Race SLO’s CEO & Founder, Samantha Pruitt, journey to the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
As I savor my final week in the mountains, tapering for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, I am flooded with thoughts, emotions and memories. My journey isn’t incredibly unique. This journey could be told by hundreds of thousands of people in a variety of different — yet similar threads. We know each other.
Mine is the story of an ex-couch potato and many of you can relate. I was a chubby average kid growing up on fast food and fast living; not an athletic bone in my body, nor ounce of motivation or presence of a role model. The roller coaster of high stress adulthood did nothing to inspire healthy living either. I was in survival mode, not living to thrive. By 30 this woefully ignored body and spirit had taken a beating and was staging a revolt. 60 lbs overweight and depressed I could barely get out of bed for dread of another miserable day trapped in a body I didn’t want.
A variety of poor health conditions compounded and the doctors only fix was to prescribe drugs. Drawing the last straw, I awoke in a daze and looked honestly into the mirror. I did not recognize the dying woman in that reflection. That day I choose a different path and so began both a physical and spiritual journey to reconnect with my best self.
Eventually diagnosed with Celiacs Disease, I spent the next three years focused on natural medicine, nutrition, stress relief and rediscovered exercise. By 35 I was 30 lbs down, moved to a new town and literally reinvented myself. I quit my job, become a Certified Personal Trainer and found this self exploration sport called running. Passionately inspiring others to transform their own lives and bodies I was fueled to do triathlons, becoming a Certified Triathlon & Running Coach. One day at a time, one race and challenge at a time I rebuilt my life and body.
Now that I was spending my life coaching, training and empowering others, the natural step was to chase my next dream. I wanted to create and host endurance sporting events for others so that they too could feel the pride and growth that comes from a lifestyle of training and racing. Race SLO was born in 2010 and has become everything I dreamed of in a career alongside working with a team of the most outstanding people I know. We became human change agents not just for each other, but thousands of others who participated in Race SLO events.
By 2011 I found myself jumping into the open water with 2,500 other terrified athletes in an Ironman. I went on later that year to run my first 50 Mile Ultra Trail Race. Who the hell did I think I was? I was basically mentor-loved into the sport of trail Ultra running. The community and connection with nature pulled me in deeper than any family or tribe I’d ever known. Little did I know the impact it would have five years later.
Here I stand now, at my new “fighting race weight” of 125 lbs; turning 47 next month. I could burst out with the amount of joy and self love that this journey has taught me. Surrounded and followed by my Race SLO army of friends, realizing that all my passion, hard work and dedication made this reality. Paying it forward is real.
This Saturday, as I embark upon the toughest race of my life that climbs 19,000 feet of rugged mountains and 100 miles of scorching canyons, I will know. I will know that I can do anything I put my mind to. I will know that although there will be suffering it will pass. I will know that by making the choice to go a different path that day 15 years ago I have not only transformed my own life but the lives of many. And I will know you. You are going to be the next member of this tribe, transforming your life and body then paying forward your own inspiring story.