Amy Sproston Post-2016 Western States 100 Interview

Amy Sproston took second at the 2016 Western States 100, her fourth finish and best performance here. While Amy has proven a force to be contended with at races around the world for years, there are some races where she’s just ‘on,’ and this race was one of those. In the following interview, Amy talks about why she performed so well, how she weathered the storm of a sour stomach, and what she thinks her potential at Western States could be.

We’ve also got video of Amy finishing the race.

For more on the race, read our 2016 Western States 100 results article.

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Amy Sproston Post-2016 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here at the finish line of the 2016 Western States 100. I’m with women’s second-place finisher, Amy Sproston. Hi. Good morning. How are you doing?

Amy Sproston: Good morning. I’m doing great. I’m not sore. I feel like I could go run today.

iRunFar: I’ve seen you in a lot of different ways at this race. There have been some good races and some less-good races, at least visibly.

Sproston: That’s funny because I’d done this in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and my times have been 19:11, 19:25, and 19:36, so very consistent but very, very different races.

iRunFar: Yeah, sometimes you’re kind of hobbling around the finish line around the finish line afterward, but today…

Sproston: Yeah, I’ve never run around the track as fast as I did yesterday. Usually, I’m shuffling in.

iRunFar: Is there anything you attribute to feeling so good during the race and feeling so good today?

Sproston: No, I haven’t done any longer training runs. I think it’s probably one of those mysteries. I’ve probably averaged more training miles this year, and I also did a lot of lifting. Maybe it’s the lifting.

iRunFar: Strength training.

Sproston: A lot of heavy deadlifting and squats.

iRunFar: Okay. Walk us through your race. Things started sort of casually with the girls. You’re traveling together but at a more moderate pace than in the past. Talk about the early miles.

Sproston: My splits were actually… I had the splits from when I did 19:11 in 2012. I was kind of hitting those splits all day for the most part. But I usually feel like I’m pretty good the first… I’m not trying to run much faster through Foresthill generally, but then I usually… not fall apart, but I’m not super… people put a lot of ground on me the last 40 miles. So that was my goal was to try to move better the last 40.

iRunFar: And you did.

Sproston: I did, but I also didn’t necessarily until the last… I didn’t know anyone was behind me. I mean, you know everyone is behind you because…

iRunFar: There’s no one in front of you. Kaci [Lickteig]!

Sproston: No one in front of you… except for Kaci. I was at the training camp, and watching Kaci run at the training camp, I kind of assumed she would crush it. I was thrilled to be within a little less than an hour of her. I wasn’t actually… you’re always trying to not give up ground, but I wasn’t trying to… I had no grand notion of catching her at any point. Also, I was trying to not let people behind me pass, but you can get a little lazy when you don’t know how far people behind you are. I had no idea Devon [Yanko] was getting close until I got to the Highway 49 crossing and my crew was like, “Devon was four minutes back at the last one.” We had kind of casually run up that climb to 49. Apparently she was two minutes back at 49. So I took off. I dropped my pacer right at the start of the descent down to No Hands. Then I ran that section much, much faster than I’ve ever run.

iRunFar: And hammered the last… Yeah, Devin Yanko is not someone I’d imagine you’d want right behind you.

Sproston: It was funny. I saw a little black, a baby black bear right as I was going up Robie, and I could hear a huge rustling noise in the bushes right… This isn’t going to be one of those Kami [Semick] and Nikki [Kimball] deals where you like wait for the bear and then sprint it in. I don’t want to sprint against Devon on a track ever.

iRunFar: This was coming up to Robie Point and you saw a baby bear, and then what happened?

Sproston: It just ran off to the side. I could hear a big rustle off to my side, so I just knew I didn’t want to get between them. I was kind of already in the middle, so I just… you know…

iRunFar: Just went.

Sproston: Just moved along on my way.

iRunFar: You’re now a four-time finisher of Western States. You’ve seen this race in all different weather and all different conditions. Talk about the conditions out there. Was there any snow that sort of affected your race?

Sproston: I hate running on snow, and there really was no snow to run on which is good. Again, I’ve had pretty similar times here, and my middle time (19:25) was my third place. 19:11—I was eighth in 2012, and eighth in 2011. For me, I feel like a hot year is better because it really seems to affect a lot of people, and it doesn’t seem to affect me too much.

iRunFar: You’re Oregonian. It’s not like you’re…

Sproston: Well, you look at the top-10 men and women, Andrew Miller is from Corvallis and that’s cold. He’s now living in Flagstaff, but he’s Oregonian. Jeff Browning was third. Ian Sharman was sixth. I was third. I was kind of joking about the group-think predictions because none of us were… Ian probably has more votes than any of us, but none of us were very highly ranked. I feel like Oregon, we have a pretty good track record here.

iRunFar: You have a great track record. Given the conditions of the race, the climactic conditions, I’m always surprised that Oregon fares as well as it does.

Sproston: I think we also put a lot of effort into heat training. I think in the end, I had an ice bandana on and I almost was cold a lot of the day.

iRunFar: You’ve been eighth at Western States twice, third once, and second once. Do you get thinking about that one position up now that you’ve moved up?

Sproston: I think everyone wants to win States. It’s all about everything coming together on the day. Yesterday, my legs never bothered me. Usually, one year I had quad death by Michigan Bluff. Usually I’m limping around the track. My quads aren’t tender at all today. They feel great. I did have stomach issues. I started puking at Last Chance, and then I basically puked to the finish. I had a good race, but there were definitely things that could be improved upon for everything to click, although nutrition is one of those things that I still just always struggle with out here. It was better yesterday. I was trying to do 300 calories per hour until I puked.

iRunFar: And then it was whatever you could?

Sproston: I did that for six hours and then I switched to liquid calories. That’s kind of what I did, but I wasn’t getting a whole lot in after that.

iRunFar: Just trying to get in what you could?

Sproston: Yeah, get it in, hopefully some of the calories get absorbed, puke again, get more in…

iRunFar: In the last couple of years we’ve seen you do some wild races around the world and come back to the American home race of Western States. Where do we see you next?

Sproston: I will be at UTMB this year. Then I’m also doing Cappadocia Ultra-Trail in Turkey which is one of the future Ultra-Trail World Tour races. I’ve done another 50 miler in Turkey, and I have a lot of good trail running buddies over there from a couple work trips I was on that I just happened to be over there during the race. I know John Medinger was giving me crap recently for not racing in the U.S. anymore. I don’t know. I’m only going to get the opportunity to travel for a couple years in my life. I travel all the time for work, too, but it’s hard to pass up international race opportunities. So I’ve kind of focused on that the last two or three years.

iRunFar: So, UTMB and Turkey.

Sproston: Then I was going to try… It’s my 10th year of ultrarunning this year. I started… my first ultra was Mt. Masochist in 2006. I really thought I’d go back to that, but it turned out it’s a weekend or two after Turkey, so I don’t think I’m going to make it. Maybe Hellgate—I really like that race. Turkey would be a good end of the year.

iRunFar: Perhaps Doc Horton will be waiting for you. Congratulations to you on your second-place finish. It was great to watch and see you ride your highs with wisdom yesterday and not ride them too high and then to ride your lows smoothly. Congrats.

Sproston: Thank you. Thank you.

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com’s Senior Editor, the author of ‘Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,’ and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world’s wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

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