My Perfect Adventure
As a child, Alysia Montano wanted to prove she could be stronger and tougher than most boys, without actually being one of them. Montano, who grew up surrounded by her brother and several male cousins, once distinguished herself as America’s fastest female 800-meter runner, but she’s also known for another trademark: before every race she tucks a bright flower behind her ear, as a sign that strength and femininity can go hand in hand. Now 26 years old and an Olympian, she has worn her blossoms through every racing milestone, including four U.S. national titles, two NCAA titles, and a World Indoor bronze.
Even on her bad days, there’s no doubting Montano’s toughness. At the Olympic trials in 2008, a foot injury made it impossible for her to compete after the first round, but she didn’t let that get her down. She started rehab and vowed to make a comeback, and she did, becoming the world’s fastest woman in 800 meters in 2010 with a time of 1:57:34. And although she didn’t take a medal at this year’s Olympics, she’s keeping a good attitude. “[I got] fifth at the London Olympics; no medal, but still super sick to be fifth, keep on climbing!” she told Outside in an email. Still fired up to be the best she can, she’s also striving for balance, with an emphasis on taking time to appreciate life’s little pleasures, like the sweet smell of a flower. Here, Montano tells us which tropical island is close to her heart, how an older cousin inspired her to hit the track, and why you might see her someday on the big screen.
Describe your perfect day, from dawn 'til dusk. Where would you be, who would you meet, and what would you do?
A perfect day for me is a day when I wake up, my family wakes up, and we live to enjoy another day. On a perfect day, everyone in the entire world would reduce their consumption, reuse, and recycle, as well as exercise, eat healthy, and care for one another. A perfect day for me consists of the great outdoors, caring for the environment, family, love, laughter, peace, and new adventures. It also wouldn't hurt if Katy Perry came to hang out with me. In short, a perfect day would consist of loving the day like it was my last, enjoying the people and things around me, not taking a single thing for granted, taking life head on with a huge smile on my face, loving every minute of it, and going to sleep dreaming of waking up to do it all over again.
If you could travel somewhere you've never been, where would you go and why?
I’d love to travel to every little crack and crevasse of the earth. I love exploring and discovering new things as well as seeing the beauty this world has to offer. If I have it my way, I’ll travel the entirety of this earth before I’m 100 years old.
Where is the best place you've ever visited? What made it so special?
The best place I’ve ever visited was Jamaica. My family's roots are in originate from this tropical place, and I love the laid-back yet spicy lifestyle there, not to mention the culture, my family’s culture. My late grandmother, Doris Simpson, emulated everything that was beautiful about Jamaica, and I had the opportunity to have her in my life for 26 years. She had an easygoing, worry-free lifestyle where she enjoyed life’s blessings. That lifestyle kept her here for 100 years, and she was able to pass it on to all of her 10 children and grandchildren.
After Jamaica, it’s hard for me to pick just one place that I love most, since I see greatness in every place I’ve ever been. Especially since I love the outdoors, places that offer an abundance of outdoor activities often rank very high on my list of favorite places.
If you could have lunch with any adventurer, explorer, or athlete, who would it be and why?
If I could have lunch with any adventurer, I’d have to choose Bear Grylls, the born survivor from the TV series Man vs. Wild. I’d ask him to tell me all the secrets of areas I have yet to explore, and then I’d ask him to come with me when I go explore them, to ensure I live to tell the stories of my travels.
What's something you can't travel without? And why do you need it?
I can't travel without my legs ... isn't that obvious? I need those.