Ellie Greenwood, 2012 CCC Champion Interview

Ellie Greenwood (Montrail) added another win to her already impressive 2012 total last weekend with her victory at the Courmayeur Champex Chamonix (CCC), one of races in The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc festival. In the following interview, find out how her race went, where she’s racing next, and what it’s like racing in a foreign country.

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Ellie Greenwood 2012 CCC Champion Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Ellie Greenwood after the CCC race in Chamonix. How did it go this weekend for you?

Ellie Greenwood: Yeah, it went well. I don’t know if it was different than I expected because I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously with the weather—we had snow and wind and rain which was a little unfortunate—I didn’t know if sometimes I felt like we were running in Scotland and then you’d look up and see a little Swiss chalet or something and be like, “Oh, no, I’m in the Alps.” But overall I had a good race, so I’m happy.

iRF: What was the day like? Did you actually get any vistas? You at least got to run during the day.

Greenwood: We at least got to run during the day, so yeah we got the atmosphere of that. It was nice that in the little villages, I think they may be a little quieter than some of them because the weather wasn’t that great, but still there were people coming out and cheering you on which was nice. It’s hard to enjoy the views, particularly like you’re going up and focusing really on the trail in front of you. It was pretty.

On the first bit when everybody went out too fast and I knew I wasn’t going to because it was uphill and it was the start and I never go fast either at the start or on an uphill, I ran with Maud Gaubert on and off for a bit. She would tend to go faster on the downhills; she was super fast. That I kind of picked up on early on that if we were close toward the end, I needed to be careful because there’s a downhill at the end and I don’t think I’m going to catch her. But I was also taking it a bit easier to start with because it was the start of the race. Then when there were flatter sections, which there were a fair chunk of runnable sections, that’s obviously where I tried to put the speed in. I felt pretty slow on the uphills. I’m not quite sure if my uphill training has paid off.

iRF: There’s also quite a bit of uphill here.

Greenwood: There is. I have to say I haven’t even looked at the stats; I haven’t downloaded my Garmin. I think it was meant to be 5,900 meters of ascent. It was obviously considerably less than that, but I’m not sure how much. In the middle, sort of about 45-50k, I felt I was going very slowly and a couple of guys overtook me, but I don’t think I lost that much ground.

iRF: You were originally signed up for the full UTMB. What are your thoughts about that whole distance in this terrain?

Greenwood: Now, I’ve definitely got more of a feel of what it’s like. Obviously it’s a huge amount different, and I don’t think it’s easy for people not to appreciate it. UTMB is actually 168k; our race is meant to be 100k and ended up being about 92k or so. So it’s a LOT longer. We’re not talking about, “Hey, just another 60k.” It’s probably more like 70k+. I would like to do it. It’s not that I don’t like running in the mountains. I just feel maybe I still need more practice at it. This was good practice learning. I would love to do UTMB. It’s far too early to decide for next year. Just the time element of being out there more than 24 hours which is still something I’ve not done in a race.

iRF: So you are going to get back on the racing scene in just another month here. You’re going to be at the UROC 100k, correct?

Greenwood: Yes.

iRF: Quite the field assembling there.

Greenwood: Yeah, it will be exciting. It was funny coming to CCC because I knew a couple of the women’s names but not really. I just knew their names, but I didn’t know what sort of runner they were. So in a sense this seemed a bit more relaxed because of that. I just ran my race; whereas at UROC, there’s a great lineup. It’s fun to have races like that. It sounds bad, but sometimes it’s fun to have races where you just run your own race and don’t worry too much about the competition. But then equally you want the races where you feel, yeah, it’s real competition out there, and it’s a different mental game for that kind of thing. So yeah, I’m looking forward to that one.

iRF: You’re definitely going to have some people pushing you out there.

Greenwood: Yeah, for sure.

iRF: Congratulations on your victory here at CCC, and we’ll see you in a month in Virginia.

Greenwood: Yeah, we’ll do. Thank you!

* * * * *

iRF: Ellie, during the press conference we were just in, you were talking about running in a field of predominantly non-English speakers. Can you tell us about some of the people you ended up running with?

Greenwood: Yes. I speak French—I have lived in France—but my French is not wonderful. Firstly, I was running with a guy, and I’m not sure if he was Italian or Spanish. He was talking either Italian or Spanish (which I don’t know very much of), and in a very loud Mediterranean way which when you’re trying to hike up a hill, it was really quite annoying. I kept saying, “Je ne comprends pas! Je ne comprends pas!” I wanted to say, “Can you STOP going on.”

Then I ran in… you know when you’re running along a trail and you just find you’re going downhill and you catch one guy and five minutes later you catch him again? So we’re playing back and forth and we’re having a nice little conversation in French which was fine and going along. I don’t how long it was, but it was a good three hours. We’re talking about things like, “Probably we have a couple hundred meters more of climb.” “We’re l’Equipe CCC and we’re going to make it to the finish together.” Then I said, “Je suis ecossais. J’habite au Canada.” He said, “In Montreal?” I said, “No, I don’t speak French well enough.” He said, “J’habite au Ireland, Dublin.” I said, “You’re Irish, and you’re speaking French.” So yeah, an Irish and a Brit spoke pigeon French for about three hours without noticing that we weren’t either French-speaking. It was good fun.

iRF: Such is the fun of racing in a foreign country.

Greenwood: Exactly.

iRF: Good seeing you again, Ellie.

Greenwood: Thanks!

There are 6 comments

  1. Barry

    "Je suis Irlandais" is actually what I said after 3hrs of pigeon french ! Being able to chat properly in times of need at least made the last 5km go by easier :-)

  2. Ellie

    great to run with you Barry! We got some 4:45kms in the last little bit – on my part due to the fact that I didn't want to get lost so was just hanging onto your pace. Nice racing!

  3. Dean G

    Ho hum — I won the women's race by a million minutes — again.

    As I wrote on the Rory interview, I've never seen such grounded super humans in my life.

    This seems like a golden age of ultras, certainly in terms of the humility and the genuine sense of enjoyment you see from champions like Ellie. My sense is there is a long tradition of this kind of "groundedness". I hope it continues.

    As for Ellie, I tried to explain her year to a non-running sports-fiend friend… The best I could come up with with was Joe Dimaggio's hitting streak.

    Thanks, Bryon, for continuing to give us access to some of the most amazing athletes on the planet. They are great role models. Period.

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