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March 2022-Ryan Phillips

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)
A: I was born on a ranch in the Slim Buttes of SD. When I was 3 my family sold the ranch and we moved to Dickinson, ND. I ran X-C/Track in middle and high school. I attended Dakota State University in Madison, SD where I ran X-C/Track and graduated in 1995 with a BS in Elementary Education followed by graduate studies at USD. I now work in media for a local non-profit. I have four grown daughters, one granddaughter and another (pretty please a grandson) on the way. 

Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?
A: At a young age I was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe Asthma, and in the sixth grade my doctor encouraged me to start exercising. He said it would help ease my symptoms, so in the seventh grade, I joined X-C/Track and have been running since. 

Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?
A: I enjoy group runs for camaraderie and being around people who share the same passion. When I’m dialed in on my training, I prefer to run alone or with several friends on weekend long runs. 

Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?  
A: I haven’t trained on pavement since college, so I’m a trail runner. I was introduced to trail running while working a college summer job at Devils Tower, WY. I was into rock climbing at the time and a buddy asked if I wanted to run from the tower over the Bearlodge Mountains to Sundance…what could go wrong?. It was my first unofficial ultra. 

Q: What is your favorite distance or race?
A: I’ve run every distance from 100 meters to 100 miles during my 40 years of running. In college I was a middle-distance runner, my specialty was the 1500 meter. Now that I’m older I would say my favorite distance is 50 miles. I like being able to finish in the daylight knowing I’ve pushed my body about as far as I want to. It’s a doable distance that kicks your butt. You have a smile on your face at the finish line and can still maintain an upward stance while enjoying a cold beverage.  

Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
A: I’ve had long stretches where I haven’t run competitively, right now is one of them. I don’t beat myself up about not running, because I know I’ll find myself training again. Lately, I’ve been doing long (10 to 15 mile) hikes with my dogs interspersed with shorter runs. As I get older, I’m finding that sometimes a solid long hike is as good as a run. 

Q: If I didn’t run I’d ………..
A: Have raced in the Tour De’ France.

Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
A: Everything. Running is good nutrition for the soul. I’ve never finished a run or race and thought why did I just do that? 

Q: What is your favorite running memory?
A: In 1993, at the NAIA National Indoor Championships in Kansas City, MO I ran the 1000 meters earning All-American honors. It was my final year running in college and the last year the event was held on a wooden banked track. Just the sound takes me back. I still have the VHS tape of the race and have since digitized it for my kids. 

Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual?
A: Not really. I like to show up, and wait for the gun. 

Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned from running?
A: It’s given me confidence, direction and has always been the one thing I could count on. I can’t imagine where I would be without running in my life. 

Q: What is one of your funniest running stories?
A: Probably the 2013 Lean Horse 50K. Halfway into the race Kaci Lickteig and I were leading and I looked over and said see you at the finish line. Chris Stores and I were manning an aid station that weekend for the race and had stayed up all night having fun. I beat Kaci by a few minutes. I had a sore neck for a week.

Q: What are your running goals for the future?
A: Always be on the trails. We are so fortunate to live where we do and have access to a world-class trail system and awesome running community. 

Q: Who inspires you most?       
A: Seeing fellow runners go above and beyond what they thought was possible. I’ve always been inspired by people who push their boundaries. 

Q: What advice do you have for new runners?
A: If it brings you joy, pursue it with hell-bent abandon.