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💥Trail Gangsta of the Month (July '21): Andre Lee, Massage Therapist & DFL at Cocodona 25💥

Andre Lee

Age: 50

Hometown: Washington, DC

Current Residence: Tempe, AZ

Occupation: Massage Therapist 

1. How did you first get into running/trail running?

I have been running/racing since I was 5 years old. I ran track through the Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, IN. I then transitioned to marathons in 1989 and triathlons in 1990.

I really became interested in trail running with Ragnar in 2013. A friend, Josh Uriarte, approached me to be a team member. I jumped at the chance. We raced a few years together there. Josh worked a lot with Aravaipa Running. He introduced me to Jamil Coury at a group run. There I learned about their races and  decided my first true solo trail race would be Crown King Scramble 50K. I did that in 2016 after a lot of training. I’ve done it every year it’s been held since. 

2. You used to be a massage therapist on a Norwegian Cruise line. What was that job like? How has that profession most benefited your ultra marathon training? 

Working onboard can be rewarding and challenging. I worked in the spa and when you're on duty you work from before the spa opens until after it closes every day but one of those cruises. I was mainly in Hawaii so I got to take my day off in Kona each week and train on the Ironman course. I also had full access to the ship’s fitness center - not too shabby of a deal!

3. What made you decide to register for the Cocodona 250?

I wanted to experience the inaugural event. What better way than to run it? I did a lot of non-traditional training. I turned 50 in Aug 2020 and committed to doing 50 50Ks in 50 weeks. Most of my training for Cocodona has been completing those 50K runs/races. 

4. What was one of your low points during the race and how did you overcome it? 

I had a few low points during the race. Doing the weekly 50Ks has helped to get my mental game on point. On my way from Huntley Tank (mile 174) to Black Tank Aid (mile 182) I blacked out standing up. When I came to, I was alone, disoriented and sleep deprived. I didn’t remember where I was and thought the race was a dream. 

I looked around and kept trying to remember where I was and what I was doing. I had a slight memory that I needed to get somewhere and quickly. I decided to keep moving forward down the road and see if things came back to me. Shortly thereafter I saw a course marker. 

My memory came back and I had only done 2.5 miles of the 7.5 mile section in 1.5 hours. I only had 1.5 hours to do the 5 miles to avoid the cutoff. I picked up my pace and made it with about 30 minutes to spare. This is where I first saw my girlfriend Jan during the race. I was determined to get there once I remembered what I was doing. 

5. Which sections/parts of the race were most enjoyable? 

I love the heat. I left Mingus Mountain Aid (mile 113) for Jerome (mile 126) in the late morning. It’s mostly downhill and somewhat technical. I had gotten rest and was ready to fly. I kept a good pace down the backside of Mingus. The views were spectacular and that downhill felt great even with the heat. 

6. Including Cocodona, you’ve run 90 Aravaipa races (over 28 of them ultras). Which events (your top 3?) would you recommend to someone who has never done an Aravaipa race? 

Aravaipa Running puts on some epic events for many distances. My top three are Crown King Scramble 50K (great first ultra), Mesquite Canyon (challenging course), and any distance at the Javelina Jundred (best party race ever). 

7. What advice would you give to a runner who is embarrassed or discouraged by finishing DFL in a race? 

Don’t be. You finished when many didn’t start. 

8. What events/adventures do you have planned next? 

I’m finishing up my 50Ks in the beginning of August. I’ll be doing the Nardini series of Aravaipa races: Hotfoot Hamster 24 hour, Jackrabbit Jubilee 12 hour , Fat Ox 24 or 48 hour  and then Across The Years 24 hour to start a new year. 

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