Meet the team: Liz Canty

Liz Canty - 27 - Huntsville, TN

What is your sporting origin story? How did it all start for you?

I originally played full contact sports for many years (judo, martial arts, kickboxing and finally rugby). After a college career playing rugby, I realized I did not want to play as an adult when injuries could be devastating. Instead I started training to run a road marathon in 2015. About a year later, I found trail running and quickly, my love (and somehow skill) of ultra running. Moving to Huntsville, AL (which no one would realize is a mecca of ultra runners, nearby to Chattanooga/Blue Ridge trails) changed my life.

What is your "why" for racing, the deeper thing beyond the finish line medal that makes you strive for more?

Trail and ultra running brought me to my husband. We found each other on a group trail run and have been at every finish line for each other since, big or small. After years in unsupportive and damaging relationships, these long distance races refresh us and prove that we can support each other through anything. He's definitely supportive of my competitive nature as well and helps plan around my travel and work schedule.

Do you have a mantra for racing and training? Where did it come from?

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The acronym is tattooed on my risk. TTFU. Toughen the F*ck Up. It's a mantra as aggressive and Boston as I am. It's definitely a family verse. We've all had to toughen up now and again.

What's the most embarrassing thing you've done while racing?

During my first 100k, I was attempting to "joke" as I came into an aid station to fall and pass out. Unfortunately I actually tripped and flopped on my face, my mother cried and they ended up leaving before I finished the race. They were too distraught by my "state".

If racing doesn't pay the bills, what does? What's your day job?

I am a systems engineer working as a contractor for a current NASA project, the next space launch design.

How do you balance family/work/etc with your passion for sport?

My work hours a pretty flexible around a standard business day, so morning and evening runs are pretty easy to pull off. We have access to a gym so afternoon spin sessions are a plus! Since my family is just my husband and poodle (and we're all athletes) working out is a group activity!

Who is the person in your life that inspires you to constantly work to find the best version of yourself?

My mother. 100%. She has done it all, been knocked down, been the biggest tomboy I modeled myself after and kept us all alive for 20 years. Seriously - it was a hard job.

Tell us about your biggest race fail. What did you learn from that experience?

My biggest race failure was two-fold. First, I signed up for a 50 miler (the night before) with a sinus infection and subsequently nearly passed out on the trail and needed to quit at the 18 mile mark. To date this is my only DNF. I learned immediately that I need to take my health seriously.

Accepting her Golden Ticket to Western States 100

Accepting her Golden Ticket to Western States 100

What about your biggest accomplishment? What did you learn from it?

My first 100 miler, the Pinhoti 100 miler in AL. I truly believed I could not complete that race, especially during the 4 hour limp-a-thon to finish when I realized I really needed to focus on strength training if I wanted to be successful in this field. I was so proud at the finish, having won, but I also knew immediately I could do so much better. I can't wait to go back to that race.

What's the most beautiful thing you've seen during a race?

Seeing the sun rise during the Bear 100 mile after starting in the dark morning. We were high up a climb with a perfect view of the Wasatch range in Utah, it was absolutely stunning.

What's the workout you dread most and why? How do you push yourself through it?

I usually dread longer road intervals, i.e. 3-5 minute hard efforts during a run with short recovery. To push through I will turn up some really old 2000s punk and hip hop and convince myself of how strong these workouts will make me.

What's the workout you love most and why?

I love trail tempo workouts, I even like to arrange them to hit some Strava segments so that I can see how I am improving in my fitness on certain sections of our local mountain. Usually a 3 mile warm-up - 30-45 minute tempo effort on hills/trail - and a 3 mile cool down.

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You can only do one more race in your life. Which one do you choose? Why?

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. My husband and I have strong ties to Europe, and this 100+ mile race offers everything Europe has. Beautiful, old cities, majestic views and picturesque villages. And cheese and wine. Of course.

What are some of your bucket list races, events, activities?

Eiger Trail 100k in Switzerland, UTMB (I am racing the CCC this summer), completing the LeadMan challenge, completing an Ironman, Wasatch 100 mile, completing and FKT of the SCAR Challenge in TN and the Pinhoti Trail in AL.

When it's time to hang up the shoes on competitive racing, how will you spend all that free time?

Still looking forward to long hours in the woods across the world. My husband and I have plans to complete all the cross-country trial traverses (AT/CDT/PCT) as well as several different longs trails in Europe and Asia.