Staff

Abby Strauss-Malcolm

Lead Tour Designer

HometownGloucester, Massachusetts

A bit about me

A spring backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail as a teenager firmly planted the seed for outdoor adventure and appreciation. After high school, I took a year off and hiked the trail solo and in its entirety.

My joy for the outdoors brought me to Prescott College in Arizona and professionally into 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 southwest, which eventually led me to guide in the Alps.

Having once lived a transient life, working seasonally, and exploring new areas, I’m now rooted in New England, though I’m lucky enough to get over to the Alps during the summer.

My other life

I’m deeply fascinated by the body, breath and long-term health and wellness. Certified as a yoga teacher, massage therapist, and Ayurvedic health counselor, I regularly teach yoga classes, offer workshops and cooking demos, as well as one-on-one consultations.

My husband and I are also 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

You’ll find me outside trail running or hiking with my dog, Hudson, as well as swimming or rock climbing. If it’s an inside day I’m on my mat practicing yoga, meditation or breathwork. 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 in Arizona, 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 trail running route. There’s nothing like starting the run off in the early morning, in the low valley of Sierre, Switzerland, then hitting a steep climb for the liminal early morning hours and emerging from the woods onto perfect single track just as dawn illuminates the incredible scenery of snow-capped peaks and mountains stretching endlessly into the distance. The climb continues over the mid distance and it all comes to a spectacular end with a fast descent into the small town of Zinal! Doing it during the race is best of all!

Guiding since2011

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.

Astrid Horstman

Assistant Tour Manager

HometownBussigny, Switzerland

A bit about me

I have been running and doing sports all my life. I used to do track and field, speedskating, tennis, volleyball and ultimate frisbee. I moved from the Netherlands, which is a flat as a pancake, to Switzerland, to be able to spend much more time in the mountains. I love trail running, mountain biking and road biking, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and ski touring.

Originally, I am a Physical Education teacher. After that, I got a degree in human movement sciences. I have lived in South Africa, where I worked as a volunteer for Sports Coaches Outreach in a township. I’ve also lived and worked in Galveston, Texas, and Berlin and Cologne, Germany. Two years ago, I found my new home in Switzerland.

My other life

As a student, I have been coaching and giving training to 12-14 year old athletes and have worked as an outdoor leader and climbing instructor. I have a background in muscle protein metabolism and exercise, and I used to work in academia. Five years ago I switched to the dairy and food industry. I currently work as a specialist in muscle physiology and nutrition.

In my free time

I spend as much time as possible in the Swiss, French and Italian mountains with friends. In the summer, that means running and biking and in winter, skiing and snowboarding. I only started ski touring when I moved to Switzerland, but now I am absolutely loving it! I also love cross-country skiing, with the nicest trip being the Troll Loipe from Hovringen to Lillehammer, Norway, skiing hut to hut. I also have done a great adventure with two friends, on a self-supported trek in the Himalayas of the Everest region.

Fun Fact

I played in the Ultimate Frisbee World Championships in London, with the Dutch women’s team. It was a great tournament, despite the fact that we could not even play all the matches due to heavy rain. (And if a Dutchy thinks it is heavy rain, it’s really heavy rain!)

Favorite Alp trail run

My favorite trail run is trail run #4 from Run the Alps Switzerland: 30 Must-Do Trail Runs — Simplon! The route has an awesome flow, incredible views, and a varied path. We had amazing weather, and dipped in every lake we came across.

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 worked for the NPR show Car Talk. (I still do a bit of work for the show, as well as the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program for NPR stations.) 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 and Producer of the long-running podcast Trail Runner Nation. 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 Annecy, France. Here in Chamonix, I have partnered 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 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.

Isabella "Izzy" Mayer

Director of Hospitality and Ambassador of Joy

HometownChamonix, France

A bit about me

I started life in France’s Loire Valley, on a quiet farm with a wonderful human couple and six brothers and sisters. Circumstances prevent me from staying in touch with my siblings, but I trust they are doing well. At eight weeks, I hitched my star to an American living in Chamonix. My professional trail running goal is to get out and meet each of our Run the Alps trips next summer. It’s ambitious, I know, but I think I can do it! If you’re coming on a Run the Alps trip, I hope to meet you on the trail!

My other life

I like to sleep. When not sleeping, I generally try to destroy the most valuable items I can find at home with my human companion, Doug, the founder of Run the Alps. Usually, this is an Apple power charger, but sometimes it’s Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra trail running shoes. (Size 43 1/3 seems to fit nicely in my mouth. The stinkier the better!)

In my free time

I don’t really understand this question. All of my time is free.

Fun Fact

I hope to be the first dog to finish the 330-km Tor des Géants trail race in northern Italy. I also want to raise caribou and build a meat smoking machine (yes, those projects are connected), but that is a project for which I am still drawing up plans.

Favorite Alp trail run

I don’t trail run yet. But I have heard a lot of the stories from Run the Alps guides. I think I would like to run to La Jonction, high above Chamonix, and roll around on the ice on the glacier, then eat a very large meat sandwich at Chalet des Pyramides.

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!

John Anderson

Consulting Physician

HometownTruckee, California

A bit about me

I grew up in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. We lived down a dirt road several miles outside of a small town, and my brother and I would pass the time wandering around in the woods. Eventually, this became more structured in the form of rock climbing and running, and I moved around the American West from Montana to Idaho to Colorado, finally landing in the Sierra Nevadas. Running, climbing, playing and racing in the mountains have provided me with some exceptional adventures exploring the globe.

My other life

I work primarily as an Emergency Medicine doctor at the regional trauma center and as a clinical professor, teaching medical residents and students. I also help run a Wilderness Medicine education company teaching on trips like trail running in Chamonix (woohoo!) to skiing in Antarctica. But the biggest part of my life is my family. My wife, also a mountain lover, and I are raising four kids, aged 9-14. They are busy finding their own adventures.

In my free time

Outside of running and climbing in the mountains, I like to play music, mostly the mandolin. But if the house is empty, I may just pull out my electric guitar.

Fun Fact

I used to work as a river guide in Idaho, rowing rafts down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River on week-long trips. Eventually, I worked my way up to driving this thing called a Sweep Boat (look it up, it’s a bit difficult to explain). There may or may not have been an incident involving a cold, icy launch and a lost boat. In this “hypothetical” situation, the boat may have run the most difficult 10 miles of the river with no one on board and made it through completely unscathed.

Favorite Alp trail run

A section of the Alta Via in Italy near Gran Paradiso. Stunning mountain and glacier views, some technical bits to keep it spicy and outstanding espresso and homemade gelato at the Rifugios.

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, How Far I’ll Go and Baby Beluga.  I also cook, bake, bicycle and enjoy tutoring 1st graders at a local elementary school.

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.

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