Stevie Kremer’s trail running resumé is impressive. The 33-year-old Crested Butte resident has twice claimed the title of Skyrunner World Series Champion (for mountain races above 6,500 feet); she set two course records in 2016 alone, at Colorado Springs’ Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race and the Olympus Marathon at Mt. Olympus in Dion, Greece; and this month, she’ll coach aspiring ultrarunners about nutrition and training protocol at the Salomon Running Experience, a renowned Crested Butte camp (June 22 to 25). But Kremer wasn’t always an elite distance runner. In fact, in her first trail race, she crossed the finish line dead last.

Growing up in Connecticut, Kremer didn’t run much. She played golf, soccer, and tennis but wasn’t exposed to adventure sports until she moved west in 2001 to study sociology and journalism at Colorado College. “I looked around and everyone seemed to be in shape,” Kremer says. “Not from the gym, like the people in Connecticut, but just from being outside.” She quickly realized why; the stunning landscapes made her daily hourlong runs go by so quickly that she often jogged for longer than she meant to. And she continued the habit after college as a second-grade teacher in Crested Butte, where she claimed last place in her first race over 10 miles, the 2009 Cart to Cart Trail Run.

Despite the poor result, Kremer kept competing, motivated by the poster-worthy landscapes right outside her classroom doors. Trails seemed like a passport to the mountains, and races offered marked courses that saved her from having to navigate new territory on her own. As Kremer’s passion grew, her times improved; in 2011, she placed first among women in four distance trail races.

Her training advanced too. By 2012, Kremer had increased her daily workouts from one to two runs, each lasting at least an hour, with an emphasis on hills. Since then, though, she’s remained true to her laid-back ethos. She doesn’t count mileage or wear a fitness tracker, unlike many of her peers, whose intensity Kremer sometimes finds daunting. “You never feel good enough,” she says, “because once you’ve topped one mountain, you’ll meet someone who’s topped two.” Fortunately, one thing Kremer isn’t intimidated by is a challenge.

Three Other Retreats Kremer Recommends:

High Altitude Ultrarunning Camp
July 18 to 23 in Leadville

Run Mindful Retreats
August 10 to 13 and 17 to 20 in Boulder

Run Wild Retreats
Various dates and locations