Full recovery from major injury, come-from-behind wins at the Chuckanut 50k (post-race interview, race report) and Comrades Marathon (post-race report), third place at the stacked Speedgoat 50k (post-race interview), and now this, a win and course record at the 2014 Squamish 50k, Ellie Greenwood has already had a year to write home about. In the following interview, Ellie talks about the trails of Squamish and her North Vancouver home, how her Speedgoat recovery and training since then has gone, her goals for the Squamish 50k, and what she’s training for next.
Be sure to check out our results article for the full story on the Squamish 50 Mile and 50k.
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Ellie Greenwood, 2014 Squamish 50k Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here with Ellie Greenwood. She’s the champion and new course-record holder at the 2014 Squamish 50k. Hey, congrats!
Ellie Greenwood: Thank you very much Meghan.
iRunFar: How’s it going?
Greenwood: It’s good. Yeah, I had a fun day.
iRunFar: It’s kind of weird. It’s super sunny. It’s clear. You’re back in here in your shorts and your sports bra. It’s a hot day in British Columbia.
Greenwood: Yeah, I don’t know where the people get that Oh, Canada, it’s going to be cold. This is pretty normal for Squamish in the summer. Even Vancouver, we definitely get the warm weather. The temperature might not seem super warm, even if it’s just high 20s (C) or 80s (F) or something like that—our numbers might not seem super warm but you get good sunlight here. It was definitely warm out there. It was humid, too.
iRunFar: Warm and humid. Everybody looked dripping wet.
Greenwood: Yeah, it does tend to get humid here. It definitely seems to be more humid this summer; whether it has or not I don’t know. At least we’re used to that, right? Definitely I was having to drink a lot even early on even when there was cloud cover early on.
iRunFar: Last time we saw you, you were rounding out the podium at Speedgoat in Utah. Now we’re here. That was sort of you seeing us on our home terrain. Now we’re seeing you on your home terrain. Tell us about your day out there. These trails are pretty familiar to you.
Greenwood: Yeah, I don’t run in Squamish tons and actually the trails here in Squamish are, I would say, less technical than North Vancouver.
iRunFar: No kidding?
Greenwood: Yeah, I would say generally. They may be a bit more developed here in terms of there are lots of mountain bikers that come here and they’re more than happy to share the trails with the trail runners. So there are a lot of mountain-biking trails and that kind of stuff up here. So sometimes there are little features that you have to jump off and that kind of stuff. But no, I’m totally comfortable with this kind of terrain compared to something like Speedgoat which has long uphills and long downhills. There were about 1,000 meters/3,000 feet less of elevation here. You have a shorter climb and shorter descents, so sort of more up and down, up and down and yes, more variation.
iRunFar: Talk about your recovery from Speedgoat. You went to that race and it was sort of your first time playing with a high-altitude mountain race. Did you bounce back as quickly or as nicely as you’d hoped you would?
Greenwood: Yeah, I think so. I don’t know whether it’s partly because maybe the altitude slowed me down a little and therefore maybe I didn’t beat myself up as much because I wasn’t running as fast as maybe my fitness would let me because I was slowed down by the altitude maybe a little. Definitely I took quite a down week this week coming into Squamish I think just because this was more like having fun, but I did feel I’d been doing quite a lot of training after Speedgoat and maybe I just needed a bit of a down week. So I kind of decided, Well, hey, Squamish is coming up, so yeah.
iRunFar: You basically took it out from the gun today and led the women’s field and put yourself solidly in the top-five men straightaway. This was a so-called training race for you, but to me, it looked like you were putting some effort in.
Greenwood: Definitely I put effort in. Catrin Jones who came in second and who won last year, she’s a very solid runner, so I knew it wasn’t like I could just go out…
iRunFar: A walk in the park.
Greenwood: A walk in the park. I wanted to get something out of it. Also there’s a little bit of… I don’t have to get a crazy good time, but you want to come away going, Yeah, that was a time I feel I put an effort in, rather than going away and going, I should have pushed a little harder. So, no, definitely I went hard. I struggled again on the big climb to start off with which was about 8-14k. At that point, Mike Wardian came past and another guy Dave Cressman and another guy. That kind of got me going. Okay, I should try and somewhat keep up with them. And they know I kind of love downhill which is fair enough as Mike had already run 50 miles yesterday. So that was good actually.
iRunFar: Awesome. End of the race, there wasn’t really a race for the women’s win anymore, but there was a race for second overall. Early in the race, you were quite a distance behind eventual second-place male finisher, and we got reports that he was nine minutes in front of you and then two minutes in front of you and then somewhere in the last couple k’s, you must have actually caught sight of him. Talk about racing him to the finish because in the end my photos show there was just three seconds between you.
Greenwood: Yeah, so I don’t actually really know Eric [Carter]. I’ve certainly never met him before. I knew I was in third position overall. When I got to the top of the last climb which I think is probably 4.5k to go a volunteer said, “Eric’s two minutes ahead.” Okay…
iRunFar: You’re going to have to work for it now.
Greenwood: This is going to have to… this is doable. I don’t know how he’s feeling. If he’s not feeling great then it’s definitely doable. I knew there was about 2k on the tarmac flat at the end, so I hoped that would be in my favor. So I came down the last descent on the trails and the technical stuff and I was definitely pushing that as much as I could. Pretty much as soon as we came onto the tarmac, I could see Eric ahead. It took quite awhile and then I sat on his shoulder and he knew I was there. So we’re pushing each other for sure. I just didn’t have enough in my legs.
iRunFar: So he outkicked you then?
Greenwood: He outkicked me. There’s definitely a little bit of like, he’s a guy not a woman, right? If he was a woman maybe I’d have found that tiny bit extra, whereas it’s like, it would be cool to come in second overall, but does it really matter? Not too much. And I’m sure maybe I couldn’t have caught back up.
iRunFar: But you have an incredible fire in your bones because you came just storming across the line, brow furrowed, leaned over, and said, “I’m pissed!”
Greenwood: Yeah, I think I was a little like… typically I do have a strong finish so to then to find someone else that reacts to that strong finish was a little frustrating. I do speed workouts with a running club every week. Just pretend it’s one of these workouts and try to drop him. I was kicking myself that I don’t really know Squamish precisely, so it’s like, Have I got 500 meters to go or is it 200? So I can’t really ‘go’ go. Whatever. I’ve got over it.
iRunFar: There’s that competitive fire that’s always stoked.
Greenwood: Of course. Of course. In a situation like that, it’s not like I have to be competitive for an hour which you have to be really motivated to do that. If you’ve got to competitively kick for 10 minutes, most people can do that in that situation.
iRunFar: Last question for you, looking towards The Rut which is a month away, your next race. You walked away from Speedgoat saying your weakness in mountain racing was the extended uphills. What are you doing between now and then to ready yourself for The Rut?
Greenwood: There’s a bit of balance. I now know I’m going to run the [IAU] World 100k on November 21. If I start training for that after The Rut it’s too late to switch. So already I’m going to have to start before The Rut doing some flatter road running which I think maybe is possibly in my favor. I think possibly with Speedgoat and before I knew the World 100k, I was thinking the Rut, Oh, I just have to go up as many hills as possible. That’s maybe not the case because you just get tired going up hills and then you might become slower. So I will go in again and do the best I can at The Rut. I’m definitely still training for it and I’ll still put a great effort in on the day. But I am going to have to not 100% focus on that. When you’re representing your country—I’m going to be running for Great Britain—at the World 100k, that’s got to be the number one.
iRunFar: Focus your attention on that. It’s a very honorable position to be in to focus your attention.
Greenwood: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations again on your win and course record and third-place overall—seconds from second—at the 2014 Squamish 50k.
Greenwood: Thank you so much.
iRunFar: We’ll see you in a month at The Rut.
Greenwood: We’ll do. Thank you.