You Made it Weird: Elena Horton

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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.

Everyone has that friend who can do everything. They can fix your car, bake bread, get their taxes done yesterday, and remember to wear pants. Heck, they can do all of those things at once. Everyone wants to be this friend, but realistically they’re just glad to have one in their orbit. Elena is that friend. She has at least 17 degrees, is a coach, a podcaster, an artist, and still finds time to win races. You might have noticed she took the Black Canyon 60k out hot, surprising everyone by holding off a hard-charging field. Out front all day. For the win! Though to many it seemed out of nowhere, a quick search and listen to her podcast illuminates a passionate athlete who understands how to train with a focus on women’s health. Check out The Endurance Drive if you want to know how she can help you reach your athletic potential and watch out for Elena in your fantasy picks going forward for 2024.

Find Elena on Instagram, Strava & Ultrasignup

Elena Horton on her way to win the Black Canyon 60km

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Elena, some call me Len, and my college hockey nickname was “Hortie” which I kinda hope never sees the light of day again (besides here). I’m 27 years old, was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and now live in Salt Lake City, UT with my husband Will. I grew up an ice hockey player but slowly made the transition into running after college. Now I’m a trail runner with the Green Racing Project, but also love skiing, biking, and really anything that gets me outside.

Answering what I do is a little tricky because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I graduated this past Spring from a dual Engineering MS and MBA degree program where I was focused on healthcare tech innovation. I like working with data, can talk your ear off about the challenges of senior care in the US, and am currently considering a range of roles where I can make an impact on healthcare delivery. I also coach other endurance athletes through The Endurance Drive and co-host a podcast on female athlete stories. I’m also starting to dabble in selling the earrings I make on Etsy. I think my goal is to never be put in a box, so I’m keeping it interesting!

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?

I’m one of 4 kids and we have a very active family group chat called “Famalam” for no real reason. It’s now expanded to “Famalam+” with the addition of significant others, and it’s mainly used for my mom to send photos of our dogs way too often. 

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

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted trying to search for a reel I thought was hilarious to show someone, so probably just a much better search algorithm/way to save the good reels, especially the dog content. And also talking bird content, don’t sleep on that stuff. 

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

I’m sure it’s not unique, but I’m currently reading Mistborn and am loving it. Just a strong female protagonist and very cool world-building. Also, I definitely hopped on the Court of Thorns and Roses bandwagon (2nd book was very worth it, didn’t need the rest). 

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

I have a playlist that I made a couple weeks ago called “my love of british angst” and it’s basically been on repeat since then, mostly centered around “Greek Tragedy” by the Wombats. 

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

Remote work! Or at least the option to be flexible and not have to be seen in the office to be getting shit done. 

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

Normalized zoom hangs… if there’s not a very good reason to be a zoom call just to hang out, I’d 1000x rather be doing something in person. 

What are the last three emojis you used?

upside down smiley face (my favorite way to make it clear in writing that I’m being sarcastic, just in case), fire, and twinkly stars. 

What is the last thing you bought online?

It’s not sexy, but probiotics… I started these to try to get my stomach back to normal again after a recent bout with a parasite I picked up in India, and now I feel like my stomach has never felt better!

What is your most controversial food opinion?

That cottage cheese is good! After a recent race it was truly the only thing I was craving so my husband made a special trip to the grocery store so my dinner could just be a big vat of cottage cheese. When it’s good it’s good.  

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

Chicken Shop Date with Paul Mescal 

Phily Bowden training video

a singing audition video for Britain’s Got Talent

Which Allie is your favorite?

I’ve become a big Allie Ostrander fan in the last few months! Mainly through her YouTube content, and I guess I’ve been becoming much more of a Youtube gal recently.

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

I should caveat by saying that I am very out of the know when it comes to pop culture and just rely on my sisters to keep me in the loop. But given recency bias with the Super Bowl, I think it’s ridiculous how much the media is playing up Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship, with commentators speculating it’s a PR move and talking about how much money it makes the NFL. Just let people live. 

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

Having a kitchen dance party with my family, usually with someone holding one of our chihuahuas in the air and playing the Lion King song. 

When I say in-seam you say…?

literally the first thing that popped into my head was out-seam but that seems really basic… sorry.

Elena Horton on her way to bike, climb, and ski the volcanos between Seattle and Portland.

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

When I was about to move out of Seattle to go back east to grad school, I decided to do an epic adventure where I biked from Seattle to Portland via Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood, climbing and skiing them all along the way. I wouldn’t say I regret it at all, because it was wild and worth it like you said, but man was it tough. I spent 3 days in a tent alone waiting for the rain to clear around Mt. St. Helens, got chased by a not so friendly dog in the backwoods of Washington, and got pretty spooked by some serious rockfall on the Fuhrer Finger route of the Mt. Rainier. But I also got to put together all of the biking, mountaineering, skiing, camping, and just plain old figuring it out skills that I had developed through the years, and that was really rewarding.

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

Definitely Chipotle before attempting a long run while I was still recovering from a parasite infection… not a good recipe for success. On the flip side, my stomach seems to be able to handle a lot of gels really well while racing, so I went with Spring Energy gels every 20 mins all of my first 100k and felt pretty great about it. So that’s been my strategy ever since. Also Scandinavian swimmers!! Trader Joe’s got that one right. 

What is your death row meal?

My mom’s crab cakes and (after a palette cleanse) just a big ol’ spoonful of peanut butter. 

Out and back or looped course? Why?

Looped course! I just don’t like seeing the same stuff twice.

Barkley or 24H track race? Why?

Barkley— for the adventure! I love some wilderness navigation. Also running around a track for hours kind of sounds miserable (like Type 4 fun?? miserable during and still miserable afterwards).

When I say PTRA you say?

Pterodactyls association. the PTR just immediately screams pterodactyls to me.

What is one thing that absolutely scares you? Why?

A few came to mind… I can’t help myself so I’m putting them in priority order! 

Feeling trapped. I never want to lose my sense of possibility that I can go out and do anything I want at any time. I’ve always worried about getting on a track and then looking back years later only to realize that I’m not actually happy and have no way out. 

Heights. It’s a little strange considering I’ve done a lot of mountaineering and climbing, but my innate reaction is to get all sweaty and nervous when I’m up high. Like an instant HR jump of 30 bpm no matter what. I think one aspect of why I love mountain sports is that they help me practice how I handle this (and I can tell when I’m out of practice!).

Leeches. I saw the Series of Unfortunate Events movie when I was too young and have been freaked out by leeches ever since.

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

I was playing college hockey at Dartmouth, and everything just felt very off my freshman year. I felt pressure to be stronger and fitter, but I went through puberty late and my body was still adjusting. My lack of confidence athletically and socially cascaded into my confidence on the ice, and it was a negative feedback loop that led me into feeling like a total failure. I started going on runs just to feel comfortable in my skin, relaxed and free. I think this is actually where my love of running and adventure began, because I associated it with everything that my structured athletic upbringing was not providing me. I ended up leaving the hockey team before my sophomore year and slowly getting more into running, skiing, and biking. I still have a tendency to compare myself to the best of the best, which can often lead me to feeling like I’m not measuring up, but I’ve also learned how to recenter myself on my own journey, what’s making me happy, and my faith in the process. 

Elena Horton representing the Craftsbury Green Racing Project.

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

I think all of my teammates on the Craftsbury Green Racing project are amazing, as runners of course but more importantly as people. On the women’s side, Hannah Rowe has been transitioning to trails after a career on the roads and absolutely killing every race she enters, Britta Clark can literally do anything she sets her mind to at the highest level, and Sam Stimac has a mix of infectious positive attitude and toughness that makes her a real force on the trails. I’m super excited to see what they all continue to do in the future. 

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