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Mallory Richard is from Winnipeg, and she has tips for winter running

Mallory Richard is from Winnipeg, and she has tips for winter running

Some say that people from chilly places are reserved, maybe even aloof. Not Mallory Richard.

When I log in for our Zoom call, the screen reads “mallory + infant”, the “infant” being her new daughter, Clara. Barely four months old, Clara coos in the background as Mallory and I talk. Soon, it’s apparent that Mallory’s quirky sense of humour easily rivals that of endurance runner Courtney Dauwalter.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk. COVID-19 means that my gym is still closed and I won’t have access to the treadmills I normally train on in the winter. Like many of you, I have to embrace winter running this year and I need her advice. Mallory’s manner, warm and open, makes our chat a pleasure. 

Make no mistake -- she’s also a tenacious competitor. Her first foot race was a half-marathon in 2011 and when she chose to switch to trail running, coach and mentor Ellie Greenwood helped her build the confidence she needed to rack up an impressive list of ultra placings. 

In 2019, Mallory made the podium at Black Canyon Ultra 100K, and immediately after, cracked jokes about her animal skull trophy collection with Canadian Running. She placed eighth in the 2019 Javalina Jundred (which, of course, is also a costume party), and she’s also won every Superior 100 mile race since 2014. She’s particularly proud of the woman's speed record she set on the Mantario, a wilderness trail that follows the Manitoba-Ontario border. “I spent a lot of time doing reconnaissance on that,” she says.

Like most of us, Mallory usually does her speed and hill sessions on the treadmill, but does her long runs outside. She’ll run in any weather down to -20 Celcius (plus wind!), admitting, “It takes a lot to get out the door. I’ve had to get creative for how to get the mileage in.” Running with friends is her go-to strategy. “Misery loves company,” says Mallory. 

But for those big mileage winter days, “creative” involves her husband, Shawn, and the family car. “He drives me to the edge of town and leaves me there. Then he gets to watch TV and play guitar until I show up very, very cold and he gives me a snack.” Really? Yikes.

Her gear tips include carrying a backpack in winter. She says, “So rather than just a hydration vest, I tend to carry a backpack so that it can have extra layers ... an extra pair of mitts, things like that.” She tucks water bottles into her jacket and her backpack, so they don’t freeze. Her Black Diamond Icon headlamp is a constant companion. She says, “Every run includes at least some darkness.”

When it comes to the rewards, Mallory notices the positive impact winter running has on her performance. “Although the snow adds friction, and the backpack adds weight, I feel like when the snow melts, you can feel the difference, and it turns into a net benefit.”

Mallory also loves nature, and outside time is a critical part of her day. She says, "I stand to gain a lot by seeing the same trails that I like in the summer and how they transform when there's a layer of snow on the ground. I love seeing how the landscape changes and feeling like I get to know it in all of its moods.”

Soon we’re talking about Mallory’s winter plans for her daughter, Clara. “I am getting a pair of cross-country skis and I got some skis for her Chariot. So we're gonna do some skiing together.” She adds, “I want to share that with her, so she grows up seeing how much fun it can be to get outside and how much you can see once you're out there.”

That’s something we all need to remember as we head out running this winter.

Dave Roberston is a writer and a reluctant adventurer based in Western Canada. Curious by nature, he covers diverse topics— civic affairs, urban lifestyle and outdoor adventure. More and more, he write about experiences that force me from my comfort zone.

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