Staff

Abby Strauss-Malcolm

Tour Architect

HometownGloucester, Massachusetts

A bit about me

After years spent in outdoor education, bringing groups of kids into the wilderness to learn more about themselves and the natural world around them, I made the switch to guiding in the US southwest, which eventually led me to the Alps. Having once lived a transient life, working seasonally, exploring new areas and sports, I’m now rooted in New England during most of the year working behind the scenes for both Run the Alps and its partner, Alpinehikers. The summer finds me exploring trails around Europe and spending as much time away from the computer as possible!

My other life

My husband and I purchased land in Gloucester and are currently in the process of building our own home. Digging, moving supplies, swinging a hammer, painting. It makes for a cheap and productive version of cross-training. We call it, “Build a House, Build a Body.”

In my free time

When there’s a free moment from work or building I’m out trail running, doing yoga, sailing, swimming – anything to move my body and burn off some energy. I also love cooking and eating, so I make sure sharing meals with friends and family fits somewhere in there, too.

Fun Fact

While leading a wilderness orientation program for Prescott College, I spent three days in a cave with students waiting out a storm of biblical proportion. We’re talking nine inches of rain in three days. Picture dry creek beds turning into roaring rivers ten feet deep. You could hear large boulders moving from the force of the water.

Favorite Alp trail run

The classic route of the Sierre-Zinal trail-race is by far my favorite. There’s nothing like starting off in the dark in the low valley of Sierre, hitting a steep climb for well over an hour, and emerging from the woods to perfect single track just as dawn is illuminating the incredible scenery of snow-capped peaks and mountains stretching endlessly into the distance. The climbing continues over the mid-distance of the race, and it all comes to a spectacular end with a fast descent into the small town of Zinal where crowds line the trail, cheering you in!

Alyssa Clark

Tour Fulfillment Manager

HometownPanama City Beach, Florida

A bit about me

Growing up in the state of Vermont and living on the side of a mountain, my brother, sister and I were always out playing in the woods and racing along the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail. I was a cross-country skier through middle and high school, but my favorite training was always long distance hiking or running in the mountains. 

After college in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where I majored in Art and English, I moved to Hawaii to teach. It was there that I met my husband, Codi, who is now in the US Navy. After Hawaii, we were stationed in Naples, Italy for two years where we discovered the mountain playgrounds of the Alps and Dolomites. We even hope to retire to the Dolomites some day– it’s our favorite place in the world!

My other life

I taught humanities at a private international high school in Hawaii for three years before moving to Italy. In Italy, I was a Fitness Facility Manager for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation division of the Navy. 

In my free time

I am a competitive ultra-runner who thrives on the gnarliest and toughest races. My passion is mountain running and I am working to become the best that I can be in races and trail adventures over 100 miles long.

Codi and I love adventures in the mountains, especially during the winter. We have just started learning ski mountaineering, alpine climbing and rock climbing. Moving with the US military has offered tremendous opportunity to see some of the best mountains in the world. We are excited to continue this journey.

Fun Fact

When we moved to Italy, we adopted two cats that we named Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute. (My husband is a fanatical fan of the TV show, The Office.) 

I am planning to write a book about my most recent running adventure, during which I ran 100 marathons in 100 days in three different countries and three different states. 

When I’m not trail running, talking or thinking about running, I enjoy writing, reading, cooking gluten-free treats and spending time with my husband and our cats.

Favorite Alp trail run

In 2019, we had the opportunity to do the iconic Tour du Mont-Blanc footpath in four-and-a-half days. It was an incredible experience.

My all-time favorite trail run, however, is the first 35km of the Cortina Trail which is part of Italy’s Lavaredo Ultra trail race series. Coming out of the beautiful town of Cortina, past the Tofana di Rozes and rounding the corner to the breathtaking Cinque Torri pillars, the view is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Doug Mayer

Founder

HometownChamonix, France

A bit about me

I’ve been playing in the mountains since I was a kid, breaking wooden cross-country skis on remote peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains with my older brothers. The ensuing years have been filled with adventures from the Alps to the Andes. The thought of a warm chocolate croissant and a friendly dog at the next mountain hut can make me run for hours.

My other life

In a past life I was an Associate Producer for Car Talk from NPR. Today, in addition to doing my best to guide the growth of Run the Alps, I’m a Contributing Editor and Run Amok columnist at Trail Runner Magazine. I recently co-authored Run the Alps Switzerland: 30 Must-Do Trail Runs (Helvetiq). I write scripts for the monthly Ultra Trail World Tour films, and work on internal story-telling projects for Salomon. In my hometown of Chamonix, I enjoy partnering on projects with UTMB® and the International Trail Running Association.

In my free time

Living in Chamonix means that your free time is spent playing in the mountains, whether running our local Vertical Kilometer course at night with a headlamp, or exploring the mountains of nearby Switzerland or Italy in trail running shoes, on a gravel bike, or with skis underfoot.

Fun Fact

On a mixed rock and ice climb in Wyoming one winter years ago, I climbed the wrong Teton. Seriously.

Favorite Alp trail run

From Chamonix village to the Refuge du plan de l’aiguille.  It’s an hour-and-a-half uphill run from what I think of as the world’s epicenter for trail running, to the best fresh-baked pies in the entire valley. The refuge has a cheerful staff, too. The views from the refuge are some of the best in the region. After your tart and café au lait, run the dramatic north balcony to Montenvers and the Mer du Glace, or walk a few minutes uphill and ride the Aiguille du Midi tram back to town.

Jennifer Stretton

Sustainability and Marketing Manager

HometownServoz, France

A bit about me

I fell in love with the Alps when I was 19, and went on a University climbing trip to Chamonix, France. I’ve been lucky to live here full-time since 2017. I am an international mountain leader and spend my summers leading groups on some of the famous long distance hikes in the Alps, such as the Tour du Mont-Blanc and the Haute Route. In winter, I have more free time and can focus on my other passion, which is the environment.

I have a degree in geography, and in a past life I was head of marketing for a financial company, and then worked freelance as a digital marketing consultant for several small start-ups. Needless to say, so many hours behind the desk didn’t suit me and since moving to the Alps I enjoy more balance, splitting my time between guiding hiking groups, personal adventures and working with Run the Alps.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to bring these skill sets together as the Sustainability and Marketing Manager. I have been working on Run the Alps’ Sustainability Project since its inception and enjoy seeing it evolve!

My other life

My other great passion is Zen meditation and Sumi-e, which is Zen ink painting. I practice it at home and during retreats.

In my free time

I spend almost all of my free time in the mountains – climbing, skiing, hiking or running with my dog, Honey.

Fun Fact

Before I discovered climbing, my big obession was martial arts. I grew up practicing Karate and Kung fu, and I once spent a month at a kung fu school in China and two months practicing thai boxing in Thailand.

Favorite Alp trail run

I love the balcony trails in the Chamonix valley. There’s nothing like the feeling of running along such perfect trails below some of the highest mountains in the Alps!

Malcolm Pittman

Volunteer Proofreader

HometownCambridge, Massachusetts

A bit about me

I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the proofreading job, including having plenty of spare time, being detail-oriented to the point of neurosis (and beyond), and being the brother-in-law of Run the Alps founder Doug Mayer.

My other life

I am a retired Boston lawyer. My wife, Doug’s sister, is a children’s book author. She has not written a book about trail running in the Alps but it is probably only a matter of time. We have two children, both of whom are married and live within walking distance of us in Somerville, MA. Our daughter has a 4-year old daughter who is a delight to have nearby.

In my free time

When I am not taking care of my granddaughter or proofreading for the site, I am an amateur banjo player in two groups that play informally at farmers markets and the like, the Incorrigible String Band.  My granddaughter and I do duets of Puff the Magic Dragon and Baby Beluga.  I also cook, bake, and bicycle.

Fun Fact

I have an identical twin brother who lives in Takoma Park, MD. He is an antitrust economist for the US Dept. of Justice. Like me, he has an accomplished wife and children.

Favorite Alp trail run

I loved my one hiking trip in the Alps but am not and will never be a trail runner. But if I were, I would definitely kick the Chamonix VK’s ass.

Steph Lefferts

Tour Manager

HometownAnnecy, France

A bit about me

Growing up I played a lot of sports, but I was never supposed to be a runner. Although my dad had run countless ultras, the sport never interested me until my senior year of college. Since then, I have completed numerous ultras and continue to be inspired by pushing myself physically and mentally.

We always thought Colorado would be home, but my husband Mike and I moved to Annecy, France spring of 2019. If you run in the Alps, you’ll probably find us either running or crewing for each other!

My other life

I’m a certified personal trainer who specializes in corrective exercise, senior fitness, and movement and mobility. You’ll often catch me with some sort of foam roller, lacrosse ball, or band.

In my free time

I’m an avid reader, particularly of historical non-fiction. I also love cooking with Mike and playing board games. When we’re in Chamonix, we always hit Cool Cats for sweet potato fries after a day of trail running.

Fun Fact

Ever since high school, I’ve dreamed about rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Canary Islands to Antigua, in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. While I don’t follow the race as closely as I used to, if the opportunity arose to take part, I’d have to say yes!

I’ve also been skydiving, hang-gliding, and paragliding, but would never try bungee jumping!

Favorite Alp trail run

I love trail running in the Chamonix valley. It’s such an incredible playground for trail runners, it’s hard to pick a favorite run. However, just outside town towards Argentière you’ll find the trail to Mont Buet. This trail winds through the beautiful Bérard valley and then climbs swiftly up past late-melting snowfields, opening to an expansive view of Mont Blanc. If you’re lucky, you’ll see ibex and chamois!

Stephanie Lightfoot

Accounts and Administration Manager

HometownChamonix, France

A bit about me

I am from the UK, but have been living in the French Alps for over 20 years. Originally drawn to the mountains for skiing, my first alpine goals were on two planks, and I’ve travelled all over the world with my skis – from Greenland to Nepal to Norway. After a few years of getting cold and scared, however, I fell in love with the summer and developed a lifelong passion for mountain adventures in the warmer months. Trail running, climbing and biking have taken me on wonderful journeys all over the Alps and beyond. Through those trips, I’ve also made some great friends. After 20 years of adventuring and playing, I’ve finally “grown up,” and swapped mountain extreme for domestic extreme — but wouldn’t have it any other way.

My other life

I am a mum to 2-year-old girl-boy twins, who keep me very busy. Being a mum is the biggest and best challenge in life. My partner and I are currently building our dream family home in Coupeau, a village located high in the Chamonix valley, with probably the best views of the Mont Blanc massif in the entire range. What a place to call home!

In my free time

Sports are my thing — I’m an endorphin junkie with a love for beautiful views! My biggest passion has always been trail running but between niggling injuries from too much running in a past life and juggling kids, I now run shorter distances, but am working on getting faster. I also love sport climbing, I ride my road bike and I try to swim and do yoga regularly. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

Fun Fact

Most people who know me can’t quite believe how much chocolate and ice cream one small person can consume. Oh, and I’m really into climbing, but I’m also really scared of heights. Which doesn’t quite add up.

Favorite Alp trail run

In terms of multi-day routes, the Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland is high, diverse, challenge and epic! I loved it as a running trip with friends a few years ago.

As for races, my favorites are Chamonix’s local Trail des Aiguilles Rouges and Switzerland’s Humani’trail. Nowadays, I can’t run long distance, so my focus is on shorter events such as the 23 km Cross du Mont Blanc and Chamonix’s Vertical Kilometer.

Tayte Pollman

Editor and Social Media Producer

HometownSandy, Utah

A bit about me

My spirit animal is the mountain goat! I’m at home on mountain tops, surefooted on precarious ridges and enjoy grazing in high plateaus above the clouds. Growing up in the Salt Lake Valley, I’ve had the opportunity to nourish my inner mountain goat and explore countless trails in the nearby Wasatch Mountains. I’m inspired by wonderful tribes of trail runners from around the world to go farther and faster, and continue seeking out adventures in the mountains. The possibility to discover a new trails, create fun ridge link-ups or climb a hill more quickly than before keeps me coming back to the mountains for more.

My other life

From 2015 to 2018, I ran cross country and studied English at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. Since graduating, I’ve pursued my passions of running and writing jointly: I run professionally for the Nike Trail Team and write articles for the American Trail Running Association in my column, “Tayte’s Tuesday Trail Tips,” where I give training advice and talk about my running adventures. My trail running has taken me to mountain ranges around the world, including the Pyrénées, Himalayas, Rockies and Alps. I look forward to continuing to blend my interests in running, writing and traveling in the Alps this summer!

In my free time

You’ll probably find me in the mountains, but I also love spending time in the kitchen. I enjoy making homemade energy bars and jam, eating nearly every kind of vegetable and learning to cook French recipes– that’s become increasingly important as I find myself spending more time in France! You might also hear me playing guitar and trying my best to imitate Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Fun Fact

I love olive oil! I agree with the Spaniards and Italians that this “liquid gold” is not only good for health, but a table staple at every meal. Like fine wine and cheese, high quality olive oil has numerous aromas and flavors for your palette. I enjoy olive oil cake and olive oil ice cream (a popular flavor in Portland, Oregon– no kidding!) and I strongly believe that nearly everything is better with olive oil.

Favorite Alp trail run

I have great memories from when I ran in the Italian Alps at the 2017 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. I was representing Team USA and competed with nations from around the world in a 32km race with over 9,500 feet of climbing. I remember running up steep, technical climbs in pouring rain, while ecstatic Italian crowds cheered, “Allez Pollmann! USA USA!”

It’s a race I’ll never forget.

Troy Haines

Alpinehikers Founder, Guide

HometownPrescott, Arizona

A bit about me

I was first introduced to the Alps while studying in West Berlin in 1989. On a break from my studies, I made the first of many trips to these wonderful mountains. It was love at first sight. Time and again I returned to walk the trails, eventually moving to the Alps myself, living and working in the hotels in Mürren. I started Alpinehikers in the summer of 1999. I’m an enthusiastic trail runner, and have competed in the Jungfrau Marathon, Zermatt Marathon, the Inferno Half-Marathon, and Sierre-Zinal.

My other life

When not busy organizing tours for Run the Alps’ partner, Alpinehikers, I love being a dad and hanging out with my two young kids, Sidney and Owen, ages 11 and 7.

In my free time

My son likes to say, “Daddy, you have two jobs… writing messages to people and taking care of me!”  Free time is mostly about family, but I also love basketball– both playing and watching– and a late-night movie with my wife, Jennifer.  I like to cook, and am currently trying to wean myself off of devices and back to real books.

Fun Fact

Before moving to Switzerland in 1997, I owned a bakery for two years— which helps explain my love of Swiss pastries!

Favorite Alp trail run

Can I pick two?  My first thought is of the run from Riederalp through the ancient Aletsch forest, down to the hanging bridge in front of the Aletsch glacier. It’s a trail run that’s just perfect for feeling like Superman for a brief moment. But, if I could only run in one place I’d choose the loop around the back of the Lauterbrunnen valley in the Bernese Oberland.  There aren’t many places with that kind of scenery in such a remote setting in the Alps.  Behind the Jungfrau, up above Schmadribach falls, around to Obersteinberg and back down.  If you go in blueberry season, you don’t even need trail snacks along the way….