Kimber Mattox made her US Mountain Running Championships debut this weekend in Bend, Oregon. She ran a strong race to take third and make her first U.S. Mountain Running Team. In the following interview, Kimber talks about how she’s taking on new challenges, her track season went before moving onto the trails, how her race went, and how she’ll change her training before hitting the Mountain Running World Championships in Wales in September.
For more on how the race went down, read our 2015 US Mountain Running Championships results article.
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Kimber Mattox Post-2015 US Mountain Running Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kimber Mattox after her third-place finish at the 2015 US Mountain Running Championships. Congratulations, Kimber.
Kimber Mattox: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: This is your first US Mountain Running Championships, right?
Mattox: It is, yeah, first time running up the mountain.
iRunFar: What was it like coming from a track and cross-country background?
Mattox: It was definitely a tough, new challenge. I think there’s so much strength involved. Coming off the track, you’re used to running fast, but the kind of strength it takes to climb like that is something totally different.
iRunFar: You’re probably a little more prepared for that than most track athletes because you’ve been a steeplechaser, right?
Mattox: That’s true. I’ve done a couple trail races, but the mountain stuff is new.
iRunFar: What trail races had you done coming into this?
Mattox: I’ve done a couple of trail halfs, some of the XTERRA races.
iRunFar: You won that last year, right?
Mattox: I did.
iRunFar: What was that like compared to day?
Mattox: It was tough as well. I think it’s just a different kind of tough. There’s a little more up and down. I think, for me, that was great to be able to recover on the downs and be able to climb again. I think every trail race brings a new challenge. I think every one I’ve done has felt so hard, but you learn a lot and it’s been fun.
iRunFar: Are you still mixing in the track or road or cross-country kind of stuff while you’re running these races?
Mattox: Kind of. I’m just coming off of the U.S. championships in track at the end of June. Now I’m kind of transitioning to my trail, and I do a little bit of obstacle-course racing. Summer and fall will be those seasons and probably some cross in the fall.
iRunFar: How did your track season go?
Mattox: It was pretty good. I made it to the finals of the U.S. champs.
iRunFar: In the steeplechase?
Mattox: Yeah, in the steeplechase. I can’t complain about that. I’ve got work to do for the next season, but overall it was a good day.
iRunFar: You ran in high school and college cross country and track, right?
Mattox: I did in college, yeah, but not a lot in high school.
iRunFar: How did you end up in at University of Oregon running for them?
Mattox: It was kind of a process. I started out at a small Division III school, Willamette University, running and playing soccer there and running cross and track for them. Then I did my fifth year at Oregon and just kind of continued to train and run since then.
iRunFar: Do you have any other trail races coming up in the next couple of months?
Mattox: I haven’t really planned out the rest of the season. It was kind of come off of track and had the mountain championships on the schedule and then kind of figure things out from there.
iRunFar: Am I correct in thinking you might be going to Wales?
Mattox: I plan to. Yeah, I’m excited about that.
iRunFar: Now, the race today itself, how did that play out? Did you go out aggressively? How did you approach it with it being your first real mountain race?
Mattox: I felt like, I feel like in a mountain race like this or even on the trails, you kind of just have to go at your own pace. Up that first climb, I felt pretty good until two thirds of the way up. That’s when it really started to get hard. For me, the second loop is where it got pretty tough. Running against some really strong and talented ladies was a great challenge. Of course, I enjoyed the downhills getting to fly and get the speed going.
iRunFar: That worked to your advantage on the course?
Mattox: I think maybe a little bit, but all those ladies can run fast on the downhills as well. They’ve got all the tools.
iRunFar: You were in second at the end of lap one. When did Kasie Enman catch you on the second loop?
Mattox: I think it was probably fairly early in the second climb. I don’t remember exactly where, but somewhere in that second climb.
iRunFar: With a pretty similar worlds course coming up in less than two months, is there anything specific you’re going to focus on getting ready for that race?
Mattox: I think just hitting the hills a little bit more. Coming off of track, I hadn’t had too many opportunities to really hit the hills. I think that will be the big thing and just building some fitness. We’ve got plenty of time to build a little more strength and a little more fitness. We’ll see where that gets me.
iRunFar: Post-collegiately, what drew you toward running on the trails because you are still running track competitively?
Mattox: I think it was just kind of a suggestion of some of the people around me. They were like, “This might be something you’d enjoy.” So this past year I tried the obstacle-course racing and those couple of trail races. It was something that was really fun and a different challenge and something I was able to do pretty well at. I hope to build on that.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your first U.S. Mountain Running Team, and see you again in the future.
Mattox: Thank you. Great.