Pete Broomhall and I had the pleasure of interviewing Rich Molsby for this month’s Member Highlight. Rich is the “Mo” of MOBO Law here in Truckee. He also happens to be a triathlete and a loyal DPMR member – in fact he was one of the first ten members to join the club after its formation!
So, with that introduction, here’s what we found out after we put Rich on the stand, and he swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…
What brought you to Truckee and where were you living before?
I grew up in Southern California in the town of Upland, which is located at the base of Mt. Baldy. Upland’s elevation is only about 3,000 feet, but Mt. Baldy Summit rises over 10,000 feet above sea level and it drew me up whenever possible. I grew up skiing, biking, hiking and playing at Mt. Baldy, Big Bear, and Mammoth.
I went to college at the University of Utah, worked for Alta and did a lot of skiing while I was there. The U wouldn’t give me in-state tuition so I transferred to U.C. Santa Barbara and then went to Colorado where I lived in many mountain towns. Then I went to CAL Northern for law school, after which I wanted to get back to the mountains. It was either Mammoth or Truckee – turns out Truckee won out and I am so stoked to be here.
When did you begin long-distance running? Why?
Well, endurance stuff for me started about 25 years ago and has gradually progressed over that time. In terms of swimming, I regularly swam off the coast of Santa Barbara for 2-4 miles. I originally wanted to swim from the Santa Barbara Islands to Santa Barbara – at the time no one had done that, to my knowledge. I started to chart it, but the sharks made me rethink the idea. Chris Cloyd was instrumental in increasing my running time and speed, as was Mark Redpath, both local legends in my mind.
What do you have against sharks and when are you swimming Alcatraz?
Well, I don’t have anything against sharks, I just don’t like the idea of looking like a meal to them, but I’ve done the swim from Alcatraz and that’s short and easy (1.2 miles and 25 minutes or so).
So when are you going to swim the English Channel?
Ha – I have no interest in the English Channel. Their food is terrible.
You clearly had the swimming part down, how did you get involved in triathlon?
I worked with the US Ski Team and Cross Country Team in Steamboat Springs for a while. Steamboat is a great community! Anyway, there was a guy: Bob Dapper who was a long term local and he was a regional manager of a ski shop that I managed for him. He did this thing called the Iron Man and everyone thought he was crazy. It’s been interesting to see how endurance sports have evolved over the years. What used to be on the fringe is becoming more and more mainstream. My body responds well to alternating sports, so triathlon was a nice fit and I like the three sports. That said, I want to be clear that I have only done about a dozen, I’m slow, but nobody has more fun than me.
I think Donner Party Mountain Runners is really important because they bring awareness to ultra-running. The more the general population sees it as achievable, the more the boundaries get pushed and the more time people are going to spend outside. I think there is a direct relation between wellness and the amount of time someone spends enjoying the outdoors.
Ok, how about running, what got you into long distance running?
I started doing long distance runs in Truckee and Yosemite and was really inspired by the scenery. I started out doing long hikes, then jog-hikes, then running. You can access terrain and take in scenery with long distance trail running that you can’t really obtain with other modes of transportation – human powered or otherwise. I love the wildlife and am never happier than when I am on a long trail run.
What’s your favorite trail?
There’s a loop in the Bridgeport/Virginia Lakes area, in the Sawtooth Range. It’s skiable in the winter/spring and runnable in the summer. You can be at the trailhead in 2 hours (twin lakes). It’s basically the northeast corner of Yosemite so you get a lot of the granite and that area feels incredibly big and remote.
Do you have any favorites closer to home?
We have so many beautiful options around here. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be Squaw to SugarBowl. I really fell in love with that trail. Most people run it from Sugar Bowl to Squaw, but my knees prefer the more moderate downhill at the end.
Back to swimming for a second – where are your favorite swimming spots in the area?
I like Tahoe’s Speedboat Beach and Donner Lake quite a bit. I’ve done the race across Donner a couple of times and have circumnavigated Donner as well. That’s a bit further – about 6.5 miles.
Since you brought up racing, what have you been up to race-wise?
Last year (2014), I trained for and was scheduled to do Ironman Lake Tahoe, but the smoke destroyed that. It was disappointing – they had us all in corals on the beach based on estimated times and then they pulled the plug last minute. They made the right call because the smoke was horrible, but it was a buzz kill.
I didn’t race at all this year due to a knee injury and my work schedule, but 2016 looks to be shaping up nicely. I plan to run on snow all winter, which will help with fitness and take it easy on the knee. I stud my running shows by running stainless steel screws through the sole of my shoes so I don’t slip on ice.
What are your racing/adventure plans for 2016?
Next year I want to do a solo swim across Lake Tahoe. I would also like to do some 10-30 mile runs. I will focus on the adventure, which really motivates me. I would like to plot a course through the Sawtooth Range from Virginia Lakes to Twin Lakes. I have done the Death Ride a couple times and will likely do that again.
What was your favorite running experience last year?
The longest run I did last year was Boreal to Sierra City. It was about 35 miles and really beautiful. Actually, that was the longest run I have ever done.
What led you to join the DPMR?
[Looking at Pete] “You my friend!” Pete let me know about the group. Last year I was running 20-40 miles a week and people like Pete, Cloyd, Peter Fain, and Betsy Nye really inspire me. There is no way I would miss this opportunity to be part of and support this group.
What do you like most about the club?
I like the involvement with the members – both in person and via the newsletters. Reading about the exploits and adventures of other members is fun. Of course, I enjoy the club BBQs and parties too.
OK – we know you’re an accomplished attorney. You also ski, run, cycle and swim. Sounds like you’re an underachiever *sarcasm here* what else do you do?
Backcountry skiing is one of my favorite things to do. Really, pretty much anything I can do outdoors.
About that little detail, you’re an attorney – tell us about your practice…
My company is dedicated to recreation more than most law firms. My business partner, Cameron Bordner, and I founded our business based on business, estate planning, and defending recreation. We work quite a bit with providers of recreational activities. There’s a lot of risk associated with most outdoor pursuits and it’s the assumption of risk doctrine that allows us all to participate in these activities. Without the assumption of risk by participants, recreational venues and businesses would be sued into oblivion making it inaccessible to anyone. Scott Schmidt said it best when he said, “People suing ski areas should be shot.” [Blizzard of Ahhhs]
Wow – so you basically found a way to meld your love of the outdoors and your profession. That doesn’t happen very often. How long have you been in business and do you have any other offices besides Truckee?
We’ve been in business for 8 years. Our main office is in Truckee and we have 4 full-time attorneys here. We also have an office in Sacramento and we’re about to open an office in Reno.
Do you work solely with recreational businesses or do you practice other types of law as well?
Personally, I primarily focus on business, estate planning, construction and property law. Amongst the nine employees and three offices though, we cover a pretty broad spectrum. We also provide counsel for bankruptcy, family law, employment law and litigation.
Any other tidbits about yourself that you’d like to share?
I was a mountain bike guide in Rocky Mountain National Park. At the time, there was a stat that something like 99% of visitors never ventured more than 100 yards beyond their cars. I always thought that was sad a. It’s nice to live in and be part of a community that definitely ventures out well beyond the conventional norm and I am very happy to be part of Donner Party Mountain Runners.