Member Spotlight: Sally Henkel

Where are you from? What brought you to Missoula? 

I grew up in Kentucky, running around the Daniel Boone National Forest. My dad has always loved Montana and we ventured out here as kids. When I was in high school, I looked at UM for college but worried that it was too far from home. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Germany via the State Department so my perception of distance changed drastically. I found my way back to Missoula in the middle of winter in 2013, not knowing anyone and a strong desire for open spaces. My dad always jokes that he was hesitant to introduce his 3 girls to the west because he knew that he would lose one of us to it. 

How and when did you first get into running?

I was a competitive soccer player for many years and committed to playing in college but after high school I felt really burnt out. I stopped playing competitively and got more into distance road running. In 2008, I got talked into training for the Flying Pig Half Marathon and that really set me on the path of distance running. I thought I would never run for fun if it wasn’t after a soccer ball, but I’ve always loved endurance and eventually grew to love the meditative feeling of distance running. When I moved out west, I dug into trail running and exploring wild spaces. Coupled with the running community here in Missoula, it really fostered my endless curiosity for exploring. 

 

What is your favorite running memory?

That’s a tough question, there are so many! Last year when I was still living in Flagstaff, I met up with a few girlfriends from other western states to run rim to rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. I was used to the grind in the Grand Canyon so I knew what kind of pain train I was getting myself into, but it’s a place that’s full of surprises. There’s something really special about experiencing a place from dawn to dusk. The entire day was spent catching up, laughing, pouring sand out our shoes, eating ridiculous snacks, and taking plenty of time to stop and smell the sego lilies. That’s what running is to me, no agenda just good company and beautiful places. 

 

What do you enjoy most about the running/walking community? 

The magnetism of the running and walking community here is undeniable. I love that it’s welcoming, adaptable, collaborative, and supportive. No matter the distance, ability, age, pace, there are options for all and people to go with. The events are fun and delightfully challenging. When you finish, you are always embraced with wonderful support from everyone. 

 

What is your favorite local trail route to share with others?

That’s a seasonal dependent question! I really love to run Wallman in the Fall when all of the larch needles have fallen and create a mesmerizing golden single track. In the Spring, I absolutely lose my mind on Sound of Music when the balsamroot are in full bloom. 

 

Finish this sentence: When I’m not running, I’m… 

Probably mind melding with my dog, waiting for Christmas, or boating some body of water!

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