Meet a Rogue Expeditions Runner: Jessica Gagne

What type of people go on Rogue Expeditions running trips? It seems that everyone worries that they'll either be too slow, or too fast. That the mileage will be too difficult, or not challenging enough. That they'll be too old, or too young. That the other people will be super serious running geeks who talk about nothing but training, or that the other people will all be there to take it reeeeeeally easy. That they'll be the only person who doesn't know anyone else.

In truth, there is no "type." The trips attract all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ability levels and all sorts of motivations for being there, and the beautiful thing is that it works for just about everyone! To prove it, we are highlighting a number of our runners using their own words. Read on to find out about the running background, pre-trip hesitations, favorite trip memories and most surprising realization of a Rogue Expeditions runner.

Today we're highlighting Jessica Gagne, who we first met when she and her husband came to Tahoe in 2014. She told us that she hadn't run more than 5 miles in many years and that she had never gone trail running before, but on Day 3 she shocked us all by knocking out a 14 mile trail run at altitude!

Tahoe Rim Trail.jpg

Which trips have you done and when?
Tahoe (July 2014)
Bend (August 2015)
Morocco (Oct 2016)

Describe your running background.
I ran cross-country in high school and continued running to maintain my fitness in the military. I started running with Rogue Running in 2013 and haven't looked back. I've run two half marathons and am hoping to cross a marathon off my bucket list once recovering from an injury. 

How did you end up on your first Rogue Expeditions trip? What led you to the decision?
My husband Jason and I heard about Rogue Expeditions when Gabe and Allison did a small presentation at Rogue Running following a workout. We both enjoy running and traveling and decided to make it our next vacation. We wanted to start with the stateside trips first and Lake Tahoe sounded like a beautiful place to visit. It didn't let us down. 

Any hesitations or uncertainties going into it?
Definitely! I was only running 5 miles consistently at the time (our first trip in 2014) and felt like I would be the tortoise and slow the group down. But as soon as we went on our first run any nerves or worries went away. Allison kept checking on us and everyone else in the group was so fun and supportive that I stopped worrying about my pace and enjoyed myself.

Did you know anyone else in the group beforehand? How was it traveling with a group of strangers?
Traveling with my husband was a fun adventure because Gabe and Allison made it so easy! . It was great meeting everyone the first day and I felt like we made new friends right away. This went for all of the trips we've done but was especially true for our Morocco trip. After many hours of traveling it was so nice seeing a familiar face (Allison) to greet us and meeting our guide and driver (Hamid) who also became a new friend. It was so fun meeting everyone at the riad the first day. There were people from six different countries and it was so much fun to learn about difficult cultures and norms and tease each other about which is better: kilometers or miles?

What was your favorite run in each destination and why?
Tahoe - My favorite run was surprisingly the 14 mile long run. Even though I was nowhere near that fitness level I couldn't pass up the views and ran/walked it. It was worth the pain! I'm not sure if my husband would agree as I was sometimes a grumpy runner! 

Bend - My favorite run was actually a rest day to Smith Rock. We enjoyed a hike to the top with beautiful views, a short optional jog, and an amazing picnic. 

Morocco - My favorite run was the run in the Souss Valley. I wasn't quite up to the fitness level to do the entire long run so I rode with the crew until I felt comfortable. It was a great run with just me and the beautiful scenery and occasional local. It ended with a gorgeous palm oasis with lunch waiting. 

Food is a huge part of any travel experience. What was your favorite thing that you ate in during each trip?

Tahoe - Everything that Gabe and Allison cooked was wonderful! My favorite meal was fajitas, and we even made homemade margaritas! 

Bend - Just like Tahoe everything that Gabe and Allison cooked was delicious! My favorite meal that trip was the pasta night. 

Morocco - The food was amazing and I can't choose just one favorite meal! We did have a special birthday celebration and we sang and danced with the crew! That was a special treat!

Both travel and running have their ups and downs. What has been your most challenging moment or issue during a running trip? How did you overcome it?
One of the more challenging issues for me was the firmness of the beds in Morocco. I would gather all of the blankets from the room and sleep on them. It was quite the nighttime ritual and reminded me why I enjoy the quirks of traveling. 

Pick one trip. What surprised you the most about the experience?
Definitely Morocco!! The guides were awesome and friendly! The food was wonderful and the hospitality at every riad we stayed at was unbelievable. I was definitely surprised by the amazing cultural changes from the mountains (Berber culture) compared to those who lived in the cities and coast. 

Runcation vs a race: what do you think are some of the key similarities and differences? Or are they even comparable?
I think a runcation and race are similar because I have that nervous, anxious excitement. I feel nervous before a race and that was the same feeling when getting on a plane for Morocco. Am I prepared? Am I in good enough shape to keep up? 

Sum up your Rogue Expeditions experience in one sentence:
Rogue Expeditions: A running vacation that is sure to change you!