Paddy O’Leary on Racing Horses, Fell Running, Lacrosse, & How to Build Community (Ep.128)

Paddy O’Leary’s path from the farm he grew up on in Wexford, Ireland to becoming an elite runner for The North Face is by no means a linear one. Long before he started running, Paddy spent much of his early 20s growing the sport of lacrosse in Ireland. After leading his country’s national team to their first European Championship finals appearance in 2012, he followed an opportunity to pursue cancer research to San Francisco, where, through community building — and a bit of speed — Paddy quickly took the US trail running scene by storm. So, we sat down with Paddy (and his charming Irish brogue) to talk about all of that and more — including, how he ended up racing on the trails (with and without a horse); fell running; the Wicklow Round; and toeing the line at the oldest trail race in North America.


  • What is “ride & tie” racing? (1:33)
  • Growing up on a dairy farm (6:31)
  • Lacrosse abroad (9:36)
  • Fell running & jailbreaks (13:37)
  • A brief history of Irish mountain running (22:48)
  • How Paddy ended up in San Francisco (33:15)
  • Building community (35:54)
  • Western States 100 & the Dipsea Race (40:45)
  • What’s next? (50:36)