Rachel Toor

Rachel Toor - 2012 Athleta Sponsored Athlete

RACHEL TOOR is a distance runner who used to be an “either/or” kind of person. She thought: either you were a nerdy little egghead, or you were an outdoorsy jock. She spent the first thirty years of her life indoors with a book. Then she started running. Two decades, 50 or 60 marathons, a dozen or more ultramarathons, a couple of wins at the World Championship Ride and Tie (which combines trail running and endurance horse riding), a number of  years leading 3:50 and 4:00 marathon pace groups later, Rachel’s learned that life is richer and more full when it’s “both/and.” Now she’s both a nerdy little egghead and a big ole outdoorsy jock.

For most of her working life, Rachel has had jobs and careers that require a lot of butt-in-the-chair time. She was an editor of scholarly books, an admissions officer at Duke University, and is currently a professor in the graduate creative writing program at Eastern Washington University in Spokane. She’s published three books, the most recent of which is Personal Record: A Love Affair With Running, and has written for all of the major running publications, including a regular column in Running Times, where she is a senior writer. In keeping with her both/and philosophy, she also has a monthly column in The Chronicle of Higher Education. She may be the only person in the history of the world to write about running for that eggheady publication.

The sport Rachel has a particular attachment to is unfamiliar to many.  Ride and tie consists of a three member team, two people and a horse, covering 20-100 miles of trail, where the humans take turns running and riding, leapfrogging down the trail. Rachel has won both the woman/woman and the man/woman divisions at the World Championship Ride and Tie. She has also, with a woman partner, twice won races overall. What she loves about ride and tie  is the connection with the horse, and of all the horse sports she’s tried — endurance riding, jumping, dressage, and saddle seat — ride and tie is the one where Rachel feels closest to her mount. She, her teammate and their horse cover the same ground together, all getting tired and sore and hungry. It requires an ethic of care to do well; it’s a team effort.



  • 50-60 marathons, PR 3:14
  • A dozen or so races longer than marathon (50Ks and 50 milers)
  • Marathon wins:  Black Mountain Marathon (NC), Gold Country Marathon (CA), Lewis and Clark Marathon  2004 (MT), Mt. Everest Challenge Marathon (India) and Second Place in Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race (India)
  • World Championship Ride and Tie, winner of woman/woman and man/woman divisions. First place overall in two races.
  • Has run the Boston marathon five times, and will again in April 2012
  • Ran the Grand Canyon from rim to rim to rim (three days after running up and down Mt. Whitney)


  • Run the Boston Marathon in April (though training will be hard during the Spokane winter)
  • Run well in some half marathons
  • Tackle some more ultras, maybe the Elkhorn 50K in August in Helena, MT
  • Do as many ride and ties as possible
  • Become a ski freak
  • Run the Snow Joke Half Marathon right after she turns 50 on February 22 (entered in the canine division with her dog, Helen)
  • Be as strong, fit and happy as she can going into her sixth decade
  • Compete in more women-only races, especially half-marathons

WEBSITE: RachelToor.com »