Australian Lucy Bartholomew is just 17 years old, but she’s already run several ultramarathons. This weekend’s Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon will be her third 100k. In this interview, Lucy talks about how she got into ultramarathoning, how her training has evolved since getting a coach, and what motivates her while she’s running.
For more on who else is racing this weekend, read our preview article.
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Lucy Bartholomew Pre-2014 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell if iRunFar here with Lucy Bartholomew before the 2014 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon. How are you doing, Lucy?
Lucy Bartholomew: Good, thanks. I’m a bit nervous.
iRunFar: A bit nervous for what—the interviews or the racing?
Bartholomew: Definitely the racing, yeah.
iRunFar: You’ve run three or two 100k’s?
Bartholomew: Two 100k’s—Surf Coast Century.
iRunFar: But this is a step up competition-wise, international…
Bartholomew: Yes. Yes.
iRunFar: What are you most nervous about?
Bartholomew: I’m a bit nervous about the speed but also just coming into a race with a lot of expectations makes it a bit more nerve-racking. People are expecting me to run well and I’m not sure I love it. I think I just want to be out there to run, but now I’m out there to compete. We’ll see how it goes.
iRunFar: So, you’re 17. How long have you been running for?
Bartholomew: I probably started running when I crewed Dad for The North Face when I was 15. That’s when I started really loving it. I started race permission from race directors when I was 16. Now here I am.
iRunFar: So you’ve done two 100k’s in just over a year—Surf Coast 100k both times. How did those go for you?
Bartholomew: The first time I ran with dad and we finished 12:15. It was all about getting through it. We were walking and taking photos and sitting at checkpoints eating food—it was great. It was just a really happy experience. The second time I thought I’d go out on my own. I did the training for it, and I finished in 9:36 and came second overall for the females. So, yeah, that was a lot tougher, but I loved it. I loved going fast and being out there.
iRunFar: I seem to recall overhearing a story in the last day or two of maybe you texting back to your dad…?
Bartholomew: Yeah, I finished and Dad was still going, and after an hour I’d had a massage and eaten and I texted Dad and I said, ‘Where are you? How far away?’ He texted me back and said, ‘An hour, or who knows?’ ‘Alright.’ Then he came through and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ He was like, ‘I need a…’ He’d done a really good time, and he didn’t get to appreciate that, but I wanted to go. So, yeah, it makes me sound worse than what it was.
iRunFar: It’s a funny story. What’s your training look like? You’ve only been for barely two years and you’ve running 100k’s. What do you do on a weekly basis?
Bartholomew: So with school it’s pretty hard. So I try and run in the mornings so then I can get back from school and do homework. I normally do… I used to be about junk miles. I’d just run because I loved it. I just wanted to go out and do 20k and stuff. But for this run I was trained by Mick Donges, winner of the 2012 Tarawera. He put in a lot more speed, a lot more hill sessions, and it was a lot more structured. So it was a lot more quality not quantity. I felt the difference. I’ve had a lot more spare time which is nice. Yeah, long runs on the weekends, speed, hills, and then just an easy light day.
iRunFar: Back in the U.S., people who are running in high school are running track and cross country. Do you have that in the Australian school system?
Bartholomew: Yes. The girls run 3k for cross country. So I can do it through the first few school levels but once it gets to anything above that, people are really fast. I just don’t have that. I think that’s what appeals to me about ultrarunning is that it’s not about how fast you can go, it’s ‘can you hold on?’ It’s all in your head. I love that.
iRunFar: So what does motivate you? The first time you were out there having fun with your dad. The second time, what motivated you to keep pushing at 60 or 80k?
Bartholomew: I think that after that it’s just about getting to the next checkpoint. I just love that kind of test of your head. I’ve done 60k, can I do another 5k? Can I keep going? It just motivates me. I love it. Obviously I can’t wait to eat some good food at the end and sit down and just know that I’ve done it.
iRunFar: Is it a school week for you? Are you just taking some vacation time?
Bartholomew: Yes, this is a crucial week. I’m missing a few SATS and exams. Yeah, I’m just taking a week off school and I go back on Tuesday and I have PSATS on that day. I’m pretty nervous about how that’s going to go, but this is more important to me. This is what I want to do. I don’t know. School can wait.
iRunFar: So when you’re home in Australia you’re probably reading or to some degree you’re probably a fan of the sport.
Bartholomew: Yes, definitely.
iRunFar: Seeing all the athletes, and here you are, in a room with a press conference and these elite-athlete sessions. What does that feel like?
Bartholomew: It’s pretty unreal. I can’t believe it. To be mentioned, to be in the book of the athletes, and to have your resume—it’s not as impressive as everyone else’s—but to be that 17 year old… I don’t like being called the ‘young one’ because I don’t think age is anything. Meghan [Arbogast] is 52, but she’s still winning. It’s amazing. I’m just psyched. I love it. It’s awesome.
iRunFar: Awesome. Best of luck out there, Lucy. Have fun.
Bartholomew: Of course.