New Zealand’s Ruth Croft won the 2017 Grand Trail des Templiers with a combination of good fitness and a solid race strategy of going out easy so she could run faster later. In the following interview, Ruth talks about why she intentionally started slow, her late-race logistical snafu, what she learned through the training block leading up to this race, and where she’ll close out her racing season.
Make sure to check out our in-depth race report for the full race story.
Ruth Croft, 2017 Les Templiers Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ruth Croft after her win at the 2017 Grand Trail Des Templiers. Congratulations, Ruth.
Ruth Croft: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: You had a good race from start to finish. How does that feel?
Croft: I wouldn’t say it was good the whole way.
iRunFar: Where wasn’t it good?
Croft: At the 65k, the last climb. I thought that I was getting crew, and I’d run out of gels and everything.
iRunFar: And there are no gels there or anything.
Croft: Well, the crew was at the top of that climb. So I was like, Oh, no, I’m going to bonk, but it was okay, once I got to the top of the climb and got crewed. I was able to get some gels and more fluid on board, so it was okay.
iRunFar: Obviously that can be a mental challenge, but were you physically wrecked, too?
Croft: Yeah, I was physically and mentally, but then after that, Elov [Olsson] caught up to me, and it helped having him to run with for a bit.
iRunFar: One of your teammates and friends?
iRunFar: Before that, you’d run at the front all day, and when did you start pulling away?
Croft: I actually didn’t. At the beginning, I didn’t run at the front. I was actually quite a bit back. I didn’t want to start out too hard. I only caught up at the first aid station at 22k, on the descent was where I caught up with everyone. I ran with Emelie [Forsberg] for a bit, and then I was behind or with Ida [Nilsson] until 44k. Then there was a climb going into the aid station, and I was able to pull away a bit there.
iRunFar: When I saw you and Ida together, you both looked really strong. Did you get a sense of how she was doing when you were running with her?
Croft: I think she was stronger on the descents than me, but maybe I was a bit stronger on the climbing. It was awesome running with Ida. We shared quite a few kilometers together. It just made it a lot more enjoyable.
iRunFar: There was a point when you were pulling away pretty quickly from Ida and the rest of the women’s field. Did you sense that?
Croft: Yeah, but I still felt like I was running within myself.
iRunFar: No discrete move?
Croft: No, just seeing how it goes.
iRunFar: What was it like finishing here?
Croft: It was awesome. It was a pretty technical last descent, but you know you’re pretty much home by that point.
iRunFar: Did you have your legs back under you after getting some food and fluids?
Croft: Yeah, then it’s not too bad. That last climb is not as long last that first one up there.
iRunFar: Does this end your season?
Croft: No, I’m going over to the U.S. to do The North Face again.
Croft: Again. I know. Ever time I say it’s my last time, but I end up there.
iRunFar: You got in some good runnable training here.
Croft: Yeah, from now until then the main thing is just recovery. I think I’ve done most of the training up to this point. The main goal is just to get recovered. I’ll maybe have one week where I can get some mileage in, but we’ll see.
iRunFar: Before the race this weekend, you were saying how you’d sort of bounced around Europe before this race. Where will you be the next couple weeks?
Croft: I used to go to university in Portland, Oregon, so I’m going up to see friends for a week up there, and then I’ll be in Flagstaff, Arizona, for the rest of the time.
iRunFar: So head over to the States for the whole time?
Croft: Yeah, because it doesn’t make sense to fly to New Zealand and then fly to the U.S.
iRunFar: It’s a good layover.
Croft: Yeah, it’s still expensive.
iRunFar: You get to race maybe against Ida again there?
Croft: Yeah, because I think Ida will definitely go over, and I think Emelie may or may not. So it will be good.
iRunFar: Emelie is a possibility. She’s got other stuff to deal with. Are you looking forward to that, or is it scary to race these strong women again so soon?
Croft: No, it’s good to have really strong women’s fields at Les Templiers and also The North Face. This year I think it’s also going to be really competitive as it is every year.
iRunFar: You’ve had some other really strong races. Is this on par with your best trail ultra?
Croft: Yeah, but I think the main thing for me is it’s shown how if I can get myself in the right training environment, it kind of sets yourself up a little bit better.
iRunFar: Does that have you excited for next season? I know you have one more race this year.
Croft: Yeah, knowing that, definitely, because I think previously I’ve just kind of been on start lines knowing my preparation hasn’t been ideal.
iRunFar: You’ll probably be excited to run the trails around Wanaka on the South Island?
Croft: Yeah, I’m really excited to live back in New Zealand.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your great race here, Ruth. See you in San Francisco.
Croft: Thanks, Bryon. See you in a few weeks.