowman: Can we talk about it a little bit? Because from what I know about free diving, you obviously have to be good in the water, but it also requires emotional control, psychological control because as you said, it is one breath and when your brain senses that it's running out of oxygen, there can be an instinct or a reflex to panic. And when you're freediving of course that can be a dangerous situation. Talk about the training that goes into these free dives and maybe what meditative or stress relieving properties you've seen in your life.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. So most people think, oh, well how long can you hold your breath? And that training comes, it comes relatively, uh, not quickly, but it can come, especially for someone who's like running as much as you or I do. Uh, but that's not the limiting factor. Like to be honest, I don't do dry land apnea training. That's like breath, hold training. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Pressure,
Clare Gallagher: Pressure and equalization, and that requires repetitive training at depth. So the short answer is I'm not really training that much because I would have to live on the water and do this for month long stints, you know, you can't just go blow, blow your muscles up for like a week and then be like good to go to 150 feet at least like I can't, um, I'd have to, you know, basically move to the water for six months and, and do, you know, strong training and some people do they do it for maybe like a month. Um freediving and it is,
Dylan Bowman: It's one of those things such, it, it like becomes kind of part of people's identity and lifestyle much like trail running. Does doesn't
Clare Gallagher: It? Oh, totally. It's it's, there's so many similarities between the free diving world and ultra running. I think free divers are actually a lot, like a little bit quirkier cause there's cuz there's fewer of them for one. Yeah. And if you're competing, you're really only looking at a line in the water column and that doesn't interest me as much as being able to go look at coral, look at fish, man, rays, maybe I get the chance to counter, to see a spot of spinner dolphins, you know, and then my life is complete and I can, you know, it's,
Dylan Bowman: I'm sink to the bottom of the ocean and it's
Clare Gallagher: It's all good. Yeah. Like, like I've, I've made it, um, so that's my interest and, and like, this is not, it it's it's it takes that mental component of cleaning your slate, you know? Yeah. You can't go into the water, even if you're going down just for like 30 seconds with the stress of life, the stress of COVID like, you know, work, stress, whatever you have to clean your slate when you're in the water. And that is why I'm totally addicted to it. Yeah. Like,
Dylan Bowman: And that breath hold component helps with kind of stealing your internal voice a little bit. Doesn't it? I know cuz I've done like some breath work training and just sort of doing some of the practices, just laying on the ground in the living room with harmony, we do it occasionally and it really does have a beautifully calming feeling, uh, to it once you, once you've done it. And I know that part of the free diving practice is practicing the breath holds and doing the breath work and doing sort of like the oxygen saturation prior to diving it's uh, yeah. It's something that intrigues me. Maybe you can, uh, take me for a trip one day.
Clare Gallagher: I want a hundred percent down
Dylan Bowman: Maybe we can combine the too. Yeah.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. It's also like, you know, you can get into the physical sports physiology almost like whim H ass types of yeah, yeah. I know we, we met
Dylan Bowman: So yeah, no doubt. Well, yeah, I mean I think, think this is a perfect place to start because it kind of touches on a lot of the things that I wanted to talk with you about. I've been reading your blogs and you've been intentionally also, I, I think as you've mentioned, sort of stealing your mind and calming your nervous system, you've also intentionally sort of changed your interaction with the world digitally. And we'll get into that in a sec, but you know, maybe to touch on running a little bit before we go too deep, um, you've been a little bit quiet on the, the competition front, obviously you're just coming off an amazing victory of the black in in hundred K. But the last thing I remember you doing was sort of slogging out a tough 17th place finish at Western states last year. What have the last like six or seven months been like on the running front for you?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. I mean that's kindly, you're, you're putting it kindly it's it's been a bit of a wash of a couple years. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: What happened there? I never got the, the story from you.
Clare Gallagher: I still don't even know it was a, it was a combination of just like, you know, I think 10 little things that all added up. Yeah. Like a fall early on blown quads early on, um, bad nutrition early on like nothing that exciting, but this is like why we do ultras, right? Yeah. And I'm like, oh crap. Like this is gonna be one of those races for me where like
Dylan Bowman: Kudos to you for slogging it out. Claire. I mean, I think there's probably a lot of people who being in your position, coming back as the defending champion with, you know, at least some pressure to kind of revalidate that victory or prove that it wasn't a fluke quote, unquote obviously mm-hmm,
Clare Gallagher: Of course the temptation starts at like mile 10, right.
Dylan Bowman: Really?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. But I mean, no, he was like definitely fit, but uh, you know, we all have
Dylan Bowman: Supportive either way, right? Yeah,
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. Kudos, my buddy Mikey. Oh God. Yeah. Well,
Dylan Bowman: Congratulations. I mean, I think it sets a good example too, Claire. I mean, obviously there's a time and a place to pull the plug. You had experienced that at Western states all the way down at mile 93, you pulled the plug a few years ago before winning and bringing home a Cougar trophy. And then yeah, you rounded out the trifecta with another tough one 17th place finished, but it does. I think it's, uh, you know, it's a spiritual journey and it's a moral victory to make the finish line on a tough day like that. And I just did that for the first time, myself in October at the grand Ray, that was the first time I really had to like slog it out and there's definitely value in doing it. But you know, in addition to sort of being quiet on the competition front, you've also been quiet on the internet front and I know this has been a really sort of intentional pivot or an intentional change of your online presence and your digital consumption. And I think you've written about it a lot on your website. So I just wanna open the door to this conversation cuz I think it could be really valuable for people.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. So the last few, in addition to not having a lot of running competitions in the last few months, um, I've, I've just started to ask myself like, why do I do certain things? Like why, why do I doing here?
Clare Gallagher: Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: I want to talk about that eventually. Let's remember to talk about
Clare Gallagher: That. Yeah. Okay. Um, but I, I basically was like, you know, I don't get that much joy out of like being online scrolling. I, I feel like I haven't even seen a lot of my running buddies cuz the last few years, and I want to basically force myself to have more intentional one-on-one whether it's like a phone call, a text, um, if people wanna know what I'm up to, like they can, you know, that's what friends do we like talk right.
Dylan Bowman: And, or subscribe to your newsletter, which I just did your blog. I mean, so I mean, keep, keep going. But I want, I wanna talk about like, cuz it's not like you've given up on the world, you've sort of like scrubbed your Instagram profile, but talk about this like intentional change with how you're interacting with the internet.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Well, and there's a lot of like nuance to it. Right. Cuz there's no silver bullet to anything, but basically I got pretty disturbed at what Facebook now meta, you know, has figured out that their products do to the youth to, and to all people. Yeah. And you can just like look on like Google scholar and type in like social media and mental health. Right.
Clare Gallagher: Like I have a blog, that's not premeditated, but I'm saying these companies that sort of put our creativity into little boxes, um, which is great for some people like totally, totally respect that.
Dylan Bowman: There's definitely positives to it. But
Clare Gallagher: I mean, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Information sharing. I mean the activism side there's positives. So it's not, again, it's not a silver bullet, but I wanna show people that like you can still run at a high level. You can still we'll see how long I, I make money off of it.
Dylan Bowman: That's really, that's really cool Claire. And I mean, I think you're always a leader. You've probably always been like that in your life. And I think this is sort of, I mean you could call it risky as a professional athlete, but also, I mean, if you think of like Jim Walm, he's not the type of guy who's always online tooting his horn or whatever. He's probably not spending a ton of time just like doom scrolling either and he makes a good career out of it. And I think it's long as you want to be a professional athlete, there's gonna be people who will want to support you, especially somebody with the voice and the mission that you have. And I was actually curious about that too, because I know being a professional athlete, a professional female athlete online always comes with creeps or whatever, but also when you have sort of this vocal environmental and social justice mission that you're talking about, I'm sure you probably get a fair share of obnoxious potentially hurtful criticism online as well. Did that play into your decision to distance yourself from social media?
Clare Gallagher: Uh, yeah, a little bit. Um, nothing like directly hurtful towards me. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: I mean, I think it's an important topic of conversation because social media is so ubiquitous now and when you have a following and when you use your voice, there's gonna be a lot of people who wanna tear you down or want to have a debate and want to, for lack of a better word, hurt your feelings. And it sucks, dude. It sucks. And really for the first time in my career, I'm starting to get like a decent amount of it because I like publish podcasts and say things in the world
Clare Gallagher: Well, I mean, yeah. And on that, I think it's like, ultimately everyone will know what's right for them. Yeah. And I think that's, if, if people are like wondering, oh, what should I do? It's like, don't ask me the answer is in yourself. Yeah. Like, you know, like you're, you know, you're deeply, deeply in the altern community, you know, you're abundant, you're an elite athlete. You're, you're every, you're all of the above right. Businessman. And so it's like, yeah, you probably have to decide that like, you're gonna have to deal with this, like the, you know, the haters and whatnot and you know, deep down you're worth. Yeah. And you also don't have to respond to the haters. Yeah, no, you know,
Dylan Bowman: Like that's been the hard part cuz I want to be very defensive and, and very mean, uh, in return. But anyway, let's I wanna talk more about this. Like what you just said about you not expecting yourself to be paid as a professional athlete or be making your living necessarily as a professional athlete long term. You also mentioned that for a while now you've actually held like sort of an employment role with Patagonia as well. And I think this is really the wave of the future for really 360 degree athlete relationships with their brand partners. So talk about what you're doing with Patagonia and sort of what the long term career path is that you see ahead of you, if you can predict such a thing.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. So Patagonia employs a handful of ambassadors. So, and ambassadors are typically like what, um, a sponsored athlete would be. So it's like a contract based, um, yeah. A sponsored athlete more or less, although Yvonne Sard doesn't like the term athlete. I've heard that before, so that's why they're called ambassadors. Yeah. Um, so, but a few of them, a few of us are employees basically to, to go a little bit deeper on whether it's the marketing side or the environmental campaign side. So most people are well aware of the climber Tommy Codwell
Dylan Bowman: I mean, you're being modest. This is a no humility zone on the podcast. I mean, you're a Western state's champion, you're CCC champ. You're one of the best of our generation dude.
Clare Gallagher: I'm sort of thanks Ebo. I'm I'm explaining sort of those spread though, of these employees at Patagonia, right? Yeah. Yeah. And so in the last few years I have sort of leaned more into the marketing side of things, um, for whatever handful of different reasons. And, uh, it's been fascinating, really, really interesting to see how much work goes into campaigns and um, how much the people at Patagonia truly, truly care about like grassroots environmental issues. Yeah. Um, so, but in this journey I've also realized like I'm not cut out for this type of job. Okay. And like I'm not made to work in marketing or the outdoor industry, I think Uhhuh
Dylan Bowman: I, is there, is there a path within the Patagonia architecture to where you could potentially move out of the marketing side of things more into the environmental side of things? Um, or do you think you wanna do something totally different?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Well, first off I gotta, I gotta go like learn some more stuff.
Clare Gallagher: I gotta, I gotta learn more about like how our oceans work, how, how the UN like operates, um, protecting these seas. Like our, our seas are just the wild west right now. It's, it's pretty gnarly. And so I'm, that's why I'm focusing on just like getting back into school, uh, filling my brain with that kind of stuff for now. Um, and yeah, I, Patagonia is just like so, so supportive. Um, I, I don't know the answer to that question, but, um, yeah. Yeah. I I'd like to, you know, stay working with them as closely as possible for as long as I can.
Dylan Bowman: Good, good. No, I think it's a, it's a really good move for them and for any brand. And it's really kind of what I'm doing now and this new phase of my career and David Laney, David Laney posted last week. You you're not on Instagram, but I'll tell you David Laney posted last week,
Clare Gallagher: Um, yeah. Well, I guess it's not specific to marketing, but Patagonia, like the, the product testing is so phenomenal. Like that's, I think one of my favorite parts of being a runner and, and then working with a brand that's making products and I wonder, I'm curious how it is with you and speed land, cuz that's what you're talking about. Like
Dylan Bowman: Right. Yeah. Yeah. And other stuff that I can't talk about, but
Dylan Bowman: But, but yeah, I mean it is, it's like where you feel that you're not just an athlete, right? Like you're a partner, like you're an employee, like you're actually making a difference, not just getting a box of clothes and shoes.
Clare Gallagher: Right. And that your experience of spending, you know, X, many hours out there really means something. And, and I have so much respect for designers. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Yeah,
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Um, it, it gives me hope for, you know, our generation is sort of seeing this new wave of like less consumerism, more conscious consumerism. You know, we're not just like trying to buy the cheapest shit, like yeah. A hundred times over. And, and that makes me so excited to be a part of that. More than anything,
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Dylan Bowman: So check out the gnarly BCAAs, check out the fuel two oh, go visit, go gnarly.com. Use code free trail 15 for 15% off your order. Go gnarly.com free trail 15. The free trail podcast is made possible by the free trail mobile app and the free trail community. Are you setting big goals for the 2022 season? Are you heading into spring training? Feeling like you could use a little extra guidance or a little extra support? If so, come join the free trail community and let us help you along your journey in this wonderful sport, you can find the app in the Android or iOS app stores and take advantage of all of our training plans, our how-to training content, our strength and movement programs, yoga breath work, and so much more. We just put up a trail 1 0 1 content program on how to use poles effectively, how to get better running technical downhills, how to improve our climbing ability. And we also do community zoom calls every Wednesday at 11:30 AM Pacific time, the highlight of my week. And you can get access to all of that for only $120 a year. That's right. Only $10 a month. So go search for us in the app store or visit free trail.com and hit the button on the homepage that says download the app. We would love to have you part of the team. Thanks so much.
Dylan Bowman: Let's talk about your race this weekend, dude. You smashed it, you smashed it. Um, let's uh, I know back in the fall, because I was reading your blog that you were sort of training up for a, a road marathon. You ultimately, I think got injured or something, but talk about sort of when, uh, black canyon landed on your radar and, uh, sort of when the preparation started.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah, I was training for cm, so California international marathon, fast marathon, and, uh, I've never done a road marathon
Clare Gallagher: And, and so I said, let's, let's sign up for a winter ultra. Yeah. And I've been to black canyon before I did it on, uh, the out and back Rainier in 2017. Oh, okay. It was totally miserable. It was like the most miserable day.
Dylan Bowman: Western states takes a lot outta you. I mean,
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Emotionally and physically the whole thing.
Dylan Bowman: So I mean, cause you have to run so fast. I mean, on paper it looks like this easy, fast course, but it's also a hundred degrees and you're like on the rivet the whole time. So you're completely blown afterwards. But anyway, I wanna talk about that later when we start talking about sort of like why you declined the, the golden ticket, but you know, you've sort of teased it now, but let's talk a little bit more about the training because you know, for me seeing that you were training for cm, obviously it seems like that type of training. Once you got healthy again, you were really able to build off that speed block and come back and race a hundred K really well. But you've mentioned your coach, David Roche a couple of times. And one of the things that I also just really love and admire about you is the fact that you're like a low volume trainer and that you and David really work together to like maximize bang for buck time and mileage wise with your training. And I think it's a great lesson for the younger athletes who are coming up in the sport. And even for people like me, to be honest, I mean, because it is easy to get caught up in how much volume are you doing and what's this guy or this gal doing. And how do I compare? So talk about your guys' relationship and how you came to this strategy of sort of, I would call it moderate, low, moderate volume of training.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. I've been with David for almost six years now. Uh, bid, it sounds weird.
Dylan Bowman: We get
Clare Gallagher: It, you know? Yeah, yeah. Uh, dear friends with his wife, Megan, God, I love, I love those too. Yeah. But so yeah, it's been a work it's been an evolving process. Like it's, it's been something that I feel like David just is able to see people almost more before they can see themselves, you know? And, and that comes from like a spiritual sense, a love for running sense also, um, a physical sense. And, and so, uh, it, I mean, it's almost like, you know, I don't have words for it. Mm-hmm
Clare Gallagher: I always choose my races. Yeah. Um, and then he builds it in and, and that's worked really well. And sometimes I choose really kind of not great racing schedules or he's like, oh, okay, here we go. You know? And um, we've, we've definitely excelled at nailing in these like adventure hard effort runs a couple weeks before a race. That's like a, a marque part. I feel like of David and mys, um, training, you know, he has all the classic swap stuff. Six days a week, max. Yeah. Um, uh, like I'm low mileage. There's just nothing much to say there. Yeah. But one, one workout a week, roughly one long run a week. Um, but I did a 50 K this year in January, uh, three weeks before black canyon. And it was like up, you mean a 13,000 foot mono?
Dylan Bowman: Was that a, was that a race or was that just a personal 50 K
Clare Gallagher: No. Yeah, no, I like made that up. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: So that was, that was like a good test of the endurance and of the engine that you did on Hawaii. Exactly.
Clare Gallagher: And time on feed,
Dylan Bowman: But like your, the biggest volume week was that week for you leading into black canyon where you did like a total of 82 miles and 32 of 'em were on this volcano run that you did. Yeah. And it really like, I mean, I haven't looked, I'm not the type of person that scrolls Strava and I get the sense that you're not either, but probably, you know, there's at least a few people in the field that are doing 50, 75% more training than that. Oh. Per
Clare Gallagher: Week. 100%. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. So what do you think, what do you think, uh, how do you think you're able to race at such a high level on that type of volume? Is it simply the fact that David recognizes when you're excited, you race better or when you have more energy, you race better, what do you think it is that makes you able to succeed with that level of training?
Clare Gallagher: Well, two things first, uh, I don't really log, at least when I was in Hawaii for a month, I was not logging my dive time and that adds to something, okay. I don't know what it is, but it's, it's like, it's the sacred time that I'm just like, I don't even know how you log freediving on Strava. So I'm like, I'm not logging this, you know? Like what, and, and so I know deep down in my heart, like I'm fit. Yeah. I feel so fit.
Dylan Bowman: Can you feel that while you're diving, like, can you feel your aerobic fitness while you're underwater? I
Clare Gallagher: Mean, you do a, you do a couple hours around in the morning, you dive right after for an hour. Yeah. And then you go back out at sunset and dive for two hours and, and I'm saying diving basically like diving deep snorkeling messing around. Yeah. Like that, that's just, that's just how you, I, I actually was putting in kind of a lot of volume. Yeah. Like, okay. Not in the way that's gonna make me injured, but I have like these three foot long fins, um, that made my legs just like, I don't know what they did to my legs, but
Dylan Bowman: Dude, I'm in California right now. I'm gonna drive out to the beach as soon as we're done and just dive as deep as I can and try and duplicate your fitness. Yeah. But do you ever feel like, I don't know, do you ever feel like you're not doing enough or do you ever get caught up in the, in the volume of the competition? The training volume is so
Clare Gallagher: To answer your actual question, 100%, like compared to pretty much all of my competitors, I am, I'm running more or less the least amount. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Awesome.
Clare Gallagher: He would sometimes literally only race, like on the track run a 3 58 and then he would spin the rest of the week. Wow. And you know, that's an extreme example, right. I'm somewhere kind of towards his end, but I'm not anywhere near that. Yeah. And then you have the pure volume people on the complete other end of the spectrum and they might also be running, you know, super high. Yeah. So it's like, this is a spectrum. And I think we do obsess, especially as ultra runners on that volume heavy end or ver end. And, um, it's just like, you gotta, you gotta turn off the noise and just know what works for you.
Dylan Bowman: And you have to, it's hard though,
Clare Gallagher: For sure.
Clare Gallagher: I love your little smirk, cuz it's like, I feel like you're thinking of those times in your life where you're like, yeah, we've been dialed like last summer at hard rock, a hundred percent. You, you walked in, you had swag, you were chill, but like stoke. And I was like, oh, Dylan's about to wreck house, you know, but you also did train a ton cause you, you can, you can lay on the miles dude.
Dylan Bowman: Well, I mean, but I've always been somebody more like you I've always been somebody who does better on lower volume, consistent volume and you know, a few sort of, um, strategic revs of the engine, for example, like your volcanic effort on Hawaii. I did the backbone trail a few months before hard rock. And so you have the, the big, hard efforts as a stepping stone to the ultimate a goal. But for the most part, it's all just hidden singles and doubles every day, never the type of person who's smashing workouts and whatever. Anyway, great lesson. Great conversation. Let's talk about the race itself because it was pretty dramatic and I, uh, was able to watch a decent amount of the live stream on Saturday. And it seemed like the women's race was pretty exciting because you had Dominika out front all day. And then there was a big chase group of yourself, Annemarie, Madden, Addie Brae, Taylor Nolan, and, and many others. Um, talk us through sort of like how the race played out. Did, did Dominika go out front early and, and what was, was the dynamic like in the women's field?
Clare Gallagher: Dylan? I didn't even see her really like, I, I, I, yeah, she was so far gone. I was real far back at the beginning. I was chatting. I really wanted to execute on my strategy, which was like chill. Like, you know, people say this over and over about Bob canyon, like it's a it's carnage, uh, it's a carnage type race. So, um, what, yeah, I don't, I don't know what place I was in at like mile 10 or mile 20. And I did link in, or kind of sink in with this group of it was early on. It was Devin Yako, Taylor Nolan, who Anne Marie Madden showed up another Canadian. Uh, Catherine Short EU EO was in there at some point. Um, and basically we were chatting, Addie was ahead of us. And then we eventually, the group kind of started to, to thin out, you know, and honestly, Anne Marie Mattin is the world's best pacer. Like I, this woman is so fast. She's
Dylan Bowman: Great.
Clare Gallagher: And she won't tell you that. Yeah. Yeah. She's just, she's so, so great. And I'm like, Anne Marie is so smart. I can't, I don't wanna go too far ahead of Anne-Marie mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: She's mega consistent. Yeah. She's not the type of person that blows up.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Just so consistent. So that was really, really fun. We were in a group. The last I was with a group, I was with Anne Marie Addie and uh, Catherine Short. And then I happened to get to this aid station. It was about mile 31. Um, and I went straight to like the water bucket and they like went straight to like get water and, or to, and I wanted to get, get washed down. Right. Yeah. And get away. And um, and so I was outta there first by whatever stroke of luck, whatever. And then I looked back and I'm like, oh, they're kind of taking a minute. And so I was like, okay, I guess this is it. It's halfway through. Now's the time I think we can wind up a little bit. Let's see who can hang on. That
Dylan Bowman: Happens a lot. Doesn't it? It's like a lot of times this separation happens at the aid station and then you have to like hit the gas at least a little bit. Huh?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. And make a decision of like, I'm not waiting. I feel good enough. Yeah. And so luckily there was a, at another out and back to this saw like black canyon city aid station around mile 37. So I was able to see everyone and Marie was like, not far behind, but the craziest thing Dylan was Dominika who's supposedly right. 7 0 400 K runner. Everyone's talking about how fast this Polish girl is. She is fast. Let me tell you because she was 15 minutes ahead of me. Yeah. At mile 37. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm like, there's no way in hell. I'm gonna catch her. Yeah. Unless she blows up and in my mind I'm like, well, this is why it's an ultra. I'm like, uh, David said, if I feel good at 37, like the rest is, he's like, it's gonna be a good race if you're smiling at 37. And I was smiling at 37
Dylan Bowman: David at, at some point I think posted that you were as far back as nearly 30 minutes behind DOA. Is, is that, is that accurate?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah, that probably was early on
Dylan Bowman: If that's possible. Wow. I mean, that's, that's huge. So, I mean, you had a smile on that means that you weren't totally discouraged by the split to Dominika
Clare Gallagher: And I knew how well I was fueling, like I was taking an extra bottle. It seemed like most people were only fueling with two soft FLAS and I had grabbed three, um, at mile 20, cuz it's like, it's 80 degrees out. What?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. You know, and I just chugged it and it was probably 200 calories of, of um, you know, powder honey singer powder. And, and so that kind of stuff, I was just feeling so proud of myself and I'm like, dude, this is an ultra and all these little things add up and I'm, I'm ready to go, you know,
Dylan Bowman: On your Strava, you said I drank a fuck ton.
Dylan Bowman: I'm not sure if I'm not sure if that's a scientific measurement, but what a great lesson. Yeah.
Clare Gallagher: You know, we have aid stations. No, one's, we're not, no, one's out here trying to like, you know, be a hero and like get by on not a lot of water. It's like, I I'm aided. Yeah. In a hundred K like I'm gonna drink a super smart possibly can and the gels. Um, so did
Dylan Bowman: It feel like a hot day? Cause it was supposedly 80 degrees,
Clare Gallagher: Dude. It was, it was disgustingly hot.
Dylan Bowman: Do you think that your time in Hawaii right before the race helped out with that acclimatization rather than being in Boulder right before
Clare Gallagher: One, 100%. I have so much gratitude to the big island.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. So, so, so
Clare Gallagher: I say with Anne Marie, she was training in Canada, so it's not impossible, but I love the heat and the fact that I was like, oh my God, it is so
Dylan Bowman: Hot. Yeah.
Clare Gallagher: Means it was, I, I think it was really hot day.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well, great job. And you said in your Strava that you got a visual of Dominika with about three miles to go. So, I mean, it came down to the wire. Do you wanna just kind of describe those last few miles before we move on to the declining of the golden ticket?
Dylan Bowman: Just don't. So she was, she was probably hurting from that early hot clip that she
Clare Gallagher: Was running. Yeah. I mean, she did not, I, I actually am curious. I wonder if anyone can figure out, I, I, I don't know yeah. How she's doing. She did not. Um,
Dylan Bowman: She wasn't looking good.
Clare Gallagher: Looked that great in the heat. Yes. I think the heat just was like that gnarly. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: So, well, it was super exciting to watch both races and, and the men's race, true heart brown went wired away and do Dominika nearly pulled it off until you caught her in the last three miles of the race, which rarely happens in ultra, as we all know, but, uh, brave performances from both of them and, uh, very well executed race from yourself for another just awesome victory. And you've been so solid in your career and you have so many of these just big wins at big races and you always show up. And I think, uh, you know, obviously there's gonna be a lot of people who are curious as to why you decided to decline the golden ticket to Western states. As we've talked about earlier in the conversation you DNF to mile 93, then you won the damn race and then you slogged it out for a 17th place. So you've been to Western states three separate times, but talk about the decision to not take the golden ticket, because obviously you just mentioned that you came to black canyon with the intention that you, you weren't gonna take the ticket. So why, why is that?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Uh, I'm pretty sure I made this decision more or less, like after I finished states last year, was that like, I need a year off from this, this race. Yeah. Um, it is such a special scene, you know, you've done super well there multiple times. Um, I, well, okay. First of all, I get, I finish the race and the, the person I'm actually most concerned about telling is Craig Farley. He,
Dylan Bowman: He text me. Yeah, we were texting. Yeah. He was like, yeah, Claire didn't intend to take the
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Well, cause as I'm leading up and you know, you don't wanna spray. So I didn't really wanna announce that I wasn't gonna take the ticket cuz that's like, I'm just not, I wasn't like betting on myself before black canyon, even though I did, I did go to black canyon with the intention to win. Sure. Like if I'm going to a race fit, you know, it's what we're all doing. We're trying to win. So I just didn't feel like I needed to say by the way, I'm not taking the ticket. Um, but uh, I guess backing up a year ago, I'm like, I just really wanna be able to focus on some mountain stuff at home. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Can you be more specific please? Claire, are you going for the FK T on longs? I mean, the other thing is like for, for, for me and for a lot of observers of the sport, it's like, well, Claire's not doing Western states. That means she's focused a hundred percent on UT M B, but you're not on the UT M B list. So what are you doing? What are you doing?
Clare Gallagher: Well, it's funny. Cause yeah, I don't even know what I'd have to do to get into that lottery again. I'm like, how do you qualify for UTMB? Cause I wasn't, well, I know, I know Dylan. I just, I pre C I didn't. I was like, I'm gonna take a year off Europe. Yeah. And then, so, you know, it's just a couple years have gone by where I'm like, yeah, I'll eventually get back to that, but there's just so much in my backyard. Like I, my eyes are bigger than I, I just can't get over that. Um, and I don't even have an answer to your question of specifically
Dylan Bowman: Really. Wow.
Clare Gallagher: I, I literally don't like, they'll come. Um, I think there is a chance I would do a hundred this summer and it would be in Colorado. Um, I, I mean, yeah. There's if, if I'm gonna do a hundred, I would, I would consider well
Dylan Bowman: That, that, okay. I was gonna say, say that, narrows it down to like high LASO and Leadville and Ure. Maybe a couple others. Yeah. But that's awesome. I mean, you've won that race in the past and obviously there's, uh, some incredible women who've competed there and uh, does, I think Anne trace still has a very stout course record. Yeah.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. So the year I ran it, I was 24 didn't know anything. Um, yeah. I was 30 minutes off her course record. So like, no one's even gotten close cause I had the second fastest time mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Supposedly that's always been a bucket Lister for me
Clare Gallagher: And the stand one, you know? So, um, but so I finished the race at black canyon and I see Craig Thornley and I'm like, oh, here's the man. I wanna like, you know, kind of give a hug. Cause I basically, I love states. I wanna go back. I wanna go back multiple times in, in the next, in the next 10 years. Yeah. Like without it out and I wanna show up and I wanna try and win states again for sure. Um, it's just not my year, this year. Yeah. You know, and I'm gonna have to work my tail to get back in my tail off. Um, but that's okay. You know, and like Taylor and only got a ticket out of it. So yeah. I'm glad like, uh, it's,
Dylan Bowman: It's, you know, it's actually a good story. I think that's come from black canyon cuz all six of the people who are going to Western states are first timers. You would've been the only person to be a repeat Western states runner from that golden ticket field. And I think it adds somewhat of a interesting dynamic to the Western state start list to have six first timers get their golden ticket at black canyon then well it'll be yeah. Really entertaining.
Clare Gallagher: Well, and they obviously could do well in the heat. Yeah. You know, so yeah. It'll be so entertaining. Yeah. I mean, yeah. Well good
Dylan Bowman: For you
Clare Gallagher: For like very happy spectator. Yeah. It's good. Very happy.
Dylan Bowman: It's great to have that self-awareness because there is probably just some internal pressure of like, oh man, like I could go back and win that thing again. Especially having such a strong day in the heat at black canyon and the race being as important as, as it is. It's pretty impressive to have the self-awareness to think, no, you know, this isn't my year, I've got other goals. I've got other things that I want to do in order to go back to Western states with that feeling of excitement and motivation and hunger to perform there again. And to know that you just don't have it right now, but that it'll come back eventually. That's pretty awesome. Like,
Clare Gallagher: You know, you gotta have that feeling right. That, that deep, almost like guttural yearning for a race that takes that much out of you. Yeah. And to be honest, like I think I'm still recovering from running to Western states to 2019.
Dylan Bowman: One of the great ribbons finishes ever
Dylan Bowman: Hard rock or ultra trail Mount Fuji from 18. Those two.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Yeah. It's like, dude, do you feel like you're still recovering from hard rock has
Dylan Bowman: To suffer well, but Claire, this is, this is a good anecdote because I did Western states one too many years, you know, I, I did what you're not doing. So in 2014 I finished third after finish finishing seventh, fifth, and then third. And I was like, okay, next year I'm gonna win this damn race. Right. Cause I progressed 7, 5, 3, then it has to be one. And, and, but I knew throughout the entire training block, just like I couldn't get myself that same feeling, that same motivation. I just didn't have it that next year. And I should have taken the year off in 2015 rather than going back because I ultimately DNF one of my only DNFs in my entire career. And uh, in retrospect it's so glaringly obvious, like you should have taken that year off from Western states and gone back some other time. And now I'm like, well, I'm just gonna anchor the live stream from now on I'm
Clare Gallagher: Training starts tomorrow, everyone, that's our motto.
Dylan Bowman: That's our insight joke between Claire and I training starts tomorrow. And it's usually we're telling each other that after, you know, sucking down a couple of beers, knowing that we're gonna be useless the following day. So training starts tomorrow in closing Claire. Is there anything else that you're like excited about right now, aside from, I mean, you mentioned you're going back to, to grad school, what you start in the fall, is that right?
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Yeah. Hopefully.
Dylan Bowman: So any, anything else that you're sort of like excited to expend your intellectual energy on? Everybody knows that you're not the, the one dimensional athlete type person. What else has you excited? Uh, as a closing question.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. One thing that's been, uh, top of mind recently is this, um, issue actually not far for black canyon, it's called Oak flat is a place about 40 miles east of Phoenix. And it's, um, a sacred place to the San Carlos Apache it's, um, been their ancestral lands, you know, since time began more or less. Uh, and unfortunately it's, it's on the it's on the docket to be turned into a copper mine. And it's a really wild story of like it's called a midnight writer that happened in the 2015 national defense authorization act at the last moment, you know, where, where senators were trying to pack in pork is what is what they call it. Mm-hmm
Clare Gallagher: And, um, so, so basically
Clare Gallagher: And he got like the whole native American tribe to join in they're they represent, I think like 11 different tribes from around the country, as far as Alaska, and they're doing this, this awesome relay and there's gonna be a gathering on Saturday. I don't know when this is gonna come out. So it might be, um, in the past, but I, I highly recommend everyone a look up Oak flat. Um, it's also, if, if rock climbers are listening, it's, it's one of the best rock climbing, uh, CRAs in, in the Southwest. Yeah. Like that's actually where like Tommy cut his teeth, grown up competitions and stuff.
Dylan Bowman: And so effectively this sacred land is now gonna be opened up for resource extraction. Is that the gist of
Clare Gallagher: It? Yeah, exactly. And it would be an underground copper mine, which poses a lot of like sinkhole threat to, um, a large, large area.
Dylan Bowman: Is there a, is there a way that you can send me some info that I can include in the show notes or at least just like a link where people could potentially get involved. Okay, awesome.
Clare Gallagher: Yeah. Yeah. It's been kind of, I'm surprised there's been a lot written about it in national level media. Um, I don't think it's just gotten that spark quite yet of, um, of what's gonna happen.
Dylan Bowman: Well, once this podcast is released, you know, millions of people are gonna be activated
Clare Gallagher: No, you know, Debo I'm fully, well, I will, I will support your campaign. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Come on, man.
Clare Gallagher: I will support your campaign. Yeah. You know? Um, yeah. So look up Oak flat, everyone. And you know, that might not be in your backyard, but as long as we just keep, keep, you know, talking about what's at risk and keep protecting what we love, like we're so, so lucky. No doubt if we're able to be running on these trails, um, or wherever we are. Gosh. Uh, gratitude for that.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well, gratitude for you, Claire. Congratulations on an awesome victory. I hope that you update your blog soon since you're not on social media anymore with an in-depth race report that we can all, uh, read so that we can get some more of the great details of an performance and, uh, yeah. Keep us posted as to what you do this summer. We'll be excited to follow, but appreciate your time on the podcast. And let's catch up again soon.
Clare Gallagher: Thank you so much. Debo much love tune HARs.
Dylan Bowman: Okay. Thanks so much to Claire. That was such a fun episode for me. I'm just such a big fan of Claire's and I love how she is so willing to do everything in her own way, marching to her own drum, uh, whether it relates to training or social media use or advocacy for various issues, she's just the best. Can't wait to see what she ends up focusing on in the summer. In the show notes, you'll find links to all things, Claire, including the Oak flat issue that we talked about at the very end of the episode, also go to Claire's website, subscribe to her blog. claire.run is the URL. She just put up the race report from her black canyon race. And I have to say it makes me nostalgic for the old days. When we all used to post race, race recaps on our blogs, uh, since then things have transitioned to social media, but Claire being the independent thinker, she is, she is going back to the blog, go read the long form account of her experience at black canyon and that phenomenal victory, a big thank you to speed land and gnarly nutrition for their support of the show.
Dylan Bowman: Find the discount codes and appropriate links in the show notes to take advantage of these great products. Really appreciate everything they do to help us remain a viable business. Big thanks to all of you as well. Really do appreciate you for being here. The passionate trail runners of the world. You guys are the best. Thank you for giving me your time and attention. I really do appreciate it. It means a lot. Talk to you all very soon. Love you so much byebye.