Kathy Vaughan

In October of 2011, Kathy completed her first ever trail race, the Baker Lake 50k in Concrete, Washington. She became hooked on trail and ultrarunning right away, deciding 44 years old wasn’t a time to hold back. She has since gone on to complete 12  more 50k’s; two fifty mile races;  a 100k; a 100 miler, a 150 miler and the Angel’s Staircase 35k, with 5,000 ft. of elevation gain (which has become part of the U.S. Skyrunning Series). In May of 2016 Kathy attempted a 200 mile trail race, dropping at mile 172 with inadequate time to finish before the official cut-off time. She plans on returning to that race, the Pigtails Challenge, in May of 2017 to complete those 200 miles.

In addition to these organized and supported races, Kathy has completed a number of  unsupported adventure runs throughout the Cascades. She completed an unsupported run of the 45 mile Kettle Crest National Scenic Trail with her husband, Ras Vaughan. She has also completed the 32 mile Chinook Pass Loop and a combined Figure 8 route of the 46 mile Mother Mountain Loop and Northern Loop in Mt. Rainier National Park. Kathy has completed the Devil’s Dome Loop in the Pasayten Wilderness several times; an unsupported Baker Lake 100k and the 50k two times; the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier seven times, the Loowitt Trail around Mt. St. Helen’s; and many lesser known routes.

In  the spring of 2014, Kathy entered the realm of long distance thru-hiking. She and Ras completed a thru-hike of the 800 mile Arizona Trail, setting the women’s Fastest Known Time on this hike by completing the route in 35 days 5 hours and 21 minutes. This inspired their decision to do a back to back on the AZT. Ras and Kathy completed this yo-yo thru-hike in December of 2015, becoming the first hikers ever to hike from Mexico to Utah and back again to Mexico in a single push.

Aside from ultrarunning and thru-hiking, Kathy’s other endurance love is cross country skiing. She and her friend Lisa Eversgerd hold the record for being the first skiers to ever complete the Methow Trails 200k Challenge in a single push. The pair thru-skied over 200k of the Methow Trails, the largest nordic ski area in the country, all in one go in January of 2015. Most skiers aspire to skiing 200k of the trails in one season, but Kathy and Lisa did it all in one go.

Kathy grew up in the country and has always loved the outdoors. Recounting her development as an athlete Kathy says, “I was not an athletic child, although I did try to participate in school sports including basketball, softball, and track. I ran the 800m and learned a little bit about running form at that time. I was not fast, but enjoyed the sport and being outside running in the fresh air. I have always enjoyed long walks and bike rides, and began seriously hiking in my early 20’s. When Ras and I married, I encouraged him to get out on hikes with me and soon we were backpacking, trail running, cross country skiing and fastpacking. Backpacking progressed to fastpacking, which progressed to trail and ultrarunning. It felt natural to want to move faster on the trails, carrying less and moving at a sustainable pace. It felt good to cover more ground and feel less burdened by not having the weight of a heavy and uncomfortable pack. My first experience of running 25 miles with a Nathan vest was invigorating and freeing. It was the first day of running longer and stronger, changing my adult life forever.”

When I’m not training or competing, I love to: When I’m not training, competing, or on a long thru-hike, I like to be very domestic. I enjoy cooking and baking vegetarian fare. I also enjoy sewing small trail totem dolls from recycled and natural fabrics. I stuff them with wool and add wool for hair. They are all embellished with gifts from nature as well as recycled trinkets I have collected. I gift other trail runners and hikers with these little dolls, which are meant to help offer guidance and protection on the trail. They can be sewn to a pack or carried in a pocket.  I also love spending time gardening-flowers, veggies and herbs. I like spending time at home, fixing up the house and yard; decorating with collectible vintage items, keepsakes and anything that makes a space welcoming and warm. I mostly enjoy being on the trail, but when at home, I really thrive when I put energy into making it a special place to be.

 Something that very few people know about me is: Something very few people know about me is that I have a 23 year old daughter named Angela. She is in Madagascar serving for 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I home-schooled her in a cabin Ras and I built, living in an off-grid, simple way, for 7 years.

 A good title for my autobiography would be: A good title for my autobiography would be “Smiling to Inspire: Enduring Miles to Ensure a Lifetime of Happiness”

 My favorite moment or achievement to date is: My favorite moment or achievement to date is finishing 2nd woman in the 2015 Pigtails Challenge 150 miler a month after finishing 1st woman in the Rock Creek Ramble 100k. These 2 finishes helped inspire me to go after long distance finishes that other women see as too challenging. I like to go after unique quests.

 The toughest moment I’ve ever experienced in a race is: The toughest moment I’ve ever experienced in a race is making the decision to drop from the Pigtails Challenge 200 Mile race, after training for months and coming into the race feeling both prepared and focused.

 I live in Washington state because:  it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was born and raised in a small town in Washington, named Mossyrock. It is in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Adams. I love the easy access to the Cascade Mountains, particularly the North Cascades. I love exploring the deserts of the Southwest, but I return to the mountains and forests of Washington. The trails are endless, quiet and diverse.

 One thing I hope to achieve this year is:  One thing I hope to achieve this year is a solo challenge. I want to finish a long ultra race, 100 plus miles, supported in a race format; or self-supported, adventure -run, style. I would like to do this as a solo woman, rather than in a team, or partnership. I love working towards a goal with a team or partner, but new insights and a fresh feeling of accomplishment can be gained with a big solo pursuit and completion.

 The event on my bucket list is: The event on my bucket list is a first-ever thru-hike yo-yo of the 760 mile Grand Enchantment Trail, which I will pursue with Ras, Team UltraPedestrian style.

My pre-race superstition is: My pre-race superstition is making sure I’ve set all of my clothing out the night before and drinking coffee before I even come close to the starting line.

Nathan helps me run stronger and run longer by: Nathan helps me run longer and stronger by providing the perfect water bottles for the most versatile, well-designed running vests I’ve ever worn. I started out my ultrarunning career with 2 different Nathan vests. I wore them for long cross country ski outings, winter runs and hot summer adventures. I used a hand bottle for my first ultra running training runs and have expanded to the updated versions of both of these. I was inspired from the beginning by these innovative products. I can go as long as I need to with the FireBall vest and just completed a 172 mile push using it the entire time. I can’t wait to try out even more of the Nathan designs and push my limits to run longer and stronger.

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