I recently had the chance to interview Katie Visco, both online, and on our Podcast. Katie is one of the most generous people I have ever met, has a real heart for people, developing community, and inspiring others to do amazing things.
In our interview we discuss: courage, self love, human powered adventure, and her upcoming transcontinental run across Australia. G’day Mate!
We have two forms for you to digest this interview. One for your ears on the Hemp Entrepreneur Podcast – hosted by yours truly, and below in written format.
If you are coming over from the Podcast, see our closing question to find out how you can follow and support Katie.
How long have you been running, and what sparked your interest in the sport?
I have been running since I was in seventh grade. I was somewhat duped into the sport; my friend signed me up for a summer training program, and I thought it was a summer soccer conditioning camp. Turns out it was preseason for Cross Country! I showed up, fell in love with being a part of a team, and I’ve been running ever sense.
In 2009 you because the youngest woman to complete a transcontinental run across the US. What was the inspiration behind that?
The drive to run across America was truly a fire in my chest. I was so excited to make a difference in the world. I just finished a year of service in AmeriCorps working with high school students, and I was completely enthused and enraptured by the idea of changing the world, in fact, I always had been. I had wanted to run across America for a while by that time but I was always looking for a really good reason to do it. I finally found that reason during my year of service working with kids who had never really stopped to consider their dreams; I wanted to go run my heart out in order to inspire others to follow their passions.
What was the message you wanted to send to people when completing that run?
You are worth living a bold and passion-driven life. You are worth following your dreams. You are worth giving life to your curiosities.
Ten years ago, when I did that run across America, it was almost 50% speaking tour and 50% running. When I was in the groove of things I would be done running by noon or 1pm and spend the afternoon meeting local people and doing a speaking event with a small group of girls, a larger audience at a school, community groups, whatever. I was on fire and felt I was making a huge impact in the lives of others!
In July you will begin a transcontinental run across Australia. What inspired this one, and why Australia?
The dream to run my way across Australia all started back when I was in middle school when my best friend, Brittany, and I were obsessed with the Australian actor, Heath Ledger. We weren’t the insane stalker types, but rather we simply watched all his movies like it was our religion, put up posters of his dreamy face on our walls, and eventually hosted a candlelit funeral for him under a tree in downtown Boston when he died. Okay, maybe we were a little obsessed. But, it was fun and we were thirteen. Come on.
During those same prepubescent years of drooling over Heathie, my interest in the land down under grew and grew. Sure, Brittany and I seriously thought we would one day fly to Australia to track him down, and well, melt in his presence. But also, I simply started to romanticize the country.
What was the desert like and is the sand really that red? Were people really as carefree as I heard they were? What’s up with the walkabout, the aboriginal right of passage, and can I do one myself as an American woman? Thanks to Heath, I was hooked on Oz and vowed one day to go there, for me.
My junior year in college I needed a break – a break from the cold Minnesotan winter, a break from the hardship of going through my first heartbreak, a break from everything, really. Plus, Australia was calling, so, I said yes; I bought a round trip ticket with my own money, took a leave of absence from school, and signed up for an internship in the nonprofit world.
I was realizing my first ever dream and I’d never felt so free. My three months in Oz was more than I could have imagined. Ask me about it one day. All to say, the experience was my breakthrough from girlhood into becoming a powerful and independent woman.
Additionally, I came away from my three months in Australia in 2006 promising myself that one day I would run across it. That day has come!
Starting this July 2019, I will run across Australia, through her deserts, into her complex and elegant desolation. I am going to the desert to shed a layer off. This is my pilgrimage, to confront all parts of myself in one of the most raw and barren places on earth, to find my Katie again, to reclaim all of my fire, to accept my vulnerability and let it all go at the same time. I want to go to the outside edge again, and love it.
You are a firm believer that fear should not stop somebody from pursuing their dreams. How have you overcome fear when it comes to accomplishing big things?
I’ll be completely open and vulnerable with you – I have a fear that my life won’t make as big of an impact as I hope. I want to do great things and make sure that they help other people. I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to make a difference. However, in doing big (and small) things for other people, I’ve got to take care of myself. I need to ultimately give to myself what I need so that I can best give to others. I’m conflicted by my own ambition and this very conflict startles me sometimes. Do I do big things to change the world because I know I can, or can I put that ambition aside for a moment and go do something for me, and only for me? That’s with this run across Australia is ultimately all about, resisting my ambition, letting go, and holding myself with grace. All said and done, my hope is that my story connects with others and allows them to give to themselves fully as well. To love and give to yourself is bravery.
What advice would you give to somebody that wants to complete a similar endeavor?
Above all else, doing something like this is ultimately for you. Be brave and ask yourself why you need this for you? For me ten years ago, I needed to fill a drive and a desire to make a difference in the world.
For me now, heading into running across Australia in just a few months, I need this for me because I need somewhat of a pilgrimage for myself, to reconnect, to see myself more clearly so that I can give better moving forward.
You may have any kind of reason that the world will see, but ultimately, the reason deep inside needs to be the strongest. Find that flame that will fuel you. Write it on your wall.
Aside from your running accomplishments what’s the one thing you have done that you are most proud of?
Since 2006, I have hosted community soup parties. I open up my home, make a ton of soup, invite everyone I know, and all you need to do is bring a bowl and a spoon.
I love building community. These soup parties are something that I am extremely proud of and feel like I have gifted the planet with. Some people have even met at a soup party and then got married! I’m proud of this because it was/is cultivating community in a world where eye-to-eye connection is a dying art.
How can people follow you on your journey, and how can they support you?
Please visit my website at www.katievisco.com to donate and learn everything about my run across Australia. We still need to raise a little bit more for the trip, and your donation helps greatly!
You can also sign up for my newsletter on my website; I send out my adventure writings to my email list and I’d love you to stay in the loop that way.
Instagram: I’m @katievisco and my husband Henley (who will be supporting me across the Outback on a bicycle!) is @henley.phillips. Your follow also really helps!
I also sell my yummy Good Juju Energy Balls as a fundraiser for Australia, so you can order those HERE! So yummy, and I stuff them in my pack whenever I go out for a long training run.
You can email me as well at [email protected]. Don’t be shy – reach out! Thanks so much!