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Runner Interview: Holin Wilbanks (@holins_trail_hustle)

Runner Interview: Holin Wilbanks

  • Location: Ogden, Utah, USA

Taylor's tunnel
Taylor’s tunnel

When and why did you start running?

It wasn’t until after college that I fell in love with running. I played 2 years of collegiate basketball before getting hurt and turning to running as my outlet for activity. Growing up in Texas, I typically ran roads. It wasn’t until I moved to the mountains in Utah that running truly became inspiring to me. Exploring the local trails; finding hidden waterfalls; hitting peaks with endless views… the trees, the rocks, the snow, the animals… Getting to discover all of this on foot made me appreciate and love the world around me even more.

Describe your ideal race (let us know if it’s real or fictional, and describe details including the location, climate, terrain and duration)

As my non-running friends say, “I’m one of those “weirdos” who actually LIKES to run.” I’ve raced a handful of times but I don’t need a race to stay motivated to get out there. With that said, my perfect race must include miles and miles of changing terrain through canyons and over mountains. I thrive in the adventure of the unknown and I enjoy the motivation of the running community around me.

Holin enjoying the views

Tell us about your favourite trail

I truly live in a runner’s paradise. I am surrounded by miles and miles of stunning trails just right outside my doorstep. I can bag a peak at lunch and still be back at work for afternoon meetings! It blows my mind.

There’s something special about Malan’s Peak though. It’s steep and mean, and beautiful and rewarding all at the same time. Running up Taylor’s Canyon by the cool creek into the pine forest and popping out at the top overlooking all of the Ogden Valley is ridiculously spectacular.

I truly live in a runner’s paradise. I am surrounded by miles and miles of stunning trails just right outside my doorstep. I can bag a peak at lunch and still be back at work for afternoon meetings!

What has been your biggest running / adventure challenge to date?

If you ever run with me, then you will find out quickly that I’m completely direction-ally challenged. You may end up wandering all over a mountain side for hours trying to grab a certain peak, or go miles north to a beautiful waterfall only to find out that it was miles south. Seems like it would be pretty easy but I regularly find myself scrambling through the brush working towards a peak… or just trying to get back home! Be prepared and be ready for an adventure… and have a little extra time on your hands when you head out with me.

Gorgeous lake views from the trails

Tell us about your greatest running fail, we’ve all had – or will have – them at some point!

I get wrapped up in the numbers pretty easily. Even if I’m not training for a race I have my own internal pressure to run a certain number of miles each week, sometimes at the expense of my health, work or quality time with my family. Being a working mom of two kids, I still struggle with this sometimes. But over the years I’ve learned to enjoy and appreciate the time that I can run (I still shoot for 30-40 miles a week) and make it a priority to schedule my days to fit it all in.

What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan?

I wish I could say that I have an approach to training but I really don’t. I try to get one long run in a week and other than that, I just like to get out there and go. Pretty easy-peasy!

What advice would you give to a new trail runner?

Don’t watch your pace. Before I started trail running, I focused on keeping a certain mile/minute pace on the roads. When I moved to running trails, I was really frustrated because I couldn’t maintain that same pace. After learning more about trails, I began to understand the varying terrain (including crossing creeks), the importance of hiking portions of the steeps, and the scramble to the top of the peak. All this will impact your pace but add unimaginable beauty, adventure and wonder to your run. Enjoy every step, creek crossing, boulder crawling, snow shuffling and tree leaping out there!

Walking in the Couds
Walking in the Clouds

What is your favourite bit of running kit, and why?

A good running partner (or two) and a GPS watch. I’ve logged hundreds of miles alone and have enjoyed that time to myself in the mountains, but there’s something even better about sharing the beauty around and a good laugh with someone else. Also, I love my Suunto Ambit 3 watch. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a bit of a tracker when it comes to logging miles and this watch has been one of my favorites.

After learning more about trails, I began to understand the varying terrain (including crossing creeks), the importance of hiking portions of the steeps, and the scramble to the top of the peak.

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I don’t have anything planned just yet, but I have my eye on a couple different races that would consist of some trails that I don’t typically run. I’m looking forward to a spring/summer of adventure!

Whats your favourite running/adventure book, and which songs keep you going when things get tough?

My mood dictates what music I’m listening to if any at all. A lot of times, the only quiet I get is when I’m out on a trail so I embrace the silences. I was in Texas recently and found myself playing some old country songs and singing and laughing all by myself. But typically you may catch me listening to a random mix of Josh Ritter, DNCE and Train.

Navigating a waterfall

Finally, What do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?

I love being a mom and wife and it’s been pure joy to introduce my kids to new adventures. We enjoy snow skiing and hiking and traveling together. I’m also always up for a good glass of wine or a cold beer with a friend, especially while sitting out on a patio! Cheers!!

Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed Holin, not long until the Spring/Summer adventures can begin! Happy Trails!

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As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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