We know. Ultrarunning isn’t an Olympic sport (though rumor has it cross nation will probably be featured at the 2024 Paris Games). But Western States Endurance Run defending champion Clare Gallagher still has a important yr forward. To make an inventory of powerful women within the sport at this moment in historical past and never function Gallagher? That can be an enormous mistake.
She’s confirmed her prowess on the paths with a 2016 win at the Leadville Trail 100 and a victory on the prestigious CCC 100Okay in 2017. Then got here the dramatic victory at Western States in 2019, which got here right down to a dash end—or at the very least ultrarunning’s equal. Gallagher, 27, needed to find her leg velocity within the final six miles when runner-up Brittany Peterson chased her down. Somehow Gallagher dug down deep to fend off the problem and finish in 17:23:25, the second-fastest women’s time on the course.
Fast? Yes. Funny? Hilarious is more accurate. But Gallagher is simply as widely known for her environmental advocacy and devotion to drawing attention to climate change as she is for overlaying 100 miles in a short time on foot. Case in level: she spent the 2 weeks leading up to Western States not tapering, but packrafting and mountaineering in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is underneath menace of oil drilling.
“The whole point of the trip was to see a very fragile ecosystem where thousands of people rely on that ecosystem for their livelihood. How can you say ‘no’ to that?” says Gallagher, who is predicated in Boulder, Colorado. “Western States will come and go, but I do feel like with the severity and intensity and timeliness of the climate crisis, as these opportunities come up I have to take them. It won’t compare to the opportunity to run a race.”
Her love of the outside and of operating go hand-in-hand together with her environmental work.
“Even in the Denver metro area, we have some of the worst air pollution in the country on certain days. The entire American west has the constant threat of fire,” she says. “Being outside every day for a run, I feel so strongly about protecting that ability and the lifestyle that running allows all of us. Right now we have these existential threats to our lifestyles. It’s my duty to talk about them.”
So, when Gallagher thinks about 2020, it’s less concerning the Olympics and more concerning the election. She’ll go on talking excursions all year long in swing districts, where runners have the option to vote for environmental champions or not. “I feel like this election is the biggest of my lifetime with what’s at stake environmentally,” she says.
She’s planning to defend her title at Western States in June, too.
“Although I don’t think I’ll be embarking on an Arctic expedition beforehand this time,” she says, with amusing.
This profile was first revealed in the January/February 2020 print problem of Women’s Running as part of “Front Runners: 20 Power Women of 2020” which celebrates 20 elite feminine runners who are giving power new which means, and a new image. You can see the complete record of honorees right here.