LtW Notes Interview – David Laney

We have known David Laney since the earliest days of LtW. We’re a big fan of his approach to training (when we first came across David he was sleeping in the back of his car so that he could spend the maximum amount of time in the mountains running – we love that obsessive devotion!) We admire David’s creativity. And there’s always a nod to his personal style. So it was a thrill to finally meet David in Chamonix when he travelled over as part of a group of American athletes in the Nike trail team in 2017. They were determined to make a mark on the European races, especially the UTMB, and did not disappoint.

Now in 2020 – with international travel severely curtailed and so many races cancelled – we will miss sharing a cold beer with David in Chamonix. So we caught up with him from our base in the French Alps while he was making the most of his home trails in Washington State.

LtW: Before Covid-19 arrived on the scene, what were your plans for 2020? Did you think you’d be travelling and racing as much as you have in the past?

DL: My 2020 focus was on Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120KM, and Either UTMB or Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. I had plans to be in Europe for much of the summer, but it became clear to me in early March that plan was not going to happen.

LtW: Obviously by the time the year really got into its stride, Covid-19 had upturned everything. What were your initial thoughts about how and how much it would impact you?

DL: Yeah, It became pretty clear quickly this was going to be a big deal. I live in Washington State just North of Seattle. Seattle was an early epicenter, so it became a big deal really early in this region. Pretty much over one weekend in February everything was mostly normal, and then things were not normal at all. I remember that weekend I saw a guy buying groceries in a hazmat suit. It seemed like an overreaction, but there was so much conflicting information it was really hard to figure out what was going on. It was wild. Grocery store shelves were really empty for a while.

LtW: Now, like everyone else, you are not travelling as much as you have in years past. So where are you hunkering down? What is it like where you are?

DL: We have gotten back to relative normalcy here in Bellingham Washington. Everyone wears masks in public spaces and many stores and restaurants are closed, but you can get take out food, and buy whatever you need. Everyday kind of feels like a Sunday, it’s just a little quieter than normal.

LtW: Are you seeing any benefits to the cancellation of the race schedule this year?

DL: I have really enjoyed exploring my local mountains. The North Cascade Range is basically directly East of me and I’ve spent a lot more time out there than I ever have in years past. I keep finding new trails and new trailheads. I’ve realized this range holds a lifetime of adventure, I feel completely content only exploring this area. I miss seeing people and the trail running community, Chamonix and the Alps hold a special place in my heart. The nostalgia of a fall day in chamonix is unrivaled. I actually feel sick thinking about how much I miss the simple things in Cham like watching the alpenglow on Mont Blanc, or

climbing the VK, or eating a pear by the little kids climbing wall, or going to Poco Loco, or seeing friends at Bighorn Bistro…Haha I guess I miss it more than I realized.

LtW: What have you been able to do in 2020 that you would not have ordinarily been doing?

DL: Bringing clean drinking water to people in the developing world has been on my mind and heart for sometime, and I never really knew how to bring awareness to this issue. With a worldwide pandemic this issue is more important than ever. With Lavaredo cancelled I decided to just do what I know how to do! So I planned to run 100 miles on the 4 mile loop on the Waterfront bike path in my hometown of Portland Oregon. I did the run to raise funds for a non profit organization called Charity: Water and to raise awareness of the fact that 780 million people lack access to drinking water. So many people supported the cause and together we raised $6,160 for clean water projects. I was so thankful for the support and thankful that together we were able to help people in need. I didn’t realize how hard running 100 miles on pavement was! I was pretty sore the next day but was thankful to get 100 miles done without having to go up any mountains!

LtW: Some people are obviously hoping for a return to normality – at least what we knew as normal in 2019. Are you amongst them? Or are there aspects of the impact of Covid-19 that you are actually hoping will stick?

DL: Yeah, I am hoping things get better soon. I’ve always been an introvert, and I probably always will enjoy being alone, but I really look forward to seeing people and traveling and having this experience be in the rear view and become something that encourages humans to treat others better, at the moment it seems to be something we are using as an excuse to treat each other worse which is really unfortunate.

LtW: How are you staying motivated when there are no (or very few) races this year?

DL: Yeah, I really love going out everyday, so staying motivated to run is like staying motivated to eat a giant piece of cake, my problem is probably motivation to train smart. I have been running a lot but nothing really structured, My mountain running fitness is good but I’m lacking any real speed. If I had to race a 50K it would be a rough go!

LtW: If you could travel somewhere – perhaps to race – this year (that is currently out of the question) where would it be and why?

DL: I was really stoked to go to Cortina this spring, so that would probably be a first stop. I also wanted to get to Monte Rosa in Switzerland. I guess my first two picks would be the two places I had planned on exploring this year. Iceland has been on my mind for a while too. I’d really like to see iceland at some point!

Many thanks to David for taking the time to answer these questions. You can follow his adventures on Instagram. And check out Charity: Water here.

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