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Alexi Pappas

Why I run

At first, I loved running because I loved to compete. When I was in elementary school, I’d race against the boys and beat them all. I loved the feeling of winning, it made me feel like I mattered—and that inner drive to win took me all the way to the Olympics. But after my Olympic race, I realized that chasing after competition would never be enough; nothing could make me feel like I mattered except for me. My relationship to running changed, and that’s when I fell in love with ultra marathons. I love getting lost on trails and being out in nature, I love the camaraderie and how everyone supports each other in a shared goal of simply finishing the race. I still love the feeling of pushing my body and mind, but these days it’s less about competition and more about creating a sense of *team* anywhere I go.

My favorite trail to run

The mossy, verdant trails of Eugene, Oregon will always hold a special place in my heart. I feel like I grew up in Eugene as a runner, and the woods of Oregon have a special regenerative quality that fills my soul. But now that I’ve been living in LA for a few years, I’ve also fallen in love with the hilly trails that traverse the Santa Monica Mountains up by Malibu. The trails wind and weave from desert terrain to lush tropical jungle all the way to the beach, with some breathtaking views along the way.

What I hope to convey with my writing

I’ve always been a big believer in “adopting” mentors from afar. When I read books or articles written by people I admire, I like to pretend that they’re talking just to me. The best tools are the ones you have with you, not the ones you don’t, and I am always so grateful when people I look up to take the time to share their knowledge and wisdom. I love the idea that maybe some of my writing might be helping to mentor people, and if anything I write inspires people to be a bravey and chase their dreams, I would just be so happy.

More about Alexi

Alexi Pappas is an Olympic runner, mental health advocate, and an award-winning author and filmmaker. Alexi’s bestselling memoir-in-essays, “Bravey,” with a foreword by Maya Rudolph, was published by Random House with blurbs of support from Mindy Kaling, Richard Linklater, Adam Grant, Ruth Reichl, Abby Wambach, and others. Bravey has had a major impact on the cultural conversation around mental health; she recently led a featured discussion about mental health with Bill Hader at SXSW, and also gave a speech at the Pentagon by invitation of the Army Resilience Directorate to soldiers around the world. Alexi was featured in a New York Times op-doc about mental health, a Forbes cover story, and is a frequently turned to source for quotes on mental health and athletic-related news (she was recently quoted in The NY Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Rolling Stone, among others). Alexi has been profiled on the cover of the New York Times Sports Page, in Rolling Stone, on NPR’s All Things Considered, and was also featured on the cover of Runner’s World Magazine’s 50th anniversary issue alongside Kevin Hart, named as one of the two faces of the “new boom” in running.

A Greek-American, Alexi is the Greek national recordholder in the 10,000 meters with a personal best of 31:36 set at the Rio Olympics. As a creative, Alexi most recently appeared in Mindy Kaling’s upcoming HBO show SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS and the upcoming feature film NOT AN ARTIST alongside RZA, Horatio Sanz, and Haley Joel Osment. Alexi co-created and starred in the feature film OLYMPIC DREAMS alongside Nick Kroll, premiering at SXSW 2019 and was distributed by IFC Films. In 2016 Alexi co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the feature film TRACKTOWN, produced at the Sundance Labs, with a cast including Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live”) and Andy Buckley (“The Office”).

Recent posts by Alexi Pappas

More than Pacing

An Olympian discovers ultrarunning, and all its joys.