Q&A with Pete Ripmaster

Pete Ripmaster is an ultrarunner, world-class adventurer, keynote speaker, and running coach. He’s also dedicating himself to ORI’s Snowy Owl Research Project and has already raised over $20,000 in donations through his Owl Run Hundreds project.

A white man running an ultra race. He is wearing a light-colored t-shirt, black shorts, and a backwards baseball cap and a small backpack. He is running on rocky terrain.
Pete Ripmaster (photo from https://peteripmaster.com/about/)

We recently caught up with Pete to chat about his progress so far, why he decided to do this project, and about these charismatic birds that hold special places in our hearts.

 

Owl Research Institute (ORI): What is the Owl Run Hundreds project?


Pete Ripmaster (PR): The Owl Run Hundred's Project is my attempt to be the first person to run 100 mile runs/races in all 50 states! This is a fundraiser for my favorite nonprofit, the Owl Research Institute.


ORI: How much progress have you made so far?


PR: I find myself 14 states into the project and I've already raised $20K [of a $50,000 goal] for ORI. I'll be running state #15 in Wisconsin next month. I plan on running 5 or 6 hundreds per year so it looks like the project will take another 6 years-ish. I'd like to see if I can finish this project by the time I'm 50 years old. I'm 44 now, so I got a chance! I will finish the project in the great state of Montana and hope to put on a huge bash to celebrate in Charlo!


ORI: Why did you choose to support the Owl Research Institute with this project?


PR: Ever since I saw a Snowy Owl on the Iditarod Trail in 2014, I knew I wanted to learn more about these majestic creatures!


A snowy owl walking on the ground. It is looking at the camera, wings are outstretched on either side, and one foot is stepping forward.

I was alone and in last place in my very first Iditarod Trail Invitational. I was feeling terribly lonely and down and out. Next thing I know, a beautiful Snowy Owl flies out of nowhere and lands on a tree right next to me. It was nothing short of a spiritual encounter. I was wondering whose spirit was coming to check on me. It changed my outlook. I finished that race with renewed passion because of the owl encounter.


Fast forward five years, and I ended up winning the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Getting to Nome was a childhood dream of mine! I wondered what was next for me. After many prayers, I decided that I wanted to learn more about ornithology and specifically owls. The rest, as they say, is history! It didn't take me long to find out about Denver Holt's work through the Owl Research Institute. I started donating but quickly knew I wanted to do more for the amazing work ORI does. Hence the Owl Run Hundreds Project!


I ran 50 Marathons in 50 States from 2008-2013 and raised over $60K for breast cancer research. It was cool but since I donated my money to a HUGE nonprofit, I had no idea what the money I raised did. I didn't like that feeling, as I worked very hard for every dime raised. I'm very pleased to raise money for the Owl Research Institute and can't wait to do my part in regards to owl conservation!


ORI: Why do you think snowy owls are so important to keep studying and protecting?


PR: In my humble opinion, owls are the coolest creatures on Earth. I worry about owl habitats and want to be part of education and conservation to ensure long term health in all owl populations. Alaska just happens to have a special place in my heart as does the Snowy Owl!


 

Thanks Pete! We at ORI are honored that you’re pursuing this incredible project for us and for the benefit of the owls we all love. We can’t wait to celebrate with you in Charlo!


 

Follow Pete’s progress on his website: Owl Run Hundred’s Project. There, you can find a map and link to track his progress, see his donations to date (and donate yourself, if you like!), and learn more about Pete’s public speaking and coaching.


To learn more about what the donations Pete has raised do to support Snowy Owl research and conservation, visit Research Focus: Snowy Owl Project on ORI’s website.


For more updates on ORI’s snowy owl research projects, check out our most recent issue of The Roost (November 2020), our annual newsletter, and read our recent post ORI's Snowy Owl Research Project: 30 Years and Counting.


 

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