Janel Lanphere

Winner of the Wonderland 2019 Woman’s Adventure Scholarship

Adventuring through remote and wild spaces has taken my life from a teenage abuse victim attempting to be small and invisible, to conquering my inner demons.  It has taught me the importance of play and the calm confidence of the flow state.

Growing up in a blue-collar family, the values taught to me included a perceived lack of opportunity, the need to work hard just to get by, and a negative association with play (play was for the rich).  Long hours at manual labor jobs with added DIY projects at home were common. With these values, I started working at 8 years old and have never stopped.

I started running in college and through the miles of pack running, sharing failures and success with sweat and tears, the comradery of the Cross-Country Team drew me out of my depression.  Slowly I started to see myself in a different light, as a person who could set an intention and live a little bigger. I moved across the country to Arizona where I didn’t know a soul and persevered when acclimating to high altitude running at 7000’.  I started running mountain races such as Imogene Pass Run and TransRockies Run. Each exploration removed fear and with increased success in problem solving, I started really believing in myself.

The personal growth continued upon meeting and marrying my husband, I now had the confidence to take the leap and become a wife and stepmother.  Together we explored remote areas of the Southwest such as Canyonlands National Park and I felt a new inner hum while staring at the night sky with no artificial light in sight.  I started seeking out more remote trails, running longer hours feeling the state of flow. Often alone, I explored more inaccessible locations and relished the hours playing. Longer hours on the trails required increased physical and mental strength.  General physical bad-assery doesn’t carry you by itself, we also need to control our minds. Often after many hours on the trail, when the body starts to break down, old demons would crawl to the surface and remind me of the small life from which I came.  Recently, when hopelessness set in at the start of a race, I pushed the demons away without any reason to be confidence.  My start at the 2018 Moab Trail Marathon found me badly nauseous from a prescription I stopped taking for the race. The nausea prevented me from eating my usual pre-race nutrition, I felt things were stacking against me.  When the nausea subsided at mile 11, I was so far back that I didn’t think I could compete. By accepting the situation, I broke through a mental barrier and ended the race 1st place woman in the Master’s Division of the USATF field.  Consequently, by adventuring in the remote and wild spaces in nature, I’ve been able to accept the remote and wild spaces in my mind.