Margo Malone on Building a Life & Training in Mammoth Lakes

The moment Olympic hopeful Margo Malone laid eyes on Mammoth Lakes, she began hatching a plan to move to town.

Malone was running with the Boston Athletic Association and working in the financial investment sector when she joined the Mammoth Track Club for a six-week training session in the Eastern Sierra. Mammoth Lakes was a completely different world.

Falling in Love with Mammoth Lakes

“I was like, oh my gosh, this place is incredible,” recalls Malone of that first visit. After her stint in Boston was finished, “everyone went their different ways. And I thought, if I could live in Mammoth Lakes, that would be amazing.”

She made it work, with the help of the Mammoth Track Club, and a bonus: A part-time job at Elixir Superfood & Juice.

“What the Mammoth Track Club does is so awesome — to give us the opportunity to train at altitude,” says Malone, who won her first-ever marathon (Zurich in April of 2019, with a time of 2:42:22) after training in Mammoth Lakes.

The running aspect was a no-brainer. “Training at altitude for a marathon just builds so much strength,” says Malone, but “I didn’t expect to fall in love with the town.” Malone, who cites her job at Elixir Superfood & Juice as a huge part of her experience, said that “meeting [Elixir owners Carla and Charles Perry], interacting with everyone from the town, it was just an experience I didn’t expect.”

The Start of Margo Malone’s Running Career

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Malone said she loves the pace of life in the Eastern Sierra. “Even the kids are phenomenal athletes,” says Malone. “It’s unbelievable how good they are. They’re just so aerobically strong from living in Mammoth Lakes from when they’re born. It’s a different way of growing up. It’s really nice to see.”

Malone grew up running in Pittsburgh with her three sisters (they also have a younger brother who is just beginning to catch the running bug), under the tutelage of a mother who coached cross-country. “It’s like we had our own little team,” Malone says. “It was such a genuine love, nothing forced, all three of us would get each other out the door,” even during chilly east coast storms.

Looking Ahead for Margo Malone

Both Malone and her sister, Shannon, plan to compete in the Olympic trials in Atlanta, GA on February 28, 2020 (Margo qualified in Zurich), though Malone’s training plan has been dealt a few serious blows in the past year.

Just before she planned to move back to Mammoth Lakes after her Zurich win, she found out that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. So, Malone is sticking close to home leading up to the trials (she plans to run the New York Marathon on November 4). In August, when she returned to Mammoth Lakes for a training stint The Crib, her grandfather passed away. Now, “I’m just working on staying afloat” and training, she says.

Though her latest trip was cut short, “I just loved being back [in Mammoth Lakes]. Immediately you feel a sense of peace and calm. Even with everything going on with my family, I feel like being there added to my focus, getting the job done at practice.”

Running has also helped her clear her mind as she trains in Pittsburgh. Even though she’s not running through mountains, “running is always a nice quiet place I can go in my head.”

Q&A With Margo Malone

Favorite running fuel in Mammoth?

Of course, she picked Elixir Superfood & Juice.

“Right when they were opening, I was really pumped because I had studied biology and nutrition science in college [at Syracuse University in New York],” says Malone. “Carla [Perry] makes all her recipes from scratch, and I love to cook too. We got to collaborate on different ideas.”

The Perrys were also “so supportive” of Malone’s running. “Marathon training can be really demanding. I felt as I was running that they were definitely behind me, and I thought of them throughout the race [in Zurich]. I’m really thankful to have them in my life.”

Other faves, says Malone, are Thai’d Up (“they have great green curry salmon”) and Bleu Market & Kitchen.

Favorite runs in the area?

Bald Mountain (off highway 395 between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake) was Malone’s immediate recommendation. “I love it up there, it’s all rolling hills.”

She also loves running on Benton Crossing Road out by the MTC’s home base, and up on Doe Ridge in the Long Valley Caldera, which boasts a view of one of the local hot springs.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

She sighs. “I’m trying to figure out how to force myself to ask that question.”

Then she nails it.

“I’d love to get involved in impact investing, which is focused on companies making a sustainable difference in the world. I think you can use running in a lot of different ways — it’s just the traits that it teaches you. Sort of similar to a start-up. You believe in a goal, and you see that process through. Running has taught me that investment in the sport is similar to investment in a company.”

Sarah Rea

Sarah Rea has lived in the Sierra for 20 years (eight in Yosemite and seven so far in Mammoth Lakes), but has been eating cast iron skillet pancakes for most of her life. She learned how to make soap from bacon grease when she was four and has always loved picking wild berries. She thinks…

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