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TRL Member spotlight: Kolter Grigsby

Editor’s note: For the last several seasons, Kolter (#590 in the photo) has been a mainstay on the Lizard cross-country team and a frequent runner at Duniway Track, where, weather permitting (and sometimes not permitting in the minds of many people), he arrives by bicycle. He doesn’t mention it here, but long-distance bicycle touring is also one of his interests. 

1. How long have you been running and why did you start?

I started running when I was about 16. I was originally a wrestler in high school, and the cross-country coach convinced me that running in the fall would be ideal conditioning for my winter season. Truth be told, he was just a new coach trying to round up every scrawny runner type he could. But it worked out. I spent my summer running in Riverside State Park (Spokane, WA), and never looked back.   

2. How long have you been part of TRL, and what drew you to the club in the first place?

I joined TRL in late summer/early fall of 2019. I had moved to Portland a few months prior and came across a BIG group of runners at Duniway on one of my first track workouts in the new city. Naturally I did my own thing that day. But the following Tuesday, I worked up the courage to ask Rick about the team and how the track workouts were structured. Next thing I knew there was a clipboard in my hands, and I had to remember something about Stumptown (not the coffee) for an upcoming 5k in some park. I was blown away that such an organized and competitive cross country series happened outside of a college setting, and that the team I just joined was the one hosting it. I have been consistently impressed by TRL and the good people that make up such a genuine and supportive community. The running scene in Portland is something special, and for me, Team Red Lizard is at the heart of that experience.  

3. What do you do when you’re not running (job, family, school…whatever it is you’d use to introduce yourself outside of running)?

I work as a postdoctoral scholar in the Behavioral Neuroscience department at OHSU, where I conduct basic laboratory science to better understand neural and genetic mechanisms important for motivated behaviors, namely the motivation for physical activity. My current project is looking at how neural circuits are differentially engaged during early and late stages of voluntary activity in mice. I recently showed that acute physical activity increases brain markers associated with aversion. Moreover, it takes rodents ~4 weeks before they show signs of reward from physical activity. My goal is to understand whether there are neurobiological barriers to finding physical activity rewarding and whether we can eventually increase exercise adherence in people by targeting those mechanisms.   

4. What’s your favorite distance/type of run (5K, half-marathon, marathon, ultras, relays, track, trail, etc.)?

I have been particularly into the half-marathon the past year or so. Most of my runs are just me running hard from like an hour to an hour-and-a-half. So, at the very least it feels familiar. 

5. Where is your favorite place to run in the greater Portland area?

I’m a sucker for a nice stroll on Leif. 

6. What is your most memorable running experience?

It’s hard to pick one memory among 15+ years of running experience. Most recently, I met Steve Prefontaine’s sister, Nida Prefontaine, when I stumbled into her box at Hayward Field in an attempt to see Ryan Burgess finish the Eugene half. She was so friendly!   
7. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received?

Probably the back of someone’s shirt on my commute to work a while back that read “It’s a hill, get over it.” Turns out this is sage life advice too.  

8. Tell us one fun fact, hidden talent, or something we don’t know about you, but should?

In my spare time I like to watercolor and work on bicycles/make questionably safe Frankenbikes.

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