💥Trail Gangsta of the Month (DEC '21): Rio Devore, Runner & Musician from the PNW 💥

Full Name: Rio Devore

Age: 32

Hometown: Redlands, CA

Current Residence: Seattle, WA 

Occupation: Performer (running, playing live music, and waiting tables) I am always on. (End Scene)

A native of Redlands, CA, Rio Devore is aiming to make a splash in the Seattle ultra and music scene with a little inspiration from his wife/running partner, Kristin. Read how running inspires Rio's music making process and his tips for new ultra runners! 

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

I started to really run back in high school when I joined my high school cross country and track team. I almost didn’t join the team, because I started a job at a local restaurant, and I believed at the age of 14 that I was supposed to work more than participate in sports. My mom felt different about the situation and ended up driving me to summer practice one afternoon. She kicked me out of the car and said I, “had all my life to work but not sports.” At that moment I was probably pissed off, but for many years after, I have nothing but gratitude for her stubbornness.  I have admitted to her that it was the best thing she had ever done for me. Without running, without that moment I wouldn’t have grown, learned, and been on the path of understanding myself and the world that I am on today. 

2. How would you describe your musical stylings? Which musicians are influential to you?

I’m lyrically driven for sure, but if I had to put a genre on it, I’d say it’s folk, singer-songwriter, and storytelling. I try to bring influence from many styles of music. I believe the moment you limit what you listen to then you limit what you create. To name a few influences: Conor Oberst, Craig Finn, The National, Drake, Kid Cudi, The Wallflowers, Simone Felice, Kanye, I Would Set Myself on Fire for You, Travis Scott, Mac Miller, Joshua James, Noah Gunderson, Tyler the Creator, Phoebe Bridgers, Julian Baker, Lil Durk, 6lack, Keaton Henson, A Weather, Gregory Alan Isakov, Richard Edwards. This is now turning into my music library, so I’ll quit while I am ahead. I will say Kid Cudi’s newest record has been my most listened to album this past year and coincidentally has the perfect flow for running.

3. What inspires you to write songs and craft lyrics? Does running play a role in this creative process?

Many of my songs are based on personal experiences and, yes, running plays a large role in the process. I often use recovery and cool down runs to work through ideas. Friends that run with me understand that sometimes I stop to write notes and don’t even turn around anymore to see where I went. I get inspired by the thoughts that are freed by running and the heightened sensation/awareness of what’s going on around me.

When I am working on music and feeling forced, I have learned to just put on my shoes and run, clear my head, or let my thoughts get stirred up during the ride. Being on the move and saying lines out loud or freestyling helps too. Running is a must prior to any performance and I’m guilty of listening to my own songs and singing along to practice. My mind can go different places it wouldn’t normally without disciplined running, and especially with ultra-running. The stimulated memories and emotions that I have had the opportunity to wake up during the hours chugging away have helped me mature.

4. You ran your first ultra this past summer. What’s something your training didn’t prepare you for? Any advice for a runner who would also like to attempt their first ultra distance?

I participated in the Orcas Island 50 which was an incredible course and my first trip to the San Juan Islands. I ended up taking 5th and I was pretty happy about it. I love runs with big climbs and I picked a hell of a climb for my first ultra. What was more impressive was going back down. I struggled on descents but got a lot of practice during that race. I feel like the race preparation was almost more stressful than the run itself. 

Trying to figure out what I will want to eat before the run lead to some interesting combinations of food in the drop bags. I did not appreciate this beforehand, but not being able to see a familiar face at the checkpoints was difficult as well. These races are a mental game because they are hard but going through them relatively alone is a game changer. Having the positive energy of my wife or a friend can keep me going. While I was alone, I found myself leaning into the thought, “it’s all going to hurt, just keep moving."

This summer was full of firsts, as I also attempted the Teanaway Country 100 and got my first DNF. That experience in the mountains was a lesson in grace and humility; these races will ask a lot of you, both mind and body, and the outcome is exactly what you need and not typically what you want. My advice is learn to listen to the nuanced voice of your body so that when the ego tries to fuck up the long game. Learning to listen takes practice and discipline. Many paint strokes make up the picture - And never rush! 

5. How did you meet your wife? How does running contribute to your marriage?

I met my wife Kristin in a hometown bar when she stole my top hat off my head and ran away. We didn’t talk or anything, it was her birthday, and she was on one. I did get my hat back and we went on our way. Time passed, I moved to Ireland for a master’s program and spent a few years there, then returned to Southern California. I re-met Kristin through my then-girlfriend – it was drama (for details listen to my album Learning to Laugh at the Sad Parts). For many reasons I was smitten and proposed to her after a couple of months in the back of my red Honda Civic coupe and that crazy kid said yes!

Running or movement in general (yoga, hiking) has been ever present and a huge part of our relationship and a method of communication. After high school I kept running but had no interest in competing or participating in events. My friends or acquaintances over the years would talk about runs they would like to sign up for and would invite me, but they never did, so I never did either. Then I met Kristin and she told me she wanted to run the Big Sur trail marathon and I told her the same thing believing it would be another empty conversation. The next day she texted me saying she signed up.

At this point I hadn’t run more than 20 miles and this 26.2 was all trails and 5,000-6,000 ft of climbing was not something I ever saw myself doing. To add to the pressure, she started telling people she thought I could win. So, wanting to impress her since we had just got married after never dating and only knowing each other for about 2 months, I pushed it and took 1st in my first trail marathon at Big Sur. After that I was hooked on distance and was even more excited about it because Kristin is into it as well.

 6. What do you like about the running community in the PNW?

Oh man, everything! I have running friends down in California where I am from, but the community up here is just so welcoming. Maybe it would have been the same down south if I got into ultra-running there, but PNW just has this vibe of everyone wanting to get out there because there are so many trails to explore!

A crazy experience in meeting other runners in the PNW was one night at work I ended up serving Ben Gibbard. I had no idea it was him and his table and I started talking about running/races. He shared he was headed into the Cascadia 100 that weekend and his buddy J. B. Ben (who I learned directed the movie Unbreakable: The Western States 100) asked about my races and it was just so cool and down to earth. Then at the end we traded names and I turned into a fan girl.

Those folks really did follow my race and reached out after my DNF. It was just something else, so surreal. Like this guy who is so talented and has influenced me in my early years of making music just met me on a common level and was just as excited with me about pushing oneself mentally and physically in the quest of self-growth and discovery was awesome. Maybe one day I’ll be able to meet John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats, who I understand is also a runner, but the chances are slim for sure.

 7. What races/adventures do you have planned next?

Currently, I am healing from an ankle injury, but I am aiming to do the Arches 50 in Moab Utah. There’s a 50k in Ireland that I might do for my birthday in May. The Bigfoot 100k around Mt Saint Helens is on the books. I have not picked out which 100 I want to attempt this year, but I do want redemption at Teanaway. If the Mojave Death Race is taking place this coming year and my hometown firefighter team is going, I’ll be there to run a few legs in the relay race.

Aside from running, musically I am back playing live around Seattle after a long hiatus from lock down and working on a new record which is aiming to be released winter 2022-2023.

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