While Ellie Greenwood is a contender in whatever race she enters, as the 2010 100k world champion, she has previously proven her ability to run well at the IAU 100k World Championships. In the following interview, Ellie talks about how her year of racing has gone, her previous two tries at the 100k world championships, and her strategy going into Friday night’s race.
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Ellie Greenwood Pre-2014 IAU 100k World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ellie Greenwood before the 2014 IAU 100k World Championships. How are you, Ellie?
Ellie Greenwood: I’m good, yeah.
iRunFar: Good bit of travel.
Greenwood: It is a fair bit of travel, yes. I was lucky enough to break it up into two chunks with a couple of days in the U.K. Yeah, looking at the map, we’re pretty much half way around the world. I’m sure it will be worth it.
iRunFar: You are familiar with the IAU 100k World Championships. How many have you run in?
Greenwood: In 2011, that was my first year. That was in Gibraltar and was another course where it was pretty much five-kilometer loops. I ran it that year. Then in 2012 I ran 90k of it. This is my third one where I’ve showed up at the start line and hopefully second time at the finish line.
iRunFar: The one time you finished, you happened to finish first. How was that race for you?
Greenwood: Oh, sorry, that was 2010. No, 2010. I’ve gotten that wrong—2010 and 2011. So, 2010, it was all totally new to me. I had run a 100k as a qualifier and by that point I’d also run 125k, but it was still… it was my first real international race and my first time representing G.B. So there was a bit… I don’t know whether it was awe or whatever… Wow, I’m at the world championships. It was a tough race—the 5k loops, there was a little bit of a hill, I had a little wobble in the middle. Then ultimately, I think I took the lead with probably about 6.5k to go. Again, like I sometimes do, I rallied towards the end.
iRunFar: I was just thinking that.
Greenwood: Keep putting one foot in front of the other and have a little gas at the end. That was… Lizzy Hawker led for most of the race; she’s not here this year. Monica Carlin who actually ended up coming in second, she’s from Italy, I understand she’s here this year.
iRunFar: Having had that scenario a couple times, having not been in the lead—in contention but not in the lead—but really take that very late in major races, does that give you a lot of confidence to know that you don’t have to be on your ‘A-game’ or you don’t have to be pushing it from the start?
Greenwood: Yeah, it gives me… I think this is a more competitive field. I think you probably do have to be on your ‘A-game’ for a race like this. No, you don’t have to be in the lead from the start for sure. It does give me a certain confidence that I can go out maybe a bit more of a sensible pace. It’s not like, Oh, I should somehow get ahead and maybe gap the field, or anything like that. I’ll be more than happy for the first little while with the 5k loops here to get familiar with the loop for a few loops, hopefully sit in the pack and have a bit of company. Particularly on a looped course, you don’t have scenery to distract you, so if you can get some miles in the bank…
iRunFar: And it will be at night on a loop course.
Greenwood: And it will be at night, yeah, exactly. So if you can do that sort of in the mix with other women or that kind of thing, then that will be good. Hopefully I can do that because I do have the knowledge that I can pick things up towards the end.
iRunFar: Those who might not be familiar, the same thing happened to you at Comrades this year.
Greenwood: Yes, that was, I’ll be honest, I was running slower than I wanted to earlier on. People said afterwards, “Wow, that was great tactics.” It wasn’t tactics, right? I was going much slower earlier than I wanted to, but I kept on moving and got through it. Definitely again, that experience does help hopefully if I need to. I’ve had some pretty good speed sessions, so I think I’ve got enough speed for something like this that, at the end, I can use if I need to.
iRunFar: In 2011, you come back as the defending world champion and you were sick?
Greenwood: Yes, it was in Winschoten in the Netherlands and, I don’t know, it had been a long year of racing partly, I think. I don’t want to say I’d struggled through training, but I did get there and I think it was maybe just like I wasn’t quite in the right space for it, and then I started vomiting about 55k and I managed to limp my way through until 90k. I’ve always said, “How can people drop out so close to the finish line?” I had no energy left in my system because it was literally all coming up. I’d already walked from 80k to 90k except maybe 500 meters. You go, “Oh, you can do 10k when you’ve already walked 10k on a pancake-flat road.” It’s not like, “I’ll hike the trail.” It definitely is a slight regret, but at the time, it was like, “No, I’m done.”
iRunFar: How has your training gone for this year?
Greenwood: It’s gone good, actually. Obviously, I had Comrades earlier in the year, so I was mixing trail and road running but obviously building up the road running towards Comrades. Then I switched to some of the Skyrunning. So, the summer was nice.
iRunFar: Complete change.
Greenwood: It was a complete change. So, I got to do Speedgoat 50k and The Rut 50k. I think it’s left me fresh. I’m not mentally burned out because it’s been very different types of training.
iRunFar: That would be a huge year to start your training quite focused for Comrades. If you were to keep road running, how could you do that?
Greenwood: I think I’d be quite burned out mentally, not physically. Instead, it was really straight after The Rut, which was in early September, I had a little rest up, and then it was like, Okay, I’m actually keen to get back on the roads and to get back doing or being more focused on speed sessions and that kind of stuff. Yeah, there are always a few little wobbles along the way, but I’ve worked through those and I’m feeling way better than I could have anticipated. After The Rut, I thought it was a bit of a tough order, but I think it will be good.
iRunFar: It’s kind of interesting that you bring that up because the runners in both men’s and women’s races, but especially the women’s race, are crossover runners. They do both whether it’s spreading it out throughout the year or just in different sections of road and trail.
Greenwood: Yeah, and I think it’s a good thing to do because you’re using your body differently as well. Instead of hammering it out on the road, we’re powerhiking hills and on the more technical terrain. It just keeps you interested rather than, What’s the next race? What’s the next race? By the time you get to September or October, you’re like, I just want a break. Instead, I feel like I’ve had a break from road running and flatter trail running because I had that break in the summer. So, starting in September, I got back to focusing on this. I was actually keen to do it because it was so different.
iRunFar: Is this the end of your season?
Greenwood: Yes, it definitely is. However much I say it’s a break to do something else, there does come a point where you need a break. Yes, this will be…
iRunFar: Can you approach the race any differently knowing that it’s…?
Greenwood: I think what I’d say is if I have any niggles, I’m not saying I’m prepared to totally injure myself, but I’m prepared to get to the finish line maybe with, “Oh, I’ve pulled a little something or aggravated something,” because I’m going to take time off anyway. So as long as it’s not where you’re going to cause long-term damage, if it’s like, “Well, I’m going to struggle through something, and I’m not going to be able to run for three weeks.” That’s not going to matter because I’m only planning on doing easy jogging anyway. It doesn’t make a difference, so it’s got that effect.
iRunFar: You’re feeling… have you felt like you’re as strong as you were before 2010?
Greenwood: It’s very different because in 2010, I had way less experience, as it were, although I had run a pretty fast qualifying time to get onto the team in 2010. So no, I’m feeling good. I actually feel like I’ve got better endurance than I did before Comrades this year because I’ve had more of the year to build up having been away last year. Whereas Comrades was that I built up and then did the race, now I’ve had the summer and a good block of training. Yeah, I think it all feels good. Whether we’ll run as fast, I doubt it.
iRunFar: The course and the weather—you really can’t worry about time on this course.
Greenwood: No, and I think that’s when people do go… it’s a championships and it’s about positioning. It’s not really about time. It would be nice, I would like to one time try and do a fast 100k and try and improve my personal best. This isn’t the place to do it. Yeah, it will also be who survives in humidity and the turns on the course and everything.
iRunFar: Best of luck with the race whatever your time.
Greenwood: Thank you so much.