We are so excited to share with you that Alex Potter has joined the iRunFar team as editor! Alex comes to iRunFar via a background in photojournalism, with a special focus on work in Middle Eastern conflict zones. She’s also a trail runner and ultrarunner, a nurse, a nonprofit founder, a wildland firefighter, a cat mom, and so much more. We think she’ll fit in well here! In the following interview, which we recorded in Silverton, Colorado following iRunFar’s Hardrock 100 coverage which she helped to carry out, hear more about Alex’s background and her role at iRunFar.
Alex Potter Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Alex Potter of iRunFar. How are you Alex?
Alex Potter: I’m doing good, well rested now.
iRunFar: Yeah, here after the Hardrock 100 and you are iRunFar’s new editor. Welcome to the team.
Potter: I am, thank you. It’s been fun to work with you guys so far.
iRunFar: You have been a runner in your long-ago past, tell me a little bit about that.
Potter: I ran in high school and college, it was mostly the 800 meters. So short-term, intense suffering. And then I started working overseas as a journalist in places where it was really difficult to run. So I had an almost decade hiatus. Then thanks to some friends in Idaho, I found trail running and have been doing that since about December.
iRunFar: And you’ve been running trail since December and quickly decided to try some ultras. How has that gone?
Potter: It’s been good, I mean I’ve only done three that were officially ultras. Three 50k to 55k’s, and feel like I’ve learned a lot at each one. Finally the third one felt like it went smoothly, I have it figured out.
iRunFar: Which was just two weekends ago in Idaho and you also won an ultra for the first time?
Potter: Yeah, it was fun.
iRunFar: Felt pretty good? I mean, the actual performance?
Potter: It felt much better than the previous two. Put it that way.
iRunFar: You’re not one, I’m going to say, to think slowly or incrementally necessarily, you’ve already signed up for your first 100 miler?
Potter: I don’t know if that’s a mistake yet or not but I was supposed to do 100k for this one a couple weeks ago, but I really wanted to sort that out. But yeah, I signed up for the IMTUF [100 Mile] in Idaho because I love Idaho. So going back there.
iRunFar: So two months from now you might be trying your first?
Potter: Or I might end up sitting in the woods eating cookies at an aid station after I drop out. You never know.
iRunFar: Which is also an excellent option, I may be set for cookies in the woods. As you mentioned, you’ve also been a journalist. Tell me a little bit about that.
Potter: So I went to nursing school, was not stoked on nursing. Honestly, I like the work, I like the flexibility, but since I was in high school I was really interested in global events and people who are covering all these different things. So I had studied abroad in the Middle East once and after I graduated I picked up and went over there. Just kind of dove in very quickly, as is my style, but I ended up working mostly in Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.
iRunFar: How do you just jump right into, particularly photojournalism, with a nursing background?
Potter: For sure. While I was in nursing school, I started watching more closely the coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. Looking at the photojournalists’ work, who I really admire. And I thought this is really cool, you can document history in real time. But I thought it was almost an unattainable career path, because it’s like any other artistic endeavor, you have to know people, you have to weasel your way in a little bit. But I took a weeklong workshop at Maine Media Workshops, made a couple connections there, and then I just flew to Jordan because I had a couple friends there. I stayed for a month and then I saw Yemen was having an election and some photojournalists, whose work I really admired were there. So I’m going to go stalk these people and they can help me learn the ropes and that’s how it went from there.
iRunFar: And then you spent quite a bit of time over in the Middle East?
Potter: Yes. From 2012 to 2018 I probably spent 75% of my time over there, and then I’d go back for a nursing contract when I needed to pay some bills.
iRunFar: Actually have income?
iRunFar: And just on the side, you set up a medical nonprofit in the Middle East?
Potter: Yeah, I went to Iraq to cover the conflict or do some stories around there in 2016. I ended up meeting the guy who is now my partner. I thought I’d stay there for a couple weeks and help out, help them out doing some trauma medicine. I ended up staying the whole time, so we founded a nonprofit to do prehospital trauma care. It was an adventure.
iRunFar: Now you’re basically in Flagstaff, Arizona. How is that working out?
Potter: Flag is great. It is a much healthier environment than being on the U.S. East Coast, where we were a couple years ago, just stuck inside during COVID-19. Now that things have lightened up a little bit, you have recreation out your front door, there’s mountains, there’s Sedona, there’s the Grand Canyon. Which I don’t go to too often because I hate the heat. That’s why I’m in Flagstaff and not in Phoenix.
iRunFar: Yes, maybe the canyon in the winter. I mean, your eagerness is apparent, you were supposed to start with us on July 1 but you went out to the Western States 100 with us and covered that anyway. How was that experience?
Potter: It was great fun. I had planned to go watch anyway, so I figured it would be a good time to kind of see how you guys report and get more exposure to the ultra world and it was intense. I mean, I had been to the smaller races and I hadn’t really watched one of the premier events before but it was really impressive to both see iRunFar’s coverage of it and to see people running and then disintegrating in the heat as the day went on.
iRunFar: So what have you learned from being at Western States and Hardrock and a little bit in the office in between? What have you learned about the ultrarunning or the iRunFar world over that time?
Potter: I am still, like I said earlier, thoroughly impressed with your stamina when it comes to covering races. And I think iRunFar is an awesome outlet for how, I don’t want to say strict, but how the high standards you have as far as covering the races, getting things out, making them accurate. You’re truly a news resource for the ultra-world. And I think that’s pretty awesome.
iRunFar: Well welcome to the team, it’s great to have you on board and I hope you have fun with this.
Potter: Thank you, we will have fun.
iRunFar: And a bonus question for you. You’re scheduled to run IMTUF in September, which I believe is a Hardrock qualifier. Would you throw your name right in the mix for this next year if you could?
Potter: Oh totally. I mean, I loved watching it. Again, you never know if you can finish something or not, but coming from an almost sprinting background, I’ve had to continuously learn to pull back more and more and more and eat more and more. You see people here who are 72 years old, who finished this run, and I think it’s amazing. So just to be a part of the experience is pretty cool.
iRunFar: Awesome, hopefully we see you out here running one of these years.
Potter: For sure.
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