10 QUESTIONS WITH
Mountain and Ultrarunner Cassie Smith
Aformer national gymnast, Cassie Smith is a competitive ultrarunner and two-time member of the Canadian trail running team. She will be representing Canada this summer at the iau World Trail Championships in Badia Prataglia, Italy. When she is not running, Smith works as a psychotherapist at the University of Waterloo and is a passionate advocate for mental health.
1 What would you say are your defining characteristics as a runner?
People tell me that I’m always smiling when I run. What they don’t know is that my “I’m in pain” face is indistinguishable from my smile. The truth is that, while I most certainly do suffer, I also find immense joy and peace in the highs and lows that come with running for hours and hours on end. It is in the discomfort of the struggle that I feel most myself. I embrace the pain and then smile because I am alive enough to feel it.
2 What do you admire most in another runner?
I genuinely admire those who show humility in success, resilience in struggle and the ability to laugh and not take anything too seriously.
3 What is your idea of happiness?
Spending time with the people I love the most. And being in nature. And eating chocolate. Preferably, all three at once.
4 Who are your athletic heroes?
I have always admired Clara Hughes, both for her amazing athleticism and her confidence in speaking out about her mental health struggles.
5 Where would you like to live?
Last year I was racing in Portugal and spent some time in a small mountain village called Ermelo. My days were filled with running through the mountains, swimming in the river, climbing orange trees (picking them for breakfast), and consuming fresh bread and port wine by the fireplace in my stone cabin at night. I would have been quite content to stay there for a long while.
6 What is your greatest running-related regret?
In general, I try not to spend too much time on regrets. However, it’s in some ways unfortunate that it took a major injury to propel me into the world of running. I used to hate running; it was always something that felt like a necessary evil in training for other sports. It wasn’t until I suffered a complete rupture of my left Achilles tendon a few years ago that I began to really value the ability to walk, run and move my legs freely. It’s only in losing the something that I took for granted that I really learned to appreciate it fully. Knowing the joy I now find in running and in the freedom of movement, I regret not discovering this a long time ago.
I also regret every long run I have gone on forgetting to take toilet paper in my pack with me.
7 What is your greatest fear?
That I will let my fear get in the way of living my life to the fullest.
8 If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To have all 10 of my toenails at once. A girl can always dream.
9 What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My mom’s bundt cake.
10What is your motto?
Embrace being uncomfortable and you will f ind possible what once seemed impossible.