Name: Olga Helmy

How many years have you been running?  I ran intermittently and then only half-heartedly for years, mostly during the off-season from biotech fieldwork, but after I had my second child four years ago, I signed up for a road running class in Vancouver, BC, where we were living at the time. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but it taught me a few tricks and improved my fitness enough that by the time we moved back to Missoula in 2016, I was in shape enough to start running trails. We lived at the base of Mount Jumbo and for the first few weeks, I just hiked up as fast as I could go, and then bombed down, several times a week. Eventually the hiking evolved into something resembling running and by then I had just fallen in love with the movement and sustained effort. It’s pretty addicting.

Do you prefer road or trail running, why? Definitely trail running. I like the challenge of footwork and balance that comes with moving over uneven terrain. And I love bombing down mountains. It feels like flying.

What has been your favorite running event? Because I just started running in earnest in the summer of 2016 I haven’t run in very many events. My husband and I climbed Mt Kinabalu in Borneo as part of the Climbathon in 2010. I made good time to the top and it’s pretty hard to beat that view, but I didn’t really do much running. In 2016, a friend tried get me to sign up for the Elk Ramble, but I thought it seemed too far to run hard. Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. It’s funny to think that the following year I ran the Rut 28k and it didn’t feel like that big of a deal. Not having 28k, 7,500 feet of elevation gain feel like a big deal was such a mind warp. I had to come to terms with a new definition of self, I had more discipline and determination than I ever knew. Being over 40 isn’t all bad.

What is your favorite thing about running? Definitely the descent!

You recently improved on your 2017 Bitterroot Runoff time by 7 minutes! What’s your secret? Well, a few weeks ago I started the Run Wild Missoula Avanced trail running class and picked up a few skills. It’s good to have some coaching from folks who know what they are doing. Also, the race was on my birthday and I wanted to beat my time from the previous year, so I had some internal competition!

What do you have on your running calendar for the rest of the year? Eventwise, the Pengally Double Dip and the Rut 50k are looming on the horizon. But mostly they are just targets to aim for. For me, the real bliss comes in just in getting out there every week.