Erika Lindland was the biggest surprise in the women’s top ten at the 2015 Western States 100, where she finished ninth. In the following interview, Erika talks about where she felt bad and good during the race, how she thought her 11th place a few years ago was a fluke, and how she’s absorbing the fact that she’ll be F9 at next year’s Western States.
For more on how the race went down, check out our Western States results article.
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Erika Lindland Post-2015 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here at the finish line of the 2015 Western States Endurance Run, and I’m with women’s W9 (F9), Erika Lindland. Congratulations!
Erika Lindland: Thank you.
iRunFar: You had a heck of a race. You were probably on nobody’s radar.
Lindland: Nobody’s radar.
iRunFar: Let’s just start with reality here.
Lindland: Yeah, not on my radar at all. I was 11th in 2013 but that was, in my opinion, a fluke year. A lot of people blew up. I had no thinking that I was going to go in the top 10 this year. I had a time goal, and I knew that if I got under that time goal I would be possibly in the ballpark, but you never know what everybody else is going to do.
iRunFar: So that wasn’t a fluke at all—eleventh in 2013 and ninth this year. Looking back at your yesterday, was it a good race for you? Where were the highs or the lows?
Lindland: I felt good to Lyons Ridge, but I went really slow. I had a horrible miles 10 to 35. Horrible. Like death marching up Robinson Flat and thinking, Oh my gosh, maybe I can squeak out a 24-hour today. So, really, really bad. Karl and I started running together right out of Robinson. We both were just struggling. The funny thing is we spent most of our time training in the high country specifically to be better up there. We both felt like absolute crap. It was ironic, but as soon as I got down to whatever Miller’s Defeat is, you’re kind of getting out of the elevation, I started to feel a little bit better. Then I just kind of ran. I wasn’t trying to catch up or do anything. I wasn’t really looking at splits. I was just running.
iRunFar: You must have been feeling decently especially in the last 30 miles of the race. Looking at your splits compared to the gals in front of you and behind you, you were putting minutes on everybody everywhere.
Lindland: Yeah, I felt decent. One of the things was that Victor Ballesteros was going to pace me from Foresthill to the river, so one of my big goals was to get to him feeling decent so I didn’t totally annoy him. We just kind of ran steady.
iRunFar: All about keeping your pacers happy, right?
Lindland: My first Western States was a total disaster and I just felt horrible for my pacers. Yeah, I felt actually better than I thought I was going to in the last 30 and then once I ended up in top 10 at mile 89, I was like, “Holy crap!” and I just ran as hard as I could.
iRunFar: You knew when you when you had moved into the top 10 position. Did somebody tell you?
Lindland: I did. Well, at the river, somebody said I was… I passed Joelle Vaught just right before the river and then she got on the cable before I made it across. I had somebody right in front of me who was just standing there. It took me six minutes to cross the river which was a little frustrating. So Joelle beat me up to the top. I was 13th at the river. I saw Joelle fixing her shoes in the aid station at Green Gate, so then I knew I was 12th. I thought for sure she was going to come and pick me off. I was also told that Meghan [Arbogast] was 20 minutes ahead of me at the river and I was, “That’s never going to happen. It’s Meghan.” I was like, “12th, cool! I’m close! That’s great!” So we just kind of plugged along. When I caught Meghan, I was shocked. Then Pam [Smith] was a minute or two after her. So then I was top 10.
iRunFar: So they both came bam bam, and then you were top 10?
Lindland: Yes. So then I was freaking out a little bit and running.
iRunFar: So did you run scared then because…
iRunFar: Pam Smith and Meghan Arbogast are…
Lindland: Terrifying to have behind you!
iRunFar: Yeah, like really well-dialed women when it comes to Western States.
Lindland: I could tell that they weren’t having their best day. If I passed them, they’re having a rough day. Yeah, I could tell they weren’t moving that well, but I was still running scared because you never know what can happen.
iRunFar: So you crossed the finish line, you’re now F9, and you get a free pass to come back here next year. Is this sinking in? “I’m F9 at Western States.”
Lindland: The part that’s sinking in is, “I have to come back next year and try and perform,” which is really good. I’m happy about it. I need a couple days to just let it all sink in. It’s totally surreal, and I can’t really believe it.
iRunFar: Awesome. Congratulations to you.
Lindland: Thank you.
iRunFar: I hope you wear the F9 badge of honor for the next 364 days, and we’re not talking about next year.
Lindland: Yeah, nope, nope.
iRunFar: Congratulations again.
Lindland: Thank you. Thanks.