Runner Interview: Morgan “Mo” Hope Sjogren
Location: Mammoth Lakes, California
When and why did you start running?
I tried about every sport possible as a kid (skiing, tennis, rock climbing, hockey, boogie boarding) and asked my Mom to enter a 5K cross-country race with me when I was 9 for something new. It was so hard but I fell in love instantly and began plotting how I would race faster next time as soon as I crossed that first finish line! I loved competing but exploring the local trails with my parents in the mornings is probably why I kept running. I’d imagine that I was a lion hunting for prey in the Sahara or think about what it was like for John Muir to wander around in the mountains. Yeah, weird kids like me really need an outlet like running!
Describe your ideal race or adventure challenge
My ideal race is one that I am physically, mentally and spiritually excited about. Sure it helps to be prepared, but I find that when the stoke is high I get the most out of the race (whether it’s a 1500 on the track or trail marathon) and ironically the results follow. In the past an ideal race would be a flat fast 5K (on the track) but lately I am more into the adventure and unknown—signing up for things I have never done before and testing myself in the unknown. That leaves a lot of doors open….
Tell us about your favourite trail
Exploring a new trail in the backcountry that I have never been to before is my favourite activity in the world. The curiosity about what is over the next mountain pass or bend in the trail drives me to run much farther than I realise or think is possible. I lose all track of time.
If I have to pick just one though, running beneath the Minarets in the Eastern Sierras is breathtaking (literally due to the 8-10,000 feet of elevation) as well as the beauty. The fact that it’s not accessible year-round due to snow makes it extra special.
The curiosity about what is over the next mountain pass or bend in the trail drives me to run much farther than I realise or think is possible. I lose all track of time.
What has been your biggest running / adventure challenge to date?
This is difficult because I adventure often (largely unplanned). This summer I ran up a 14er in the Eastern Sierras with Jenn Shelton, drank too much beer that night and then booking a trip to Chamonix to run around Mt. Blanc with her. We ran through a horrendous weather window, carried wine in our packs, battle rapped in the dining halls, started a real sword fight, almost got kicked out of our huts, went the wrong way and laughed our asses off 24 hours a day (yes, even in our sleep). I’d love to say what happened on the TMB stayed on the TMB, but photographer Andrew Burr (who ran the whole thing with us) made sure to document our muddiest, messiest and wild moments. Ironically Jenn and I were on the same shuttle from Chamonix to Geneva with Trail and Kale founders Alastair and Helen on the last day of our trip—it’s a small freaking world! Read the full story on REI Trail Run Project.
Tell us about your greatest running fail, we’ve all had – or will have – them at some point!
I don’t see any mishap as a failure unless you fail to learn from it. That said, there was a time in college and afterwards when I was not enjoying running and just pushing myself through the motions. I was super hard on myself and never satisfied. I ran like shit, but I also didn’t have much fun. Once I learned to let off the pressure and even take time off running when I feel burned out this became less of an issue.
What advice would you give to a new trail runner?
Technically I am a new trail runner! But really, the newness is what attracts me to it because there is so much variety–terrain, types of races and places to explore). Have fun with it, try new things, don’t be afraid to fail (or fall) and always remember to bask in the beauty of the places you are running in!
What is your favourite bit of running kit, and why?
I’m not much of a gear person. Probably my Patagonia M10 jacket because it has saved my running bum from a wet/cold death by hypothermia more than once. Also my currexSole RUNPRO insoles keep my feet comfortable and injury free, which is so important.
We ran through a horrendous weather window, carried wine in our packs, battle rapped in the dining halls, almost got kicked out of our huts and laughed our asses off 24 hours a day (yes, even in our sleep)
What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?
I don’t have anything planned yet but I have lots of ideas and most of them involve mountains, adventures and competitive trail races. I just can’t get enough of backcountry/alpine terrain and I do love to test myself amongst the best athletes!
Whats your favourite running/adventure book, and which songs keep you going when things get tough?
My favourite adventure book is “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac. It’s set in the eastern sierras and is all about the existential quest for (you choose) that accompanies climbing a mountain (or any adventurous pursuit).
I sing songs in my head during almost every run, and especially long runs and races. It totally depends on my mood and can range from the Grateful Dead to gangsta rap.
Finally, What do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?
Life IS an adventure. I am pretty open to trying new things and somehow have ended up ice climbing, skiing, rock climbing and alpine ice skating (at 11,000 feet) all in the last few weeks. I do really like to just chill at home and read a book or write by the fire, eat massive burritos and drink beer with friends and SLEEP!
Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed Morgan. Happy Trails!
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