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Photo credit: Ultimate Direction.

A Chat with Anna Frost – Racing, Life and Beyond

18-Apr-18

Last updated: 19-Jul-18

By Luke Jarmey & Steve Diederich

Anna Frost is a name that has been intertwined with trail and ultra running in the last decade. One of the genuine stars of the sport, she has graced podiums the world over. Now, juggling projects that go beyond just racing, we thought it would be a good time have chat and explore where it all came from, and where it’s all going.

Q. Let’s hone in on your background for a minute. A New Zealander born n’ bred who grew up in the small South Island city of Dunedin. Do you attribute the access to the incredible wildness there as a catalyst for your love of running?

A. Yes, my entire life has been filled with outdoor experiences and adventures: in the mountains, on the hockey field, on the running track. I played nearly every sport there was and went on every travelling trip I could, to see and feel more.

Q. You and your family also spent some time living in Papua New Guinea. Why was that? And do you think that experience shaped you in any way?

A. My parents were working. Because of their passion for new cultures and travel, it quickly became the normal for me too. They taught me to always keep trying even if I fell over and landed in the dust, I just had to brush it off and fly again.

RUNULTRA_Anna-Frost-interview_Merrell

Photo credit: Merrell.

Q. How did you get into trail racing? I’ve read that you did a lot of adventure racing in the past, did this then morph into pure running?

A. I have always been intrigued to learn more, see more and discover new ways of movement. Trail running allows all of this with an added bonus that there is a wonderful community of like-minded people meandering from one race to another. Adventure racing brings extra challenges to explore, and I love using these different modes of travel in my day-to-day living and training.

Q. Initially working as a sports teacher, what was your progression to full time professional athlete like, and what sort of hurdles have you faced along the way?

A. I would work for 6 months as a teacher and then head off travelling and racing for the next 6 months. I would pack my bag with my tent, shoes, sleeping bag and cooking equipment and move from race to race, meeting wonderful new friends along the way. Then after a few years of that, I moved into full time racing.

It was definitely challenging with the boom of trail running and social media. I wasn’t used to that; it wasn’t really natural for me to be speaking on stage or in front of press conferences. But I could see that it was the way our sport was changing. People were inspired by us to go out and try, and that was inspiring to me.

Q. What advice would you have for anyone considering this transition?

A. It is definitely not easy, so you have to be chasing a dream or a passion. It is important to have other projects in your life. For me it is jewellery making. To keep active (physically and mentally) even when you can’t run.

Q. So moving onto your race career, it’d be a tad rude not to touch on your incredible Hardrock 100 history, which includes two consecutive wins. You’ve mentioned before that Hardrock is something that has, at times, kept you from retiring from racing. What is it about that race that has such a hold on you?

A. The mountains, the course, the trails, the family, the feeling of home when you finally arrive there is like nowhere else. It gets in your blood. It makes you dream. And for sure it had that impact on me. I now live part time near those mountains and will continue to keep Hardrock in my life in whatever capacity there is.

RUNULTRA_Anna-Frost-interview_Merrell

Photo credit: Merrell.

Q. Which of the editions was the most memorable and why?

A. Each and every one has its own special moments, whether I have been racing or crewing or pacing. 

Q. In terms of races that you’ve yet to compete in, which one are you itching to toe the start line at?

A. There are so many races yet to do. I love stage races, as you are able to see so much more of the area, spend more time getting to know your fellow racers and really test your body and mind day to day. I would love to race the TransAtlas Marathon in Morocco and the Richtersveld stage race in South Africa.

I also love La Reunion and Diagonale des Fous/Grand Raid La Reunion is a race that definitely has me intrigued. Other than that, I always keep my eyes open to all the races around the world to see what grabs me.

Q. From all your travels you must have experienced various race cultures throughout the world. Obviously they’re all different, but which ones have particularly stood out for you and for what reason?

A. I love all the cultures for all their reasons. The history of fell running in the UK, the buzz of the European style, the calm of the US races, but I think for me my favourite is still racing at home. A connection to my home trails and the purity of the natural courses.

Q. Now looking at the present, it’s not just racing that fuels your career. You’ve bounded into various ventures, including Trail Run Adventures. What motivated you to start this and what’s it all about?

A. I have been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places in my life, and I love the idea of being able to share this with everyone else. My husband and partner in Trail Run Adventures, Ron ‘Braz’ Braselton, also has a huge passion for the outdoors and exploring different multisports.

We love to discover a new place fully, with wine and dining, surfing, canyoning, biking, hiking, yoga, sight seeing, architecture and more. We have combined our passions with locals’ expertise and races to bring our clients an all round awesome adventure.

We have Madeira, Greece, Ecuador and Bhutan booked in for this year and in pencil and planning we have Colorado, New Zealand, Japan, Guatemala and France. More information or email us.

RUNULTRA_Anna-Frost-interview_Merrell

Photo credit: Merrell.

Q. You’ve often spoken about you and your partner Braz’s desire to start a family. If/when that happens, how do you think that will affect your career as a racer and your motivation to train?

A. We will see what Mother Nature thinks and let her decide and, either way, I intend on continuing to race and train. I will always be in the outdoors exploring or on new adventures, and there is nothing more important to me than to bring our child up in an environment like that.

There are many role-model women out there who are having babies and continuing to do incredible things at an elite (or not) level, and every single one of them is an inspiration to me. It is definitely going to be my hardest race yet!   

Q. Talking of families, on your professional side you’ve recently left the Salomon family and joined a new one, Ultimate Direction. We’re a huge fan of their packs, will we see your input in any future designs of theirs?

A. Yes, definitely. I am already working on testing out products and giving feed back for change. I am really keen to put a lot of time and energy into creating a really great women- specific bag. They are a really great company who are so passionate about making the perfect bag and its awesome to work alongside them. 

Q. Moving on, talk to us about Sisu Girls. What’s the idea behind the project and its mission to empower young women through the outdoors?

A. Sisu is a Finnish word meaning “extraordinary courage and determination in the face of adversity”. It is something that we want to instil in our young people. For girls and boys.

We want to encourage parents, friends, teachers, everyone to be role models, to help pick our young people up when they fall down and give them the push they need to give it another go. It is for sure an endless project, one we want to develop with more books in the Fearless Frosty series, running events to involve all, camps to motivate and challenge. 

Q. Do you have any pre-race / race - rituals, routines, obsessions or lucky talismans?

A. I try to keep things as normal as possible so that my body and mind are not shocked. I like to write notes on the toes of my shoes as reminders and motivators.

Q. If you were to do it all again, what would you do differently?

A. Nothing. Every step, every mistake, every wrong decision has made me who I am and has bought me to where I am today.

Q. Fantastic, ok to finish this all off, let’s end with some quick fire questions:

  • Gels or food? - Food
  • Low drop or normal drop? – Normal 8mm is my favourite
  • Music or silence? Silence
  • Timed run or free run? Free
  • Mountains or flats? Mountains
  • Single stage or multi stage? Everything
  • Favourite race distance? Everything
  • Hardest race you’ve run? The recovery from injury!

Thanks Anna – you are a star!

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