Sometimes we choose to do things that push us out of our comfort zones. Sometimes those things happen to us and we have to dig in, embrace the discomfort and use all of our tools to push through. Kikkan Randall has experienced both categories. Kikkan is a lifelong skier. Her family moved to Alaska when she was young so most of her formative years were spent there. She’s a talent. Pure and simple. A natural athlete who gravitated to skiing. She has competed in 5 Olympic games. FIVE! While she raced at the top level in the world for over 15 years, it wasn’t until 2018 when she and her teammate Jessie Diggins won gold in the Team Sprint – the first ever gold medals in that event!
Kikkan’s athletic career alone is something we can all glean knowledge and inspiration from. But the next chapter of her life started three months after her gold medal. She was officially retired when she felt a lump on her breast and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 35 years old. This is the chapter she’s still writing. Through it all, she has used exercise as a tool to help during treatments and guess what? Just for kicks, she jumped into her first endurance race – the 50km Birkie! Like me (racing the 29km Korte), she was also stepping outside of her comfort zone and doing a long distance race for the first time.
Today we talk about:
- Alaska: Growing up in eccentric Alaskan culture as a runner and a skier
- What it took to become a pro/elite skier
- The 10 year plan
- Competing at the top level in the world for over 15 years
- How she met her husband Jeff Ellis & their evolution as a married couple pursuing athletic dreams – separately and together
- Becoming a mom (to now 3 year old Breck)
- THE RACE! What it took to win GOLD in PyeongChang 2018
- Why teamwork is the key to success
- Cancer: how, why & what now
- Jumping into the Birkie & exercising through her treatments
What we didn’t talk about:
Her non-profit Fast & Female – Kikkan is empowering girls everyday!
Watch Kikkan’s 2018 PyeongChang Gold Medal Race Highlight
Kikkan is a very special person. Since this interview, ESPNW wrote an article about Kikkan and described what they call “the Kikkan Effect.” Here’s how the author Bonnie Ford describes it, “a powerful vortex evident long before her diagnosis. It pulls people toward her and spins them back out, doing things they might otherwise resist. They hear her in their heads: Come on. It’ll be fun. We’ll be better.”
I think Kikkan is just one of those people who on the outside is like the girl next door, so she’s real and approachable, but on the inside is like a superhero, able to push herself mentally and physically further than most people can ever imagine. But the effect is real. Her Positivity is contagious.
Post-Note: Back to the Birkie for a minute. It’s funny. We texted before and after the start. I told her there was a bet to see who would win – me in the 29k or Kikkan in the 50k. At 2:48, she texted me this sentence, “That was hard.” I wrote back, “I can’t wait to hear about it. But the most awesome thing is that I beat you.” Of course she averaged 3:22 per k for 50k and I averaged 5:13 per k for 29k but a bet’s a bet. So the Kikkan effect has begun!
How to follow Kikkan
Her website kikkan.com