As trail running surges in popularity, the increasing distances are imploding the gender gap in the sport — just ask hard-charging mountain runner Anna Frost. “The longer the distance the better for women,” says the New Zealander, who has been trail running since long before it was popular. “Women have a sustainable pain barrier, an urge to succeed, and a passion to fulfill. It is amazing to see so many women stepping up and taking the challenge.”
This urge to push herself helps explain why Frost has lived out of a duffle bag for the past 13 years in order to be in mountains as much as possible. The work has paid off. Frost has taken the first place at an array of races all over the world, including the epic Hard Rock 100, where she finished first for women and eighth overall for two years in a row.
“It is just so big and beautiful,” says Frost of the race course, which includes a grueling 61,000 feet of elevation change in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. “It is intriguing to know if you can do it.”
Her hardest race, she’d say, was the Everest Sky Race in 2013. She ran and hiked six to 12 hours a day at altitudes up to 5,300 meters (17,300 feet) across the Annapurna and Everest regions. But “Frosty,” as her friends call her, also loves an unscripted adventure. In 2015, she and mountaineer Missy Gosney completed Nolan’s 14, a hundred miles of route-finding up and down fourteen 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado’s Sawatch Range. They did it in less than 60 hours ("on a total of 30 minutes sleep," she says), becoming the first women to finish the obscure and punishing challenge.
Last fall in Bhutan, Frost and American ultrarunners Timothy Olson and Ben Clark, along with their Bhutanese support team, set a record on the 189-mile Snowman Trek, considered one of the hardest trails in the world, with 11 passes above 16,000 feet. To top it all off, Frost has a children’s book series in New Zealand called Fearless Frosty, which is aimed at empowering girls.
- 2016: Defended her title to win Hard Rock 100 for the second time.
- 2015: Frost and Missy Gosney became the first women to finish Nolan’s 14 adventure challenge.
- Scored first place finishes in TransVulcania, Coastal Challenge, San Francisco TNF 50-mile Challenge, and Everest Marathon.
- Frost’s upcoming racing schedule includes the Madeira Ultra SkyMarathon, Hard Rock 100, Pikes Peak Ascent, Pirineu45, Diagonale de Fous, San Francisco TNF 50