If you go

What: A run, book reading and signing with Katie Arnold, author of “Running Home.”

Where: FootZone running store in Bend, 842 NW Wall St.

When: Wednesday, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Contact: www.footzonebend.com or 541-317-3568.

The only thing that could quell Katie Arnold’s acute anxiety was running.

And not just routine jogging or hitting the treadmill, but long-distance running alone in nature across mesas and mountains.

After her father died of cancer in 2010, Arnold — an accomplished writer and contributing editor for Outside magazine — suffered from an intense fear of death. Her first book, “Running Home,” is a memoir about how running helped her overcome her grief and better understand her relationship with her father, who was a photographer for National Geographic. The book was released this month and is gaining national acclaim.

Arnold, 47, is touring to promote her book and will be at the FootZone running store in Bend on Wednesday for a short group run, followed by readings from the book and discussion. (See If You Go).

“I know that Bend is such a big running and ultra community, that it just seemed to make sense,” Arnold says.

Arnold — who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at 7,000 feet and runs along nearby mountains as high as 12,600 feet — won the grueling Leadville Trail 100 Run through the Colorado Rockies last August. The victory in her first 100-mile race came right around the time she was finishing her book.

“That was a real convergence of everything in my life coming together at the exact right moment,” Arnold says, “my running and training, and also being a writer and being in the final stages of writing this book about how running had healed me. And then also as a mother, because I write a lot about balancing the two in my book. My children came to Leadville with me.”

Arnold was raised in New Jersey but moved to Santa Fe in her 20s, and she now lives there with her husband and her two daughters, ages 10 and 8.

She moved to Santa Fe to take an internship at Outside, which is based there. She evolved into a writer who covered adventure athletes, immersing herself in their culture and endeavors. In 2006, reporting for a story on female rock climber Steph Davis, she ended up climbing the famed Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

“And I am not a rock climber,” Arnold says. “That’s my style of reporting: full immersion, just do what they’re doing. I think I learned that from my dad. Don’t try to change the story, but be there to capture it.”

Also in 2006, Arnold “accidentally” ran her first marathon while working on an article about Dean Karnazes, a California man who was attempting to run a marathon in each of the 50 states in 50 consecutive days.

“He was coming through Albuquerque (New Mexico) and I wanted to interview him while he was running,” Arnold says. “I told him I’d meet him 6 miles from the finish and run the last 6 miles with him. He said, ‘No, meet me at the start.’”

By mile 14, her tape recorder hanging around her neck, Arnold was fully committed to completing the 26.2 miles.

“Dean gave me some advice: Just run to the next tree,” Arnold recalls. “And keep running from tree to tree. That was how he broke down ultra races. So I thought I could do that.”

Arnold has been a runner since she was 7, when she entered a 10-kilometer race on a lark after her father suggested it. She loved it, and she grew up running after that, not competitively but just on her own.

Arnold says she and her father were “kindred spirits.”

“He taught me how to look at the world as a photographer,” she says. “And a photographer is a storyteller just like a writer, just in different form.”

After her father died, Arnold was left dealing with the profound grief while raising an infant and a toddler. For about a year to 18 months, she says, she went through a phase in which she was certain she was dying, too.

“If I heard a report about some rare form of cancer or a disease, I would feel like I was getting that,” she says. “It was really confusing and scary. And I think it was just my way of grieving my father.”

Arnold tried a variety of alternative therapies to handle her anxiety and grief, but running alone through the wilderness, she says, was what ultimately healed her. She says that running, after a few miles, took her away from irrational thoughts and helped her leave her worries behind. Ultrarunning, which includes distances of a marathon or longer, also taught her how to take care of herself out on the trail.

“In the way grief works, it was all sort of fumbling, you don’t know what’s around the next bend,” she says. “I just knew that every day, running felt good. And little by little, it took me places that I never would have imagined. Like my first ultra (Leadville), which I won.”

Arnold says that running outdoors provides therapy she cannot find indoors on a treadmill or elliptical.

“I need to be out, connected to this world that is much bigger than me,” she says. “It doesn’t make me feel insignificant or small — it makes me feel part of a whole.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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