Andy Wacker on Creating A Roadmap to Professional Trail Running (Ep.167)

“So, how did you get into trail running?” is an evergreen question, one that’s likely to field a variety of interesting and original responses regardless of who you ask. Underlying its premise, though, rests one of the sport’s major shortcomings, at least on the elite level. Up until recently, there existed few (if any) direct paths for new runners or athletes crossing over from different disciplines to pursue trail running professionally.

Recognizing the critical role that development programs play in helping a formerly recreational sport mature, Salomon Athlete Andy Wacker launched The Trail Team earlier this year for expressly that purpose — to provide mentorship, skill development, and media exposure to 6 aspiring pro trail runners in the US. We spoke to Andy and two Trail Team members, Lauren Gregory and Sam Hendry, about the organization’s backstory, before expanding into a roundtable discussion centered on what Lauren and Sam hope to get out of their time on the team, their professional goals, and more.


  • What is The Trail Team? (2:59)
  • Challenges of transitioning from track / XC to the trails (7:00)
  • Mountain running (10:12)
  • Lauren’s experience on the US Junior Mountain Running Team (12:46)
  • Sam’s Nordic ski background (15:44)
  • How The Trail Team is structured (17:20)
  • Navigating social media as a pro athlete (24:50)
  • The importance of keeping the team independent (26:45)
  • Specializing in sub ultra distances (32:10)
  • How Lauren & Sam ended up on the team (34:06)
  • Balancing D1 athletics with trail running (37:27)
  • How Andy sees the team growing over the next few years (43:56)
  • Long-term goals (51:15)



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