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Keira Henninger: A ‘master problem solver’ and race director

Keira Henninger directs 11 races, including her first, Leona Divide.

By Henry Howard

This month, I am featuring Keira Henninger as part of my special series highlighting race directors this year. One year after volunteering at Leona Divide, the race directors asked Henninger to take over the event entirely. From there, she developed her own races as her race company, Keira Henninger Races, was born.

Henninger now directs Leona Divide and 10 other races, including the Sean O’Brien 50, Ray Miller 50-50 and others.


Every month during 2024, I will highlight one North American race director who specializes in trail and ultra events as a way to highlight what makes this sport great. That is the people, the community and the events themselves. Previously, I wrote about:


January: Michele Hartwig of Ornery Mule Racing.

February: Scott Kummer of Ten Junk Miles. 

March: Kim Levinsky of Sassquad Trail Running.

April: Aneta Zeppettella of Empower Ultras.

May: Vanessa Kline of Beast Coast Productions.

June: Jason Green of Yeti Trail Runners.


If you have nominations for other race directors to highlight, feel free to contact me with your suggestions.

After taking over Leona Divide, Henninger "built all of my other races from the ground up.”

Keira Henninger: RD of KH Races


Question: Why did you get into race directing?

Answer: “I started out as a volunteer coordinator in 2008 for the Leona Divide, and I genuinely thought that all ultra races at that time needed vast improvements. I wanted to put on higher quality races and give runners a better experience than what was being offered.”

Question: How did you get your start as an race director?

Answer: “In 2009, the race directors asked me to take over the Leona Divide entirely, and the rest is history! I built all of my other races from the ground up.”

Question: What's the most interesting thing you've learned about yourself since you became a race director?

Answer: “That I am a master problem solver. I always say it’s not ‘if’ something is going to go wrong it’s when, and it’s all how we react to that.”

Keira Henninger now directs Leona Divide and 10 other races, including the Sean O’Brien 50, Ray Miller 50-50 and others.

Question: What's your best piece of advice for someone who wants to become a race director?

Answer: “Organization, organization, organization! Runners are paying a lot of money to run your event, and it’s your job to do a good job!”

Question: What's your favorite race to direct?

Answer: “Leona Divide, of course!”

Question: What's your favorite race to run?

Answer: “I don’t really run races anymore as I just don’t have the energy with how physical my own job is as an RD. I trail run almost every day still but just don’t have any desire to actually participate in races anymore. I love to run alone and still run around 60 to 70 miles a week on my own.”

Question: Tell me about a funny experience as an RD and what you learned from it.

Answer: “It is impossible to narrow this down to just one.”

Question: If a runner can only do one of your races ever, it would be … :

Answer: “Leona Divide because it’s so iconic.”

Question: Where can runners find out more about your races?



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