Anna Frost broke the women’s course record at Transvulcania by over an hour and 45 minutes in winning the 2012 edition of the race. She finished 13th overall, besting many top male ultrarunners from around the world in the process. In the following interview, hear how she approaches running from the front, her emotional investment in races, where she dreams of racing, where she’s headed after running Zegama, and whether she’s single.
Anna Frost 2012 Transvulcania Champion Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here with Anna Frost, the 2012 women’s champion of the Transvulcania ultra. How are you doing today?
Anna Frost: Very good, thanks.
iRF: We’re a couple of days after the race and we’ve finally had a chance to take a couple deep breaths and relax a bit.
Frost: Yeah, it’s been a bit like that.
iRF: So looking back at the race, did you lead the whole way? Was there ever a woman in front of you?
Frost: I actually thought when we started that there might be another woman ahead of me because it was a pretty chaotic start. It was just black and it suddenly went from a wide road to a narrow single track so there certainly could have been a woman ahead of me, but then just up the road a bit they said I was the first woman, so from there on I was first.
iRF: Did you have any ups and downs in the race or were you pretty even the whole time?
Frost: No, mentally, I was good the whole way, which was cool. Physically, I had a real low from about 26k to 36k or so. It goes down and then gradually goes back up. It’s fast running and you have to get your legs turning over again after 26k of going uphill. My legs just wouldn’t move; they were just flat. Fortunately, there were some people around so I just got it in my head that I just had to get through that section and then it was uphill from there. Once I got to the steep section, I was fine. Then, of course, going 20k downhill is bound to hurt, so yeah, that was a big down.
iRF: You sort of have this, at least outwardly, this forward-looking, positive attitude. Were you ever instead of chasing the guys in front of you were you thinking, “Oh man, there’s a woman chasing me…”
Frost: Yeah, when you’re in first place, you’re always running scared, because you have no idea. I had no feedback at any time during the race where the next woman was or even who the next woman was. I couldn’t see anyone when I’d look back at switchbacks or wherever, so I knew I had at least a couple of minutes. But I wasn’t really too worried about it. I knew or I was pretty confident that my uphill was going to be strong. The only thing I wasn’t confident about was my downhill or if the girls were going to catch me on the down. So I just turned that into a positive, “Well, you’ve got to get down the hill in the lead, because you don’t want to be fighting it out in those last couple of Ks.”
iRF: Certainly. You also seem to be very emotionally invested in your racing. Do you think that’s true and how so?
Frost: Yeah, I guess when I race I race to win it, generally, if it’s a focus race. I put a lot of my life into it. It is my life. So this race has absorbed me for the last 6 weeks. I’ve been living on La Palma; I’ve been training on the course. I’ve done everything possible to make this race a winning race. So yeah, I’d say I’ve been very emotionally attached to this.
iRF: More broadly, you seem to have a really deep, deep passion for running. How has that developed through your life? You’ve only been doing the ultra thing for maybe two years now, but you’ve been running for quite awhile.
Frost: Yeah, I guess I found the passion for it in 2004 when I came across the Mountain Running Championships. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling and racing all around the world, it’s been a really nice… it’s worked well together so that passion has been kept alive because I’m always doing something that’s creating that spark again.
iRF: It seems from the outsider’s perspective that it’s almost growing in time (talking to you at TNF Endurance Challenge a couple years ago to now). You really just want to be in the mountains.
Frost: Yeah, I’m just really getting more and more intrigued and curious and I’m learning more. The more you learn and the more you know, the more you want to learn and so I’m in that vicious cycle now.
iRF: Speaking of what you want, do you have a bucket list of dream places or races that, “I want to go do that,” or have you not had the time?
Frost: No, I’ve never really had a bucket list or a fridge list (whatever). I’ve always just kept my door or opportunities open. People have said to me, “Oh, you’ve gotta do that race,” and if it inspires me and it works for me, then I’m going to go try to do it. But I think UTMB is intriguing me quite a lot at the moment and I guess from having a lot of the Americans out here this time, I’ve been getting a lot of the influence for Hardrock as everyone’s saying that I would love that. So these are things that I’m just starting to think about and wonder about if that could be an option.
iRF: Well, from your recent schedule and those dreams it seems you’ve really made a transition from mountain running to ultrarunning. Has that been a conscious decision or is it just where your interests lie?
Frost: No, I wouldn’t say I’m totally sold on ultrarunning. It sounds funny, but this was only my third [ultra] and, like I’ve said, there’s so much to learn. I still love starting at the bottom of a hill and running for 8k up to the top and calling it a day. But yeah, I think because I’ve had quite a bit of experience in the shorter mountain running, and the mountain marathon distance, I’m sort of getting intrigued and wanting to know what to challenge myself with in new things, so I guess that’s why the longer distances are creeping in. But I think I’ll always be involved in mountain marathon distances and shorter distances as well.
iRF: So you’ve been living in La Palma for 6 weeks now, where to next (aside from you’re going to be racing Zegama next weekend)? Where’s home after Zegama?
Frost: Home after that will be a camper van in France. So that will be my next 6-week home. After Zegama, I’ll have most of my time in and around the Chamonix region looking at the UTMB route and running that with the Salomon team just as a fun run around the route over a couple of days and staying up in the mountain huts. So that will be fantastic. Then, we’ll probably do the Chamonix-Mount Blanc Marathon there. Then, I’ll head out to America and I’ll have about 2 months there where I’m not sure exactly what my home “device” will be there, but it will be going to Speedgoat, which is an ultra in the Skyrunning series. Then, it will be Transrockies and the big weekend of Leadville and Pikes Peak. There will be a lot of Salomon runners there as well as all the other friends I’ve made through this running community. I’ll be there to support all of them.
iRF: What have you heard about Speedgoat? I ask that with interest because I live about 10 miles as the crow flies from there.
Frost: Right. I’ve heard nothing about the race actually. It’s just that it’s in the ultra series and I’m going. I’ve been a little bit in the area; I was in Park City a little bit last year, so I kind of know the region that I’m going. But yeah, I don’t know if I’ve been on the course at all.
iRF: Yeah, you wouldn’t have been on the course in Park City. This next question I ask with the knowledge of my girlfriend who suggested it for everyone at iRunFar.com. You’ve got a lot of guy fans out there, so I have to ask the question, are you single?
Frost: Yes, I’m single, BUT, the reason I’m single is because running is my passion. I’ve battled with relationships because I’ve got people in my life that I love having in my life but at the moment, running has taken my priority. It’s a really hard thing to do to sacrifice a loving relationship for going off in search of your running, but it’s fair and it’s what my heart says to do, so it’s been my decision.
iRF: You’re following one passion. Excellent. I look forward to seeing you follow your passion around Europe this week and around America later this summer. Congratulations and thank you very much.
Frost: Thank you very much.