Outside Running with Camille Herron

Camille Herron, a.k.a The Queen of Ultra Running, is the only athlete to win all three of the International Association of UltraRunners’ 50k, 100k and 24hr World Championships. She has won the legendary Comrades race, holds five world records for a host of road, trail and track events, and is pretty good on the French Horn. Don’t invite her for a morning swim, though…

Where did you grow up, and what was it like there? I grew up in a bunch of small towns in Oklahoma. With 4 kids in our family, I always had someone to play with! My earliest memories running were around the wheat fields by our house in Guthrie, OK. I loved being outside, enjoying nature, and chasing the wildlife! We had a hobby farm of animals- a dog, cats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, turtles, a lizard. I played a lot of sports, mainly basketball, dance, golf, riding my bike, rollerblading, and roller hockey. I also was very musical; I played the piano, sang in the youth choir, and played French horn. I played a whole lot of video games too: Atari and Nintendo. I went out for track in the 7th grade and cross country in the 8th grade. Cross country is the sport that made me fall in love with running!

What was your favourite game or toy as a child?
Probably my Nintendo and Atari. I still have my Nintendo and games and my Atari games. I’ve been wanting to set them up again!

What did you want to be when you grew up? Basketball Globetrotter, children’s storybook writer and archaeologist. I started dribbling a basketball when I was 3. I saw the first female Globetrotter, Lynette Woodard, on TV doing tricks. She was my first pro female hero! I loved writing short and funny stories and looking for cool rocks. I get asked all the time about writing a book. There’s still so much more to come! I think if I told my story it would be as a children’s story book.

Do you have any unusual skills or party tricks? Oh yeah, totally. I’m a trickster with the basketball. My husband bought me a basketball a few years ago and was shocked by my hidden talent. I’m a pianist and French hornist. I was recruited for college for music performance on the French horn. I can play the piano by ear and sit down and start playing boogies. My husband Conor has a degree in Music Education and taught piano and voice lessons, so he’s definitely the one who can entertain!

What are you absolutely terrible at? Swimming, softball, gymnastics, and bowling.

What is your most annoying habit? I’m not a morning person, so sometimes I’m slow and procrastinate getting out the door for my first run.

How would your friends describe you? Happy, friendly, easy going, and driven.

What book or film has had the biggest impact on you?
The Rocky movies and Lore of Running. I think of Rocky a lot and how I try to personify him. Lore of Running was my first running book – between all the science (which piqued my interest to study Exercise Science in college/grad school) and the stories about the Comrades Marathon, I feel like I’ve gone through my life with this book as my companion. 

What’s your favourite meal, and which person (real, fictional, alive or dead) would you share it with?
At home: medium rare steak, potatoes, brussel sprouts, okra, homemade bread with real butter, and a really good beer/homebrew. Mom’s homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. For fast food I love Taco Bell– this is well known haha! I used to get Double Decker Tacos– now I get beef chalupa supremes. My brother loves Taco Bell (he’s a chef too and cooks the best steak!), so I’d crush some Taco Bell with him.

What would you do on your perfect day off? We took time off back in November and went to Florida to hang out at a mansion with a pool and went to the beach a few times. We drank good beers, whiskey, ate lots of good home cooked meals, and fancy cheeses.

Aside from running, what are you passionate about?
We’re beer connoisseurs and used to homebrew. I formerly worked in bone research, so I’m a science geek. We coach athletes all over the world, so I’m very passionate about our athletes. We bought a camper van a few months ago so we can travel and explore with our dogs!

If you weren’t a runner what would you be? I’d still be working in bone research and doing bone imaging. I was going to retire from competitive running back in 2014 . Then I decided to try ultrarunning– it completely changed my life! I tried to juggle my day job and my growing ultra career for a few yrs. I finally ‘retired’ from research back in 2019 to go full time as a pro runner, coach, and ambassador. 

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