During our first call for #BackyardBadass nominations, we received an email from John, a student at Garrett College, nominating his friend Paige Harry, “one of the most badass, inspirational and intelligent human beings” he’s ever met. A 23-year-old graduate from James Madison University, Paige works in the ER and as a paramedic with the local rescue squad by day and shreds the trails by night. In between shifts in the ambulance and rounds of ski patrol and mountain bike patrol at Bryce Resort, Paige also finds time to study for her MCAT. Her goal? To one day become a doctor.

IMG_1172“I’ve been around a lot of crazy talented, wonderful human beings in the outdoors and Paige by far, is at the top of my list,” John concluded in his email. “She deserves this to realize the work, effort, and determination she puts into everything doesn’t get unnoticed.”

We didn’t need any further convincing.

I called Paige early in the morning on a Monday. When she answered, I could barely hear her voice over the sound of garbled radio calls coming from the dispatch. She was already hard at work, and that’s when I knew we’d made the right decision in picking our first Backyard Badass.

Readers, meet Paige.

BRO: Where are you currently based out of?

PH: Harrisonburg, Va.

BRO: What do you consider your “occupation?”

PH: Ski and Mountain Bike Patrol, EMT, aspiring physician (currently in the process of applying for medical school!).

BRO: What are your favorite ways to go outside and play?

PH: Trail running, mountain biking, skiing.

BRO: And what is it about trail running, about mountain biking, about skiing, that you enjoy so much?

PH: I love being able to spend time outside and get away from work, school, and other obligations for a little while. It’s a great way to have fun with friends or get some alone time. One of my favorite things about running is that it gives me the time to think and reflect on my day or week while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

IMG_3006BRO: What are your favorite trails in the area to run or bike?

PH: Running — the Western Slope of Massanutten. Biking — Narrowback and Tillman West near Reddish Knob.

BRO: And favorite place to ski?

PH: Favorite East Coast ski spot, Timberline, W.Va. Favorite West Coast ski spot, Snowbasin, Utah.

BRO: Any favorite rivers?

PH: I’m not much of a water person…the power of whitewater intimidates me.

BRO: Best trail food?

PH: Honey Stinger waffles, Pumpkin Spice Clif Bar, or a tortilla with Nutella and peanut butter.

BRO: Name a moment when you were really proud of yourself.

PH: Two proud moments. First, completing the most physically challenging race I’ve ever experienced, the Ironman Triathlon, in less than 14 hours. Secondly, completing the most mentally challenge race, a 50K trail run in pouring rain, 38-degree weather, with ankle- to knee-deep mud the majority of the way. Luckily I had the woman who got me into running, Sue Malone, there to help motivate me.

BRO: Most embarrassing moment?

PH: I tripped over the paint of the crosswalk, or my own feet, and face-planted while running through a busy intersection on a Friday afternoon in Harrisonburg.

BRO: List one thing that scares you.

PH: Tornadoes.

BRO: With all that trail time, have you ever broken any bones?

PH: No, knock on wood, however, I had to go to the ER after a mountain bike crash last summer and the doctor was amazed I didn’t break anything. I had a deep wound on my arm, the doctor said my arm “exploded due to the hard impact with the ground,” but the bones were intact.

BRO: If you’re trying to get pumped up, what song do you play?

PH: Typically I’ll listen to a song that pumps me up but is also calming such as “The Intro” by the Xx or “Crystallize” by Lindsey Sterling.

BRO: Working in the ER can be stressful. What have the outdoors taught you about life, yourself, or other people?

PH: One thing I’ve learned with regards to others and the great outdoors, is that there is a sense of community among the outdoor enthusiasts or even those who consider themselves weekend warriors. Everyone is willing to help each other out and everyone on the trail is always open for making new friends.

Something I’ve learned about myself is that you can always improve and push your limits a little bit further. With my running career, I started with my first marathon when I was 18 years old. I did it just to say I could, but I hated it. Since then I’ve grown to love distance running. My best thoughts and inspirations often come to me while I’m running. If I’m having a bad day, it will always be better after a run. I hope to inspire others to start running or to simply start moving and to be more active.

BRO: Any goals for 2015?

PH: I am training to run nine marathons in nine days across the state of Virginia. The goal of the run (and the fundraising I did) is to raise awareness for childhood obesity and to educate children on the importance of physical fitness. Hopefully I can help inspire a healthier and more active future for the children I interact with along my journey.

BRO: Why do you think it’s important to make time to go outside and play?

PH: It increases physical health, reduces stress, connects you with others in the community, and makes you feel great all around! All too often we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the 9-5. We need to remember to take time for ourselves, to step back, and to slow down. Life happens fast, so it’s important to enjoy what we have and the world around us.