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Mountain People: Joe Grant, Mountain Runner

Running is a wonderful activity to enjoy the outdoors, push yourself and stay fit. Joe Grant is an Ultrarunner who has run in the Copper Canyon, on the Annapurna trail and around Mont Blanc. Why he loves to run, especially in the mountains and on long Ultras races, you read in this Mountain People interview.

Joe Grant, Alpine Works

Hi Joe, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions =) Could you please briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

I have a pretty eclectic background having studied international management with a focus on nonprofit work. I worked in nonprofits for several years after college, but started my own business Alpine Works about 4 years ago which encompasses my work as a mountain runner, coach, writer and photographer. I’ve been running consistently for about 10 years and started racing Ultras 7 years ago.

You have been changing location often, living a semi-nomadic life. Do you foresee that you’ll continue to be a nomad, living where you like it, or that you settle down once you maybe have found a place you want to call home?

I travel a lot, mainly for races, but own a home in Gold Hill, Colorado just outside of Boulder. I was born in the UK, grew up in France and have been living in the US on and off for the past 10 years. Most of my travel is related to work and I call Colorado home.

Joe Grant, Alpine Works

Well, lets move away from standing still and take a run. You’ve run across the globe - is there a trail that really stands out for you?

I’m partial to the San Juan mountains in Southern Colorado, but it’s hard to really pin point one particular trail that really stands out. Any trail in a unique, wild environment is appealing to me.

And is there a trail that you still want to run?

I’d like to spend more time in Alaska and the Himalayas. The grandeur of both places is very inspiring to me.

Tell us please how you plan for a race like the one you ran in Costa Rica - how does it start, what all needs to be done before you leave home?

Well, The Coastal Challenge is a tough race to prepare in Colorado in the winter. I did my best to get into reasonable shape mainly skiing and biking and some running to get the legs moving a bit. My specific preparation was far from ideal. Since the race transports all of your gear from camp to camp, I did pack judiciously to have enough food, clean clothes and books to really recover well between stages. Recovery during the event is a key piece to stage racing.

Joe Grant, Alpine Works

Do you have a FKT Attempt planned this year?

I have a quite a few FKTs I want to attempt such as Nolan’s 14 or The Bob Graham Round to name a few, but the race calendar this year is pretty full for me to fit any of these into the season. After The Coastal Challenge, I’ll be racing TransGrancanaria, Ultra Fiord 100 in Patagonia, Western States 100 and UTMB.

Joe Grant, Alpine Works

Besides running you also like ski-mountaineering, fastpacking and riding a Fatbike as I saw on your Instagram stream. Are these 100% pleasure or also part of your training?

Both. I enjoy doing self-propelled activities in the mountains and in the winter for example skiing is most of the time a much more suited activity to where I live than running. All these activities do help my running though whether for strength, endurance or just taking a break from the pounding. Fastpacking is a great way to really immerse myself in nature for more extended periods of time.

Any other past-times in the outdoors that you enjoy?

I like climbing and scrambling a lot, often as an extension of running in the mountains.

Joe Grant, Alpine Works

Trailrunning is a trend sport across the globe right now and though the majority of trailrunners enjoy it because they can be running outside in the forests & mountains only a small percentage also participates in races. Do you think taking part in a race should be on every trailrunners list? If so, what’s a good start?

I think runners should do whatever motivates and inspires them. Most races have a great community aspect and provide a relatively safe environment to push oneself. Races can be limiting too because of permitting and other restriction so it’s sometimes better to just create your own adventure. I’d suggest choosing a race that inspires you, but that you can also adequately prepare for so I can enjoy your time.

As a coach you help runners to train for a race or event. If a complete novice runner would ask you for (free) advice on training, nutrition and gear, which three tips would you give him?

Be consistent, eat real food and keep it simple.

Joe Grant, Alpine Works

What does your own training at home look like?

During the running season, I run an average of 2-3 hours a day in the mountains with longer runs once of twice a week that are more specific to the race I’m preparing. In the winter I don’t run as much, but stay in shape skiing, biking and climbing.

Do you pursue a special diet?

I don’t. I try to eat mainly whole, organic foods. My wife and I cook most of our meals. We also like eating out and don’t worry about occasional indulgences.

Joe, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Any parting words?

Thank you very much for featuring me on your site.

Joe writes at Alpine Works and has a column at iRunFar. He is sponsored by inov-8, Arc’teryx, Buff, Drymax, Julbo and Tailwind Nutrition. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.