Exclusive: Marathon Runner Deena Kastor on Why She’s Not Slowing Down & How the Sport Is Growing

With its high altitudes, vast trails and sparsely traveled roads, Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is a mecca for marathoners. But one resident — perhaps its most famous — knows the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range better than most.

Deena Kastor, the decorated distance runner who moved to the ski town more than 20 years ago, cranks out more than 100 miles a week on the local roads in the buildup to a big race.

It was no surprise, then, that when FN caught up with her at home a week before the Tokyo Marathon, held March 3, she had just finished her training with a 6-mile race-pace run.

At 46 — and with numerous records to brag about (but she doesn’t) — Kastor could easily slow down. Instead, the Asics ambassador still loves toeing the line in competitions around the globe.

In Tokyo, in cool and rainy conditions, she finished in 2 hours, 51 minutes, 58 seconds and received her fifth world major-marathon finish. The 2004 Olympian will compete in races including the 8K Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago this month and the famed Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in Washington, D.C., in April.

Emma Bates, Deena Kastor
Emma Bates (L) and Deena Kastor, both Asics ambassadors, run in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., last month.
CREDIT: Christian Pondella

Kastor is incredibly passionate about spreading her love for the sport and what it’s taught her. Last year, she wrote “Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory,” a book about always having a positive mindset.

“Running is growing so much right now, and that’s very exciting,” Kastor said. “It’s hitting so many demographics, so many ability levels and motivation levels. People can see that for the price of a pair of shoes, they can go out and make a big difference in their health or for different causes. Running isn’t comfortable the first time you do it or even the second time you do it; once you get the knack of it and go a little harder, it is still uncomfortable, but when people feel empowered and in control, that makes them not just healthier in their bodies but healthier in their minds. And because of that, they can be better parents, better at their jobs, better citizens of their communities.”

With that approach, it’s fitting that Kastor signed on with Asics 18 years ago. At the time, she was visiting Akron, Ohio, and was running — and often slipping — in the snow. After trying several brands, only one helped her feet grip the ice: Asics. Kastor said she immediately told her agent to set up a meeting with the company.

“I felt like the brand was a perfect fit,” she said. “My whole career has been built off of cultivating my mind and body equally, and trying to build both of them equally. That the brand is an acronym for the Latin phrase meaning ‘a sound mind in a sound body’ seemed like it was aligning with everything I was, every part of the athlete I was grooming myself to be.”

Nearly two decades later, Kastor, a mom to 8-year-old daughter Piper and leader of the Mammoth Track Club, is actively involved in building buzz around the brand. She teases product launches on social media, gives motivational speeches to runners at Asics events and entertains VIP clients.

“What I love about this brand is that they have had seven decades of fulfilling the mission they began on,” Kastor said. “And they are continuing to help make the world a better place through running.”

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