The 2013 Ridge Run seems to have attracted more runners from out of state than usual. When perusing the participant list, the name Danelle Ballengee caught my eye. For those of you that have been trail running for a while, you may remember Danelle from 10 to 15 years ago. During that era, she was a world class trail runner and adventure racer. Or you may have read an article or seen a TV program that covered her brush with death from a fall while running and her miraculous rescue with the help of her dog.
If you would like to read more about Danelle, I recommend the interview at IRunFar as a good starting place.
How did you hear about the Bridger Ridge Run?
My friend Esther Schwier told me about it years ago. I’ve been wanting to run it ever since. Nikki Kimball also told me about it. I also read an article with a super photo of the course. All this and I knew I really wanted to do this race! Due to scheduling conflicts…broken pelvis…kids born…having our own business I wasn’t able to make it. But this year it worked out to make the trip to Bozeman for the race. I can’t wait!
What went into your decision to do this year’s Ridge Run?
After so many years of wanted to run it, this year it finally fit in our schedule. And they let me in! (thanks!) I’m not one of the top-notch runners anymore, but my passion for running and for exploring cool places is just the same as it’s always been. I’m excited to check out the course, the scenery, and be out there racing with our awesome ‘family’ of trail running enthusiasts!
What are your goals for the race? Is it a bucket list thing to just experience it? Or do you have some competitive goals?
I always try my best when I enter a race. I’d be happy if I could squeeze into the top 10 of female finishers this year. Seven years prior I used to go for the win; but after my accident in 2006 I feel lucky to even be able walk. So to be able to run a race like this is truly a gift and I’m so grateful of this capability. So…yes, finish is winning for me now! And it’s in my nature to always try my hardest to do as best I can.
Given your history, you obviously were a fierce competitor. When participating in races these days, does your competitive spirit still come out?
Yes, but not as much as it used to. Since my accident I always think about how lucky I am to even be alive, let alone be able to run. Sometimes I wish I could run as fast as I used to, but then I remember what I went through after my accident and in the wheelchair and I remind myself how awesome it is to be able to do what I’m doing and have such a wonderful, fun life. Now that I’m a middle of the pack runner and over 40 and with two kids, a business, and plates and screws in my pelvis, I tend to suffice with racing at a level of minimum suffering…unlike 10 years ago when I would race to a level of pretty high suffering (and loved it back then!)
Rank in difficulty and briefly comment on the rewards of: raising a family, running a business, being the race director of the Moab Trail Marathon, surviving and recovering from your accident in 2006, or preparing for and competing in an adventure race?
Hmmm….that’s a tough question! Each has its own difficulty and each has its own rewards. I have to say that raising a family is actually probably the most difficult; and the most rewarding. Running the business I face everyday challenges that sometimes get old and difficult, but then overall it is rewarding and necessary of course to earn a living and provide for our family and allow us to have fun times (like coming to Montana for the Ridge Run!). The week before the Moab Trail Marathon is the most challenging week of my life each year….I think all race directors can relate! As for surviving: the moment the rescuer got to me I went from the most difficult and depressing moment of my life to the very best moment of my life–knowing I would live and had a second chance for life. Still to this day there is nothing that can compare. Childbirth is close, but still not the same. Preparing for and competing for an adventure race is fun and easy, unless I’m trying to finish at the top– then it becomes a very focused and disciplined ‘job’ with lots of good suffering. My days of adventure racing were special and I couldn’t have done it without good health and the time to focus and train properly. I have great memories. Nowadays I can’t compete like that, although I wouldn’t trade it back for the lifestyle I have now with two wonderful boys and an awesome husband!