Hillary Allen had good luck racing in Spain last year, as she was fifth at Transvulcania Ultramarathon ahead of placing seventh at the Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra division in July and second at Ultra Pirineu in September. This weekend, she’ll give racing in Spain another go at Transvulcania. In the following interview, Hillary talks about what her break looked like this winter, what the women’s competition looks like at this year’s Transvulcania, and what her summer racing season looks like.
Hillary Allen Pre-2017 Transvulcania Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Mauri Pagliacci of iRunFar, and I’m here in the island of LaPalma ahead of the Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2017. I’m here with Hillary Allen. Hillary, how are you?
Hillary Allen: Hello. I’m doing great. How are you doing?
iRunFar: I’m fine. That weather is beautiful. I can’t complain.
Allen: I know. I want to get in.
iRunFar: You just came back from a stretch, right?
Allen: A stretch of not racing, yeah.
iRunFar: A pretty long one, right?
Allen: Yeah, since September. Yeah, the last race I did was Ultra Pirineu in Spain, so I guess I feel at home.
iRunFar: How’s your Spanish?
Allen: It’s really good. We could do this interview in Spanish if you’d like.
iRunFar: Yeah, but I’d have to subtitle it, so let’s skip it. So how are you getting ready for the race with one more year of competitive international racing—a pretty good one more year of experience facing this beautiful competition?
Allen: Yeah, I needed a break. Every year I take a good break from racing in general and competition. That’s always in the winter. I ski. I’m doing a bunch of stuff but not racing. It’s a good mental break for me. But then again to start racing again and to just enter into one of the most competitive ultra races of the year is always a bit daunting. I feel ready. I feel healthy. I put in a lot of good training over the beginning of the year. There’s a mix of skiing and running, running in snow and climbing…
iRunFar: I was going to ask you how your cross training was in the winter or if you did anything special.
Allen: I was going to… I don’t race ski mountaineering, but of course I’m out there all the time doing alpine touring and skiing. I did a couple big traverses this winter which was really fun… just with friends, kind of casually, but ‘casual’ people in Boulder are pretty fast, so it was really fun.
iRunFar: Fit people.
Allen: A lot of that for cross training, and then doing cross training in the gym as well as rock climbing. I was getting into that. It’s good all-body training. If there was any snow, I kind of try to avoid running in snow because I feel it’s pretty tiresome. I did some good intervals on the road to work on turnover. Yeah, I feel pretty balanced and good.
iRunFar: How’s your body feeling for this Saturday?
Allen: I’ve learned to embrace the taper. I’ve been really getting after it, so I needed a down week. That means I’m working. I definitely put in some good long runs and some good training. I’ve actually really been enjoying the island life and moving at a slower pace. Swimming—starting the day with a swim in the ocean is not bad. Yeah, so some little shake-out runs here and there checking out the course… actually I think what’s more tiresome here than anything is just driving from point to point. It’s a really long ways. It’s a small island, but it takes a long time, and it’s really windy roads. Yeah, I’ve been actually enjoying a little bit of a break, and I’m hungry to run on Saturday.
iRunFar: That’s awesome. How do you see the competition this year? You and a super-good race last year in fifth place. How do you see the competition, and how do you see yourself prepared for this year?
Allen: It’s always hard. Last year—I’m doing something similar this season in spending the summer in Europe just because I love the races over here. Not taking away from U.S. races, but I just love the atmosphere, and it’s so great. La Palma and Transvulcania is really special because they bring such high level competition no matter what. Ida [Nilsson] is back again, and she won last year, and she’s obviously in top form. She’s been racing well over the winter and her first race in China. Besides Ida, I feel like on the women’s side, people are kind of coming out of the woodwork. I know there’s a lot of big names that maybe weren’t here from last year like Caroline Chaverot—I don’t know how to say her last name—the lady from France. She’s not here, but there are other really good runners from the Salomon team in particular—Team Sweden—like Mimmi [Kotka] who won CCC. There’s a lot of people to look out for. There are other Americans to look out for, too. I know Corrine Malcom is here as well.
iRunFar: Cassie Scallon is here.
Allen: Yeah, Cassie Scallon—some really strong runners are here. Even if it’s not the same competition as last year, it’s still going to be such a challenge. I like that. We’ll see. I’m confident. It’s cool coming back feeling that I can hang with this competition. That’s encouraging. I think I had a good performance last year, but knowing the way and knowing the trail is definitely an advantage. I didn’t come with enough time to explore the trail last year, so I came a bit earlier this year, but knowing the trail, I think I can lower my time and hopefully my position. It’s definitely going to be hard fight because I’ve been used to the snow, and it’s really hot here.
iRunFar: Yeah, and it looks like it’s going to be really, really hot.
Allen: It’s going to be super, super hot on Saturday especially above the clouds.
iRunFar: What other adventures do you have for the rest of the summer?
Allen: So many! Obviously some really hard races. I’m going to go back to Portugal and do a race in Madeira, and from there, I’m doing the iconic Olympus Marathon in Greece. It’s super hard. It’s a marathon, but I think the winning times are over five hours and five-and-a-half hours for women. It’s got 3,000 meters or more of climbing in the marathon.
iRunFar: That’s a bit of a lot.
Allen: It’s going to be awesome. Yeah. Then I’ll go to the European Championships in Val d’Isere. I’ll go there. All over. Obviously in between all these places I’ll be traveling and training. That’s how I like to do it.
iRunFar: In the awful European mountains.
Allen: Yeah, the Dolomites… the French Alps… I hope to go back to Chamonix. I love it there. Then to end the whole season, well, at least this portion of it, I’ll go to Tromso in Norway to do a Skyrunning Extreme race. Then maybe if I have time I’ll come back and do a race like Ultra Pirineu or Les Templiers. But, I also have a personal project I’m doing in the States where I want to do the Sierra High Route in FKT style. It’s mostly off trail and parallels the John Muir Trail in California. It’s 195 miles.
iRunFar: Whoa, you’re doing it by yourself?
Allen: Yeah, I may have some people meet me to restock or pace me in portions, but yeah, mostly just me. Once I get back from Europe, I’ll be going straight out there and tackling that adventure.
iRunFar: That’s a really nice adventure.
Allen: Yeah, hopefully the snow is melted. We’ll see. I’m excited.
iRunFar: Best of luck for Saturday.
Allen: Thank you.
iRunFar: Enjoy the day, and I’ll see you out there on the course.