Ellie Greenwood is sure to challenge for the win at the 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. In this interview, Ellie talks about how she’s been training since her Les Templiers win six weeks ago, what parts of the course suit her strengths, and, after a tumultuous 2015 health-wise, if she’s healthy and fit.
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Ellie Greenwood Pre-2015 The North Face EC 50-Mile Championships Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here with Ellie Greenwood the day before the 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. Good afternoon, Miss Greenwood.
Ellie Greenwood: Good afternoon.
iRunFar: How are you?
Greenwood: I’m very good, thank you. Raring to go.
iRunFar: Raring to go?
iRunFar: You’ve arrived in San Francisco last night, and you had a little visit out on the course today. You’ve been here before. This is not unfamiliar territory for you. How are you feeling? What are you thinking now that you’re here seeing things?
Greenwood: It’s always nice to go out for a little refresher. I last ran this four years ago. Then last year I was out on the course supporting and did a bit of pacing with a friend. I feel I know portions and I know landmarks and that kind of a thing. Do I remember all the bits in between? Not necessarily. It’s definitely nice to go out for a little refresher and get some landmarks in my head and what is a to b and that kind of stuff.
iRunFar: You went out to Pantoll and the Cardiac aid station today. You were out on one of the high points on the course and one of the more remote sections. What did you think? What did you see?
Greenwood: It was beautiful today to start with. Hopefully that weather holds for tomorrow which, fingers crossed, it looks like it. Yeah, that was nice. It’s nice to see what sort of shape the trails are in.
iRunFar: How are they after yesterday’s weather?
Greenwood: It’s looking good as far as I can see. Obviously if there was any rain it would have been more in Muir Woods area, but the other trails were dry and lovely and runable trails here.
iRunFar: A little bit different from where you come from.
Greenwood: Pretty different from North Vancouver, yeah.
iRunFar: Maybe one or two less rocks.
Greenwood: Yeah, I love roots and rocks and that kind of stuff, but it is nice to get out on a trail where you can just run without always having your head down and rock hopping and that kind of stuff.
iRunFar: iRunFar last saw you a couple of months ago at Les Templiers on a course that had some parts that shared some similarities with this one, similar distance and runable sections, but also a course that was quite different from this.
Greenwood: Yeah, Les Templiers definitely has some super, super runable stuff to the extent that early on you have to be careful not to get absolutely carried away because it’s super wide and runable and un-technical terrain. They said it was 75k and it came out to about 77k… I think that was the distance… I can’t remember anyway. This course is 80k—right at 50 miles—but I’m anticipating maybe it could be closer to an hour faster which shows Les Templiers towards the end has much, much steeper sections, not super technical but so steep that it slowed me down.
iRunFar: In our interview with you after Les Templiers, you said you’re just getting your season started now after some bumps in your road earlier in 2015. You were pretty stoked after that race. So you’re still sort of on the uphill trend?
Greenwood: Yeah, totally. I went to Les Templiers knowing I was, for me, pretty fast, which was nice because it was by far the longest duration and distance I’d yet to run. That was a bit of, well… like anyone, you go and see. You think you’ve done the training, but you’re not sure. Obviously, having not raced a trail ultra for quite so long, you don’t have the same sort of confidence level of what you might be able to do. I honestly did not go into Les Templiers expecting to win. Therefore, being able to win was even better than, well… you know… Yeah, that was really nice. It motivates me further. If I’d not done great, I would have taken it for what it was, but it would also have been, Well, okay, I’m genuinely not in the shape I’d maybe hoped for. So it was nicely motivating for the six weeks in between coming up to this to feel like, Okay, I can come to this knowing what shape I’m in rather than coming here and this being the unknown thing.
iRunFar: So talk about those six weeks. You had some time to recover. It was a burly 70-odd-k or whatever it turned out to be. It probably took a little time to recover. So after that, what did you do for your training in that little window you could train?
Greenwood: Yeah, the only thing I probably did was jump back in a bit too quickly because obviously I was like, The North Face isn’t that long away, right? I was pretty tired after Les Templiers. My legs were beat up probably because I had pushed them. I did race hard to win that. Then they’ve come around and have come back together. I carried on and was still doing my speed work and getting out and getting some more longish runs if I could because, again, I’d just trained enough for Templiers. I wanted to still get some longish runs in. Then I made sure I’ve rested for sure this week coming up to this because I knew I can’t come into this with tired legs.
iRunFar: Ellie Greenwood is always fighting niggles. Are you healthy?
Greenwood: Yes, I mean, I’m always fighting niggles. Whether it’s every runner or I sometimes think, Am I just one who moans about them more? There may be aches and pains tomorrow, but nothing serious, nothing I had during the summer that was preventing me from running. No, I’ll go out and have fun and I’m feeling all in all pretty good.
iRunFar: Last question for you. You raced this in 2011. You came second to Anna Frost that year. You’ve been here since as a spectator and volunteer and helper, so you’ve kind of seen the competition go by in times since. Are you hungry to improve upon second place? Have you come here to win?
Greenwood: I know it will be a tough go. To me it goes without saying, Magdalena Boulet, whom I’ve never raced against and has obviously had an amazing career in road running and marathoning, and then she has transitioned amazingly and now to… compared to her winning this race last year, she’s got even more ultrarunning experience and has had this awesome year. She is one person. Then I would say these days even compared to four years ago, the depth of the field is more. Would I love to win? Of course, I would. I think, as usual, I’m prepared to work pretty hard. I know a lot of people say that, but I’m sometimes prepared to not enjoy myself in order to do that. So, yeah, we’ll see what pans out on the day. Equally, who knows, you have a bit of a wobble and it might be like sliding back down, down, down, down because there is a good depth of the field.
iRunFar: Yeah, there isn’t much wobble room, is there?
Greenwood: There isn’t much wobble room. Yeah, it will be interesting. There’s lots of women who I’ve not raced against and women who have got different experience—maybe they’re faster but don’t have as much long-distance experience. That’s what this race is, in a sense, known for is that middle distance in ultrarunning. Then it is very runable, so it can be good for the faster people. Then you also get people who are more mountainous runners who go, “Hey, I’ll come because it’s super competitive,” and you never know how they will do. So it will be interesting.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you tomorrow at this middle-distance race. We’ll see you out there.
Greenwood: Thank you so much. Thank you.