Ambassadors

Maartje Bastings

Ambassador

HometownLutry, Switzerland

A bit about me

I am Dutch, and as you might know, half our country lies below sea level. It’s always funny to refer to this fact while climbing mountains! However, while we don’t have mountains, our tradition of biking everywhere – in any condition, at any age – makes for a good start in endurance.

I started running roughly 14 years ago and have gradually increased from 5k, to 10k, to half and then full marathon. Then, on to trails and ultras over the years. I believe patience and consistency is key to longevity and injury prevention.

I moved to Boston in 2012 and my ultra trail running career started to bloom. As a pacer for the Leadville 100, I encountered “real” mountains. I fell in love with ultra running, the trails, and the ultra community.

Continuing my focus on trails and longer distances, I realized my body faired quite well on the endurance side. Distances of 80 km seemed ideal. Eventually, the 100 mile distance called and I tried my hand at two of them, Rocky Raccoon (4th female, in what was also the US trail 100-mile championships) and Leadville 100, where I finished within the 25-hour limit, and received the coveted belt buckle.

In 2017, I moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, and have a daily view of the Alps. I will be joining the Salomon Ultra Running Academy in Annecy and look forward to sharing the joy of trails and mountains with other trail enthusiasts here!

My other life

I am a scientist and run (pun intended!) my own laboratory in biomaterials at the École polytechnic fédérale de Lausanne. We focus on controlling the assembly of molecules into complex 3D architectures by using DNA as a programmable glue. Think of it as a box of LEGOs, or an IKEA package, where all the individual components know exactly how they should come together. No human involvement is necessary, and there are no missing bits and pieces! Pretty cool, huh? My work takes place on a microscopic level, where I strive to create the perfect environments to grow cells for sophisticated diagnostics and therapeutics.

In my free time

I can’t remember the last time I had any free time…!

Fun Fact

I am a professional classical flutist. I studied flute at the Tilburg Conservatory in the Netherlands, while I was doing my Biomed training in Eindhoven.

I am also a big fan of run-commuting. Running twice a day with a backpack full of books is perfect ultra training, and also saves time in a busy life, when you don’t know how to fit your training in.

Favorite Alp trail run

My favorite run in the Alps so far is up to Lac de Tanay, not far from Lake Geneva and the French border, in what is known as the Chablais Alps.

I see the Alps every morning from my bedroom window, and I can tell you, there is no better place on earth to live and run! I look forward to spending more time exploring all the trails in this new playground!

Hillary Gerardi

Ambassador

HometownServoz, France and Saint Johnsbury, Vermont

A bit about me

Native of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain huts alum, Middlebury College graduate, and Adirondack Mountains enthusiast. I currently live in the village of Servoz, in the Chamonix valley. At the suggestion of my partner, Brad, my initial plan was to come to ski for a season and then head home…but seven years later, we’re still here!

My other life

Formerly a high school teacher, I now spend my days working for CREA Mont-Blanc, the Research Center for Alpine Ecosystems in Chamonix. We are a small team studying the effects of climate change on the Mont-Blanc massif, and getting folks involved through citizen science and educational initiatives. I also moonlight as a translator.

In my free time

Free time…What’s that? When I’m not running in the World Skyrunner Series, I love to be out in the mountains, either backcountry skiing, alpine climbing, hiking or just ogling beautiful landscapes with my partner, who is an aspiring mountain guide here in Chamonix. When the weather isn’t cooperating, I like to be inside cooking and eating good food, enjoying a book, or poring over topographic maps.

Fun Fact

My favorite kitchen utensil is the rubber spatula.

Favorite Alp trail run

Too hard to choose!  There are so many great trails here to choose from! While in Grenoble for 6 years, the traverse of the Néron leaving from and returning to the city became an all-time favorite.

Katie Schide

Ambassador

HometownGardiner, Maine

A bit about me

I live in Zurich, Switzerland, but know very little about the city, as I am constantly hopping trains headed to the mountains.

I grew up hiking with my dad in New England. During my summer breaks at Middlebury College, I worked in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s high mountain huts in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. There, I baked bread, cleaned toilets, offered trail advice, and fast-hiked around the mountains in – no kidding – a variety of costumes.

After arriving in Zurich in the summer of 2016, I quickly connected with Hillary Gerardi, a fellow AMC huts and Middlebury alumna, and now also a Run the Alps ambassador. Hillary brought me to my first-ever Skyrace – and I was hooked! Racing is such a great excuse to travel to new places, meet fun people, and run through the mountains with well-spaced snack stops!

My other life

In my other life, I’m a geologist, working on my PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, otherwise known as ETH-Zurich. I study the landslides caused by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Nepal and my research group is interested in how large earthquakes affect long-term erosion and sedimentary cycles in mountainous landscapes. I travel to Nepal for field work, where I fly drones to map landslides and collect a lot of sand. I can’t think of a better way to combine my scientific interests with my love for the mountains!

In my free time

In my free time, I’m either baking muffins or planning my next run, bike, or ski tour!

Fun Fact

While studying abroad in Iceland, I played in the Women’s National Ice Hockey League, having never before played competitive hockey.

Favorite Alp trail run

I love the Mercantour National Park in France’s Maritime Alps. The area is very wild, and you can go hours without seeing another person. But closer to home in Switzerland, the scramble up the Dossen on the Grosse Scheidegg – and a cake stop at the Dossenhütte is a real treat! Really any Swiss trail marked in blue – that is, not bordering on rock climbing – is sure to be filled with technical fun!

Kim Strom

Ambassador

HometownMunich, Germany

A bit about me

I fell in love with the Alps after moving to France in 2009. Growing up near flat Chicago, it took some years to build the strength, confidence, and experience that unlock the freedom and bliss of running in the mountains. Now, there is nothing more natural than to bound down a mountain over rocks and snow through the fog and rain or to enjoy those blue sky days in the wildflowers. I like the challenge of pushing hard on a relentless climb and the reward, not only of a great view, but of each step that carries us higher… and of course finishing the day with a long downhill dance.

My other life

I’m a freelance writer and looking for any excuse to be in the mountains.

In my free time

If I’m not running, then I am skiing, doing yoga, or baking something to share with friends during our next outing.

Fun Fact

I started running in the mountains because I was always excited to see what would be around the next corner or over the next summit. Before that, I was 100% not a runner. Last year, I was one of few women to run the 2016 Skyrunner Extreme Series, not something I ever imagined possible.

Favorite Alp trail run

Whichever one I’m running that day. Trail running has been such an unexpected passion, that every run is my favorite. If I really had to choose, Pointe Percée, in the French Alps, not very far from Chamonix. Or, something technical that combines running, scrambling, and a rapid descent.