Corrie Crane

Journey to the "Race Across the Sky"

Corrie Crane got into ultramarathons late in life, and now at age 45, she’s running the Leadville 100 this August. She chose the hardest terrain possible for her first 100-mile race to be completed under 30 hours; the trail demands runners climb over Hope Pass (twice) at 12,600 feet and test themselves with a 15,744-foot elevation gain through the forested mountains.

After growing up in northern Alabama and graduating college, Crane wanted a complete change of scenery. She was always intrigued with Colorado, and when she moved to Vail, she was “just amazed by what it had to offer as far as mountains,” she says.

Prior to moving, the biggest race she had ever run was a 10K. About seven years ago, she met Emily Selonick at a yoga studio and acted as a crew member and pacer for Selonick’s 50- and 100- mile races. Then, she became curious about what her body and mind were capable of. She began with a 26-mile marathon, then moved up to 50K and 100K races.

“I enjoyed being on trails. I wouldn’t do a marathon on a road; I like to be in the forest,” Crane says, adding that she likes “races that take me places,” such as the Beaverhead 100K on the Continental Divide between Idaho and Montana.

corrie crane

Photos courtesy of Corrie Crane.

She and Selonick ran it together last July, supporting one another through stormy weather, lightning strikes and mental doubts.

“She has been with me through all of my races. She just brings an incredible positive attitude and stoke. She’s always game for anything,” Selonick says. “She is just one of those people that you’re always glad to have in your corner, and she’s been with
me through some of my darkest times and some of my best times in all those races. She’s just a joy to be with and spend time with in the mountains.”

Crane hadn’t seriously considered a 100-mile race until she gave up alcohol two years ago and discovered she had more free time.

“I’m clear-headed. I don’t have the anxiety I did. When I wake up, I don’t have to worry about a headache. I’m a better wife, employee and friend. I’m still the life of the party. I’m just a better person, because I’m learning to deal with the issues I have — we all have issues — and work through the emotions rather than covering them up,” she says.

And, that’s when she began running longer distances.

“I didn’t think I had time before, but now that I’m on a journey of sobriety, I have more time,” she says, adding that since she and her husband don’t have kids, she trains before and after her work at East West Hospitality (which she loves, partially because they support work-life balance), often with her rescue dog, Mr. Gus. “He’s the one who motivates me to get out,” she shares.

Beyond miles of trail running, additional physical training includes interval sessions, speed workouts, hill training, skiing, skinning up the mountain and skate skiing. Spring desert trips get her running and biking on the dirt early season. In mid-summer she climbs 14ers for altitude acclimation work, and she has started fat biking in the winter months. Recovery includes one to two rest days a week, adequate sleep, breath work, deep

corrie cranestretching, leg compression sleeves and a diet free of sugar and full of plenty of protein, carbs and electrolytes.

Since you can never control weather, she trains in all conditions and, at times, purposely pulls herself off her warm, cozy couch on a wintery Friday night at 9 p.m. to run outside, just to get more comfortable with discomfort.

“[Running] 100 miles is not about physical fitness. It’s about your mindset,” she says, adding that journaling, gratitude and meditation are part of her routine. “I try to pump my mind and my body with anything that’s going to further me with performing at my best. I have to stay uber-focused, trust the process and know that I’ve trained for this, which I do remind myself often through my low points of a big mileage race. I just look up at the summit and put one foot in front of the other, regulate my heart rate climbing and just keep moving. When you’re ready to quit, just go one more, whether that’s one more aid station, one more mile or one more section. Really, your race is a celebration of your training.”

After the Leadville 100 in August 2023, she plans to train for the 50K skate/53K classic American Birkebeiner in February 2024 in Wisconsin with Selonick.

Her overall goal involves living a fulfilled life while inspiring others. As her friend Katherine Bugby points out, “She vibrates at a very high frequency.”

Whether it’s a race, work or life in general, Crane focuses on the journey rather than the destination, while still pushing the boundaries of the horizon.

“Anyone who’s willing to step out of their comfort zone — that’s where growth really happens,” she says. “I want to encourage people to live an awesome, healthy life and enjoy the beautiful mountains we live in. And, if you’re struggling, reach out to a friend. There’s always hope around the next corner.”