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Mercury on the Run

Across the Years We Go

Dear Readers,

I hope you’re having a joyful holiday season. I celebrated Christmas with my family in Philadelphia and feel grateful for every year we get to spend together. I can only begin to understand the bittersweetness or sadness that the holidays bring for some, if not many, that have experienced loss in some way. I have been doing my best to honor those feelings of my own while counting my lucky stars for the loved ones in my life.

Speaking of lucky stars, say hello to my updated starry logo (above) designed by Anna Trella Ruth Miller, celebrating two years of Mercury on the Run! I started this newsletter in December 2020 as a way to keep in touch with those that followed along my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Essentially a blog, I’ve shared bits of my story in real time, a lot of it running- and hiking-related, sometimes more philosophical, and some of it quite personal. Here’s a look at the starry runner icon all by itself. I love it so much!

My hope for the direction of the newsletter is to continue sharing about my journey as an athlete and artist/musician, the intersectionality of the disciplines, and lessons learned from both that could be applied to any facet of life. I hope my stories can be insightful, inspirational, and relatable.

The stories I enjoy looking back on the most are the accounts of my two thru-hikes this year, the Pinhoti Trail and Long Trail. The Pinhoti Trail was my first solo backpacking trek and the Long Trail was my third and successful attempt at an FKT on that trail. If your agenda is anything like mine over the next few days, they’re nice long reads to kick back and cozy up with over coffee or tea.

I learned yesterday that my Long Trail hike had been nominated and voted by the FKT community as the #5 Fastest Known Time of the Year. I honestly didn’t even think I’d get nominated, there were so many deserving efforts, so that was a nice surprise!

Looking ahead, here are a few things I'll be up to in 2023:

  • Literally running from 2022 into 2023 at Across the Years, a running festival in Phoenix that takes place on a slightly-over-one mile loop with fixed-timed events ranging from 6 hours to 6 days. I’ll be joining the “Last Person Standing” event, where runners start the one+ mile loop together every 15 minutes and cross the finish line of the loop before the 15 minutes is up. The event will continue until there is only one person left. Seems easy enough, right? But how many times can you complete a one mile loop in 15 minutes before it starts to get reeeeeally uncomfortable? This will be my first time doing this sort of event and I’m very curious to see how it goes! Some names I recognize on the start list include Jeff Garmire who won last year and has done all sorts of FKTs and thru-hikes, Paul Nielson last year’s runner-up, and Eric Hallsten who I followed during his Arizona Trail FKT attempt earlier this year. There are 17 people signed up so far and three are women including myself. This should be a lot of fun and I’m excited to see how it all shakes out! The event starts at noon MT on NYE and you can follow Aravaipa Running for updates.


  • Save the date January 26th - I’m partnering up with Green Mountain Club to present a talk, “A Woman Alone in the Woods at Night”. I hope you can join!


  • Diving into my second semester at Longy School of Music, where I’m working toward my Master of Music in Collaborative Piano, and putting on my First Year Recital late this spring, date TBA. If you’re in the Boston area I hope you can come!


  • Hiking a section of the Arizona Trail with a friend over spring break. We’ll be in the more southern end near Tucson. This will be my first time hiking and camping in the desert. If you’ve got any tips for me, send away!


  • Thru-hiking the Colorado Trail this summer with company. This is one I’m already daydreaming about a lot. The planning has started and I can’t wait to share more as it all unfolds.

Cheers to another year around the sun and all the best to you and yours in 2023!

💫

Thanks for reading. Whenever I send these letters out into the world, I never know who it might reach or how it might make even a small impact. Your support encourages me to keep going, plus it keeps the newsletter sustainable. Thank you to everyone who has done so!

Here are the most impactful ways you can support Mercury on the Run:

-Buy me a coffee. This helps to cover expenses for the newsletter platform, website, and domain; paying artists like Anna Trella Ruth Miller for creating my new logo; and supporting me/my work directly.

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-Become a monthly member. This serves as sustainable support for all of the above, plus it comes with perks like handwritten notes and goodies from me. I have a new project bubbling up in the works for members involving more artwork by Anna and inspiring words by yours truly. Join for $5/month.

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-Forward this letter or share a link to the web version with someone you know that would enjoy it too. Quotes and screenshots on social media are welcome.

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Liz Derstine, trail name “Mercury”, is a distance runner, endurance hiker, writer, and musician residing in Greater Boston. She holds fastest known times for women on the Appalachian Trail (supported, northbound), Long Trail (self-supported), and Pinhoti Trail (self-supported).