Aoife Cullen


When did you begin running and why?

By choice, in a more regular fashion, and actually registering for races maybe 2010. Before that, only when I had to in school, or sporadically in university. Back when I was still in Australia it kicked up a notch when I bumped into a work colleague when we were both running. Soon after we started running together and she conned me into signing up for a 30 km trail run… I’d never run more than 5km and never on trails. A couple of months later we did the Kokoda Challenge together, and the Brisbane half Marathon (I’ve still no idea how).

How did you find out about DCRRC and when did you join?

When I moved from Brisbane to DC in 2017, I wanted to know about running routes in the area and being new, wanted to see what was going on in the area and running is a pretty great way to find/build community. I found DCRRC online via Google. At first, I mostly just stalked online, and my first proper interaction was to volunteer at the George Washington Birthday Marathon in 2018, and a few months later joined in some of the training runs DCRRC organized for the Capitol Hill Classic. I still only stalk the SLR group online, I’m not brave enough for those distances, but I have enjoyed the G’town running programs – as a person who likes to sleep its proximity is perfect (please never leave this spot for programs!).

What are you training for right now?

To outrun the COVID-19 lb?! Nothing really for now – I had signed up for the Backyard Burn series and a few other races before everything got cancelled.

What is the toughest run or race you've ever participated in?

Probably the Kokoda Challenge that my friend Sarah conned me into, it’s a 30 km trail route around Mount Coo-tha in Brisbane (it’s named for the Kokoda trail – an Australian WW2 campaign). She’s a marathoner, I am not. Somehow, she convinced me to go trail running with her and sign up for this. She was a brilliant training buddy and navigator though, so I was really just baggage. It was in the *brutal* depths of Brisbane winter (hence the trash bags we wore at the start). That’s the furthest I’ve run to date… and probably ever will.

Two of the nicest that I’ve done in this area were the Sheetz-to-Sheetz run in King George this March – it was really sweet; it’s a trail, but a rails to trails route, so nice and flat, they had a scout cook out along the way, complete with s’mores, and each mile was ‘celebrated’, the best was a button on the 7 mile, halfway, marker – you hit it, and a line from Bon Jovi would play (“Woah, we're half way there; woah, livin' on a prayer” was stuck in my brain on repeat after that). It’s also pitched as not competitive, and about slowing down to enjoy, so that’s my ideal run. The other fun one around here was the Spook Hill run – a wine-stopper for a medal and free soft serve ice cream after – the best.

What's the most important lesson running has taught you?

Physiotherapy is expensive (and US health insurance is not like Australia)? So mostly nothing philosophical really – just if it hurts, lay off for a bit… oh and stretching is apparently important… though I’ve yet to properly incorporate that lesson.

What is your favorite route in the area?

There are some brilliant routes in this area – back when I lived closer to the Capitol I loved the approach to the building; seeing it from anywhere on a run never gets old (the hills at it, less so). I’m lucky that I live right by the C&O, so I probably use it the most (like I said, not a hill fan), and the CCT and Mt Vernon are my other go-to routes. I do want to do more trail running and get to know those trails more.

What race day traditions do you have?

None really, I’m pretty disorganized so I’ll make an effort to get the bib/pins/stuff together the night before and check the weather. I prefer to eat and have a coffee before leaving home for any reason, so I’ll make sure I’m up in time to do that.

What's your favorite post-race meal?

The best so far was the free ice cream after Spook Hill. I am not the person reaching for the free fruit and healthy stuff at the end of a race – I want the ‘good’ stuff.

What's your proudest running moment?

None really, mostly just finishing.

What's your favorite running book?

I can only think of three running related books I’ve read: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; The Incomplete Book of Running; and Born to Run. The tribe of Born to Run is really fascinating, I like Murakami as an author, so it was more coincidental that he wrote about running (and jazz, life, travel), so it ranks as my favorite.

What’s your life like outside of running?

COVID-19 has made it very boring; right now – I’m mostly working from home, working out from home, eating at home... btw thank you DCRRC for the facemask!
Outside of running, for fitness I like reformer Pilates, and I reckon the TRX is the most adaptable piece of workout kit, especially now with no gyms. I like to travel, luckily, I got to the home nations of Ireland and Australia earlier this year, pre pandemic; any more travel this year will likely be road trips. For work, I’m director of a technology transfer office, which means I’m involved in patenting/licensing of early stage medical and biological innovations.

What is one thing you wouldn't run without?

I would be facetious and say my shoes, but I have run a race in thongs (Strayan for flip-flops)… I didn’t do well. I used to think I had to have my headphones in order to run, but I’m kind of weaned myself off them.


Upcoming Events

DCRRC Burke Lake 12K
Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024, @10:00am
2024 Annual Meeting & Club Banquet
Sun, Mar 10th, 2024, @5:00pm
DCRRC Fort Hunt 10K
Sun, Mar 17th, 2024, @8:00am
Book Club
Sun, Mar 24th, 2024, @4:00pm
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The DC Road Runners Club is a member of the Road Runners Club of America and is also affiliated with USA Track & Field. We provide a year-round schedule of running events that offer everyone a chance to participate regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability.