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Molly Huddle is busy. She’s a two-time Olympian in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters and American Record holder in the 10,000 meters and half marathon. She’s a 28-time national champion who’s out to make her third Olympic team in 2020.
But she had been thinking about starting a podcast for awhile. Knowing her schedule would be a bit too packed to pull one off all on her own, she teamed up with her friends and fellow Olympians Alysia Montaño and Roisin McGettigan. In October 2019 they launched their first episode of Keeping Track, a podcast focused on the current landscape and future of women’s running, and telling stories within women’s sports.
“Obviously it’s my area of expertise, but also I felt in my own personal experience with the media side of sports a little underrepresented in it,” explains Huddle. “I just felt that there were so many other great stories on Team USA. You’d see women in other events just dominating and not getting nearly enough coverage. We have no shortage of people we want to talk to.”
Huddle wasn’t just interested in expanding the spotlight on female athletes, but also widening the scope of their stories. “You’re not really viewed as a whole person sometimes,” Huddle says about the typical media coverage athletes like herself have received in the past. “Not everyone can relate to being an elite athlete, so maybe [the media] would focus on something silly about you—like for me, the doughnuts. And yeah, that’s real, that is something I enjoy. But it’s also a strange thing to not ask about how I became great at running and ask about what kind of doughnuts I like.”
It’s especially odd when you consider the current landscape of women’s running. “We’re having these moments that 10 years ago we couldn’t have dreamed how powerful that women’s running has become,” Huddle continues. “And then on top of it, women aren’t just being athletes and one dimensional. They’re talking about things they care about, and they’re holding events, and they’re getting into coaching—they’re just dynamic people, multifaceted people.”
Multifaceted, and possibly more real than ever. “We’re just trying to create a more well-rounded view of who they are and what drives them and how they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished,” she says. “These women are not superheroes day to day, but they eventually do amazing things by whatever process they have. Showing that—that they have good days, bad days, struggles, everything—I think that’s important.”
Huddle calls it the new role model for athletes. “You’re doing amazing things on the track, and that takes a lot of time and dedication and you have to respect how hard it is to get there, but you’re also trying to make the sport a better, more welcoming, more successful place.”
“I do think you get to a certain age and a certain stage of your career where you start to think about what you leave the sport with. The performances are really important and they’re what you care about and what give you a platform, but once you’re on the platform, what are you offering and what are you saying and what are you showing?”
This profile was first published in the January/February 2020 print issue of Women’s Running as part of “Front Runners: 20 Power Women of 2020,” which celebrates 20 elite female runners who are giving power new meaning, and a new image. You can see the full list of honorees here.