“Adventure is for everybody. The trail is for everybody. The outdoors are for everybody.”

— Mirna Valerio

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— With Mirna Valerio

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“The ability to feel my most human is what I enjoy most about the outdoors.”

— Mirna Valerio, Hydro Flask Ambassador

Mirna Valerio is a former educator, cross-country coach, ultrarunner, obstacle course enthusiast, speaker, and author. Although she began running in high school, she recommitted to the sport after a health scare in 2008. It was then that her love for running and all its attendant benefits were reignited.

She soon started her blog Fatgirlrunning about her experiences as a larger woman in a world of thinner athletes. Now, she is a sponsored athlete and was recently named a 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Join Mirna out on the trail and be inspired by nature.

My kind of trail running

Mirna Valerio

I run, and I run slowly.

I stop and take pictures, I hug trees.

I stop and listen to the rain falling on leaves.

I stop and breathe in the scent of pine, the damp dirt.

I want to feel like my body can do this, all day, forever.

I want to arrive at the top of a mountain and express my gratitude to the air, the ground beneath my feet.

I want to taste the salty sweat dripping from my brow,

and smell the scent of a body in motion, a body working.

I move at my own pace, stop at my own pace, I run my own race.

I bear no pressure to meet the pace goals of others.


Turns out that I’m not the only one that enjoys this kind of experience, so on a whim I developed the Slow AF Trail Running Adventures Retreat for exactly this kind of person.

She is a runner, new or veteran.

She is an athlete, although for some in and out of her circle she does not conform to preconceived notions about who is and isn’t one.

She wants to experience traversing trails in a lush green forest, in the rain, in the heat, in the humidity of the south, the dryness of the west, the hilly terrain of volcanic islands in the Atlantic.

She wants to surrender her body to the earth’s terrain and whimsy, and, in turn, the earth will present her with its unending gifts.

She wants to run the same trails that others run, and she wants to run them at her own pace.

I developed these retreats to serve this particular community of women. I wanted to share with the world the joy that running through the woods gave me, the freedom it gave me to explore the natural world on my own two feet, using my own strong legs.

I invited women to come and join me in my joy; I wanted to encircle them in my world of trail running, coach those who needed it, and help them to have a positive, life-affirming experience in the outdoors.

It worked.

The very first day of our retreat, it stormed. We waited out the lightning and got onto the trails, but not without ripping off our rain-soaked shirts and running the wet trails in our bras, shorts, capris, and skirts. When we finished our run for the day, we returned to the trailhead only to find that the enormous 15 passenger van was stuck in the mud.

I watched, excited but not amazed, that these ladies who hadn’t known each other the night before, silently got out of the van, picked it up on the count of three while another participant expertly maneuvered the heavy vehicle out of the deep, wheel-sucking mud.

Done. That was all we needed. They were hooked, they were friends for life with the pebbles of the trail and a little mud bonding them together, the backdrop of the glowing Blue Ridge shining its light upon them.

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