Sara is an esthetician, cosmetic tattooer, salon owner, and endurance runner currently based in Ogden, UT, where she moved to from Portland, OR after 15 years to be closer to the mountains.
What brought you to the PNW?
I was 24 and living in Baltimore, MD. I didn’t have much direction really. I was working, had a boyfriend. Life was FINE. But I knew I wanted more. I visited a friend in Portland in 2005 and loved it. It was so DIFFERENT from the east coast. I came home to Baltimore, packed up my stuff and moved.
Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced?
My parents! Both of my parents were (still are!) very active and loved all things outdoors. We camped, hiked, boated, and swam in rivers. Both my parents were runners as well. When we were kids we would hike up the trails and jog down.
Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW?
I LOVE the Columbia River Gorge. There is nothing quite like it it. Every trail has it’s own special personality and depth of challenges. It’s supplied me with endless good (and bad haha) times and it’s been great training for bigger mountain races. My absolute favorites are: Table Mountain, Coyote Wall, & of course, Tunnel Falls.
What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?
Oh jeez I have SO. MANY. With so many awesome people. I’m going to name two, quickly:
The finish of my first 50 miler was pretty special. It was in Moab and the last 8 miles were SO LONG. I have never been more proud of myself/happy to be done with something in my life.
My first 14er was with my friend, Michele Dillon (@missshellshock). I told her I wanted something with a lot of miles and hard in prep for an upcoming race in Peru. OH BOY did she deliver. It was Longs Peak, which is definitely the longest and one of the harder 14ers. A lot more exposure than I had expected. Like, A LOT MORE. She talked me though a lot of anxiety and tears to get me to the top. It’s one of my favorite days in the mountains and I can’t wait to go back and do it again and not cry haha.
As someone who works in the beauty/cosmetic industry, what are your thoughts on the prevalent stereotyping of womxn and the idea that certain identities and characteristics are mutually exclusive (i.e. you can’t be considered “outdoorsy” if you enjoy make-up and manicures)?
This is so hard to answer! I want to be like, some people care about their appearance and some don’t, but I don’t think that’s true. I think there are levels of what and how much you care. Like, I get botox in my forehead because that is something that bothered me BUT I will seriously live my whole day in disgusting muddy, wet running clothes and be like, “deal with it world” haha. I guess at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. Never make excuses for why you may want (or not want) to wear mascara when you run (I do this, then quickly regret it because then it’s everywhere but like oh well), get botox/filler, get your hair done, get a manicure, or whatever. You do you, and never apologize for it.
Trail running and ultra/endurance running appears to be your absolute favorite outdoor activity. How did you get started? What have been the most rewarding aspects of this sport? Any advice for those interested in getting started?
I was always in sports as a kid. Mainly a competitive swimmer from ages 6 – 17. I love competing and challenging myself. I ran my first half marathon (road) in 2010 through the Columbia River Gorge (Bridge of the Gods half) and LOVED IT. I ran on roads for about a year until I thought to myself ‘man I love hiking and running, maybe I can do both like, at the same time’. I signed up for Hagg Lake 25k and then Mount Hood 50k for that next year. I ran Wildwood E2E solo to train. It was scary and I felt like a newb, but who cares. I just wanted to get out there. And now it’s become my drug. I am obsessed. Totally. It has helped me beyond what I can even explain. It’s helped me to get over some terrible anxiety and depression issues, and helped me overcome a lot of issues with food. Has it cured me of all these things? No. BUT it has given me the mental and physical strength to push through whatever life throws at me.
I would say the community of people that I have met, run with and inevitably become great friends with has been one of the most rewarding things. It’s so positive and supportive. My suggestion for people who want to get out is to JUST DO IT. But, like, actually. Grab a friend, go alone. Walk, jog, run if you can. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Women always say to me “Well I ran, but just a 5k” or “I ran 8 miles today, but that’s nothing”. NO! No more negative self talk guys! Come on! Anything you can do is awesome. Just be out there to BE OUT THERE. I really enjoy adventuring alone and I feel like I’m generally prepared for what life throws at me, but if you are scared go with a friend. Or go somewhere local and less remote. Forest Park! Or wherever you may live. There is a lot to see and I plan on hiking/running/death marching to see as much as I can before my time is up.
What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?
I’m running Never Summer 100K put on by @gnar_runners in July. I just want to finish and like not be totally miserable. Sub 20. And on a personal note, to just keep growing and letting go. I’m a very VERY Type A person. I’m trying to learn to balance my type A-ness while giving others room to like LIVE around me haha! I’m still learning patience. It’s been a long road with that one, but its slowly settling in.
(Edit: Due to an ongoing pelvic injury, Sara will be running Tushars Mountain Marathon instead of Never Summer. She is, unsurprisingly, still kicking serious ass despite her battle with this injury 🙂 )
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Sara! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?
I love to cook and bake. I was a pastry chef before getting into the beauty industry. I cook pretty much every single meal I eat from scratch. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I love it, but it does take some planning. Once a week I order pizza though because like, come on!
You can follow Sara’s adventures on Instagram: @earth_crosser