This weekend Anna Frost will see what’s likely the most competitive ultramarathon field ever assembled in her native New Zealand at the 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Anna talks about hosting so many incredible runners, the top Kiwi and Australian women running the Tarawera 100k, the troubles she’s gone through the second half of 2012 into 2013, and what her goals are for 2013.
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Anna Frost Pre-2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
2013 Pre-Tarawera Ultra: Anna Frost
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anna Frost at Ben Lomond Station, New Zealand—your native home.
Anna Frost: Yes. Welcome.
iRF: Thank you. Having been here for a week, this is some of the best trail running in the world. Are you excited to share it with your friends at Salomon as well as the international audience through this race?
Frost: Yes, it’s really nice to have them here because we’ve been saying for years, or I’ve been asking them for years, to come out to New Zealand and share it with me. So we’ve really been lucky that we’ve had great weather, for one thing, but that they were able to come with the camera crew so that we can show it off to the world then. I hope it inspires lots of people to come and do some of the classic races and come and venture on the trails themselves.
iRF: Having just been here one week, I can speak to the inspiration. I came pretty much on my off season and did 135 miles in seven days, not because I wanted to, but because you can’t help yourself. On the South Island, is there anything or any trail in particular that you’d send people toward?
Frost: Right here we’re literally standing on the course for the Moonlight Marathon which basically comes from where you can see in the backdrop over the mountains and heads down to some more mountains. It’s a marathon. There’s possibly another 80k race coming into it. I can see a Sky Race here one day, and it’s something we’re working towards—bring Sky Running to New Zealand. It’s going to be a huge thing if we could have that here.
iRF: Maurino… Lauri, bring them here.
Frost: The whole South Island is covered in trails that we can be using. There are a lot of great walks in NZ as well—there are the traditional walks but there are thousands of others as well that are doable for anyone.
iRF: You’re kind of coming off your off season. You did run the Shootover Moonlight Marathon a couple of weeks ago. In the last year, you really shut things down. Can you tell me a little bit about what happened?
Frost: A lot of things happened. I pushed my boundaries to see what I could do. When you’re trying something new or learning something new (like a new distance), then you’re putting yourself at risk of doing too much because you don’t know where your line is if it’s something new like that. I went over that line. I stopped and I tried to recover a little bit by walking. I did a lot of walking when I was up in Colorado in the mountains. That was fantastic, but I think I probably didn’t quite recover as much as I needed to and probably got a bit of a deficiency in my immune system. Then it just made that my recovery was really slow. I went into Cavalls de Vent only just probably touching the line. Then after that I said, “Ok, that’s it. My season is done. I’m going home and recovering.”
It’s hard when you’ve got an opportunity like I do to travel with my friends and my Salomon family and go and support them at races. So I continued on the tour and I just got myself tired from the jet lag and tired from the travel; I tried to keep running and then not running. With the pain, I wasn’t getting regular treatment, and I just got myself to a really low, dark spot really which took me a long time to recover from. I got back to NZ and had a really nice rest. It was probably about six months with having this downward spiral.
Now, I only feel like I’m half way back to fully recovered. I’m only running an hour per day up until this week with the Salomon crew. I’m trying to get my immune system back because it’s still not firing. I’ve learned a lot. I think everyone would say they always do with something like this. I’ve also learned that I’m not going to get myself back to that place again.
iRF: How is that… you’ve learned lessons in terms of your physiology, but what about emotionally and mentally? What kind of a place does that put you in going into 2013?
Frost: Right now, I’m not focused on racing or winning. I’ve got my race schedule and ideally, I’ll get to that. But if I can make it through the year and I can run even just down the road or for an hour, then I’m happy. It’s really important that I get my health back; my health is a million times more important than a race to me. If I get to my first race and I’m not feeling 100%, then I’d rather not do that race and know that I can keep on running without racing. That’s going to be my goal for the year is to actually get through the year running and be healthy.
iRF: It terms of seeing you over here and at home, I’ve seen you in a new light. You’re so open in sharing your experience with the community at large and the Salomon team. You were talking about being the “Mother Hen” of the Salomon team, but you were also sharing and really organizing things with the New Zealand trail running community. How do you see yourself as an ambassador for the sport?
Frost: It’s still growing a lot in New Zealand. We’re just getting the word out. Salomon is still a tiny little dot in New Zealand. Most people know Salomon as skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand; that’s their most popular area of Salomon. In terms of Salomon, we’re growing. It’s races like here where we’re trying to get into and promote Salomon as a running sport company.
In terms of trail running, a lot more people are doing it because it’s so accessible. Anyone can do it and it inspires everyone. You can get last in the field and achieve your goal. That’s a nice thing; that’s why trail running is really for everyone. You can reach your own passion. For me, I love sharing that with New Zealanders, and it’s nice because I get such an amazing experience throughout the year. When I finally do come back to New Zealand, I can share it with them. I can share my experience. I think they appreciate that as well knowing that I come back and share it with them.
iRF: This weekend there are three races at Tarawera. Any perspective on the women’s field in the 100k race—especially in terms of the Australians and Kiwis which you would know?
Frost: Obviously, I haven’t raced most of them. I haven’t seen the form that any of them are in at the moment except for Ruby Muir, the young girl from the North Island. I think she’ll have a really good race—she’s strong, she’s fast, and she has a really good mental capacity. I wouldn’t put it past her of taking out the 100k. The Australian women—you can just never underestimate an Australian woman—they’re gutsy, they’re hard, and they can push and push. Anything can happen in 100k; it’s a long ways. I would say Ruby, and the other girls I’m sure are not going to make it easy for her. Then there’s a mixture of people between the 80k and 60k, and because of the nature of the course, you can kind of drop and change (between distances). So it’s hard to know what people will go to and divert to.
iRF: You’re choosing between the 60k and maybe a relay option?
Frost: Maybe a relay. I’m just being cautious at this time of year again. I’ve had a big last week with the team—even feeling tired just trotting over there. I’m being cautious. Maybe I’ll do the relay with the others and depending on how I feel; otherwise, the 60k might be really exciting. I’ll make the decision over the next couple of days.
iRF: It’s great seeing you hear, Anna.
Frost: Thank you. Welcome to New Zealand! It’s a pleasure—my pleasure.
Bonus Question: Barefoot Kiwis?
iRF: One bonus question for you. Down here in New Zealand, we’re all standing around barefoot here. At super markets and restaurants, it’s so foreign coming from the US and having spent time in Europe, what’s the story behind the barefoot Kiwis?
Frost: I don’t know. It’s too hot to put shoes on. It’s nice to walk around in bare feet. It’s something I actually didn’t expect when I was first in America. I’d gone into a petrol station with bare feet and the people I was with at the time said, “They’re going to make you go back out.” I said, “Why?” “Because you’re not allowed in there in bare feet.” “They’re my feet; I can go in there barefoot if I want.” Sure enough, I get to the door, and “Excuse me miss, you’re not allowed in.” I walked back to the car—I’m not allowed in with bare feet.” I don’t know. It’s just something we grew up with—either jandals or barefoot.