If you’ve ever run with Betsy, you probably experienced a bit of excitement mixed with terror after she grunted “good Hardrock training” right around the time you realized the trail was long gone, you were almost certainly lost, and the manzanita had only grown more ominous.
Last fall, Betsy led a group of us on a run over some of her favorite trails in Desolation Wilderness. Around 7 hours in, we started discussing how far the run was going to be and realized she had told us each something different. When we confronted her with this information, she laughed and said, “I knew if I told you how far it was, you’d say no!”
It was true. And [once we finished] we were so grateful she had lied to us.
Despite the fact that Betsy will push you beyond what you thought you were capable of, she will also encourage you to take in the view, seek out the perfect heart-shaped rock, and smell every vanilla-scented tree along the route. Betsy’s running career has been extraordinary, with well over 100 ultramarathon finishes (with wins and podiums and course records), and before I met her, that’s all I thought about when I heard the legendary name “Betsy Nye.”
But the real impression Betsy has left on me and others comes from her love for the mountains and her heart of pure gold. Betsy spends countless hours every season building and maintaining trails, volunteering at races, pacing or crewing for her friends, and motivating and inspiring others continuously with her infectious smile and encouragement. She has an immense volume of training wisdom (She coached me through my first 100-miler.) and relishes in the accomplishments of her friends as they reach their goals.
Betsy, her husband Paul, and daughter Lizzy are also frequent volunteers with the local humane society and have “failed” many times as foster parents as their family of dogs is almost always increasing in size. We are grateful for Betsy’s service on the all-volunteer DPMR Board of Directors from 2014-2018, and look forward to getting dirty with her on the trails as she continues in the capacity of volunteer Trail Stewardship Coordinator.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am from Bellevue Washington, I have been in the Tahoe Truckee area since 1989.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I ran through my youth, doing cross country and track. I also climbed mountains a lot as a kid with my Dad. Mostly glacier climbing and skiing. I ran only one marathon in my entire life – the 1981 Seattle marathon. I didn’t start running ultras until 1998.
In 1997 I paced a friend at Wasatch 100. I ran 34 with Chris Lubreki, then when I was finished found another person to pace and went an extra 60 miles off the couch. I had only run the one marathon several years prior. But I knew I could run 100 miles so I signed up for Wasatch 100.
I have run many 100s since then. In 1998 I ran my first 100 the Wasatch and the second year signed up for Hardrock 100. It was all through the mail; no lotteries at that point. It wasn’t a popular race. In fact, after I signed up, Daryl Garland called me on the land line and asked if I knew any other people that were interested.
I was hooked on both Wasatch and Hardrock. I finished 10 Wasatch 100’s and I have finished 16 Hardrocks with many other 100s under my belt.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I used to race but now I am older and enjoy just finishing and still getting out. My favorite trails to run here in the Tahoe Basin are in Desolation. You cannot beat the scenery.
Favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
My favorite post race beverage is Beer. I also use First Endurance supplements. They have a very tasty recovery drink which works well too.
What other outdoor interests do you have?
I took a year off racing in 2017 to travel with my daughter to Nepal. I truly enjoy getting out on the trails either running, hiking, or backpacking.
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
Last summer was challenging because I found out the day before Hardrock that my Mom has ovarian cancer stage 4. I ran for her with a few tears along the way.
I also hiked the High Sierra Traverse with my good friend Diane Frederic – it was challenging and so much fun. Challenging in a different way carrying a heavy pack.
One of my hardest races this summer was running the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon 100. I ran with my good friend Lesley Dellamonica, in which we mostly stayed together the entire way. I found running the same flat terrain to be hard mentally and physically always using the same muscle movement. I prefer Mountains. Love the ups so you can walk fast and the downhills for running and letting gravity be your friend. With flats I loose motivation so that was a challenge.
What are your upcoming race/adventure plans?
This next year I have signed up for quite a few races: Orcas 50, MUC 50 miler, Hardrock 100, Castle Peak 100k and IMTUF. Looking forward to running my 5th Castle Peak, 17th Hardrock but mostly looking forward to running with my friends next September in Idaho: Lesley D, Murray Schart, and my husband Paul Sweeney. I passed by there the first year they had the race and I am looking forward to seeing the IMTUF course and the Hot Tubs at the finish.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
My favorite DPMR experience is running the Castle Peak 100k and trail work with Kevin Star who works for the Land Trust.