Mirna is an ultra runner, author, speaker, and adventurer. Oh, and she’s also a mom, a coach, a diversity practitioner, and a musician. There’s nothing this woman can’t do.
Author of A Beautiful Work in Progress. Subject of Award-Winning REI Force of Nature Documentary "The Mirnavator". A 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.
Raised in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn by a robust matriarch, Mirna grew up with a love of reading, sports and music. Mirna remembers being thin in 2nd grade, but filling out by the time she was 12 or 13. Her mother was obese and diabetic, and it seemed Mirna and her 3 siblings might follow suit. Mirna sang R&B with her mother and sister, taught herself the piano and soon impressed the music department at her school – who rewarded her budding talent with free piano and voice lessons.
Soon she was auditioning for Juilliard’s Pre-College Division program - an audition that she nailed! Throughout her high school years, her musical talent and her achievements on the field hockey and lacrosse teams complimented Mirna’s academic prowess.
Mirna accepted a scholarship to The Oberlin College of Arts and Sciences and Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Ohio, pursuing music and liberal arts. She majored in Spanish and vocal performance and kept physically active. She chose to pursue a career with KPMG working in the legal and consulting fields in New York City after graduation, met her husband (a native of Burkina Faso) and later took a job teaching music at the Masters School.
As work pressures, combined with a son who had joined the family and developed severe asthma, Mirna’s weight peaked at over 300lbs. A visit to the doctor and a diagnosis of morbid obesity prompted Mirna to sign up for a 5km run... and the rest, as they say, is history. Mirna’s obsession with running saved her life – and has inspired countless people around the world to do the same.
Daran Caperton - Group Leader
First and foremost Daran has a deep love for the mountains that we will be exploring, and it’s completely contagious. As she puts it “These old mountains are my God space.” She has had a long career in the service industry, but has also been an organic farmer out in Oregon, a ski bum in Colorado, and raft guide on a few rivers in the southeast, with the local Chattooga river being her favorite. She’s currently also finishing up massage school! She started running about 5 years ago, with some inspiration from her aunt, who has a long career of race directing. She fell in love with trail running in and around Clayton with her dog dude (who is the most epic adventure dog of all time). She loves to run races whenever possible or do group runs. She’s super excited about being a part of this festival and sharing her love of running and of this area!
Tammy is a trail-runner, outdoor adventure leader and all around wandering woman. Born and raised in Louisiana she grew up spending hot humid southern summers exploring and enjoying the outdoors.
She discovered a love for running during her years of active military service where 5am runs were the norm. She still believes there is just nothing like the peace that comes with an early morning run.
A long-time lover of nature, her passion for the outdoors and for trail running inspired her to want to encourage other women and people of color to get outside and connect with nature as well. She has been able to do just that through her work as an Outdoor Trip Leader with Outdoor Afro.
She spends her days as a Program Director in the Health Industry but says some of her best moments happen when she is outdoors in nature trail running and helping others experience and connect with nature. When she’s not outdoors you will find her strolling the aisles of local nurseries looking for more plant babies to bring home or curled up with a good book.
Abby Harris - Group & Workshop Leader
President of NC Mountain Trail Runners, Co-founder of Western NC’s first 100 mile trail race, Ambassador for Trail Sisters Asheville..and so much more!
"When it comes to running, Abby is all about miles and smiles (and maybe a couple of dance moves and talks about pickle or Sour Patch Kids cravings). Though she hasn't been running for long, she quickly picked up miles on the single track and has since developed a love for exploring new adventures along with the trail nickname 'Hot Rod' (there's always a story!).
For the past two years, Abby has served as President of the North Carolina Mountain Trail Runners and is a board member on the RUN828 Foundation. She is also one of the founding organizers for Western North Carolina’s first 100 miler, The Hellbender 100. In addition, she is an Ambassador and Contributor for Trail Sisters and co-leads the Trail Sisters Asheville Chapter. Abby feels that the women's running community in Western North Carolina has been nothing short of amazing. About a year ago she set up a 'Women's Welcome to Trail Running' monthly group run to serve those who may be new to trail running and it continues to draw new members out each month.
Currently, she is happy to call Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains her home where she works at a local run shop (surprise!) called Foot Rx Running - Asheville."
Joy is a Personal Trainer and all around superstar. She is a lover of trails runs, rock climbing, and feels most successful when she inspires others to believe in their ability to achieve their fitness goals. She has a real knack for bringing ladies together and making everyone around her stronger! When she's not working in nutrition research or personal training, you can find her reading a book, making a big salad, or hanging out in the woods with her husband and son. She’s one of those friends that always has a good story to tell, and she has an obsession with seltzer water, dark chocolate with sea salt, and the band Mandolin Orange. Most people recognize her by her hair (and her muscles)! #curlsandsguns
Anne Wheatly - Group and Workshop Leader
Anne grew up on the coast of North Carolina. She spent a large portion of her 20s working at an aquarium teaching people how to fish, snorkel, kayak, surf and educating them on all things ocean related. She also had a deep love for running that led her to running in college at NC State. After college she pursued the marathon distance with hopes of running in the olympic trials. While training for road races, Anne decided to run the Pikes Peak trail Marathon in Colorado. She fell in love with trail running and switched her focus and goals. Her first ultra distance run was Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon solo. She has since pursued all things trail related. She especially loves running in the National parks. She ran her first 100 mile race in Nov of 2017 in a time of 16:06, giving her the 6th fastest 100 mile female trail time for that year. She likes to pick a variety of races that challenge her both mentally and physically.
When not running, Anne designs anything from posters to apparel. She had a hard time taking anything too serious and its not uncommon to find her running around in some sort of wacky costume, mask or hat. She is working on a fun adventure apparel line that she plans to launch in the fall of 2019.
Jennifer Stout - Group Leader
Jennifer is a single mom of two, born and raised in Orlando, FL. She also owns her own business as an exterior and interior painter, and she refinishes furniture too! She’s a city girl that has always loved sports and outdoor adventures. When her dad brought her to North Carolina as a child for vacation, she was forever changed. She now spends as much time as she can exploring NC, TN, and GA. She ran cross country in high school and then stopped running until her sone was born at age 29. Through tough times that year she got back into running as her solitude and escape. She eventually ran a few half marathons and hasn’t stopped running since. Her friend Daran introduced her to trail running just recently, and she is hooked! She loves exploring the north Georgia mountains with friends and her children!
Kenya and Michelle - Workshop Leaders and Panelists
Kenya and Michelle are the founders and couple behind the Outdoor Journal Tour, a hybrid health organization that merges mindfulness and the Great Outdoors in an effort to connect women to themselves, their community and the infiniteness around them.
Kenya is a four-time published self-help author and certified reiki master. With a formal background in psychology and nonprofit management, Kenya is also an avid student of Buddhism, metaphysics, and quantum mechanics. Kenya has always been drawn to the self-help industry, particularly areas that empower women. Since 2015, outdoor spaces have served as a spiritual and emotional respite for Kenya. It is her sincere pleasure to bring her unique blend of self-help to the outdoor community that she has grown to love so much.
Michelle serves as the Co-founder/Chief Operations Officer of the Outdoor Journal Tour. She also works full time for the largest airline catering company in the world. Between all of this, she has found comfort in the outdoors and strives to share that love with the women around her. As a self-proclaimed, “doer” and not “feeler”, she started "The year of Michelle" journal which has now turned into a nearly 3 year and on-going exploration to better understand herself the world around her in an effort to embrace true joy and self-love.
Together the two have hosted over 35 Hike, Journal, Meditate events for women around the country and organized 3 annual #wehiketoheal campaigns. The duo along with their 8 Ambassadors plan to double their reach in the coming year.
Erin is the creator of Collectively Outside and Women’s Trailfest. She spends her days planning events for a local conservation organization, including river cleanups and environmental education field trips. She first explored the North Georgia mountains in 2015, and she’s been hooked on the area ever since. She found herself making frequent trips to the area, exploring, running races, and visiting family. She loves just about any activity that will get her outside, but trail running is her preferred way of adventuring. She feels most alive when surrounded by supportive women on the trails, and she is so excited for magic of Women’s Trailfest. She also really loves breakfast sandwiches, high fives, and awkward dance moves. Oh, and she also sweats alot.
Adriana Garcia is a nature-loving, runner, backpacker, and ex-accountant that was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She grew up in a multiracial, Mormon family with two brothers, several cats, and an intense sense of curiosity that always had her exploring the woods behind her childhood home.
Throughout her youth and teenage years, she struggled with understanding her identity and where she fit in so she frequently escaped to what she knew best, the great outdoors. The outdoors provided her with a safe space and brought her that sense of belonging she yearned for. After years of spending time escaping to the outdoors, she realized she wanted to introduce its wonders to others. She'd always felt like it was a place that belonged to everyone.
So in August 2017, after a whirlwind trip to Arizona and Utah with a group of her friends, she joined forces with Luz Lituma on a project that would allow them to inspire others through their experiences of being WOC in the outdoors. That is when Latinxhikers was created. What once was just an Instagram initiative, is now a growing community within the southeast region.
Photo credit: Cherisa Hawkins
Cali Snider - Panelist
Cali Snider is the manager of Black Rock Mountain State Park, and she considers herself to be one happy camper. In less than three years, she landed her dream job of taking care of Georgia’s highest state park. Cali has been the park’s manager since the fall of 2018 and is looking forward to spending her career right above Clayton.
Originally from Tennessee, Snider received her bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation from Eastern Tennessee State University. Her first job out of college was assistant manager with Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina before starting her career with Department of Natural Resources at Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Swamp. From there, she served as assistant manager of Reed Bingham and Vogel State Parks.
In her career with DNR she has done more than she could have imagined including ATV training, Emergency Medical Rescue training, Hurricane Debris Clean up, chainsaw operating, and even crawling on roofs too get the job done. It is always something new and always an adventure!
Her hobbies include archery, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking and rafting, hiking, and just about anything someone suggests she try out. She also enjoys traveling with her fiancé - they recently took a trip to Norway!
Cali will be a guest at our Women Who Wander panel discussion on Saturday night!
Alex was born and raised in Georgia in the North Atlanta suburbs. From an early age, she always wanted to be outside. From hunting salamanders behind her friend’s house to collecting rocks and shells and stashing them under her bed. That love and passion for the outdoors led her to becoming a co-owner of Wander North Georgia where she runs the retail store and handles the customer experience. A graduate of Georgia College and State University, she dabbled in photography and ceramics before becoming an Art History major. When she’s not at Wander she is taking care of all of her plants, adding waterfall Polaroids to her collection, and keeping her feral 5 year old alive.
This girl is tough as nails. In 2018 she completed the Western States 100 miler and won the Mountain Masochist 50 miler. She’s one of the top ultra-runners in the southeast, and she’s not stopping anytime soon!
As an energetic child Rachel was signed up for every sport her mom could think of. Running and soccer stuck. After high school she thought that’s when people stopped running, but one year into college she missed it terribly and got back into running with her (now) husband.
She did some road racing in her 20s but really just liked the process of training, she and didn’t care for the racing as much. That is, until she stumbled upon trail running in 2011! Since then she has ran more ultra distance races that we can count, and her love of the trails in contagious! She’s as humble and kind as they come, and when she’s not running or adventuring, she’s painting, reading or snuggling with her husband and best trail dog buddy, Emmitt. She also makes really good gingerbread cookies.
She has worked in the outdoor retail industry for 12 plus years and prefers to stay behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly and organized. All the fun stuff like spreadsheets, and Quickbooks and payroll taxes that everyone else hates doing, she thrives on. She was introduced to the North Georgia mountains and area by her husband 18 years ago and has been in love with them ever since. Growing up in Ohio, she moved to Rabun County 4 years ago with her family of 5. When she’s not managing the behind the scenes at Wander, she is outdoors with her family enjoying the day to day life and simple pleasures this are brings.
Emily Cox - Panelist
Elite Mountain Bike Racer
Emily loves being outside and pushing her limits. She grew up in Atlanta playing soccer year-round and even into college. Going into her junior year, she decided she wanted more adventure during her college time. She transferred to the University of Georgia, got a road bike, and rode it everywhere. With her competitive spirit, she quickly found the UGA cycling team and started racing. And not long after that she was introduced to the off-road cycling world of mountain bike racing! With a very “send it” mentality, mountain biking became her thing. Emily has competed in all disciplines of mountain bike racing, from the Leadville 100-mile race to full cross-country and short-track seasons to downhill to her current love, enduro racing. She coaches and leads women’s group rides year-round as well. The main thing is she just wants to be in the woods on her bike!
Emily recently moved from Athens, GA to Clayton, GA to pursue a career in the bike industry and to live and breathe the mountain air. "Clayton is a hidden gem for trails and all things outdoor-adventure related. I am so excited to be apart of this Women’s Trail Festival and the celebration of the true beauty of Rabun County!”