Episode 032- Margaret Schlachter, Obstacle Course Race Expert

Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is a bit of a renaissance woman. She was one of the first women on the scene of obstacle course racing. After 10 years in education and coaching, Margaret found herself at a crossroads. She discovered OCR (Spartan Race, to be exact), began a website to document her training for World’s Toughest Mudder and became one of the top professional athletes in the sport. Margaret’s website, Dirt In Your Skirt, became the premier destination for all things OCR and was the impetus for her book, which is being re-released in September and is currently available for pre-order. Her career took some interesting turns and is ever-changing. These days she has a podcast, Dirt In The Skirt the Podcast, is often a contributor and writer for Outside Magazine, Trail Running Magazine, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, The Huffington Post, Associated Press, and many more. In addition, she focuses a lot of time as a media consultant/director for various entities. This conversation is chock full of wisdom for anyone who wants to take the path less traveled.

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Additional Show Notes:
  • Margaret’s parents met each other while working at the Olympics in Lake Placid. Her mother worked in public relations. Her father worked as a bartender and then in athlete housing.
  • She started skiing when she was 2 years old. She tried quite a few different sports as a kid.
  • Margaret went to a school for ski racers (Stratton Mountain School) and this intrigues Bobbi-Sue.
  • For undergrad, Margaret went to Babson – it was just a business school and it had a ski team.
  • She was coaching at Skidmore College and ski coaching before she ended up back at Stratton Mountain School to be a dorm parent, ski coach, and whatever else they needed.  At Killington Mountain School she was head of admissions and college placement.
  • Her master’s program was an “education leadership program” which went along with her career at the time.
  • Margaret ended up coaching for about 10 years. In lacrosse, most of the other coaches were women. In skiing, however, it was very different. The women have a discussion about why there is a lack of female coaches and the general issue of women dropping out of careers in sports.
  • Margaret was a participant in the first Spartan race and one of the first women at all! And it was the thing that got her excited. She started doing it as a “weekend warrior” but turned into a professional athlete.
  • A discussion about the start of Spartan Race and Joe Desena, Death Race, and Margaret’s entre into OCR as a professional athlete.
  • Dirt in Your Skirt was literally just a way for Margaret to document her training for World’s Toughest Runner and make herself accountable. She used an ultramarathon book she found, got a local climbing gym coach to train her once a week for $30/session, and then she did strength training that she knew from being an athlete.
  • There was a point in time when Margaret realized that the blog wasn’t just a place for her to document her training and was likely something more. She then invested in updating her website and got a logo. It’s gone through a few different evolutions since then.
  • Explore. Conquer. Inspire. -> The Dirt In Your Skirt ethos
  • The decision to move away from education and focus on OCR was one many questioned but Margaret just knew it was right.
  • An injury forced Margaret to the media side of the business and she’s been a contributor or writer for many digital publications.
  • Throughout her career, she’s basically just made things happen. If she wanted to do something or be something she just did it or created it.
  • Margaret shares two lessons that she’s learned in her career in OCR which includes another Joe story.
  • Sleep! Rest! Margaret takes social media free weekends. Will see email over the weekend but not respond until Monday.
  • Dirt In Your Skirt Podcast! She was profiling women on the website in written form. After a couple of years of listening to podcasts and seeing other people in OCR get rolling with them, she decided to get hers going. And it’s not just about OCR.

Margaret Schlachter working at OCR World Championships 2017

Quotable moments:

  • “The last Olympics we had 9 alumni at the last Olympics and had a few medals.”
  • “If all else fails just get a business degree and you can always do kind whatever you want with it.”
  • “When I was coaching at the ski academy level, and you get to the higher levels, there tends to be less and less women.”
  • “I think you have these moments in life where something sparks in your brain, a lightbulb goes off, a little trigger gets hit and you’re like ‘Wow, that was different. That was interesting. I’m excited to do something again.'”
  • “I was an out of shape 20-something, who drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of wings at 10 cent wing night… post-collegiate athlete.”
  • “I don’t want to say ‘luck’ fully but there’s a piece of luck, there’s a piece of hard work, right place right time, stars aligning, all that.”
  • “You can fake a lot of things in life… you can’t fake 24 hours of racing.”
  • “The longest race I’d done the year before was a half marathon distance. So it was like oh next year I’m gonna go and just do a 50-miler with no real running background, we’re gonna make this work, we’re gonna figure it out.”
  • “I was just this chick in the woods, doing all this crazy stuff like throwing rocks around.”
  • “Influencer is so weird to say now because I was just being me. I was just out there.”
  • “I wasn’t expecting this to be a job. I just knew that I wanted to document this.”
  • “You just know sometimes that it’s the right decision to make.”
  • “I was just your weekend warrior and then ended up with a career as a professional athlete, then an author, then a writer. I’ve built my own web series…”
  • “Just because people want you to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.”
  • “I learned more in that ‘failure’ than I have learned in any race that I finished.”
  • “I don’t think anybody’s keeping score… do whatever makes you happy”
  • “It’s all about succeed, succeed, succeed, success, success, success, but we’ve lost our connection to a lot of things… and now there’s a resurgence of people reclaiming that right as a human.”
  • “I make my own rules because it’s my podcast. My podcast. My rules.”
  • “It is one of the most authentically me things I’ve ever done.”

Follow the Leader:

Extra Credit Reading/Watching:

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One thought on “Episode 032- Margaret Schlachter, Obstacle Course Race Expert

  • Reply Learning By Failing May 30, 2018 at 10:57 am

    […] was recently interviewed by Leveling the Playing Field Podcast, and during the interview, I told Bobbi-Sue, the host, that the most significant life lessons I […]

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