We caught up with Jackson Hole badass, skier and ultra-runner, Meredith Edwards to chat about her training and upcoming race the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). The UTMB has been universally considered one of the most difficult running races on the planet. And with good reason—it sends runners on a grueling circumnavigation of the highest mountain range in Western Europe on a relentless course that includes intense vertical gain and descent on the way back to the finish line in Chamonix, France.
Elite athletes from around the world choose to call Jackson Hole home. Numerous Olympians, endurance athletes, Teton Gravity Research and ski and snowboard superstars have grown up or settled here. The Tetons not only offer magical views but also some of the best training worldwide. The Tetons are 40 miles long (65 km) and 7-9 miles wide (11-14.5 km). The highest peak is the Grand Teton, elevation 13,770 feet (4,198 m). And eight peaks are over 12,000 ft (3,658 m) in elevation.
Tell us a little about you? What’s your background?
Well to start, I’m a Pennsylvania Native. I grew up very active and played a lot of different sports. I first started skiing at age two. At age 7, I started racing ’till I was 18. My two other sports where field hockey and track and field. I went to the University of Louisville where I was originally recruited to play field hockey, but after 2 years I quit and started running again. I ended up running cross country and track and field for U of L. I knew in High School that I wanted to run but there was a lot of pressure to play field hockey and in the end that’s just what happens.
After college, I moved straight to Jackson. I knew I really wanted to ski and was a bit burned out from running. I only took 6 months off and then I started trail running, I remember my first race was in Utah and it’s called the Wasatch steeplechase. It was literally straight up and down a peak for 18 miles. I love it and that’s probably how I got to where I am now.
What is ultra-running?
Ultra Running is anything over the marathon standard of 26.2 miles.
What is your goal for your upcoming race?
Last year I competed in UTMB CCC 100k which was 62 miles with 20k vertical gain and was 10th so I feel having the knowledge that I gained from last year’s race I’m hoping this year to be top 5.
Why is Jackson Hole a great place to train?
There are some many options in Jackson to train. With the national parks close by and the trail systems in and around town you can go just about anywhere. In relation to my race coming up, there are a lot of mountains to climb and technical trail to run and you are at altitude. You can run as easy or as hard as you want. It’s great having lots of variety to train on.
How do you use Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to train?
The resort has amazing access. With trail systems starting at the base and at the summit it’s easy to link up long fun runs. It’s great for anyone regardless of your ability. There is something for everyone. I have some workouts where I ride the tram up and complete hill repeats up high. Other days where I run to the village via valley trail (GTNP) run up the resort and take the tram down. The Tram is what makes things so easy.
Watch Meredith and Eric Orton running in Jackson Hole.
How do you stay fit in the winter with snow on the ground?
Well, being a skier at heart I ski a lot of days at the resort. I am also a member of the US Ski Mountaineering team. Skimo is what we call it for short. It basically is running uphill, only with skis on and descending like you are on alpine gear. I really enjoy the break from running and when I race the distances are a lot shorter but with lots of vertical gain.
You started training with Born to Run Coach Eric Orton this year. What are the benefits of having a great coach?
So many. Eric makes my challenging workouts possible. He is really gifted and smart at designing workouts and pin-pointing your weakness and building upon them. I really like that he keeps me honest in my pace and workouts. His positivity is what keeps me going. I’m really very lucky that I get to live in the same town as him.
You have one of the top Instagram accounts for ultra-running and have been featured as one of the top ten running accounts to follow. How do you keep your account fresh and fun?
It’s easy when you live in a place as beautiful as Jackson. I really enjoy documenting my life and how I train. Usually, when I go out I bring my phone and I try to get a shot but if I don’t I don’t get to caught up in it.
Following your Instagram account, it looks like you never stop. How do you stay motivated to keep going? Do you ever sleep?
I definitely sleep more than anyone I know. I usually require at least 10 hours a night haha. I stay motivated by setting goals, taking breaks, and just really loving what I do. I can’t imagine life any other way. I think even when I’m old I’m still going to be out there training ha.
Follow @merejune on Instagram to watch her adventures.