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October 2021-Kristi Ritchie & Callie Ackerman

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)

A: We grew up on a ranch in Northeast Wyoming. It’s always HOME. We went to high school in Hulett, Wyoming. Callie now works for the Forest Service and Kristi is a nurse with Monument Health.

We both love to travel and go on vacations, oftentimes to run a random race one of us found. Between the two of us there are 4 boys: 11, 5, 4, 1—talk about a crazy Christmas. We enjoy seeing them play together and build their own memories.

Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?

A: We both started ‘officially’ running in 6th grade for Hulett Junior High. Callie was a whopping 4’10” and about 60 pounds, so the coaches threw her in the mile. Well she was the smallest kid by far, surprised that a uniform fit. The following year, in a random sprint across the football field the coaches found out she is fast and that started her 10-year sprinting career at Hulett and for Black Hills State University. Callie specialized in the 400m dash but kept it at one lap or less (with a rare occurrence in the 800m – only for team/relay purposes – and much against her wishes). Callie holds 7 high school records and one junior high record at Hulett and upon graduating from BHSU, held 5 records (faster people showed up and now she’s down to 1), she also was state champion in the 100m and 4x800m relay her senior year for Hulett and All-American in the 4x400m and Distance Medley Relays for BHSU.

Kristi also did sprints and long jump at the beginning of her career. However, a teammate of hers was sick one track meet and the coach decided she should run the 800M in her place. Being a sprinter and not knowing how to run the 800M she just tried to sprint it all. She ended doing well and thereafter the coaches decided this was going to be her event. So she ended her track career focusing mostly on the 400m and 800m races. Kristi holds 2 junior high school records at Hulett and was a state runner up in the 800m and 4X400m events and state champion in the 4x800m. Kristi accepted a track scholarship to the University of Mary in Bismarck. It was soon realized the rigorous schedules of nursing school and track workouts weren’t going to coincide, thus ending my “professional’’ career as a runner. 

Now, post ‘official’ sports. We both still love to run. However, the reality of sprinting forever is long-gone, so distance is naturally the next option. Our favorite thing is to find really cool relays or races across the nation and then make a trip out of it. One of the strangest ones we did was a 5K run on our Alaskan cruise trip while we were out at sea. It was a bit strange to run around a boat and keep your balance! The GPS didn’t quite work as it said we were ‘running’ 3 minute miles, haha.
The Ragnar Relays have become one of our favorite events and we have met a lot of runner friends through them. So far we have accomplished road relays in Colorado, Utah, California, and Arizona and trail relays in Colorado and Wyoming.  We attempt to do at least one ragnar a year, so if any of you want to give it a try we are usually looking for a few runners!

Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?

A: Callie – I’m a loner. Or at the very most 1-2 people. Typically always with my dog Leia.

Kristi – I usually run alone, or if it is with anyone it’s a dog! I don’t mind the company but oftentimes the pressure or pace of how others are going to run in a group or the questions “can I run as far as they are going?” or “will I keep up?’’ deter me from group running. I do LOVE the team aspect of Ragnar relays with runners running at different intervals together for 30 hours straight. It is some of the best fun I have ever had!

Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?  

A: Callie – trails are for my mountain bike and roads are where I run. However, I do enjoy trail running, but I’m such a pansy when it comes to running downhill I’m afraid I’ll break an ankle, I just really prefer to bomb trails on my mountain bike. It’s so easy to step outside my house and hit the road running, literally.

Kristi – I have done way more road running. I lived in Las Vegas for 15 years and there weren’t a whole lot of trail runs down there. When I moved back home about six years ago my sister got me into the trail series one year and that was really my first experience at it. It was definitely different and was an adjustment, but I loved the beauty and serenity of trail running.

Q: What is your favorite distance or race?

A: Callie – I’m more of a 5k or less person. I do randomly enter longer events and have done a marathon to check that box, but my favorite races are 2-milers or 5ks. 

A: Kristi- I like 10k’s, we had several of those in Las Vegas. I also like the low stress of a 5k, where you can just jump in one without training. I once said I would never run further than a 10k but now have competed in about 10 or so half marathons I would say. I find it hard to entertain anything further as I just don’t seem to find the time to train with a busy job and kiddos.

Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

A: Callie – my dog motivates me, otherwise she is crazy and digs holes in my yard. Or if I really don’t want to run I will do something different, such as ride my bike or go to a workout class. 

A: Kristi- I enjoy cross training with my peloton and The Hot Room classes in between my running days. I also play coed and women’s league volleyball throughout the winter months most years. I think it is so important to branch out to avoid burnout in any event.

Q: If we didn’t run we would ………..

A: Camp and drink beer. 

Callie – well…..when I don’t run I am mountain biking or skiing, if I didn’t do any sort of activity I would play video games for a significant chunk of the day.

Kristi – when I don’t run I do other activities, I have to do something!

Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?

A: Seeing what you’re capable of. Whether it be a distance or pace, it’s always rewarding to accomplish a feat that you’ve been working towards. Also, it’s really rewarding to do races together and share those memories.

Q: What is your favorite running memory?

A:  The Extraterrestrial 10k at 1:00am (yes A.M.) by Area 51. We’ve ran this race about 4 times, but the first time was the best. Kristi was 8 months post baby, Callie was basically only mountain biking that summer, so it was one of those races we just signed up for because of the atmosphere and went all-in not knowing what the outcome may be. Kristi about jumped on Callie when she saw a dead rabbit on the road in the dark, otherwise I’m pretty sure we both PR’d in that course. The entire atmosphere of this race, staying up all night, everyone in extraterrestrial attire running in the pitch dark of the Nevada desert, made it such a fun experience. Oh and don’t forget the full hot breakfast waiting for you at the finish, and the pool party the next day in Vegas. 

Callie – I also remember almost dying on two separate occasions in the 95 degree BH30k…but I don’t want to talk about those two races, it was too memorable and I want to forget it, ha.

Kristi – One memory I will never forget is my pickup somehow locked my child in the vehicle minutes before having to be at my first triathlon at Hoover Dam. (I have only completed one, it was another bucket list item). It may not have been funny then but something we laugh about now. Turns out if the child hadn’t been in the vehicle they would have made me call a locksmith and wait, I would have definitely missed the Tri.! This way I got the fire department to my house immediately and made it to the race in time! 

Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual?

A:  pooping, if you don’t get it done bad stuff just happens.

Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned from running?

A: Anything can happen. From forgetting your iPod for a 10k to trying to run a Ragnar Relay pregnant and having to poop on the side of the road with NO COVER. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Running is never perfect, but usually the gains win in the end.

Q: What is one of your funniest running stories?

A: We were at the Alien Run, as mentioned above, and we had to do that pre-race ritual thing we mentioned above. So we see this porta potty that is on the race course with no line, the ones in the starting corrals had a horrible line. So we walk out there and of course it’s 1am and nothing but our headlamps for light inside the porta potty. Callie goes first and then when she goes to grab the hand sanitizer which is on the back wall of the porta potty there is this HUGE spider the size of a sand dollar at least so she frantically runs out, shaking the porta potty, and Kristi says what the heck. After Callie rambling about a spider Kristi thought it was going to be this small thing (Callie hates spiders), but she opens the door and says oh hell no. To this day, we don’t go to the porta potty in the middle of nowhere with no line – it can’t be a good sign.

Q: What are your running goals for the future?

A:  To just keep running and have fun. Enter some fun races in cool locations and enjoy the ability to run as long as I can. We would love to complete all the different Ragnar relays across the country (we have done 6) and complete all the different themed Disney races, we have completed two of those so far!

Q: Who inspires you most?

A: Callie – I’d have to say my kids, I want to stay active and running to promote them to be active and to stay healthy for as long as I can to do cool things with them. Currently, however, my inspiration is to return to my former running self but stronger. I completely ruptured my ACL in April and have been on the slow road to recovery, hence why I haven’t been at any club races this year! Sometimes it is easy to forget how easy and simple running is until you can’t physically do it.

A: Kristi- What my sister means is that I inspire her most, haha. My boys are very busy, I have an active kindergartener doing soccer and a 6th grader who is doing cross country for the first time ever. They inspire me to show them dedication and hard work through my running in hopes they will do the same in their sports. 


Q: What advice do you have for new runners?

A:  Consistency is key. Starting out can be waves of highs and lows. It is pushing through the lows that make you the best runner you can be. That doesn’t mean struggling through runs or running when you are hurt, but getting out the door even for just one mile is better than not getting out the door. And take a REST day, meaning no running at least once a week and listening to your body if something hurts. Your body needs to recover. 

Callie – strength train. As we get older this becomes so important. Simple body-weight exercises is enough to keep you injury-free. 

Kristi – Also, signing up for a race always holds you accountable to get the mileage in when there is an event at the end of it. Be forgiving of yourself; you can be SO trained for one event and not another and surprise yourself on how well or not so great you did, but tomorrow is another day. Such is the life of a runner!