Tammi Braund is a trail runner, a cross country coach and a mother of six. Last year, Tammi ran the Voyageur 50 mile a mere five days after her oldest daughter Jordan was in a serious car accident. Jordan’s accident caused her to ultimately lose both her legs.
After last year’s Voyageur 50 mile, I spoke with Tammi about what motivated her to run Voyageur while Jordan was still in the hospital and what her Voyageur experience was like.
Before I share Tammy’s Voyageur 50 mile story, a really cool sidenote: In addition to being mother and daughter, Tammi and Jordan share another special connection. Long before Tammi started running ultras, Tammi was a sprinter… and she was fast. In fact, Tammi held the 100 meter record at St. Croix Falls High School for 22 years! When Tammi’s 100 meter record was finally broken in 2018, it was broken by none other than her daughter Jordan.
First, how did you transition from being a high school sprinter to a trail and ultrarunner?
I used to not be able to run farther than 200 meters without gasping for air, as I have had asthma since age ten. I got the asthma under control and, once I got pregnant with my first child (of six), I wanted to get in better shape. I started walking everyday and running little by little. I started out with 5ks and gradually increased the distance to 50-mile ultra races.
Last year, a week before the Voyaguer 50 mile, your daughter Jordan was in a serious car accident. Did you ever consider not running Voyageur?
Voyageur was five days after my daughter’s accident. When my daughter was in her head-on car accident in July — where her car spun around, flipped over, and started on fire — my world stopped. I didn’t eat for four days. I didn’t sleep for four days. I had trained a lot before the accident, but I had no desire afterwards. I did manage a 12 mile run the Thursday before Voyager, but it was rough.
I had people asking me if I was still going to run Voyageur with my daughter in the hospital. I had mixed emotions. I wanted to run it because I love to run and be out on the trails, but I didn’t want to leave her side. She told me to go run it, so I could be strong for her. I had running friends that said it would be good for me to get away for a bit.
What motivated you to run Voyageur 50?
I first ran Voyager last year. I started running long distance six years ago and have increased my distance to 50 miles. I like to test my body’s limits and see how much I can do.
The motivation this year came from my daughter though. I figured if she’s in the hospital hooked up to tubes and wires and missing her leg, I can run 50 miles and deal with the pain as I still had both my legs. My daughter was always active in sports: volleyball, basketball, soccer, track, and powerlifting. She has always done well; she’s a state track runner and national champion powerlifter!
I run right now because Jordan currently can’t, and she so desperately wants to. I run early in the morning before most people are awake and moving about. It’s cool and quiet and peaceful. I can go farther and longer. Running is my escape.
What was the highlight of running Voyageur 50?
The highlight of my 50 mile Voyager race this year was finishing and not hurting myself. Last year, I rolled my ankle bad. This year, I finished and was proud I battled it out for my daughter who had been planning to come volunteer, watch and cheer.
What was most challenging when running Voyageur?
The challenging part was running 50 miles on no sleep and very few calories in the five days leading up to the race. I felt weak but kept going, with a determination to cross the finish line. I did finish, and it was awesome! My 9-year-old was there to hug me, and then the pain set in. But, it was nothing compared to my daughter’s pain from her accident.
I can’t wait to run Voyageur again next year, and I have seriously thought about trying out 100 miles. Yeah, I’m told I am crazy all the time, but you’ve gotta have goals to work for.
What have you gained from running ultras that you don’t get from raising kids?
I love running. It’s my escape. It’s my way to stay healthy. My daughter is still in the hospital and has been there since July 22nd. She has had ten surgeries so far and has more to come. She has lost one leg and possibly the other one… a long road ahead! So, I run to try to not go insane.
How is your daughter Jordan doing now?
Currently, Jordan is doing amazing. She has had special powerlifting feet made for her, and she will be attending college for powerlifting, with dreams and goals of opening her own lifting gym one day. She has been amazing at achieving her dreams, so she is gonna keep making new goals! She has so much determination and dedication for life and family and lifting. It puts a smile on anyone’s face when they sit down and talk with her.
With this year’s Voyageur 50 cancelled, what role is running playing in your life?
I had been training like crazy this year, as there hasn’t been much else to do with the covid here. Lots of running and training, with the hope of improving my time from last year and redeeming myself in this year’s race. I was sad to see Voyageur cancelled, but I hope to be there next year.
I run right now because Jordan currently can’t, and she so desperately wants to. I run early in the morning before most people are awake and moving about. It’s cool and quiet and peaceful. I can go farther and longer. Running is my escape from things. I can let my mind go and just feel the air around me and see where I end up.