An up-and-comer on the trail and ultrarunning scene, Ruth Croft took second in her first 100k at the 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon after pressuring women’s winner, Ruby Muir, all day. In the following interview, Ruth talks about her running background, how she got into ultras, and where you might see her race next.
For more on what happened at this year’s race, read our in-depth results article on the 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Ruth Croft Post-2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ruth Croft after her second-place finish at the 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon. Nice work out there, Ruth.
Ruth Croft: Yeah, thanks.
iRunFar: Was that your longest run ever?
Croft: Yeah, so before that the furthest I’d raced was 60k.
iRunFar: A big step up.
Croft: It was a big step up, yeah.
iRunFar: You have a long history with running. In your youth…
Croft: Yeah, I started running when I was 14 in New Zealand, mountain running and track and cross country. Then went over to the States on a running scholarship for four years. Then after that I was kind of burnt out by running and decided I wasn’t going to run again. So I moved to Taiwan, and after two months of not competing, I kind of just missed it and started back up.
iRunFar: So not exactly a long break.
Croft: No, well I feel like most runners in that it’s pretty ingrained into you at that point, and it becomes part of your lifestyle. It’s hard to just give that up one day.
iRunFar: When you were running mountain running, track, and cross country, is there anything that you particularly enjoyed or excelled at?
Croft: I always enjoyed the mountain running and cross country. I kind of have a… yeah, I really don’t like track. It’s pretty hard to get me on the track actually.
iRunFar: So you’re not doing that much these days?
Croft: I actually do do a track workout once a week. I’m kind of trying to learn to embrace the track a bit more.
iRunFar: Where and when did you run in university?
Croft: I ran at University of Portland in Oregon and I ran the 5k. Pretty much that was it and cross country.
iRunFar: Did you step up in distance right from when you got to Taiwan?
Croft: Yeah, Taiwan, running has become really popular. The first six months I had trouble registering for races.
Croft: Yeah, you have to be on your computer, and it was in Chinese and I didn’t know it. So I’d always put it off, “Yeah, I’ll sign up tomorrow,” and by the time I got around to it it was always full. So my first ultra was The North Face 50k. The only reason I did it was because again I was really disorganized and the 15k was already full up. I was like, “Oh, I’ll do the 50k.” Yeah, it’s just been a progression from there.
iRunFar: That was a pretty big jump up in your race experience, yes?
Croft: Yeah, I wasn’t actually that prepared for that either.
iRunFar: What was your longest race prior to that?
Croft: I’d done a marathon, actually, my first marathon.
iRunFar: Marathon, 50k… that’s all within the last two years or so?
iRunFar: What made you decide, “I’m going to try 100k.”
Croft: I hadn’t been home for three years, so my folks were like, “You need to get back home for a visit. So why not line it up with a race?” So Tarawera’s got a name for itself, so I gave it a go.
iRunFar: You sure did.
Croft: Yeah, it was tough.
iRunFar: You had quite the race out there.
Croft: Yeah, it was a bit going into the unknown because, as I’d said, the furthest I’d raced was 60k. After that, you’ve got to take into a lot of consideration your food and hydration, nutrition. I just didn’t know how my body was going to react. With 50k, you can kind of get through with gels and stuff like that. It was just going into the unknown.
iRunFar: Did that aspect go pretty well for you?
Croft: It did actually, surprisingly well. Yeah, I got the food in. People had stressed to me how important it was to right at the beginning get on top of the food and your hydration. I kind of dropped the ball around the 70k mark with that which I think… yeah, that last 10k was the longest 10k ever.
iRunFar: Part of that, you were in quite a race with Ruby [Muir] out there.
Croft: Yeah, I saw the back of her a few times. I got through the last checkpoint and she was 20 seconds ahead of me and we went eye on eye and… just… I was done there.
iRunFar: When did you get within sight of her?
Croft: I think it was the last 10k. That’s when I saw her. I’d been told that she was five minutes ahead, then three minutes ahead.
iRunFar: That must have been an interesting combination of, not only being the furthest you’d ever run, but…
Croft: Then having to really race it, but it was a good experience.
iRunFar: Did you enjoy it?
Croft: I did enjoy it, yeah. People have been asking me, “What’s your plan for the rest of the year?” I was like, “I’ll just get through this 100k and I might not ever want to run 100k again.” But, yeah, I did enjoy it.
iRunFar: Do you have other race plans for this year lined up?
Croft: Yeah, maybe CCC? I’m not for sure.
Croft: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s all pretty open at this stage.
iRunFar: When you’re in Taiwan, do you live in the city or do you have a chance to get and run the trails very often?
Croft: Yeah, I live in Taipei and the trails are pretty accessible. Most people wouldn’t think so being such a big city, but I get on the trails two or three times a week.
iRunFar: In general, what does your training look like in a given week? How many k’s overall?
Croft: Well, it’s stepped up a lot for this race. It was ranging between 160k to the most I got which was 190k. For me the main point was just time on my feet because, as I said, I hadn’t raced that far.
iRunFar: Did you get a bunch of really long runs in?
Croft: Actually, my longest training run was 57k, but it had two-five elevation, so…
iRunFar: Pretty much the entire elevation of Tarawera.
Croft: Whereas most of the races in Asia would have Tarawera’s elevation over 50k, so yeah, it’s quite a fast course here.
iRunFar: Did you have any difficulty with that much actual running?
Croft: Because I quite like flat as well, yeah, I do. I think just coming from Asia, we get used to having times where you have to walk for quite an extended period of time. I knew coming here it was a fast course.
iRunFar: Was there any particular moment or anything from yesterday that you enjoyed the most?
Croft: I enjoyed up to the 60k mark. I thought going right round the lakes was really beautiful where it’s undulating so you can get a really good rhythm going.
iRunFar: Congratulations, Ruth, on your run. Hope to see you on the trails again soon.
Croft: Thank you. Cheers. Yeah, I’m sure.