Ruth Croft took third at the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships, bettering her fourth place here last year. In the following interview, Ruth talks about whether she’s happy with her result given a different racing strategy from last year, the dynamic nature of the women’s race all the way to the finish line, and what she’s learned from her 2016 racing season.
Read our TNF 50 results article to find out what else happened at this year’s race!
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Ruth Croft Post-2016 The North Face EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ruth Croft after her third-place finish at the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. How was it out there, Ruth?
Ruth Croft: It was a tough day.
iRunFar: How so?
Croft: I started off a lot more conservative because that was the plan this year. Last year I went out too hard and blew up with 10k to go. I started off more conservatively and started to work my way up when I saw you about 25k in. I was doing well. Then I just started having some really bad patches. Then when Magda [Boulet] passed me, I was in a pretty dark place. Then going into one of the aid stations with 20k to go, I got told that Megan [Kimmel] was five minute ahead and she was looking pretty bad. It goes to show you don’t really know what’s happening up in front. You just hope people are going to blow up.
iRunFar: At some point in there you caught Ida [Nilsson] as well.
Croft: Yeah, I was with Ida for a bit as well. She was just, on the climbs, she was just too strong.
iRunFar: What was it like for you being in such a dynamic race in the second half with all the strong ladies?
Croft: We all just kept switching actually. Magda was behind, and she passed me. Ida went off. I ended up passing Megan as well.
iRunFar: Having all that action, does it keep you engaged?
Croft: Yeah, I was… I think if I hadn’t passed Megan, mentally I was kind of losing it. Once I saw her, Okay, I need to go.
iRunFar: What was it like running the last 10k of your season presumably?
Croft: It was better than last year. Last year I just died a whole death. This year I was able to run more of the uphills and finish stronger than I did.
iRunFar: Are you pretty happy with the third place here?
Croft: Oh, yeah, I’m definitely happy with how I progressed. I think I just ran a smarter race than last year. I still don’t think I’ve quite nailed it. I don’t know. It’s a tough race. It’s just so runnable.
iRunFar: Having been at this race eight times in a row now, a lot of times, especially in the women’s field, there are people who take a couple steps along the way to winning it—Megan Kimmel, Magda was that way. It’s probably the wrong time to ask, but do you think maybe you’d be back next year?
Croft: Even like, it’s the end of my season, why am I here? This race is so hard. Yeah, I like to come back to this race because it has such strong competition. To be honest, I don’t particularly like the course. Seeing the sunrise is awesome, but there’s no real like wilds or, like in Europe, the mountains and such. The main reason I come back is for the competition. Give me a day or two and I’ll probably say, “Yeah, I’ll be back again.”
iRunFar: Are you pretty happy with your season as a whole?
Croft: This year I didn’t plan my races very well. I did Transvulcania. Then I went to Europe and did five races in six weeks. They weren’t short races either. It started off with Sierre-Zinal, Matterhorn [Ultraks], and then I did [Trofeo] Kima, and then three days later I did Lizzy Hawker’s UTMR [Ultra Tour Monte Rosa].
iRunFar: Which is a three-day?
Croft: Three day, 160k. Then two weeks later I did Glen Coe [Skyline].
iRunFar: So that’s probably a perfect transition. In looking at your season next year, how might you plan it?
Croft: Way better.
iRunFar: How so? What would a better season look like?
Croft: Less races and spread out more. I was supposed to do the [IAU] Trail World Champs, but I had to pull out because I’d just done too many races. I was too tired. I think now that the Skyrunning and Ultra-Trail World Tour calendars are out, I’ll sit down…
iRunFar: And the world-championships schedule.
Croft: Yeah, I just have to sit down and plan my races…
iRunFar: Be a little more strategic?
iRunFar: Nice, well congratulations, Ruth. See you out there in 2017.