Joe Gray started life as a Steeplechaser for Oklahoma State University. After graduation he decided to turn his attention to other forms of running and racing.
He is a World Champion Snow Shoe Racer over the sprint distance, a US 15km Trail Running Champion as well as the US 50km Road Running Champion of 2012. To add to this list Joe has also won the North American, Central American and Carribean Mountain Running Championship (NACAC) four times in a row from 2009 to 2012!
Joe has also won USATF Mountain Runner of the Year three years in a row from 2008 to 2010 and is a stalwart member of the United States Mountain Running Team, appearing for them at numerous international events. So, without further ado, I present to you an interview with a mountain running legend!
When did you start running and did you have any particular reasons for starting?
I started running around 7th grade. I was kind of a trouble maker and my long-time friend Mark Brinkhaus was a coach at my middle school asked me if I wanted to come out for track after watching me run in PE class. I came out and won a few races, but when I lost, that was the moment I was addicted to running. I wanted to win again and I think it was more the fact that I took running for granted because I was used to other sports. I thought it was easy until I lost then I realized you had to work hard to be successful in running just as with every other sport I had competed in.
If you could run with and/or race anyone, anywhere who would it be and where? Over what distance and on which surface?
I think if I could run with Jesse Owens on the same dirt track my running career started on that would be a memorable moment. Just a few laps with a few questions I’d have for him.
Running wise, who do you look up to and who has inspired you?
The same guy I would want to run with inspires me, Jesse Owens. He dealt with a lot of issues athletes do not have to deal with today and to accomplish what he did when he did it was remarkable.
What are your favourite training conditions and are they the same as your favourite racing conditions?
I love to train in rainy, cold, muddy conditions. I also love racing in these conditions. I guess that’s the Washingtonian in me!
What is your fondest memory of running and, conversely, your worst?
When asked about my best and worst memories I like to stick to recent situations. This year when I won my 4th North American, Central American and Carribean Mountain Running Championship (NACAC) was probably my biggest high this year. This stretches out my current record of 3 consecutive victories to 4. My worst memory I’d have to say was when I ran into the camera man at the World Mountain Running Champs this year because I completely lost focus after that and didn’t have the greatest of races.
Where do you see yourself in six years?
Hopefully still running strong and a few more runs at the World Mountain Running Championships under my belt. Maybe even 20 National Teams under my belt by then too would be nice!