Shorter-distance specialist Megan Kimmel really brought it with her second place at this weekend’s The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In this interview, Megan talks about why she decided to do this race given her two previous rough goes at it, what her success here might mean for the future, and her theories on training and racing.
For more information on how the race played out, check out our results article.
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Megan Kimmel Post-2014 TNF EC 50 Mile Champion Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Megan Kimmel after her second place finish at The North Face 50 Mile Championships. Megan, this is one heck of an ultra you ran.
Megan Kimmel: Yeah, I feel pretty good with it.
iRunFar: You transitioned to trying these a couple years ago and this has to be your best performance, right? By a ways?
Kimmel: Yeah, definitely. Yes.
iRunFar: What have you changed to make that leap from being a stellar shorter-distance mountain runner?
Kimmel: I really don’t think I’ve changed a lot. I really just have less stress in my life. I was coming out here for the last couple years to get them under my belt, but I was always crunched for time as far as training goes and just stressed out. My head was on top of my shoulders but only physically really. That, I think, really is the difference between the last couple years and this year.
iRunFar: So you made a clear choice. I need to change my life to run better?
Kimmel: Yeah, kind of actually. You only have an opportunity for so long, and I can’t expect it to be around forever. I feel lucky to be able to travel the country and the world racing, so I want to keep it going.
iRunFar: I seem to remember when I saw you down in Moab where you won the Moab Trail Marathon, and I’m pretty sure you said, “I’m not racing The North Face.”
Kimmel: I could have said that. I only booked the ticket really like 10 days ago.
iRunFar: What changed your mind?
Kimmel: Actually, this might give people a different impression of me, but I was coming home from the Moab trail race and it was dark out already and I said, Huh, should I do The North Face? I felt really good at the marathon. As I was asking myself that I was looking up into the sky and the constellation Orion was really shooting in the direction of the mood. So to me it kind of meant, “Shoot for the moon,” which kind of was really, probably, ultimately the reason I booked the ticket.
iRunFar: It was in the stars.
Kimmel: It was in the stars. Yeah, I don’t always choose my races like that, but this one I really did.
iRunFar: It kind of worked out for you.
Kimmel: Yeah, it did. Go figure.
iRunFar: Having this under your belt, does it make you want to switch a little bit more into the ultra world?
Kimmel: It’s always been a desire, for sure, but I don’t want to drop what I’ve got going on. I still want to try out for the [U.S] Mountain Running Team this next year which is an 8k race for the ladies, and there are some other short-distance races that I still get a thrill out of. To be honest, I still have a lot of passion for the half marathons and the marathons out there. I certainly want to come back to this race next year. The timing has always been good for me and the area is great. I guess there are a lot of things in the shorter-distance world that I’m not really ready to let go of quite yet.
iRunFar: Do you have any particular races on your schedule for next year?
Kimmel: The USATF championships are always a really good showing and more and more every year.
iRunFar: So the various disciplines?
Kimmel: Yeah, so within that I’m going to try to get out for the 50k, so that counts barely.
iRunFar: Where is it held next year?
Kimmel: Someone told me it’s out here somewhere—actually probably in this area. I’ve got the chance to go out to Zermatt for the marathon. I might do that. I’ve been wanting to do the Skyrunning Series for a really long time. I did it back in 2010. So, if I can pull it together to get that done, that’s kind of the runner I am. I live at altitude.
iRunFar: You love the mountains.
Kimmel: I love the mountains.
iRunFar: But clearly you can get it done on other terrain—your Moab Trail Marathon, taking second here.
Kimmel: It’s funny because I do live in the mountains and it’s almost why I enjoy the different terrain that I race on. I actually do like more mellow trails rather than… I don’t know about mellow trails but trails rather than mountain running per se.
iRunFar: You don’t want to just do rocks?
Kimmel: Yeah, I do so much of that back home. A course like this, to me, is beautiful.
iRunFar: It’s a treat?
Kimmel: It’s also probably the style of running that, I guess, suits me.
iRunFar: In the past you’ve said you actually drop down to some neighboring towns to get some speed work because you’re living at 9,000 feet. It’s a little hard.
Kimmel: Yeah, totally. I kind of live the “sleep high, train low,” philosophy.
iRunFar: And it works for you.
Kimmel: Yeah, but I am sick of driving my car so much, so I’ll probably make some sort of a move next year to limit the amount of driving I do.
iRunFar: Maybe get to a lower elevation more permanently?
Kimmel: Yeah, living at altitude really does take a toll on the body.
iRunFar: You can’t push yourself at hard or recover as quickly.
Kimmel: Exactly. I’ve really noticed that over the decade that I’ve lived up at altitude. I’m getting older.
iRunFar: In that aging, you’ve also got some wisdom in terms of figuring out what you need to do outside of the running to make you a good runner.
Kimmel: Yeah, actually today during the race I thought about that quite a bit. Yeah, I realized that at this point I’ve been running for so long that I felt like I had a pretty good awareness of what to be careful for. I think that has come from… I think it’s been six or seven years of racing.
iRunFar: All that comes together. Nice. In today’s race, you were in second for quite awhile. Then you come up on the heels of Magdalena [Boulet] late in the race. What’s going through your head? Are you feeling in the zone then and ready to take off?
Kimmel: Yeah. Yeah. I wanted to use that flat, really great singletrack going out to McKennon, and that’s what I did do. That’s when I did get closer to Magda. Of course, I wanted to run with Magda because she’s a beautiful runner. I know her from last year, as it is. It’s always just such a pleasure to run with her. She’s such an amazing lady really. But she just kicked it after Muir Beach. I could not hang.
iRunFar: It was quite the run for you. Way to wrap up the season.
Kimmel: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: Look forward to seeing you out there somewhere next year.
Kimmel: Yeah, maybe I’ll catch you in Moab this winter.
iRunFar: Sounds good. Let’s go for some runs.