Sarah Bard ran a steady race from start to finish to take second at this weekend’s Ultravasan 90k. In the following interview, Sarah talks about how her race went, what she enjoyed most about it, and what’s up next for her.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Sarah Bard Post-2016 Ultravasan Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sarah Bard after her second place finish at the 2016 Ultravasan. Congratulations, Sarah.
Sarah Bard: Thanks.
iRunFar: Did you have a fun day out there?
Bard: It was fun. I was actually talking to my husband after the race, and I was like, “Oh, it was hard.” He was like, “All races should be hard.” I guess that makes since, but for some reason I just expected that because it’s so beautiful and whatnot that it’s not going to hurt so much. But yeah, it was a hard day.
iRunFar: When did things get hard?
Bard: Well, I had some stomach issues early in the race. Similar to our conversation before the race about having a muscle thing happen and wondering if it’s going to get worse and destroy your race, I was a little bit concerned to have stomach issues so early in. Again, nothing really came of it, so it ended up being fine. To be honest, I never really felt terrible during the race. I just never… I was always on this borderline which is maybe where you want to be… on the line… hard enough, but not feeling like you’re completely done.
iRunFar: That’s working pretty hard. How did you end up doing on the technical trail for 15k?
Bard: I thought I did pretty well. I didn’t look at my watch much because I was worried I’d fall down. I think I managed to maintain 7:30s for the most part. I probably ran some high-8:00s… not high-8:00s, but mid-8:00s at one point. I was surprised to get passed so quickly by Isabellah [Andersson], because in the press conference she had said how shocked she was about it. I was like, Okay, maybe we’ll be evenly matched on this portion, but a mile in she just blew by me.
iRunFar: Really, so you were ahead of her at that point?
Bard: Yeah, I lost… I went in and Jasmin Nunige was ahead of me. I kind of anticipated to lose distance on her for sure at that point, but then I got passed. I could hear some people coming up behind me, and it was her and a couple of men. They just blew by me. I could probably see them for about another mile, and then I was just alone.
iRunFar: Then did you settle into no-woman’s land for pretty much forever?
Bard: Yes. Yeah, I ended up… there was a guy about 40k from the finish and we kind of yo-yoed back and forth. He’d get a half mile ahead of me, and then I’d see him again. Then I’d get a half mile ahead of him. For the most part, I was alone for a lot of the race.
iRunFar: How was being in your head for that long? In a race like Winschoten or Comrades [Marathon], there are so many people around that you might be running alone, but you’re not alone.
Bard: It was not terrible. I liked having the kilometer marks all the time because…
iRunFar: You liked that?
Bard: Yeah, every kilometer. Sometimes I’d miss one and then surprise myself which was really nice. Oh, now I only have 20 left instead of 22. Yeah, there’s a lot of time to be thinking out there… completely alone and how you’re doing and how much longer you have to go. I don’t know if it made a huge difference versus Comrades and having a lot of people all day.
iRunFar: You sort of talked about being on that line. Do you think you had something more if you had to push it at the end?
Bard: I felt pretty tired by the end. I kept asking where third was because I just felt like some miles I’d just start dipping down pretty slow, and I was worried I was just going to keep going slower. Then I’d have a good mile. I think it was maybe the change in the terrain. It was never overly noticeable.
iRunFar: But it rolled.
Bard: Yeah, so I think it was maybe that. By the end… usually in ultras I felt like I could push harder at the end, but this one I was just maintaining.
iRunFar: What were you doing for nutrition out there?
Bard: I ate a lot of gels and Coke and that’s about it which was why I was a little bit nervous about my stomach. It’s not like I was putting something in there that was going to soothe it. I was just adding more caffeine and more sugar.
iRunFar: But it turned out alright. What’s up next for you?
Bard: I am doing the World 100k, I think. The dates keep flipping back and forth which makes me a little bit nervous to put all my eggs in that basket. Luckily there are other races that time of the year. So I’m going to train as if I’m running it and hope that it goes off without a hitch.
iRunFar: But you have back-up plans.
Bard: Right. I think if for some reason something falls through with the World 100k, I’d like to run The North Face [Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships] or something like that. It’s nice to run an end-of-the-year race and then really feel like you can take advantage of the holiday because you just had this big accomplishment.
iRunFar: You’ve done JFK [50 Mile]. You want to try something new or just the competition?
Bard: The thing about JFK, I would like to try something new. Before, we were living on the East Coast and it was just such a fun thing to get down there. The race is well organized. Now that we’re on the West Coast, it’s kind of similar. It would just be a very easy flight. There’s not a lot of commitment. If I invest time and money into getting down there for the race, it would be nice to compete against people who I don’t compete against that often. It would be nice to do that.
iRunFar: Would you consider coming back again here next year?
Bard: Yeah, definitely. This race, I was just amazed by how well organized the race was and how they really seemed to care about the runners and less about the race itself and the race’s success. It was great. I felt like they treated us incredibly well. Now that I know the course a lot better, I think it’s a beneficial thing to know this course a little bit.
iRunFar: Because you’d train differently or you’d know how to approach the race differently? You’d know when to be fast and slower?
Bard: I think I would approach the race a little bit differently. There were parts where for some reason I was picturing it more packed dirt road. We ran the technical section one day. The second day we ran the last section which is really hard-packed dirt road except for like one sandy part that’s impossible to get through at that point in the race. It was very soft and grassy, very cross country-ish. There were more boardwalks than I anticipated. So things like that, just knowing what’s coming up and what to expect can make it a little bit easier to push harder or…
iRunFar: Or just to know that it’s not a time to push.
Bard: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: I heard reports that there was one section that was really spongy?
Bard: Yeah, some of the roads were just… you were just being absorbed by them. That was the thing that surprised me, I think. I just can’t imagine how Jonas [Buud] ran that time.
iRunFar: None of us can.
Bard: I think that that was it. That time just made me think, Oh, we’re just going to fly through here, but it was actually a challenging course with that sand area and the sponginess and it rolled pretty well and you’re running through grass.
iRunFar: A lot of variety.
Bard: Yes. It was a lot of fun.
iRunFar: And that countryside.
Bard: It really reminded me of a cross country race but for seven hours.
iRunFar: You’ve enjoyed cross country in the past, so you were at home.
Bard: Yeah, it was fun.
iRunFar: Congratulations, Sarah. Good luck.