5 Things You Should Know About Me: Alexi Pappas

October 16, 2013 at 10:00am EST | by Barbara Huebner, Marathon News Service

Alexi Pappas ended her Dartmouth College career in 2012 by finishing third in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championships, a long way from how she began it: After not running during her last two years of high school, she couldn’t finish a four-mile run in practice, and as a Big Green freshman didn’t even travel with the cross-country team. After the Trials, Pappas put her two remaining seasons of eligibility to good use by helping lead the University of Oregon to national titles in cross country and indoor track when she wasn’t studying film, creative writing, and entrepreneurial business in a self-designed master’s program that reflects her multi-faceted approach to life. Now training under Mark Rowland with the Oregon Track Club Elite, the stylish, ebullient, and reflective 23-year-old recently finished third in the USA 5K Championships at the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K in Providence, RI, just five seconds behind 5000-meter U.S. record-holder Molly Huddle, and is in the midst of working on her second film. You can find her daily musings on Twitter at @AlexiPappas. She will compete in the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K on November 2, the day before the ING New York City Marathon.

  1. I ran during my first two years of high school, until my coaches gave me the ultimatum that if I wanted to keep running I would have to give up soccer. Among other things, I was opposed to 13- or 14-year-old girls having to choose between sports—I was balancing and thriving in both of them, and wasn’t ready to give up soccer yet. I played soccer during my junior and senior year of high school instead of running because it provided the incredible team experience that I later brought to running.  
  2. Not always being a top runner led to my developing other interests. During my freshman year at Dartmouth I discovered the “The Dog Day Players” improv group, and it was like the other half of me. I would go from practice to rehearsal, straight off the bus from a race to one of our sorority or frat-setting shows. Then I spent the summer before my senior year doing improv as a “park performer” in NYC’s Washington Square and Central Parks through a Dartmouth Independent Research award. I’ve also studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City in Hollywood while living out of my car and under my best friends’ beds at USC and UCLA.
  3. At Dartmouth, I studied poetry, and I think that was a really good segue into filmmaking. With poetry I was taught that every word matters, which translates into film through dialogue. I met my boyfriend, Jeremy Teicher, at Dartmouth. We co-wrote and he directed our first narrative feature, Tall as the Baobab Tree. Last year, the film toured the international circuit at festivals like Rotterdam, San Francisco, and London while I remained stationed in lovely Eugene, proudly running as a Duck. Now we are starting our next feature, a fictional coming-of-age film about a runner. I will play the lead role.
  4. I like to decorate my uniforms in ways that are meaningful to me. For the 5K in Providence, I sewed little shoulder caps to my singlet. While I’m running, they make me smile, feel sassy, and remind me to relax and have fun because fun is the best. We are, after all, a pack of half-naked people running alongside beautiful settings, sweet cover bands, and lovers of the sport.
  5. Some people met me in a YouTube video—which I did NOT know anyone was filming—where I’m shouting crazy bits of encouragement (“You are a mermaid!”) from the stands to my Oregon teammate, Jordan Hasay, on every lap of the 10K at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invite this year. I thought, “If I can surprise her and make her smile, it’ll make 25 laps more fun and make it feel like I’m by her side. “A true partnership means that when running becomes hard for you, you can rely on the other person and almost channel their strength into your own legs during your rough patches, and that you then carry them through theirs. It’s a delicate place because you have to admit to the other person that it’s hard for you, but it’s empowering as well. Not just in running, but in real life, too.