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Runner Interview: Malory Peterson (@malorykaye.run.fly)

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Runner Interview: Malory Peterson


  • Location: Kailua, Hawaii

Running the Pillbox Trail at my home in Kailua, HI - Runner Interview
Running the Pillbox Trail at my home in Kailua, HI

When and why did you start running?

I began truly running and racing during my sophomore year of high school. I fell in love with the trails around my hometown in Oregon, and by my junior year I was racing quite competitively in cross country and track. Like too many young women, disordered eating disrupted my goals of collegiate competition, and I spent most of my college years not running at all and engaging in self-destructive behaviors. By my senior year I realized that I needed to change my lifestyle and reclaim my health, so I dropped out of school and took to the trails again. I found such a rebirth of health and love and joy in the outdoors, and began racing ultra and marathon distances. Running has kept me healthy and happy since then, and I truly feel like I was saved by the trails. Engaging in this sport has made me a more powerful and capable person in all aspects of my life.

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

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My ideal race would take place in the Northern Rockies, near Banff or Jasper. Early July so there is still snow on the peaks, but the trails are accessible. Crop tops and short shorts weather. The race would be 50K, and involve some delicious-smelling forested trail, at least one waterfall, and 20 miles of ridge line traverse or peak bagging. Racers would definitely spot a moose, a bear, big horn sheep, a mountain goat, a fox, and lots of marmots. Ideally, the race would somehow traipse through Lake Louise, and there would be a bomb aid station at the tea house, complete with teas and pastries. Finish line would greet racers with mead, a Celtic punk rock band, lots of pizza, and drinking horns. Also the prizes for winners would be golden retriever puppies!!

Hawaii Cliff trails – infamously risky, but so much fun! - Runner Interview
Hawaii Cliff trails – infamously risky, but so much fun!

Tell us about your favourite trail

My favorite trail is the Four Pass Loop in Aspen, Colorado. It winds through 28 miles of the stunning Maroon Bells Wilderness. Every turn yields a breathtaking view of jagged peaks and expansive, green valleys. The red mineral of the mountains is striking against the Colorado blue sky, I just can’t get enough of this trail. Early summer is gorgeous because the wildflowers bloom, but my favorite time to run it is in the fall when the aspen trees are starting to turn golden.

Running on the Four Pass Loop. PC @alpine_runner - Runner Interview
Running on the Four Pass Loop. PC @alpine_runner

Running has kept me healthy and happy since then, and I truly feel like I was saved by the trails. Engaging in this sport has made me a more powerful and capable person in all aspects of my life.

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

Last year I flew to Big Island and met my friend Sean ‘Run Bum’ to run from the ocean in Hilo, to the top of the 13,803-foot volcano, Mauna Kea. It is a bizarrely transformative landscape, running from dense rainforest, through miles of black lava bed, and to the barren summit. We ran without watches or a headlamp, as it was a full moon. Some of the most empowering 42 miles I can remember! I look forward to returning and setting a faster time.

Summit of Mauna Kea – looks like running on Mars - Runner Interview
Summit of Mauna Kea – looks like running on Mars

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

Biggest fail besides every Code Brown above tree line? Ha! I was under-dressed for a snowy long run with my brother, and eager to get in his truck and warm up when we finished. The truck was parked over a giant partially frozen puddle-pond, and somehow he dropped the key into it. We took turns getting on our bellies, sliding under the truck, and searching through the muddy, slushy pool with bare hands trying to find the key. Nothing quite makes you rethink your choice to be a trail runner like groveling in a muddy ice bath after a long run…

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

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Training is a lifestyle, not a means to an end. I don’t follow any plans, I don’t use a GPS watch, and I don’t track my stats. In training I follow a basic guideline: stay dynamic. I try to constantly challenge my identity as a runner by racing different distances and varied terrain. I try not to limit my perceived abilities by making statements like, ‘I’m not a road runner,’ or ‘I don’t race well below 50K.’ Instead, I aim to challenge myself every few months by switching up my focus. Last fall and winter I was entirely focused on night runs and hill repeats to prepare for HURT 100. This spring I am all about track workouts and fartleks. Come summer, I’ll be focusing on high elevation workouts. It keeps it exciting and allows me to grow as an athlete.

What advice would you give to a new trail runner?

Join a trail running group! The best way to learn about the sport is to train with people who have good knowledge. It is also a great way to stay safe on the trail, and to get faster! And honestly, nothing bonds people like the experience of shared suffering!

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

Injinji toe socks! I get wicked blisters no matter the distance, but Injinji socks are the best solution to decrease friction between skin.

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

This year I am excited to try running some fast road races! I am aiming for a PR at the Hapalua Half Marathon in Honolulu. I will also be attempting fast times from sea to summit of the volcanoes Mauna Kea on Big Island, and Haleakala on Maui. But the race I’m most excited for is The Rut 50K in Montana!

Training is a lifestyle, not a means to an end. I don’t follow any plans, I don’t use a GPS watch, and I don’t track my stats. In training I follow a basic guideline: stay dynamic.

Scaling Crestone Needle with another favorite piece of gear – Jurek UD pack. PC @glovevt - Runner Interview
Scaling Crestone Needle with another favorite piece of gear – Jurek UD pack. PC @glovevt

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

My favorite running book is Born to Run. As popular as it is, it truly inspired me to get back into running after years away from the sport. Since reading the book, I’ve been able to meet a number of the runners from the story, and I’ve realized that no matter how fast, no matter how experienced, connecting on the trail brings every level of runner together.

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

I work in Epidemiology for the Hawaii Department of Health, and absolutely love my job. I also coach high school cross country, and co-direct the North Shore Trail Run Camp on Oahu. But my favorite activity is definitely spending time with my fiancée – he is my athletic inspiration and #1 adventure buddy!

Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed Malory! Let us know when you get round to creating your perfect race, getting a Golden Retriever puppy for finishing first sounds AMAZING!! haha 🙂
Happy Trails!

Social media links:



Mentioned in this Interview and recommended by Malory:

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