Stevie Kremer lines up at the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon as one of the women’s favorites. In this interview, she reflects on the craziness that is Zegama and the pressure she feels to run well, how her race went last year in finishing third (her post-race report), when she converted to running from her winter skimo season, and her history with our sport.
Be sure to check out our detailed preview of the women’s and men’s fields at the Zegama Marathon to see who else is running this weekend.
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Steve Kremer Pre-2014 Zegama Marathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Stevie Kremer before the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. How are you doing, Stevie?
Stevie Kremer: Oh, just peachy. How are you?
iRunFar: I’m doing alright. How do you love the pressure of international racing?
Kremer: You know, it’s always exciting to be out here, but there’s a lot of people here, which they’re all super nice, but it definitely makes me a little bit more nervous for this kind of event.
iRunFar: You definitely have had some experience last year. You basically did the Skyrunning Series around Europe and had some pretty good success. How did last season go for you?
Kremer: I did have a little bit of success. I think it was a little bit of success and a little luck might have been in there, too. I was living in Europe for most of the summer because I was in Italy the year before. Now I’m back in Colorado, so the training has definitely been a little different. I’m at altitude there without the technical terrain. We’ve had so much snow in Colorado that we haven’t been on many trails at all if any. Here it’s just very technical, so we’ll see how tomorrow goes.
iRunFar: This race in particular up on the ridge and that descent. You did race here last year and came in third. What were the highlights of the race for you last year?
Kremer: I have to say, the support along the course is pretty incredible and like no other race I’ve ever done. The spectators line the course patting you as you go up. It’s pretty incredible. I don’t mind technical uphill so much. It’s the technical downhill that I’m more nervous about. The uphill I’m okay.
iRunFar: How did that go for you last year—the technical descent?
Kremer: Pretty bad. Emelie [Forsberg] passed me pretty much right at the top. I know she’s a strong up and down. I think she’s even stronger going down. Yet, she passed me at the top, and then Núria [Picas] passed me halfway through the technical descent. The last 5k it smooths out just a little enough that you feel a little more comfortable and I was able to run a little faster at that point.
iRunFar: So Núria flew by you…
Kremer: Flew by me, but gave me words of encouragement screaming at me to, “COME ON!” I tried to. At least I kept third place.
iRunFar: But you almost made up to second place.
Kremer: I did. She wasn’t too, too far ahead of me on the results. She beat me by three seconds. But I really think did come in more like 20 or 30 seconds ahead of me. But she’s Spanish and everyone loves her and so I think she was just excited to become second. Then she saw me coming around the corner and, pffft, crossed that finish line pretty quick.
iRunFar: Through the rest of your season, you had some pretty good racing versus Emelie.
Kremer: Yes, but Emelie also did a lot of the ultras last year, so I think that definitely made her tired for some of the races we did together. I ran in Mont Blanc and then Limone, and that’s it. She did Ultraks whereas I did Pikes Peak. But Limone, she’d just come off doing that race in the U.S. in Vail.
Kremer: I think she was definitely tired from that. She’ll definitely be strong tomorrow.
iRunFar: In talking to her yesterday, she definitely almost looks at it the other way. She’s racing all these different distances, but say, you get to specialize in—might be more of the longer range time-wise—in this two-, three-, four-hour range. Do you think that is a strength having that specific nature to your training?
Kremer: You know, I really rarely ever run more than three hours. The marathons I’ve run in Europe are definitely a little bit longer. I think Mont Blanc was a little over four hours; this one is almost five hours. The marathons here are definitely a little bit longer for me. But in the U.S., most of the marathons I run are close to three hours. I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a run in the States longer than three hours. That could definitely play a role for sure.
iRunFar: This is close to your max then that you’ve ever…
Kremer: Oh yeah. This is the max I’ve ever run.
iRunFar: Last year here.
Kremer: Last year here. Yeah.
iRunFar: So you haven’t had a chance to train much on technical terrain this year, but you had a really good ski season.
Kremer: I did. I had a fun ski season. I definitely think skiing helps with running. I don’t know how much it helps with the downhill, but just to keep you in shape, it obviously helps you.
iRunFar: You also get to take a break from the pounding of running.
Kremer: Which I think is important to me. I like that balance of totally changing it up in the winter. I run maybe once a week in the winter on the road just to do something different from skiing, but other than that I primarily ski.
iRunFar: When did you switch back over to running?
Kremer: You know, we just got a huge snowstorm in Crested Butte two weeks ago, so I haven’t been running that long consistently I should say… a few weeks now?
iRunFar: Kind of like the rest of the top athletes in Europe.
iRunFar: How long have you been running in total?
Kremer: I always ran. I ran indoor track in high school, but that was just kind of for fun. I was never competitive. Then when I moved to Crested Butte, I started liking the mountains because I didn’t have them in Connecticut. I went to school in Colorado Springs where we had Pikes Peak really close. The summer after I graduated I ran the Boulder Backroads Marathon. That was my first long race. I didn’t do that great. Then I just signed up for a few marathons, but I never did great. Then I moved to Crested Butte and that’s where I found the mountains. My second or third summer after living there I entered my first race. I was dead last with my friend, yep, in an oversized t-shirt—I think that was my boyfriend’s at the time—and my lacrosse shorts. But I had so much fun that that kind of opened up the trail running/mountain running world for me which to be perfectly honest, I still don’t really know the difference between mountain running and trail running. I don’t know.
iRunFar: Does there need to be one?
Kremer: There is one. People argue there is one. I don’t know what it is.
iRunFar: You like to be on the dirt in the mountains.
Kremer: Exactly. On trails.
iRunFar: There ya’ go.
iRunFar: You’ve gone from being last at a trail race to being at the front of the trail races. Is it still as much fun?
Kremer: It’s always exciting and especially if you do well, you have this sense that you’ve really accomplished something great. And the way people treat you here is just incredible. And not only here, all the races you do, also in the U.S. There’s just a lot more of it in Europe. Obviously it feels good to do well in a race and it doesn’t feel so great when you don’t do well. But that’s the nature of it all, so…
iRunFar: You have Emelie again tomorrow. You have Núria. Does it feel like you’re just picking up where you ended off last year?
Kremer: Yeah. I know Núria is always going to be strong. This is like her place just like it’s Kilian [Jornet]’s place. That’s definitely going to give her a little encouragement. I bet Emelie is pretty excited and pushing because she did fall in Transvulcania, so she probably wants to do well here. But I also think Landie [Greyling] from South Africa is going to do awesome. She’s a great runner. Kasie Enman, she’s an awesome runner. There are locals here that are super. They know this terrain. I think it’s kind of anyone’s… it’s going to be interesting what’s going to happen tomorrow.
iRunFar: Do you think you can improve upon last year?
Kremer: I hope I can do a little bit better on the downhill. Although you did just scare me… even like your toe hitting a rock—you’re done for. Check your teeth.
iRunFar: Sorry about that.
Kremer: No, but I think, who would have thought Emelie would have hurt herself at the start line? You just never know what’s going to happen at these races. You just hope people still like you if you don’t do so great.
iRunFar: Well good luck out there. Have fun. Enjoy.
Kremer: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.