Cole Crosby is the Mike Wardian of Rhode Island. Oh, you’ve never heard of Rhode Island? It’s near New Jersey, a state Cole ran across in 2021. He also ran from LA to Las Vegas in a little known relay race called The Speed Project. Yep, Cole did a solo relay in the hottest part of the desert. Logically he completed Cocodona 250 before he ever finished a 100-mile race. He does all these long events while mixing in snowshoe racing and slurpee runs. Look no further than Cole for a pure ultrarunner, a mix of dedication, miles and extreme fun!
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Cole Crosby. I’m a New Jersey guy living the dream in the tiniest state in the US, Rhode Island. I’m a long time runner, an ultrarunner who loves the extreme environments and distances of our sport, a husband, dog and cat dad and just a passionate dude when it comes to spending time outside.
To pay the bills, I run my own sales agency selling athletic equipment, apparel and more to retailers both in golf, resorts, and now some in the outdoor and run specialty channels.
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?
Chaos Crewing on slack. It’s a business my wife started this year focusing on taking ultra-run crewing to another level. From building a network to enlisting professional chaos crews as a service to runners in need, it’s a really exciting endeavor that I can’t wait to see continue to grow and evolve. The slack network is for runners and members of the community to connect when searching for crew, pacers, aid station help etc.
If you could change one thing about your favorite social media platform, what would it be?
That it shouldn’t be so “important” in today’s world. I find that these platforms have evolved to be more marketing ploys than platforms to connect, share your experiences, etc.
What is a book of fiction that you really enjoyed, for no other reason than you liked it?
Oryx and crake was a favorite of mine. I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories that teach us more about ourselves and the fragility of life and of nature.
What is one song you’ve been listening to on repeat recently?
What is one trend that started in 2020 that you love?
People leaving big cities for the suburbs. It has helped my business become more annual than seasonal.
What is one trend that started in 2020 that you hate?
People leaving big cities for the suburbs. It’s made traffic, accidents, and “rush hour” more frequent in places that did not have as much or had it during predictable times. Now, roads can be backed-up for hours at like 11am.
What are the last three emojis you used?
What is the last thing you bought online?
Leki poles. All the cool kids have them and with a little extra cash from a good sales month for me, it was time to invest.
What is your most controversial food opinion?
I’m a believer that fueling with foods we eat regularly is best. Not goop we ingest because the fastest marathoners in the world use the stuff. I’m a believer in fueling with complex carbs, protein, and fats for ultras.
What three videos are at the top of your YouTube recommended homepage?
Anything about Cocodona, badwater, or the Iditarod trail invitational.
Which Allie is your favorite?
Allie’s doughnuts in North Kingstown, RI.
What argument in mass media do you not understand or think is a worthless issue?
That to be viable and successful in today’s media world, you have to be your own “brand”. I personally hate that word because I’m not a brand, I’m a human.
When you go home for the holidays, what is the food or tradition that it wouldn’t be the holidays without?
The holidays to me are about those sentimental feelings from childhood. I love Hallmark movies, so yes, I do binge watch new Hallmark movies during the holidays. I love how sappy they can be. For food, I love it all. All those seasonal spices are my favorite. Pumpkins, cinnamon; yeah I love it all.
When I say in-seam you say…?
I used to be the 3 inch guy. Now I’m a 5-6 inch inseam. With trail running, I like a little extra length to avoid Poison Ivy and a little longer length to keep my legs warmer.
When has your ego caused you to do something you sort of regret but also would describe as wild and worth it?
My biggest mistake was my first 50-mile at Cayuga trails. I thought I could keep-up with Sage Canaday and ultimately I didn’t fuel, bonked at mile 18 and hobbled all the way to a 9th place finish. Sage won the race that year, he was also the male ultra runner of the year that year too. Whoops.
What was your worst running fuel decision? What was the surprising best?
My worst has been my first 8 years in the sport. I used to take gels every 45 minutes and sometimes double that in 45 minutes. I soon learned that by 2018, my fueling was not working. I’d spike my insulin until I’d hit a wall where no gels could save me.
I then experimented with changing from a 100% carb diet to a more balanced 70% carb 30% fat/protein. As I started fueling with more variety of foods, I soon ran better, recovered better, and became more resilient. Now, I still eat a lot of carbs in my diet, about 55-60 percent but that shift has allowed GI problems to be rare occurrences, and I’m just more consistent in a race.
A funny story was when I went after Mike Wardian’s 50-kilometer indoor track world record (3:07). I ate 2 glazed doughnuts for breakfast and ate my gels as I was on pace to break the record significantly. But as I started to tire, I had a bottle with Gatorade that was switched from my usual fuel and with 1 mile to go I puked all over the track and finished in 3:17. My last mile was a 25 minute mile.
What is your death row meal?
Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.
Out and back or looped course? Why?
Out and back. I like point to point the most but the more I see new terrain the more engaged I feel. Looped courses really play with your motivation and mental control.
Barkley or 24H track race? Why?
24 hour track race. Barkley eats its own, and I don’t want to be eaten by anything. As much as running a loop forever is not appealing to me, I’d do it to say I did it. Barkley is just not my cup of tea.
When I say PTRA you say?
Is this the org for pro trail runners? I am not a member so that might be why I hesitate on that one.
When I say UTMB you say?
If I wasn’t a trail runner, I’d think UTMB was a prescription for stomach aches. Like Tums.
When I think about UTMB, I think, I want to go shopping at the expo! With the US, you just don’t get to see the same brands here at our races than in Europe.
What is one thing that absolutely scares you? Why?
In the past, it was failure. It was also about not belonging, not measuring up to others. I wanted validation so bad In ultrarunning. I saw athletes partner with brands that ultimately unlocked their opportunities to travel the world and I wanted that. It used to defeat me. Now that I’ve been in the sport for quite some time, I learned that the only ones that are going to open doors for me are my friends, family and myself. Rather than relying on outsiders to gain support and validation, I learned I could have all those things myself. Blaze your own trail. And now I feel like I belong.
What is a time you felt you didn’t measure up? How did you get through that?
I’ve lived with imposter issues for a long long time and maybe still do a little even today. I spent the first 8 years of ultra running trying to make US national teams. I came close numerous times and after a 2019 with two runner-ups at 50 mile road and trail, the world championships looked possible and a lock. Then with Covid canceling the event three times, my 2019 season became outdated, irrelevant to making the team. Covid in the Northeast prevented me from running any events so that dream was squashed. I felt a little lost. All the time, personal money invested , and family sacrifices felt wasted. It was a dark time.
Covid taught me a lot. I soon realized, I run because I love to do it and that competition isn’t everything. I then ran my home state of NJ, 197 miles long, setting a state record and opening my eyes to what is possible for me. From that point forward, I realized I wanted to go after more audacious goals I had put-off because I wanted to respect my growth and development. Now I’m motivated by multi-day running events, often well over 100 miles.
Who is another runner that flies under the radar that we should all get to know?
Caleb Bowen. Humble, hard working, and very fast!