American Stevie Kremer was incredibly nervous heading into her second-straight Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. She didn’t think she could win the race. She did. In the following interview, Stevie talks about the encouragement she and fellow American Kasie Enman gave one another, how she was nervous throughout the race, and where you’ll see her racing next.
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Stevie Kremer, Zegama Marathon Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Stevie Kremer after her win at the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. Nice work out there, Stevie.
Stevie Kremer: Thanks, Bryon. That was kind of a shocker for sure.
Kremer: Yeah. I would have never thought that I could win this marathon. Ever.
Kremer: No. You know, I was hoping for top three going into it. The downhill is such a key part and being that it’s super technical especially with all the rain and mud, I really didn’t think I could do it.
iRunFar: For the first half of the race you and Kasie Enman were going back and forth. Were you actually together at all? Were you getting energy from each other or were you already in race mode?
Kremer: I definitely think we fed off each other. She’s a very strong downhille–and uphiller for that matter. I think I had a little bit more on the up, and she had way more on the down. Every time there was a downhill, she’d fly by me regardless of whether it was technical terrain. I think every time we saw each other we were determined to meet back up at some point. Yeah, yeah. Maybe we fed off each other, but we definitely cheered each other on. When she did pass, I would congratulate her and same with her at me.
iRunFar: So there was positive energy during the first half of the race.
Kremer: Oh definitely, yes.
iRunFar: When did you sort of go ahead—when you sort of felt like you were opening up a little space?
Kremer: After you hit that final ascent, well what they call the final ascent on the mountain, kilometer 30 or so, I knew there was a lot of downhill. So in my head, Kasie was getting first. I knew she was going to pass me. I just said, Go as fast as you can on this. When it’s not technical, I can do okay. Then she never came. I wondered what happened to her. I knew where I was going. I was pushing super hard. But I figured she was 30 seconds behind me. In fact, someone told me she was 30 seconds behind me. Come kilometer 31, I just kind of took off and I never saw her again. I don’t know how that happened.
iRunFar: Not only do you have Kasie, but you have Emelie [Forsberg] and…
Kremer: Emelie, there was one point where Emelie definitely was. She passed me and Kasie on a downhill and then was a little ahead on the uphill, and then both Kasie and I passed her on the up. Then I didn’t see Emelie again. I did hear people screaming for Elisa [Desco] a bunch of times, so I knew she was somewhere close to me or at least close enough that they were screaming for her. But yeah, Kasie was definitely my biggest ‘threat,’ if you well.
iRunFar: You couldn’t let up even for a second.
Kremer: No. Even on that last downhill where there’s some technical especially with the deep mud, but even on the last 10k, last 8k, where it’s pretty somewhat smooth, I just pushed it as hard as I could because I was convinced she was right behind me. Even when it said kilometer 40 and I knew I had a mile left, I did not give up because I knew she could come out of nowhere.
iRunFar: Did that push you harder than you thought you were going to run?
Kremer: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, to the point that I was terrified running down that concrete. Honestly, it wasn’t until the last probably 500 meters that I thought, Maybe I actually have this race right now. Spectators were sticking their hand out and you’re waving to them and you’re like, Oh, maybe I actually did this. Is this possible? So I was not convinced because she’s such an amazing downhill runner.
iRunFar: Did you at least get to enjoy a couple hundred meters coming into the finish?
Kremer: Oh yeah. The final curve into it, for sure. That was great.
iRunFar: What was it like coming across the line?
Kremer: It was amazing. This race, like I said yesterday, just has something about the spectators that… I mean, this is a race you want to win because people just are so enthusiastic about this race. It definitely feels good.
iRunFar: Very shortly after you crossed the line, you just turned around and stayed and waited for the rest of the women to come in.
Kremer: Yes, well I figured Kasie was right there, right behind me. I was excited for her—my roommate of the weekend. I was super happy for Elisa and everyone else after that, but it was a shock when Kasie didn’t come right around after that. I thought she was right behind me.
iRunFar: How nervous were you at the start? You were so nervous yesterday.
Kremer: I was terribly nervous. I didn’t sleep much last night. With the rain starting this morning I wondered, Do I warm up? I don’t want my socks getting wet, which was probably really dumb because second we started we got soaking wet. I was a mess. To be honest, I know people say they lose their nerves once the race started. I was nervous the whole race. Just going back and forth with Kasie and with Emelie, who knows what’s going to happen in these races?
iRunFar: So you’re super nervous at these things. At the same time there’s almost a very looseness about yourself—when Depa [nickname for the announcer, José Antonio de Pablo] was interviewing you after the race and when you’re speaking in Castellano and sort of shaking your butt.
Kremer: I have to make light of certain situations. Every single person fell. I would just literally slip and just go downhill. In fact, there was a man ahead of me who would point to where I should run with the least amount of mud is. He was so nice to me especially the last 10k. It was pretty incredible how much he tried to help me. It was nice to be able to give him a hug. He wouldn’t even let himself finish in front of me even though he was faster than me. He let me have everyone cheering so we wouldn’t share. He was super nice. It was pretty incredible. That’s what this race is. Everyone is so considerate. Never once was I on the trail where a guy would step ahead of me. They were so considerate. If I maybe sounded like I was stronger they’d give me a little push up the hill and say, “Go, Stevie, Go!”
iRunFar: There was no machismo. There was no, “I’m going to get chicked.”
Kremer: No. No.
iRunFar: Like, here’s an awesome, strong runner…
Kremer: Exactly. They were super supportive. It was great. Yeah.
iRunFar: Wonder if that has anything to do with the female Basque runners being so strong and tough?
Kremer: Yeah, but you know, it was crazy, just everyone who even at the finish line, every single person was just so happy for me. It was really incredible. There was no sense of, I don’t know if jealousy is the right word, but everyone is just so happy for you. It’s just so incredible. You don’t have that at a lot of races.
iRunFar: In any sport.
Kremer: No. Right.
iRunFar: What do you have coming up?
Kremer: The Mont Blanc Marathon with the same girls. This race was really interesting. It’s early season. You don’t know much people have been training. You know, Mont Blanc is in a month from now and so you wonder what’s going to happen there. But it’s all uphill, which is great for me! So we’ll see how that goes.
iRunFar: So that’s your next focus?
iRunFar: Anything after that?
Kremer: I’m going to do the whole Skyrunning Series. Well, I don’t know if I’m going to do Canazei, but hopefully I’ll do Ultraks in Zermatt, but other than that I don’t really know. No tickets have been booked to anything, so we’ll see.
iRunFar: So it’s the Mont Blanc Marathon.
Kremer: Mont Blanc Marathon. And I love local races in Colorado and Utah for that matter. I think they’re wonderful. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak into one or two of those.
iRunFar: Just jump in and have fun and not be nervous?
Kremer: Oh, I still get nervous, but this is way worse than anything else. This is way worse, but yeah.
iRunFar: And now, you’ve gotten to enjoy it for a couple of hours, but now you jump in the car and head to…
Kremer: Yeah, my little second graders are waiting for me.
iRunFar: Gotta’ get back and teach. Do you have class tomorrow [Monday]?
Kremer: No, it’s Memorial Day. That’s why this worked out great. Thank you, Memorial Day!
iRunFar: Thanks for letting me know it’s Memorial Day tomorrow.
Kremer: Yeah, it’s awesome. So I didn’t have to take tomorrow off school. Thank you to my school.
iRunFar: Perfect. Well, congratulations. Savor it. See you later.
Kremer: Thanks, Bryon. Thanks for everything. Thanks.