Endurance Town USA

Endurance Town USA Podcast Features Sports Icon and Survivalist Nellie Ballengee

For the latest episode of the mini-series Faces Behind the Races, presented by Race Roster, the Endurance Town USA podcast host Samantha Pruitt traveled to Moab, Utah, to sit down with the successful race director, endurance adventure athlete, professional coach, small business owner and wilderness survivor Danelle “Nellie” Ballengee. Their rich conversation touches on Nellie’s growing up, how she discovered her love of sports and outdoors, then finding herself directing races, surviving a near-death trail running accident and ultimately coming through it all with her return to racing, owning a restaurant business and building a family.

Included in her personal accomplishments, Danelle holds the female speed record for climbing all 54 of Colorado fourteeners in fourteen days, fourteen hours and forty-nine minutes. She won several hundred events in various endurance sports, including one of the most punishing iconic endurance adventure races in the world, Primal Quest, a 400-mile self-navigated team adventure race over water, mountains and dangerous desert terrain.

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Danelle's life turned upside down when in December 2006, she went for a trail run, slipped and fell 60 feet, shattering her pelvis and breaking her back. She survived two nights and three days in sub-freezing temperatures with her dog Taz, who eventually led the Search and Rescue team to her remote location. Reflecting on the accident, Danelle says, “It slowed me down and forced me to really appreciate life, all I have and what I had accomplished in my athletic career. It made me really think hard about the bigger perspective of life.”

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Since 2011, Danelle directs the Moab Trail Marathon. “I came up with this loop, which ironically, part of the loop was on the route where I fell. And I think a part of my motivation for including that course segment was to prove to myself that I didn't do anything stupid, it was truly just an accident.”

Danelle still competes in trail and adventure events, but her priority at this time is raising her two sons, Noah and Will, then giving back to the outdoor sports world she loves so much.

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To hear more episodes from Faces Behind the Races mini-series of the Endurance Town USA podcast, including professional Race Directors and athletes Krissy Moehl, Doug Thurston, Ian Adamson, Maria Burton, Luis Escobar and Samantha Pruitt, download the Endurance Town USA podcast by visiting the website or by subscribing "Endurance Town USA" on your favorite podcast device.

About Endurance Town USA

Endurance Town USA is a state of mind, where listeners escape their daily grind and connect to their community of like-minded people, exploring their best selves through endurance sports. We dive deep into the story of WHY our guests use the common thread of endurance to weave their world. Through endurance sports, our storytellers are transforming their lives, the industry and the community at large.


Many of you know I'm a podcast junkie (and the host of Endurance Town USA podcast).

I L.O.V.E. human connection and authentic storytelling. But last month while out on a long run I heard one that stopped me in my tracks. Why?

Because I am about to hit my halfway mark! Yes, I had already given some thought to my upcoming 49th birthday, but more in focus I was dialed in on the reality that I am turning 50 over the course of this next year. Being interviewed by Rich Roll, his 50-year-old male podcast guest was sharing his own journey and perspective on life when he boldly stated “I only have 29 summers left and I wake up each day and say that out loud in the mirror.” WTH?

Obviously, no one truly knows exactly how long they will live, however he then stated that the average American life span is 79 now. So he figured he better get down to business and use the next 29 years living life to the fullest, savoring every single summer. That is no joke and frankly, my dears, it lit a wildfire within my own soon-to-be-50 soul, inspiring me to dig in way deeper with my own life's mission.


As I write this now, I sit on the sunset of being 48 years old. In the morning I will do what we all do every single year and age up. That morning's alarm clock and calendar will then count down my 365 day path towards the age of 50. So what does that mean? Why should I think beyond birthday cake? Because honestly, there are dark moments in life where the truth is scary to face. But there are also bright rainbow moments in time where that reality feels limitless and beautiful. So what I have decided to do now with this new year of my life is to shift both my mindset and my experience towards the rainbow. The rainbow has no start or finish, holds more colors than we can name and leads me towards a heart, body and mind of gold. Only I define what fifty looks and feels like. Only I decide how to think, act and feel at fifty. And I have decided that I will self invest this next year by becoming FIERCE AT FIFTY.


Fierce: the combination of positive mental spirit, bold words and unapologetic actions used collectively. Animal Spirit: Lion (Leo)

Being #FierceAtFifty means that I will spend each precious day becoming my best self; physically, mentally and spiritually. #FierceAtFifty means that the next 365 days of my life will not be taken for granted or wasted on fear, stress or negative energy. It means that I will explore my limits, garden my relationships and honor my Earth. #FierceAtFifty is my priceless pot of gold.

It is time for bed now and the close of my 48th year in this life. With deep satisfaction I can close my eyes knowing it's been a wild ride so far. And with butterflies of anticipation I can also honestly say that the best is yet to come.