Yellowstone to Tetons: RD Interview
I was first exposed to Dreamchasers Outdoor Adventures back in 2006 when I traveled across the country to run in the Grand Tetons 100. It was my 3rd 100 Mile Run and the first time I had ever travelled to the Grand Teton region. The beauty of this corner of our country is truly stunning, and nothing made the events there more special than the Dreamchasers staff. Most notably is Lisa Smith-Batchen and her husband Jay Batchen.
Lisa and Jay have been endurance athletes for longer than most of us had even heard of people taking part in such activities. Together they organize personalized training programs, camps, worldly trips, and of course their own series of races in the Jackson Hole, WY/Driggs, ID Region. Many of you may know Lisa from the movie, Running On The Sun. I had the chance to sit down and talk with her about The Dreamchasers upcoming Yellowstone to Tetons Races.
Sherpa John (SJ): Lisa, thanks so much for speaking with me about your fall races. I’m not only excited to share the news about these events with the community, but getting the chance to come run with you folks again this year.
Lisa Batchen (LB): Thank you John. As you know you are a treasure in our life and we are grateful you will be coming back to the Tetons for our new race.
SJ: The Yellowstone to Tetons Races are being held the weekend of October 5th, 2013, the perfect time of year. Temps are cooling down, runners who are still well trained from a summer of racing are looking for one more adventure. Tell us more about why this race in particular happens at the perfect time for ultra runners.
LB: It is the most perfect time of the year to come to Yellowstone and to visit the Tetons. All of the traffic and tourists are gone, prices are cheaper and the fall colors are simply beautiful. So many ultra-runners have tried other races during the summer and either had a great race or have unfinished business and were not able to finish a race they started. Many are left with amazing fitness and are looking for a race to use this fitness. Our races are perfect for the end of the season.
SJ: A lot of folks argue that West Yellowstone and the Teton Valley are hard to get to. You and I know otherwise; share some insights with us on how easy it can really be to get there.
LB: It makes me laugh when people say how hard it is to get to. When I look at some other races that you have to go through so much more to get there. We offer shuttle rides from Jackson Hole or Idaho Falls Airport, we are a 4 hour drive from Salt Lake City and about 3 hours to the starting line from Salt Lake City. You just have to want to run this race and we are happy to help you in any way we can. You can either have a crew or you can use the aid stations. The course is simply stunning! So many who have already run the race either come back or will come back because they love it.
SJ: You offer three races; A 100-Mile Solo, 100-Mile Relay and a 50-Mile. What do you feel makes your races most desirable for all types of runners out there?
LB: Every day I meet someone who will ask me, “how can I run 100 miles” or “do (I) think they can run 100 miles?” We have made a 50 and 100 mile race that I feel most anyone who has the desire to cover the distance can finish the race. With a 32 hour cut off for the 100 and 30 hours for the 50 mile you can walk the entire race. Last year the men’s winner was 15 hours and the women’s was just over 18 hours. There is no “easy” 50 or 100 mile race but these courses are ones that most everyone can be successful.
SJ: “Running With The Buffaloes” appears on the really cool buckle for finishers. Should runners expect to be actually running close to buffalo in the area and what is that experience like?
LB: The Buffaloes are sure all over Yellowstone and are such beautiful, powerful animals. I sure hope that anyone running the race would see one somewhere along the side of the road but not a guarantee. Many people seem to be worried or concerned that they will run into a bear but this is very unlikely in Oct. The bears are not out looking for people to chase down they are usually minding their own business and get scared when someone scares them or goes between them and their babies. On the road it is doubtful for a bear to come after you.
SJ: Lisa, I know from experience that you folks go the extra mile for runners when it comes to race shwag, aid/support, and all for an incredibly affordable price as far as today’s 100’s are concerned. What can runners expect in return for their entry fee this year?
LB: We have never been into putting on races to make our living, we love to put on races to give people an amazing journey and experience. Each year we strive to do better and give a better experience by listening to what the runners are looking for. Our entry fee gives you t-shirts and swag that we get from our great sponsors and supporters. We try to have awesome aid stations, good food after the races, great awards and most of all great memories. People think we make “lots of money” being race directors, they are wrong and it is hard to simply break even.
SJ: Your races tend to have a lower number of entrants than most. How do you think this contributes to the overall vibe/feel of the events and how many entrants should runners expect in each event?
LB: We have not worked really hard promoting our races and are not interested in having 1,200 runners like Leadville or some of the other races. Next year we are going to promote a few of our races to bring more people but to be honest we are ok and seems that all that come and run are thrilled we don’t have so many people. People actually get to know each other, people connect and bond, we treat you like part of the family. People seem to leave and can’t wait to come back for the experience they have had while here.
SJ: Some people gag at the thought of 100 miles on pavement. Now’s your chance to convince them otherwise..go!
LB: Yes many people gag and that is just fine, they should not run 100 miles on pavement. Our race is not 100 miles on pavement. You can run on the side of road which is gravel or dirt even drop off onto the trail in many places. Several miles of the course is on dirt/gravel roads like cheap roads. I am telling you the course is awesome!
SJ: Tell us more about Dreamchasers Lisa; What do you folks provide and how can folks get involved?
LB: I started Dreamchasers when I was 22 years old. It started with a group of women who were all looking for something to do. I took on the motto “find a dream and chase it down”. I have been coaching people and teaching people to chase their dreams ever since. When we moved to the Tetons we branched out and are race directors, we have a fitness facility where I teach several functional core, cardio classes a week, we have a physical running store and we also have an online store! We put on several running/fitness camps for groups and also bring people to the Tetons from all over the world for private training camps. Wow…how blessed are we.
SJ: Of all the adventures that you folks put together for your runners, which one is your favorite and why?
LB: I love to put on camps and have the opportunity to be with people for several days at a time and then watch them take everything they learned and put it into motion and watch the dreams become a reality. I also love the Marathon des Sables races where each year we take close to 90 people. The MDS is one of the most amazing races in the world a race of self discovery.
SJ: Lisa, thank’s so much for your time and I truly do look forward to a weekend with the Dreamchasers this October. It’s been far too long since I’ve returned to your next of the world and I’m excited to do so.
LB: John, thank you. We are all very much looking forward to your coming back to the Tetons and experiencing this new 100 first hand for yourself. Thank you for all you do for others.
“The Yellowstone Tetons Races are among America’s most majestic ultrarunning events. The 50 and 100 mile events are perfect for both first-time and experienced ultrarunners alike. The 50 mile race begins in the beautiful Targhee National Forest along the Snake River, while the 100 mile race begins in West Yellowstone, Montana – Big Sky Country – and even crosses the Continental Divide. Both courses traverse rolling landscape and wind through lush forests, accented by local wildlife, cattle and buffalo (hopefully no bears!). And of course, all of this is enjoyed with the backdrop of the awe-inspiring Teton Mountains, which get closer as the races progress. The races are organized by expert ultrarunners Lisa and Jay Batchen, who provide outstanding support, food, and encouragement along every step of the way. The races finish in the idyllic town on Driggs, Idaho, where great food and a five star resort await the triumphant runners. If you’re looking for a “destination” ultramarathon where the memories extend beyond the race itself, the Yellowstone Tetons 50 and 100 mile races are for you.” – Alfonso Chan
You can learn more about Dreamchasers, their camps, services, and races at: http://www.dreamchaserevents.com