The first book Tiare read in jail was Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. She felt it was fitting, or even fate, since her life had recently turned around. She was used to running almost everyday by then, but there was no place for her to run during her three months being locked up. Instead, she read books from the jail’s library and taught yoga to any fellow inmate who showed interest.
“I had to cut out all my friends and all my old ways of living.”
Sober for over seven years now, Gnarly athlete Tiare Vincent had a life-changing day in 2013 when she was convicted of a third DUI, which came with a jail sentence. With one year between the DUI and her jail term, Tiare tore down almost every aspect of her life and rebuilt it. Today, she’s leading retreats in the mountains, running ultramarathons, hiking, and challenging herself to do anything and everything to make herself a stronger person.
No longer going out to the bar or clubs at night – or spending the days recovering from those nights out – Tiare was stuck in an anxious waiting period, waiting to get her time in jail over with. “I had to cut out all of my friends and all of my old ways of living,” Tiare said. She started hanging out with her two brothers, going for hikes with them several times each week. “We’d built this love for hiking because it was my new hobby, replacing that old lifestyle,” she said.
The hikes, time spent with her brothers, and time working on adjusting to a new lifestyle took up the daytime hours, but the evening hours felt strange. Not one who likes to sit still, Tiare started running at night. “I started running usually around 8pm without a headlamp,” Tiare said. “I didn’t think about safety. It was a fearless time because, in my mind, I had nothing to lose.”
The late-night runs turned into longer runs and even daytime runs. While on the hiking trail, Tiare took notice of the trail runners. She began reading books about ultrarunners to take up time at night, too. She eased into combining her two passions of running and mountains. “I told myself I can just hike up, and then run on the flat parts and run on the downhills, and that’ll feel good,” Tiare said. “I felt I’d eventually just get better and better.”
By the time her jail sentence came around, her head was clear and clean. “I had to switch that perspective of knowing this isn’t who I am, but this is penance for what I used to do,” Tiare said. “I thought that if I went through the steps then I’d find more freedom on the other side.”
Less than a month after getting out of jail, Tiare found freedom on the other side by starting her own company called Choose Mountains — find something you love more. Her intention wasn’t necessarily to link up to other individuals on a sober path, but connect with others who also choose mountains. “I just wanted to see what makes everyone else choose mountains, and what makes it so special to each individual on a personal level,” Tiare said. “I liked that idea of gathering stories.”
If every one of Tiare’s Instagram followers on Choose Mountains shared their story, she would gather 127,000. It turns out that, like Tiare, many others find that life is better in the mountains. “You just have to find things that give you joy,” Tiare said. “I think it’s best to find exercises or activities that make you super happy. The more you’re doing things that make you happy, the healthier you’re gonna become.”
Tiare ran her first ultramarathon in 2018, the Deception Pass 50k in Washington state, proving to herself that she’s capable of anything, so long as she enjoys the journey. In May of 2019, she found her favorite race: the Sun Mountain 50-miler in Washington. It’s one that she’ll be returning to each year.
Tiare’s life turned around after hitting rock bottom, but the mountains are now her stability, always there no matter what changes in her life. She’s happier and healthier when running in the mountains, and she’s created a community that shares this love.
Tiare is a shining example of the courage and strength it takes to change something that isn’t working. Who we were seven years ago is not who we have to be today. Tiare found something she loved more, and there’s no turning back now.