UPDATE: Ashley Arnold finished first in the women’s division and second place overall in the HURL Elkhorn 50K ultramarathon on Aug. 1, 2015. She finished just four minutes behind the first-place male, and her finish time of 6 hours, 22 minutes, was more than 45 minutes ahead of the second-place women’s finisher.
When College of Charleston alum Ashley Arnold ’08 toes the starting line at a 50-kilometer trail race in Montana’s Elkhorn Mountains this weekend, it will mark not only her return to competitive ultrarunning, but in many ways a return to her true self.
A former track and cross country standout at the College, Arnold rose to the upper echelon of her sport with top finishes in major ultramarathons, including the prestigious Leadville Trail 100, before a long battle with eating disorders and overtraining stalled her burgeoning running career.
This past spring, following a long break from competition and a period of deep introspection, Arnold eased back into running under the guidance of a coach.
“It feels good to be excited about training again. It feels good to feel good again,” Arnold says. “I was skeptical if it could happen. Thankfully, I have an amazing coach, and she keeps me in line.”
A native of Lexington, Ky., Arnold graduated with a degree in arts management and a minor in dance. She is a producer and writer with Trine Films in Boulder, Colo.
If all goes well at the HURL Elkhorn 50K (31 miles) ultramarathon on Aug. 1, 2015, she plans to gear up for The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship in December 2015. The 50-mile race takes place in the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco.
But no matter what happens in competition, Arnold says she now understands where running fits into her life.
“It took a long time to realize I don’t need running to be OK,” she says. “And I’m just so grateful that I can run now and enjoy running and let it be the simple thing that it is — just running — without letting it overwhelm my life.”
Watch the video below to learn why Ashley Arnold runs races of 100 miles.