Magda Boulet likes a good adventure, and she’ll find it at the 2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Magda talks about what her recovery and training have been like since her second place at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships two months ago, the highlights of her experience in New Zealand so far, and what strategy she’ll apply to the women’s race.
To see who else is running, read our Tarawera preview. You can also follow our live coverage of Tarawera starting at 6 a.m. local time this Saturday, February 11, which is 10 a.m. MST on Friday in the U.S.
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Magda Boulet Pre-2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and we’re here on the North Island of New Zealand. Tomorrow is the 2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon. I’m with the USA’s Magda Boulet.
Magda Boulet: Hi.
iRunFar: We are under the air of the sweet smell of sulfur from these thermal features.
Boulet: Pretty incredible view.
iRunFar: Modern geology—geology taking place right now. We’re actually in a place called Te Puia on the outskirts of Rotorua. It’s a traditional Maori village, and these thermal features are really kind of nerve-wracking thermal features.
Boulet: It’s an incredible scene. It’s an honor to be here on this land.
iRunFar: It’s a super honor to be here. I feel like I just saw you. It wasn’t so long ago that we watched you race at The North Face 50 Mile.
Boulet: Couple months ago.
iRunFar: Yeah, talk about what you’ve been doing this winter.
Boulet: Between the races was eight weeks, so I took one really easy week after The North Face to recover. I felt pretty good during the race and after the race. I kind of just hit the training quickly after that with the goal of preparing for this race. I feel good. I’m well rested now. This week has been mostly just travel and backing off on the training. Yeah, there were six solid weeks of training between The North Face and this.
iRunFar: The past two months also involved a lot of life stuff—there are holidays that happen, school breaks for kids, a full-time job. What was managing trying to keep training through the holiday season and the holiday-eating season?
Boulet: That, and throw in the big monsoon in the Bay Area. We’ve had so much rain, which is great, but it makes for really muddy… you have to get creative with what you’re trying to do. There was one workout where I was trying to do downhill repeats on a trail.
iRunFar: That probably did not work.
Boulet: It was impossible because you were just skiing. Finally, I had to just get off the trail and do it on the road. I tend to manage holidays really well. I see it as a break from work a little bit. I actually get more rest and go to see family. You’ve got babysitting. I can drive to a pretty trail an hour away if I want to. I actually love the holiday season, because I do get a little more sleep and a little more rest. I get to run with friends at times I don’t usually get to run. I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. I can sip on my coffee for two hours and, then, go for a run.
iRunFar: Two cups of coffee instead of one.
iRunFar: I want to talk a little bit about the wonders of New Zealand. You’re a foodie, and we are here in the throes of the summer in New Zealand. Oh, my gosh, the food. Can you talk about what you’ve been eating these last couple days?
Boulet: We stayed north of Auckland for the first couple days at Peha Beach and Bethells Beach which is northwest of Auckland. It’s pretty remote. They don’t really have too many fancy restaurants, but what we got to do was just experience some little huts where you pick up fresh eggs and fresh fruits and vegetables. So we’ve been cooking. You just drop money in this little shack. It’s the honor system. You pick up incredible fresh vegetables and fruits. We’ve mostly been staying at Airbnb, so just cooking ourselves.
iRunFar: All the stone fruits and the greens that are out right now.
Boulet: Yeah. The greens have been incredible. Last night, we made a quinoa-brown rice-amaranth mix of grains with chopped greens and poached eggs on top. We’ve been going simple. It’s right before the race. I try to stick with what I usually cook at home. We are here the week after the race, so we’ll get a little more adventurous.
iRunFar: Adventure out with your diet a little bit more. When I think of the Tarawera course, I think of it as something you’re going to be able to run really well. There’s probably that draw for you in coming to this race that this is something quite suitable to you. But maybe Tarawera Ultramarathon drew you in for a couple reasons?
Boulet: I think it mainly just drew me for just the variety and the privilege to run on this course. Whether it’s a fast course or a climber’s course, both of them will be a challenge in a way. That’s not really an indicator of whether I want to do a race or not, but the fact that you get to run through some of the most amazing sacred trails is definitely something that drew me to this course. There’s going to be such a variety of mountains and forest and lakes. Just around here, they said this morning, there are 15 or 19 lakes just in this area.
iRunFar: I feel like we’re in Minnesota.
Boulet: Yes, I think the variety is going to be just stunning. I just want to experience it.
iRunFar: Talk a little bit about the women’s race. There are some dueling personalities and dueling running styles amongst the front of the women. There’s Camille Herron who usually races aggressively. There’s you who usually goes out fairly hard, but you’ve said you try to stay in a natural place for you. There’s the conservative girls like Fernanda Maciel to takes it kind of easy, but always shadows and picks people off late in races.
Boulet: It will be interesting because we do have all different styles of racing. This is not a 100-mile race. It’s a bit shorter. Usually in a 100-mile race it doesn’t really matter as somewhere in the middle you eventually find that, Hey, this is the pack that is leading the race. Things can change even after that. Here, it’s 100k, and it’s kind of crazy for me to say, “It’s short,” but it’s a close race. It will be interesting. I’m looking forward to it. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. The women in the race are incredibly talented. If anyone has a good day, you never know.
iRunFar: Someone is going to stick it. It’s just a matter of who.
Boulet: It’s a matter of who’s going to do it.
iRunFar: You and Camille probably have the fastest leg speed among the girls in the field. Camille usually takes things out pretty hot. If she goes out hot tomorrow, do you think you’ll mark her? Do you think you’ll wait and respond later?
Boulet: I’ve learned over the years that I really just go by how I feel versus responding to someone else’s race. I’ll stick to that. I usually get a pretty good feeling in the first few miles—Hey, I’m feeling really, really good.
iRunFar: ‘Today is going to go okay.”
Boulet: Today is my day. Although, just because you don’t feel good in the beginning doesn’t mean it’s not your day. You have to respect that and kind of play to that. I don’t push through the feeling that I feel awful, I’ll just go harder because it feels bad. I kind of respect that and try to bring out the good feeling because even with a 100k, you’re still out there for at least 10 hours. It can be really miserable if you don’t respect the way you feel.
iRunFar: The course runs really interestingly in that the last 40k are essentially like a rolling marathon which theoretically suits somebody with sub-2:30 marathon speed—like you fit perfectly. In your head, is there part of you thinking, I need to save myself and save that turnover so I can hammer that final 40k?
Boulet: Yes, part of me feels that, yes, I’ve got to get to that part of the course and feel good, because I would like to take advantage of it. I love rolling hills. This is kind of what home is like. Naturally, I want to feel good. Who doesn’t want to feel good at the end of the race? There’s something about having something in your legs in the last part of your race no matter how long or how short your race is, even if it’s a 5k. You want to feel good and be able to switch your turnover and finish strong and get to that finish line. Yes, I’m looking forward to that last 40k.
iRunFar: Last question, this race is part of a grand and hopeful build up for the rest of this year. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re aiming for the first part of the year?
Boulet: My next race is going to be Lake Sonoma, which is in April. It seems there’s a big gap between this race and Lake Sonoma, so I’ll probably find something to do in between. I’m going to go to Zion to run the Traverse for a couple of days. I’m looking forward to all of those things already, but one race at a time.
iRunFar: I presume at Lake Sonoma you’ll be hunting the Golden Ticket?
Boulet: I’ll be hunting the Golden Ticket. I’m hoping I have a great day. If I do, I go to Western States, which is going to be incredible for me if I can combine that with UTMB in the summer time. If it doesn’t go well for some reason, I’m going to Speedgoat.
iRunFar: Speedgoat again.
Boulet: Speedgoat again.
iRunFar: You’re hungry for two races you went to last year that you still feel you have unrealized potential for.
Boulet: Absolutely. You can’t go wrong. Western States is such an honor to me. I feel like I’ve accomplished what I wanted to at that race, but there’s the feeling of coming back and doing it all over again. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away. Speedgoat, I kind of just want to nail that race. I look forward to it. It’s such a stunning area. It’s a place where in the summer time, I’d like to get out every weekend and run the trails.
iRunFar: It’s very ‘Sage Canaday-esque’ of you. He’s got a thing for Speedgoat, too, in wanting to go back and hammer a little bit more and hammer a little bit more.
Boulet: Yes, there’s something about that course where when… I can honestly say that I’m not really good at that course. It’s not my type of a course, but that’s why I’m attracted to it. It’s a challenge. You always find little things you can improve. That is what keeps me coming back to races.
iRunFar: Keeps you hungry.
Boulet: Yeah, it keeps you hungry for that little better year every time.
iRunFar: I hope you’re starving in the morning. Best of luck to you.
Boulet: Thank you. Cheers.
iRunFar: Bonus question for you, Magda. Are you going to be wearing a certain hat tomorrow?
Boulet: I might have two hats. I’m going to finish in a fun hat and start in… well, it starts in the dark. Yeah, I’ll probably have my fedora out there. I did bring it.
iRunFar: Something else special?
Boulet: No, just my Hoka hat. It’s pretty special, too.
iRunFar: We look forward to…
Boulet: I’ll be changing hats, you know. It’s like a runway.
iRunFar: We’ll be looking forward to your headwear fashion tomorrow.
Boulet: Sounds good. I’d better go shopping.
iRunFar: I know. What else is there? This house I was staying at, Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger have a rainbow-colored wig.
Boulet: That could be a fun thing to bring to racing.
iRunFar: And hot.
Boulet: Yes, and hot maybe. Maybe not tomorrow.
iRunFar: Thank you.
Boulet: Thank you, Meghan.