Meet Kelly Halpin. If you haven't heard of this Jackson-based professional endurance athlete before, now's the time.
In addition to being a ripping snowboarder and gracing last month's cover of Trail Runner Magazine, she's racked up quite a list of accomplishments in her 25 years of bouldering, climbing and mountaineering; including the first female to complete the Grand Teton Triathlon, also known as “The Picnic.” This human-powered natural obstacle course involves biking from the town of Jackson into Grand Teton National Park, swimming across the widest point of Jenny Lake, ascending the Grand Teton, and then doing it all in reverse, finishing back in Jackson at the town square.
We caught Kelly in between a couple of epic adventures to ask her Five Questions.
1. Of all of your outdoor pursuits, what is your favorite activity and why? And what would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
It's so hard to choose! I've been climbing since I was six years old so no matter what I will be always be a climber at heart, but mountain running combines that love for climbing with fast travel so I believe I will go with that. I absolutely love using mountain running or adventure running as a means to explore terrain and cover ground. It's hard, it can be exhilarating and frightening at times, but also so simple. I love it.
I don't know if I have a "greatest accomplishment" running yet but I have a lot of favorites. One favorite is doing the Triple Teton Triathlon
or "Picnic" with my friend Ryan Burke. We took the normal "Picnic" triathlon (where you bike, swim, climb the Grand Teton and then do it all in reverse) and added two more peaks and still managed to finish in the daylight. Another fave was my first mountain marathon where I was lucky enough to podium and have been racing ever since. A third favorite was running and power hiking for two and a half days through the Wind Rivers on the 80-mile Wind River High Route
. It takes the average person 7-10 days to complete.
2. What is something you haven’t done that’s on your “bucket list?” Why?
The Grand Traverse. Been staring at it in Jackson my whole life but for some reason whenever I have the means, the motive, and the partner, something always goes wrong and am unable to start it. Twice I've had bad weather and a few times just wasn't feeling good about it. I think part of it is that I've spent so long getting to know those mountains from a certain perspective, it's a little unnerving to go places on them I have never been. Unnerving yet always intriguing. Maybe next season! Haha!
3. What was your most difficult or harrowing outdoor experience? Please explain.
A few summers ago my friends Bree
and I decided to attempt to be the first females to complete the Moranic Triathlon or "Picnic." It's a much harder version of the original one with the Grand Teton, and more remote. Bree ended up getting really sick on the decent which lengthened our time on route as did a thunderstorm that blew in unexpectedly. We both ended up with severe dehydration and I also got mild hypothermia on the swim home. It took 34 hours to complete, and I was sick for two days after.
4. Some people may not know this, but in addition to being a badass athlete, you’re also an incredible illustrator - can you tell us what projects you’re working on?
Well my focus for the last year has been on running so I
haven't given the proper attention to my art, but I have a few cool projects in the works. One of the children's book I illustrated, Cinder the Rescue Cat, has finally hit the shelves. I'm currently working on another book. I do all the character artwork for Melvin Brewing and we have some new flavors coming out this year which should be really rad and tasty! There are a few designs with some outdoor companies that should be coming out soon too - but those are still a secret. Other than the usual commissions, just some new personal work and the occasional art show.
5. What’s next for you?
I had a 50k race in Park City at the end of September that I finished top ten in, even though my body tried to quit on me halfway through. Very happy to have even finished. I have another 50k in Moab in November. I'm also hoping to get a chance to run the Zion Traverse and the Grand Canyon later this fall. My film from Greenland, "Outside Over There," is going to be released in November, so that's something fun to look forward to!