Sarah Keyes, Trail Runner, Coach, Nurse, Mountaineer Ambassador

Posted by The Mountaineer on 15th Apr 2021

Sarah Keyes, Trail Runner, Coach, Nurse, Mountaineer Ambassador

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Hi! I’m Sarah and I consider myself an Adirondack native. Don’t tell anyone that I was actually born in VT, shhh. I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself, my love for this place and how I came to be a Mountaineer Ambassador.

We’ll start in the beginning; back in 2011 I was working at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery when I heard about a small trail race in Keene, The Great Adirondack Trail Run. I offered to help deliver the keg for the afterparty in exchange for an entry, marking the start of my love of mountain running. I was immediately drawn to the history of the event, the competition and the shared stories at the finish line; not to mention The Mountaineer donates all entry fees to support local nonprofits. Fun fact: I worked at the LPP&B for over a decade and even helped brew a batch of Frostbite IPA, my favorite.

The first year that I ran the Great Adirondack Trail Run I wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete it, having never run a mountain race before. I gritted my way through it, almost losing a shoe in the infamous bog. Sadly the bog is no longer part of the course after a trail reroute by the DEC. Being so close to Lake Placid and an Olympic Training Center the competition can be stout, several years nordic and biathlon athletes toe the line. The Trail Run is not only for top level athletes however, locals and kids challenge themselves there as well. With a 5k alternative almost anyone can join in for some Type 2 fun.

After that inaugural race I continued to explore what I was capable of in the mountains. I should mention here that “running” in these mountains is a loose term and typically resembles hiking. By 2014 I had moved onto longer events doing my first 50 mile race and by 2015 began competing in the US Skyrunning Series, the technical trails of the Adirondacks being a perfect training ground. That year I set the fastest known time or FKT on the Great Range, a Northeast classic, gaining confidence that I could do hard things (that record has since been lowered but what are records even for if not to be broken?

Also during this time I went back to school for nursing. When not attending class or learning how to start IV’s I’d be in the mountains. When graduation came around most of my classmates were eyeing competitive job opportunities but I chose running. I lived out of my truck for months at a time exploring new places but I always wound up back home in the Adirondacks. I did eventually take that competitive nursing position but right here in Saranac Lake.

There’s nowhere quite like the Adirondacks. Beyond its forests, peaks and lakes there are millions of acres of wilderness to explore. Growing up our entertainment revolved around being outdoors. We lived just outside the St. Regis Canoe Area, the largest wilderness canoe area in the Northeast. In winter we tracked small mammals in the snow or made s’mores at a lean to for lunch. The trails here go straight up stream beds, our mountaintops are granite slabs protruding into the sky. Alpine summits are hammered by the elements but still provide amazing habitat for endemic flora. Winter may last 5 months here but there’s something special about enjoying a crisp 10 degree day.

I think the thing that I love about mountain towns and part of what makes this place so special are the people. You have to really want to live here. I grew up on a street called, “Easy Street” named during the late 1800’s. The story goes that most of the area hunting and fishing guides resided in that area and the ‘living was easy’. Some of those old timer characteristics are certainly still engrained in the communities here and I’d like to think that I picked up some of their grit.

Let’s circle back to current day. When not at the hospital or in the mountains I coach athletes through Eastern Mountain Endurance, a mountain sport community I started with friend Hilary McCloy, DPT. We focus on a holistic approach to training including strength and mobility. I specialize in women’s specific physiology and how we can use that to our advantage but coach male and female athletes of all abilities.

I am extremely excited to be part of the Mountaineer team and share my knowledge with all of you! Keep an eye out for upcoming events, insider tips and blogs on running and even some of my favorite trails :)

Looking to get out for a run in the High Peaks? Give The Mountaineer a call and set up a guided trip with me!