Stevie Kremer, a 29-year-old school teacher from Crested Butte, Colo., burst on the U.S. trail running scene last year with a few notable races in Colorado, winning the Golden Leaf Half Marathon and the USATF championships at the 12.6-mile Barr Trail Mountain Race. But while living and teaching abroad in Italy this fall, she made a name for herself on the international circuit as well, finishing seventh in the World Mountain Running Championships 8.8K uphill race on Sept. 2 in Temu-Ponte di Legno, Italy, and then winning the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge at the 42.2K Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland the following weekend. She helped the U.S. win the team championships in each race. Kremer also placed second in both the 31K Sierre-Zinal Mountain Race in Switzerland in mid-August and the Smarna Gora Mountain Race 10K in Slovenia in early October, the latter of which helped her finish sixth in the World Mountain Running Association Grand Prix—the second time an American has cracked the top 10 in the 14-year history of the series. Brandy Erholtz was the first to do so in 2007, when she placed seventh overall.
Did you really start running three years ago?
I ran indoor track in high school and then I ran a little on the side in college (to avoid gaining the freshman 15, which, by the way, still happened.). It wasn’t until about my third year of living in Crested Butte [three years ago], that I started becoming competitive. My favorite thing to do is explore new trails and mountains, so why not do that by racing around the U.S. and now Europe? Running is such a great sport because all you need are a good pair of shoes and some trails, and you can go anywhere, anytime.
What kind of training did you do leading up to your great season of racing?
I didn’t really do anything different this year compared to last year. I did a lot of uphill skiing throughout the winter in Crested Butte and ran on the trails throughout the spring and summer. I didn’t do any special training, more just explored the variety of trails and terrain Crested Butte has to offer. It’s what I love to do. I moved to Italy at the end of August, and although I’m not quite in the mountains, there are quite a few trail systems where I live. I have also found a couple roads that are pretty steep and I try to run up those at least once a week, even though running on pavement isn’t necessarily my favorite thing to do.
You just recently started adding speed work to your repertoire, right?
I was told the best thing you can do for your running is speed work, so since then, I have tried to do some sort of intervals once a week. I do them wherever I happen to be that day—either on the trails or on the road. But I have yet to do speed work on a track.
How is racing in Europe different than racing in the U.S.?
Racing in Europe is just a completely different scene. It is amazing how many spectators and supporters come out for a mountain race. It’s really great. Competitors are just as friendly as in the U.S., but they come from all over. In one race this fall, there were people from the UK, Africa, Italy and more. It’s amazing how international these races are. The hardest race so far has been the World Mountain Running Championship in Ponte di Legno, Italy, because of the short distance [8.8K]—I’m definitely more of a distance runner—and the steepness of the terrain.
You were the first American to win the Jungfrau Marathon in its 20-year history. Was that the best race of your season?
Not to sound totally cheesy, but I still can’t believe I won that race. I have never broken through [a] ribbon like that and it was such a great feeling, especially to give my dad a hug right away. (Wow, I’m cheesy!) I have never won a race of that caliber, and it is something I will forever be excited about.