Bethany Lewis took third place in her Hardrock 100 debut. In the following interview, Bethany talks about how the descent off Grant-Swamp Pass blew out her quads 15 miles into the race, how she managed to race 85 miles on damaged legs, and whether she thinks another Hardrock is in her future.
[For more on how this year’s Hardrock 100 went down, including additional resources, check out our 2016 Hardrock 100 results article.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Bethany Lewis Post-2016 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here at the finish line of the 2016 Hardrock 100. I’m with women’s third place finisher, Bethany Lewis.
Bethany Lewis: Hi.
iRunFar: I’m here with your quads, too.
Lewis: Oh, yeah. They’re definitely here. I’m going to be feeling them for a couple days, I’m sure.
iRunFar: I’m in an interesting place in this race in that I didn’t get to see any of your race take place because I was behind you.
Lewis: And doing awesome. Congratulations.
iRunFar: Thank you. I heard a lot about your race from our crew, and it sounds like things turned rough early for you. Talk about what happened early on in the race.
Lewis: I was feeling awesome and great and super inspired. I got up above Grant-Swamp Pass, and then just had about the most awkward descent probably of the day I’m imagining. I did this horrible glissade thing that totally just cramped up my quads, and they were convulsing for the next 20 miles basically, so I had to keep stopping and rubbing them. I was asking for pickle juice everywhere in the aid stations and couldn’t find it. My quads were just basically just exhausted and wrecked by mile 40. So that was hard for me although manageable. I could alter my stride a bit and take some extra time massaging them out, but it quickly took me out of being competitive. I just felt like I was really focused on managing so I could finish.
iRunFar: A 100 miles alone is a long day and a hard day, but then add to it the Hardrock 100 miles, what was going through your head when you’re 20-some-odd miles into a race and you just don’t have all of your body parts working anymore?
Lewis: I tried not to panic and when I got up to Kroger’s, I got the most amazing quad massage from Ty Draney, Jared Campbell, Roch Horton—these legends of ultrarunning are sitting there massaging my quads.
iRunFar: Yeah, boys.
Lewis: Right. Total shout out to those guys. I honestly just kept thinking, What would these guys do? They would gut it out. Whether or not I could race the way I wanted to race, I really wanted to finish this race. It meant a lot. They were inspirational. I passed my husband on the way down from there, because he had sprained his ankle and knew that one of the Lewises needed to finish.
iRunFar: Get the buckle.
Lewis: Yeah. Then the other thought that was going through my head was thinking about all the other, these few other women in the race and how I wanted to do a credit to our gender in this race and just represent all the women out there. So there were a couple key thoughts that kept going through my mind even when I was contemplating quitting which was pretty often throughout the night in particular. That kept me going.
iRunFar: The iRunFar crew saw you ice your quads in Ouray, lay down for a reset in Sherman…?
Lewis: Maggie’s, yes.
iRunFar: What did you do in Sherman?
Lewis: Well, I sort of hung out for a long time. That was probably the darkest moment or the closest I came to quitting right there. I said it out loud there once.
iRunFar: You verbalized it.
Lewis: I verbalized it once. Ah, moment of weakness for sure. Yeah, that was bad.
iRunFar: Then you had another lay down in Maggie’s.
Lewis: Yes, my stomach went sour. I didn’t eat for about 10 hours. I had two orange slices at Maggie’s, and I was good to go and ready to get out of there.
iRunFar: You talked about the mental aspects that drove you forward. What are some of the physical things that you… was it literally that you had to gut it out or were there physical things you were able to do to make it more manageable?
Lewis: When my quads were actually cramping, stopping at any snow bank I saw and rubbing them out with snow, that helped. Once they started cramping and were just wasted, then having my poles and getting my poles helped a ton because it at least altered my stride. Other than that, it was really just gutting it out and trying to take inspiration from whatever I could. There was a lot of it along the way. Those aid station folks at Maggie’s, I credit them highly.
iRunFar: How about the guy who put sunscreen on you at Maggie’s? Did you get that?
Lewis: That was my pacer, Adam Hewey. We were both in awe of these guys. They were taking care of us. They all had a huge amount of experience there. Their cumulative experience, telling me “how good I looked,” totally lying straight to my face, but it gave me enough courage to go on. Yeah, there was some super burly muscular dude putting sunscreen on me. The service was amazing.
iRunFar: Great service at Maggie’s.
Lewis: Great service at Maggie’s. I highly recommend that aid station.
iRunFar: Best restaurant in the mountains.
iRunFar: Hardrock is a race that gets into people’s blood. A lot of people come here and say, “One and done,” and then you sleep on it for a couple nights or a couple weeks and suddenly your name is in the Hardrock lottery list again. What about you? How do you feel about the potential of your future at this race?
Lewis: I would love to come back and race to what I think is my potential here. I don’t think I got to do that yesterday.
iRunFar: It’s pretty incredible how fast you were still able to run despite 80 miles of issues.
Lewis: That’s nice of you to say. Yeah, I feel a little torn. I feel like other people deserve a chance. I don’t want to take that chance away from other people, but I would like to race this race again. I honestly was thinking that even when I was suffering toward the end. I’d love to come back and give this a good go. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.
iRunFar: Time will tell?
Lewis: Time will tell.
Lewis: Yeah, thanks. Congrats to you, too.
iRunFar: Recover well.