Intro by Chris Inouye: I have been a part of the Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) Board of Directors since November 2020 and financially supported the program since 2018. ARC is a non-profit organization that works with underserved youth in our local Tahoe community to get them into the wilderness while simultaneously promoting literacy and self-expression through essay and poetry writing to help them find their voice.
Kaela joined ARC as the Tahoe area Program Coordinator in Summer 2020 and, from the start, it was impressive to see her dive right in and get to know the high school students and really invest in our local community. Part of Kaela’s role as program coordinator is to lead the Community Leadership Program (CLP) at North Tahoe High School during the school year. I was able to see Kaela in action when I volunteered as a writing coach for students in the CLP in a workshop helping students prepare essays about impactful life experiences. Kaela is amazing at her role: simultaneously coordinating volunteers, caring for students, and investing in the betterment of our local community. Being part of ARC has been an inspiring journey, especially being able to work with people like Kaela.
I am excited to introduce Kaela to the DPMR community. Look out for Kaela on one of DPMR’s Tuesday evening runs to see if there are ways for you to support ARC and its mission!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in Brunswick, Maine and I moved to Tahoe in June 2020. I currently live in Truckee.
When did you begin running? Why?
I started running on the cross-country and track teams in high school because my friends were doing it and it required seemingly less coordination than ball sports.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I run races occasionally, but not competitively. I prefer supporting other people in their races. I am most motivated to run in order to spend time outside moving my whole body, clear my head, or spend time with friends and family.
Do you have any dream races or adventures?
I’ve set a goal to run the Broken Arrow 26k, which will be my longest distance yet. I was signed up this year but had to withdraw because of an injury. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to heal and train in order to run injury-free next year.
What was the best running advice you’ve received? Any good life advice to share?
I’m working through a hamstring injury right now and I think the best advice I wish I listened to was that rest days are just as important as training days.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
I ran the Berkeley Half Marathon with my sister. She doesn’t enjoy running and wanted support in achieving her goal. I don’t love road running, but it was special to run with her and bring the stoke and snacks.
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
This injury has definitely been the most challenging part of the past year. My work and my personal life revolve around moving around outside and it seems like every time I start to feel a little better and test out moving again, the pain comes back. It requires a lot of patience, restraint, and creativity to find other ways to enjoy time outside.
What do you do for a living?
I am a program coordinator for Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) in Tahoe. ARC is a non-profit organization that empowers underserved youth in our community through transformational literacy, leadership, and outdoor experiences. During the summer we facilitate a month-long immersion course out of Sagehen Creek Field Station which includes multi-day backpacking trips, rock climbing and whitewater rafting. For most of our students, this is their first time ever experiencing these activities and places even though they grew up here. As part of the program, we run every morning in base camp and slowly increase our distance. We finish the course with a 7 mile run and our students are often amazed to see themselves achieve that goal.
During the academic year, we offer monthly outdoor access experiences around the Tahoe basin and we partner with the GRIT program at North Tahoe High School to provide weekly programming in the classroom. Students who graduate from our summer course can receive a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship by participating in our 8-month Community Leadership Program. Through the program they plan a student-led backpacking trip, receive CPR and first aid certification, facilitate leadership activities for younger students, and write and present a speech about the tools they’ve gained through the ARC program.
How can DPMR members support ARC or get involved?
We are able to offer our programming at minimal to no cost through the generous support of donors and foundations. If you are interested in financially supporting local students to have these experiences through ARC, you can make a tax-deductible donation on our website, or contact our Co-Executive Director, Sarah Ottley, at email@example.com.
Community members also support our work as volunteers, helping with logistics or writing coaching; equipment donations; or by connecting us with outfitters who can provide discounted services. You can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow our work by signing-up for our newsletter on our website.
What led you to join DPMR?
I learned about DPMR from Chris Inouye, who serves as Treasurer for the ARC Board of Directors. I was excited to connect with DPMR so I could meet more people and learn about new places to run in the Tahoe area. It seems like a really great community and I’m excited to participate in more events.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
I went to the Tuesday night newbies run at the Legacy Trail and there were so many people and the energy was very positive and inclusive. I’m also looking forward to flipping pancakes with DPMR at Broken Arrow.
Favorite local trail?
The PCT section from Donner Summit to Olympic Valley
Do you have a favorite piece of running gear ?
Since I switched to running in Altra Lone Peaks, I haven’t rolled an ankle! I’m a big fan of the zero drop and the wide toe box. Besides running, I use them for all my hiking and backpacking trips.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
Right now my favorite trail snacks are the orange and strawberry flavored GU chews.
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run, challenging life circumstances, etc?
I try to use my breath to create space and softening in my mind and body. It slows my heart rate, calms my nervous system, and gives me something concrete to focus on.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
I love cooking, audiobooks, biking, skiing, paddling, climbing and backpacking.
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
I earned a Master of Arts in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica