Kaci Lickteig has run some strong ultras over the past few years, but her second-place finish at the 2015 Western States 100 was a big step up. In the following interview, Kaci talks about what her goal was for the day, what it was like running with and, later, going back and forth with Aliza Lapierre, how she moved up the field, and what motivated her to run fast late in the race.
For more on how the race went down, check out our Western States results article.
Bonus: We’ve also got video of Kaci finishing the race.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Kaci Lickteig Post-2015 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kaci Lickteig after her second-place finish at the 2015 Western States 100. Congratulations, Kaci. You had a great run out there.
Kaci Lickteig: Thanks.
iRunFar: Going into the race, did you dream of finishing so high up?
Lickteig: Absolutely not. My goal was to finish and to finish with a smile because last year was not a smile.
iRunFar: You went out hard and kind of blew up.
Lickteig: Yes, I did blow up by mile 40 last year, and that was not going to be the case this year.
iRunFar: So you went out conservatively. I think you were running with Kerri Wlad through Robinson Flat?
Lickteig: Aliza [Lapierre].
iRunFar: Aliza, I’m sorry. There were two pairs that came through in succession. You were running with Aliza. Were you just chatting away?
Lickteig: We were. It was such a blast. Oh, my gosh. It was so fun running with her and getting to know her. She’s an awesome lady.
iRunFar: So, you’re a fierce competitor, but you also get a chance to enjoy the day?
Lickteig: Yeah, we were talking like, this is a great time of the race to be social. We don’t see each other ever. So, why not enjoy? We have 100 miles of it.
iRunFar: Is that one of the benefits of running the 100-mile distance? I’m assuming in a 50k you’re probably not as chatty?
Lickteig: I would say so, yeah, but there’s more time afterwards to chat after those.
iRunFar: That is true. So when do you go from chatting along with your new-found friends to “I’m going to race now?”
Lickteig: Actually, it was… I had a rough patch between Devil’s Thumb and Michigan Bluff. My stomach had turned. Aliza gave me a couple Tums. I was like, “I can’t go with you. I’ve got to say back.” She took off and was having a great race. I just had to kind of slog through that section. I got to Michigan Bluff with my coach and Ann [Trason] and my crew. Everybody was there. They were like, “What do you need? We’ve got to get your stomach turned around. Your legs are working, so you’ve just got to keep moving.” I just walked out of there and started feeling better. Then I got closer to Foresthill and I knew my pacer, Miguel [Ordorico], was there. I was like, “Alright, I feel good again. I’m smiling. It’s good. I’m able to run this section now.” That was the trigger point. “I can run! I can run! I can run! I don’t have to walk.”
iRunFar: It must have been exciting getting those legs back.
Lickteig: It was. It was great. Just being able to run on smooth singletrack which I love—it’s my heaven.
iRunFar: You turned around at the right time and were in your element. So when did you… who did you catch first, Stephanie [Howe] or Aliza?
Lickteig: No, it was Emma Roca at right at Rucky Chucky.
iRunFar: Okay, Rucky Chucky, Emma Roca.
Lickteig: Then she actually got ahead of us again by Green Gate. We were just kind of piggybacking back and forth together. Then right after… I can’t remember which one it was…
Lickteig: No, it was after that one.
iRunFar: Brown’s Bar… Highway 49…
Lickteig: I don’t remember. It was either Brown’s Bar or Highway 49… it had to have been Brown’s Bar… I caught up with Aliza and her stomach had turned on her. I felt so bad because I knew what that felt like. Emma was right behind me out of that one. We went up and I started feeling good. I told my pacer, “Alright, this is smooth running. Let’s just start going. I’m going to start motoring now.” He said, “Alright!” And we did.
iRunFar: You did. Oh, my goodness. You put the hammer down late in the race yesterday. When did you catch Stephanie?
Lickteig: It was right after Highway 49. I could tell she was having a rough patch. She was so focused to finish strong, and she did. I was so proud of her.
iRunFar: Your being in second, you’re able to get time differentials for places ahead of you. I’m guessing you saw that you were catching Magdalena [Boulet]?
Lickteig: I honestly didn’t have any idea. I didn’t know any of the splits ahead of me, I just knew what was behind me at that point.
iRunFar: But you’re going for it. Was it for time? Were you trying to catch Magda? Were you just…?
Lickteig: Going for myself. I was. I was like, You know what? Let’s make this day the day that you wanted and just get out there and compete against yourself from last year.
iRunFar: Did you beat yourself from last year?
Lickteig: I did. Thank goodness. It was a good feeling.
iRunFar: That’s one of the beautiful things about racing on a course you’ve run before—of course, there are variables as it’s trail running and the temperatures are different—but you really can. There’s another couple 300 people out here, but you know when you have a good day. Was yesterday a good day?
Lickteig: It was a good day. I’m blessed.
iRunFar: One of your best ultra races out there? Best races period?
Lickteig: I’ve never actually really felt like I’ve raced raced a hard ultra before. It was incredible I was able to do that. For me, you never know what your full potential is. I still don’t think it’s tapped yet. It’s always good to know that.
iRunFar: Does that make you hungry knowing that, now after the fact, you were catching up to Magda so quickly? Had it been a 105-mile race, we might have had a different winner. You said a minute ago you could have kept running.
Lickteig: I felt really good. I came into this track and, Hmmm, this is not like last year. I’m able to sprint around this thing and feel good. I’m just so thankful for that.
iRunFar: You’ve got some legs still under you. Do you have any more race plans this summer?
Lickteig: I actually have nothing planned, so something will pop up and I’ll talk to my coach and we’ll figure something out.
iRunFar: Awesome. Congratulations, Kaci. I’m glad you had such a great day out there.
Lickteig: Thank you. Thank you so much.